HAIFA, Israel, November 24 , 1998 -- Researchers at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology have shown in animal studies that excessive consumption of fructose, a sweetener, accelerates processes related to aging. Dr. Moshe Werman and Boaz Levi of the Faculty of Food Engineering and Biotechnology published their findings in the September 1998 Journal of Nutrition.
Fructose, which occurs naturally in honey and sweet fruits, is produced in crystalline and syrup forms for commercial use. Its use in processed foods has greatly increased over the last 20 years.
"Americans are eating more and more processed foods such as carbonated drinks, baked goods, canned fruits, jams and dairy products that contain fructose," said Werman.
The researchers' laboratory tests found that rats fed fructose for a year showed significantly greater age-related alterations, manifested in their skin and bone collagen.
Collagen is the protein that makes up the connective tissue in skin, tendons, bone and cartilage. Its physical, mechanical and chemical properties provide good indications of aging processes taking place in the body throughout the life span.
Earlier research showed that fructose decreases glucose tolerance, increases insulin resistance and speeds up the process of glycation -- a reaction of sugar and proteins which contributes to the development of normal aging as well as to some complications of diabetes.
Werman's and Levi's tests proved that blood fructose, cholesterol and clycated hemoglobin were significantly higher in fructose-fed rats.
Fructose also affects skin collagen crosslinking by increasing the
amount of stable chemical bonds both within (intra) and between (inter) collagen
molecules which in turn may reduce skin's elasticity and softness, the hallmarks
of youthful skin. Since the tests were done on rats, visual aging on their skin
was difficult to assess. However, Werman and Levi
Contact: Martha Molnar
American Society for Technion - Israel Institute of Technology