What’s So Bad About Fructose?

fructoseJacquieIconBy Jacquie Eubanks
BSN, RN
 

Sucrose, natural sugar found in sugar cane or sugar beets, is comprised of glucose and fructose.  The body metabolizes glucose and fructose quite differently.  As our body’s primary source of fuel, glucose is essential to life.  In combination with insulin released by the pancreas, glucose is transported to all the cells and muscles to produce energy.  However, the body has no biological need for fructose.  Fructose must be processed primarily by the liver and excess is stored as fat.  This can lead to higher levels of cholesterol and triglycerides and eventually, fatty liver disease, heart disease and premature aging.    

Many people think of fructose simply as fruit sugar and have the impression that added fructose is a healthy sweetener option.  Throughout our evolutionary history, we consumed whole, fresh fruit only in season.  Today, even with healthy fresh fruit available year round, fruits are only minor contributors to fructose in our diets.  Added sugars, including high fructose corn syrup, supply a significant portion of our total daily calories, overwhelming the body’s capacity to process it.  One of the problems with today’s diet is that we are relying too heavily on prepared and processed foods, which are high in added sugars, instead of whole foods in their natural states, leading to disastrous results. 

It’s important to note that “natural” on a food label has no real significance.  There are currently no FDA guidelines as to what constitutes a “natural” food.  Food manufacturers can put “natural” on any food label regardless of the health benefits of the food.  GMO’s, natural!  High fructose corn syrup, natural!  Refined flour and oils, natural!  Yet, the body does not recognize these foods as natural.  The truth is that healthy foods in their true natural states work with your body, while processed foods work against it.  Foods found in nature are not only nutritious, they also contain the enzymes and fiber required to digest and metabolize the food, including the small amounts of sugars naturally found in fruits, vegetables, dairy and grains. 

In response to our ever increasing desire for sweetened foods, our consumption of added sugars, including high fructose corn syrup, has risen drastically.  Food manufacturers are more than happy to oblige, and many scientists now believe that added sugar is actually quite addictive.  One of the problems with this excess consumption of added sugars is that our sweet tooth is never satisfied.  As we consume more and more sugar laden foods, we create a non-stop craving/eating situation that is making us sick and obese. 

We now know that dietary saturated fat is not the cause of the current obesity epidemic.  Unfortunately, low fat diet recommendations sparked a huge increase in invisible sugars in prepared and processed foods.  The result, a huge spike in the non-communicable, largely preventable diseases of type 2 diabetes, obesity, fatty liver disease, metabolic syndrome, heart disease, some cancers and according to the latest research, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.  Are we simply victims of the food industry?  Partly, but we need to make the changes in support of our own health. 

Many of us would rather remain in denial about the harmful effects of excessive sugar consumption.  Why?  Not only because we like the sweetness, but because we are likely addicted to it.  Here’s why denial is the wrong approach.  Excess fructose causes “leptin resistance.”  Leptin is the satiety hormone that lets us know when we are full and should stop eating.  Fructose essentially turns off our leptin response.  We eat too much sugar, we produce too much insulin, our blood sugar spikes and crashes and we crave more sugar.  Next comes insulin resistance, obesity and type 2 diabetes as the craving cycle continues.   

Just as we realized that smoking was harmful to our health, we need to understand the health consequences of our overconsumption of fructose.  With the United States facing the health crises of extremely high rates of obesity, type 2 diabetes and related chronic diseases, it’s time we accept that a diet rife in refined carbohydrates, including sugar and high fructose corn syrup, is deleterious to our health.  It will not be easy to wean ourselves off sugar, but what we eat today will affect our health tomorrow. 

If the choice is a fast food burger and fries or a fast food salad, choose the healthier salad option and skip that super sized soft drink too.  Salad  will keep you satiated longer and provide nutrients, antioxidants and healthy fiber, supporting overall health.  The next time you’re craving a snack, grabbing an apple as opposed to a bag of cookies will help to get you on the right track to reducing your added sugar consumption.  Making every choice a healthy choice will help to reduce the risks of obesity and related chronic diseases.   

As you endeavor to reduce your excessive sugar consumption, here are some supplements that can aid the body during this process: 

Complete E
 
Complete E by Metabolic Response Modifier– This full spectrum vitamin E product supplies powerful biological antioxidants, which support the cardiovascular system by reducing blood lipids and protecting cell membranes and arteries from damaging LDL cholesterol. 
 
 
Resveratrol (200244)
 
Resveratrol (202244) by Douglas Laboratories – This product supplies pure, clinically-supported resveratrol, which supports the normal aging process, cardiovascular health and mitochondrial function.
 
 
 Anti-Oxidant (SF709)
 
Anti-Oxidant (SF709) by Thorne Research – This product contains broad-spectrum antioxidants that support the body during phase I and phase II liver detoxification processes. 
 
 

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