Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

[Reblog] Has an Alternative to Table Sugar Contributed to the C. Diff. Epidemic?

Excerpts from the  post on

Ice cream sundae

Most of us know how hard it is to resist the creamy sweetness of ice cream. But it might surprise you to learn that, over the past 15 years or so, some makers of ice cream and many other processed foods—from pasta to ground beef products—have changed their recipes to swap out some of the table sugar (sucrose) with a sweetening/texturizing ingredient called trehalose that depresses the freezing point of food. Both sucrose and trehalose are “disaccharides.” Though they have different chemical linkages, both get broken down into glucose in the body. Now, comes word that this switch may be an important piece of a major medical puzzle: why Clostridium difficile (C. diff) has emerged as a leading cause of hospital-acquired infections.

A new study in the journal Nature indicates that trehalose-laden food may have helped fuel the recent epidemic spread of C. diff., which is a microbe that can cause life-threatening gastrointestinal distress, especially in older patients getting antibiotics and antacid medicines [1, 2]. In laboratory experiments, an NIH-funded team found that the two strains of C. diff. most likely to make people sick possess an unusual ability to thrive on trehalose, even at very low levels. And that’s not all: a diet containing trehalose significantly increased the severity of symptoms in a mouse model of C. diff. infection.

What has changed is the recent addition of man-made trehalose into the food supply, often in large quantities. This shift was prompted by a new method to manufacture trehalose from cornstarch, which made the sugar much less costly.

This doesn’t mean that everyone needs to start worrying about trehalose. In fact, Britton says the sugar does have some advantages. For instance, because it’s harder to break down, trehalose doesn’t cause blood glucose to spike in the way some other sugars do.

 

 

January 10, 2018 - Posted by | Consumer Health, Health News Items, Uncategorized | , , , , ,

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