Study: Sugary Drinks Linked To Crohn's Disease (IBD)

Study: Sugary Drinks Linked To Crohn's Disease (IBD)

A new study of over 120,000 people found that those who drank more than one sugar-sweetened drink daily were at higher risk of developing IBD.

Sugary drinks, rather than artificially sweetened beverages or juices, show a link to IBD

A study found drinking sugar-sweetened drinks - but not juices or ones artificially sweetened can increase the risk of IBD. 

Lead author Tian Fu, with the department of gastroenterology, the Third Xiangya Hospital of Central South University in Changsha, China, and colleagues found population-level evidence inconclusive about IBD links to sugar. But natural juices are yet to be studied.

Their study examined the consumption of sugar-sweetened drinks, artificially sweetened, and natural juices with IBD risk.

The correlation between drinking lots of beverages and developing IBD has not been worked on fully until now.

These findings show that there may be a decrease in IBD when sugar-sweetened beverages are reduced. They still need to see if the study is definite or causal.

Researchers collected data from 121,490 participants in the UK Biobank who had not had IBD at trial recruitment. These participants, on average, were 56 years old, and 96.9% were White. The researchers studied the intake of beverages that these individuals experienced for 24 hours using diet recalls from 2009 to 2012.

All the participants were assigned to different groups that would consume either zero or one of the beverages. Those groups included the reference group, 0-1 units per day, and more than 1.

Participants who drank more than 1 unit of sugar-sweetened beverages per day had a higher body mass index, total energy intake and higher intake of sugar.

An average follow-up session of 10 years captures an average of 510 incidents of IBD: 143 cases were Crohn's Disease, and 367 cases were Ulcerative Colitis.

People who drank one or more units of sugar-sweetened beverages per day had an increased risk of developing Crohn’s disease.

There was an association between CD risk and the sweetness of drinks. However, there was no association between Ulcerative Colitis and the same sweetened drink. The authors believe this is because of the varying dietary habits of CD patients and people who suffer from Ulcerative Colitis.

New research indicates no correlation between IBD risk and sweetened beverages, organic juices, and dietary sugars. Their research notes that the inflammatory role of artificial sweeteners is debatable.

A study found that, while the juices have natural sugars, they also have fibre and bioactive compounds that may counter the effect of the sugar.

The limitations of this study are that participants were all older than 40 years, so the researchers could not find any links between IBD and younger-onset people.

The self-reported questionnaires are subject to recall bias, though the survey were all validated.

Dr. Hasan Zaki, an assistant professor at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center who studies the relationship between diet and IBD, stated that this study gives clear evidence to show a link between simple sugars and IBD. Dr. Zaki was not involved in the study. He is a leading expert in related topics.

"Removing high-sugar food from the diet worked for some of the Crohn's and colitis patients. We need to do more studies about this because research currently only says that a diet high in sugar could cause or worsen IBD."

Previous work in his lab found that a high sugar diet promotes the development of IBD and gut microbiota dysfunction.

The UK and US have similar demographic and diets. However, the prevalence of IBD varies. It means that the findings from these two are more likely to be representative of the general population.

If you want to study the effects of sugar-sweetened drinks on your health, it would be worth conducting a study on the United States population because this is where the problem may be more tangible.

Future studies will be needed to investigate the link between sugar-sweetened beverages and Crohn's Disease in US children. The prevalence of Crohn's has been increasing in recent years, especially among this demographic.

One result of this study is that gastroenterologists can counsel their patients on the best diets possible, depending on the severity of IBD.

The study was funded by the National Natural Science Foundation of China and the Key Project of Research and Development Plan of Hunan Province. The study authors and Dr Zaki report that they have no financial relationships.


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