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Abdominal Pain from a Western Diet

Sugar: A Prime Suspect

Colitis is a major health problem in the United States. A Science Translational Medicine article states that mice fed a diet high in sugar had aggravated colitis. While high-fat diets may trigger inflammatory bowel disease, the role of sugar has been controversial, according to Hasan Zaki, PhD, lead author in the study and a UT Southwestern assistant professor of pathology. The high simple-sugar diet fed to the mice “aggravated colitis…when administered before or after colitis induction. The effect was mediated by alteration of gut microbiota, with an increase of mucolytic bacteria that facilitated gut mucus barrier degradation.”

The study concluded that “Short-term intake of high glucose or fructose did not trigger inflammatory responses in healthy gut but markedly altered gut microbiota composition. … Sugar-induced exacerbation of colitis was not observed when mice were treated with antibiotics or maintained in a germ-free environment, suggesting that altered microbiota played a critical role in sugar-induced colitis pathogenesis.” Although glucose had the greatest effect, the 3 simple sugars fed to the mices “profoundly altered the composition of gut microbiota. The microbiota of the guts of humans and mice can quickly change with diet. “Our study clearly shows that you really have to mind your food,” said Dr. Zaki.


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