Albertans consume on average 400 litres of sugar-sweetened beverages per person each year. If you compare overall sugar intake from the 1700s to modern day, estimates put that increase at about 2,000 percent.
We all know that sugary foods can lead to obesity and diabetes but less of us know how much sugar can affect vital physiological processes.
Dr. Sofia Ahmed, an Alberta Health Services nephrologist and member of the Libin Cardiovascular Institute of Alberta at the University of Calgary is researching a theory that fructose turns on a hormonal switch that raises blood pressure.
“While high blood pressure is a health concern in and of itself, there is also a danger that continued activation of this hormonal switch can damage the heart and kidneys in the long term,” says Dr. Ahmed.
The hormonal switch, called the renin-angiotensin system (RAS), is activated in people when they consume fructose. Fructose has been widely used in processed foods and beverages since the mid-1970s in the form of high fructose corn syrup.
Ahmed says the introduction of this high fructose corn syrup has paralleled a rise in obesity, hypertension and irritable bowel syndrome.
If researchers can prove that fructose activates the RAS, this can help health care providers give more thorough and complete nutritional advice to patients regarding foods with fructose.
To learn more about this study, read the AHS news release. It was further covered in a 660 News article and on GlobalTVcalgary.com