Fructose and chronic disease

Fructose in Processed Foods and Drinks

Recently I have spoken at a couple of seminars with the main topic being how sugar and more specifically how the fructose component of sugar leads to many of the chronic diseases we are faced with today.

Sugar is made up of 50% glucose and 50% Fructose, for many years fructose was thought to be the good sugar because it is naturally found in fruits but research over the last 30 years has shown otherwise.

A carefully-conducted study by a collaborative research group at University of California-Berkeley has finally closed the lid on the fuss over fructose vs. glucose and its purported adverse effects.

The study is published in its entirety here.

Compared to glucose, fructose induced:

  1. Four-fold greater intra-abdominal fat accumulation –3% increased intra-abdominal fat with glucose; 14.4% with fructose. (Intraabdominal fat is the variety that blocks insulin responses and causes diabetes and inflammation.)
  2. 13.9% increase in LDL cholesterol but doubled Apolipoprotein B (an index of the number of LDL particles, the bad cholesterol).
  3. 44.9% increase in small LDL, compared to 13.3% with glucose.
  4. While glucose (curiously) reduced the net postprandial (after-eating) triglyceride response (area under the curve, AUC), fructose increased postprandial triglycerides 99.2%. (That means glucose actually reduced triglycerides whilst fructose increased triglycerides)

The authors propose that fructose specifically increases liver VLDL production, the lipoprotein particle that yields abnormal after-eating particles, increased LDL, and provides building blocks to manufacture small LDL particles.

Cholesterol is one of the essential blood tests you should do every year.

The authors also persuasively propose that fructose metabolism, unlike glucose, is not inhibited (via feedback loop) by energy intake, i.e., it’s as if you are always starving, so you can consume a lot more calories.

Add to this the data that show that fructose increases uric acid (that causes gout and may act as a coronary risk factor), induces leptin resistance, caused fatty liver disease, causes metabolic syndrome (pre-diabetes), and increases appetite, and it is clear that fructose is yet another common food additive that, along with wheat, is likely a big part of the reason people eating a Western diet are fat and diabetic.

Fructose is concentrated, of course, in high-fructose corn syrup, comprising anywhere from 42-90% of total weight. Fructose also composes 50% of sucrose (table sugar). Fructose also figures prominently in many fruits; among the worst culprits are raisins (30% fructose) and honey (41% fructose).

Also, beware of low-fat or non-fat salad dressings (rich with high-fructose corn syrup), ketchup, beer, fruit drinks, fruit juices, all of which are rich sources of this exceptionally fattening, metabolism-bypassing, LDL cholesterol/small LDL/ApoB increasing compound. Ironically, this means that many low-fat foods meant to reduce cholesterol actually increase it when they contain fructose in any form.

So what about fruit being healthy? Well the fructose found in fruit when you are eating several pieces a day can be easily metabolized by the liver and will not cause harm and is in fact a beneficial source of vitamins and minerals, it is only when we consume excessive amounts of fructose in the form of sugar and processed foods that it is going to be harmful to the body.

What about Christmas and parties? I am not going to be a party pooper and tell you that you can never eat sugar and sweet foods but it is best to save those foods for parties and not have them as part of our everyday life, I for one will be enjoying some Christmas pudding this year!

About the Author Michael

Michael is head consultant at Planet Naturopath - Functional Medicine and Nutrition Solutions. He is a registered naturopath with the Australian Natural Therapists Association (ANTA) and works with clients from all over the world via video or phone consultations. He is a degree qualified naturopath from the Endeavour College of Natural Medicine in Australia with 18 years of experience. He uses advanced testing methods, nutritional medicine, herbal medicine, and lifestyle advice to help you stay healthy. He is a Kalish Method-trained practitioner that keeps updating his education with Chris Kresser. Michael completed Dr. Terry Wahls practitioner training program, a 12-month program with ongoing training that helps understand the underlying cause and treatment of MS and autoimmune conditions. He keeps up to date with the latest research into health and natural medicine through the Metabolic Fitness Pro course with Dr. Bryan Walsh.

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