3 Reasons Why You Should STOP Eating Fructose
Written by: Greg Ashby
A sugar (fructose) calorie is much more harmful than previously thought.
In an article from the Mayo Clinic Proceedings, a team of researchers did a literature review to determine whether certain sugars are more dangerous than others when it comes to diabetes and to challenge the idea that all calories are equal. They looked at the effects of carbohydrates from similar calories. They compared starch, pure glucose and lactose, to added sugars like sucrose (table sugar 50% fructose / 50% glucose) and fructose (naturally found in fruit).
Unfortunately, as a society, we are consume way too much high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) in our food and drink. Here is what they found: added sugars were significantly more harmful. Fructose was linked to worsening insulin levels and worsening glucose tolerance, which is a driver of pre-diabetes. Fructose and HFCS cause visceral fat storage. Visceral fat centered in the abdomen region, is a proven promoter of markers for inflammation and high blood pressure.
“We clearly showed that sugar is the principal driver of diabetes,” says lead study author James J. DiNicolantonio, a cardiovascular research scientist at Saint Luke’s Mid America Heart Institute. “A sugar calorie is much more harmful.”
Clinical experts have challenged current dietary guidelines concerning added sugar consumption in order to tackle “a worsening epidemic of type 2 diabetes.” In particular, they identify fructose as a principal driver of type 2 diabetes.
“Estimated consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages has increased from 10.8 gallons per person per year in 1950 to 49.3 gallons in 2000,” report the authors.
The report in Mayo Clinic Proceedings advises people to replace processed foods containing high levels of added sugars and fructose with whole foods, such as fruit and vegetables. Present guidelines from the Institute of Medicine allow for up to 25% of total daily calories to come from added sugars. However, added sugars such as sucrose and high-fructose corn syrup, have been associated with the development of diabetes and other metabolic disorders that can increase the risk of cardiovascular disease.
In the US, 1 in 11 people has type 2 diabetes – a total of around 29 million adults. Worldwide, the number of individuals diagnosed with this condition has more than doubled in recent times, from 153 million people in 1980 to 347 million in 2008.
Another 86 million Americans have prediabetes – also referred to as “borderline” diabetes – whereby their blood sugar levels are higher than they should be.
“Approximately 40% of US adults already have some degree of insulin resistance with projections that nearly the same percentage will eventually develop frank diabetes,” says lead author James DiNicolantonio of Saint Luke’s Mid America Heart Institute, Kansas City, MO.
“There is no biological need for any added sugars in the diet, particularly those containing fructose,” they conclude. “At an individual level, limiting consumption of foods and beverages that contain added sugars, particularly added fructose, may be one of the most effective strategies for ensuring one’s robust future health.”
*Source: DiNicolantonio JJ, O’Keefe JH, Lucan SC. Added Fructose A Principal Driver of Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus and Its Consequences. Mayo Clinic Proceedings. 2015.
3 Reasons To Ditch Fructose For Good
Sugar, in any form, have the potential to cause obesity and disease when consumed in pharmacologic doses. Cane sugar and high fructose corn syrup are indeed both harmful when consumed in pharmacologic doses of 140 pounds per person per year. When one 20 ounce HFCS (high fructose corn syrup) sweetened soda, sports drink, or tea has 17 teaspoons of sugar (and the average teenager often consumes two of these drinks per day), we are conducting a largely uncontrolled experiment on the human species. Our hunter gatherer ancestors consumed the equivalent of 20 teaspoons per year, not per day.
Note: Women should consume no more than 24 grams of sugar per day (or 6 tsp) and men should consume no more than 36 grams (or 9 tsp) per day.
1. HFCS and cane sugar are NOT biochemically identical or processed the same way by the body. High fructose corn syrup is an industrial food-like product and far from a “natural” or “naturally occurring” substance. It is extracted from corn stalks through a process so secret that Archer Daniels Midland and Carghill would not allow the investigative journalist, Michael Pollan, to observe it for his book, The Omnivore’s Dilemma.
The sugars are extracted through a chemical enzymatic process resulting in a chemically and biologically novel compound called High Fructose Corn Syrup, or more commonly referred to as HFCS. Some basic biochemistry will help you understand this.
Regular cane sugar (sucrose) is made of two-sugar molecules bound tightly together – glucose and fructose in equal amounts.The enzymes in your digestive tract must break down the sucrose into glucose and fructose, which are then absorbed into the body. HFCS also consists of glucose and fructose, not in a 50-50 ratio, but a 55-45 ratio, fructose to glucose, in an unbound form.
Fructose is sweeter than glucose. And HFCS is cheaper than sugar because of the government farm bill corn subsidies. Products with HFCS are sweeter and cheaper than products made with cane sugar. This allowed for the average soda size to balloon from 8 ounces to 20 ounces with little financial costs to manufacturers, but great human costs, such as an increase in obesity, diabetes and chronic disease.
Now back to biochemistry.
Since there is there is no chemical bond between them, no digestion is required so they are more rapidly absorbed into your bloodstream. Fructose goes right to the liver and triggers lipogenesis (the production of fats, like triglycerides and cholesterol) this is why it is the major cause of liver damage in this country and causes a condition called “fatty liver”, which affects 70 million people.
The rapidly absorbed glucose triggers big spikes in insulin – our body’s major fat storage hormone. Both these features of HFCS lead to increased metabolic disturbances that drive increases in appetite, weight gain, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, dementia, and more.
2. HFCS contains contaminants, including mercury that are not regulated or measured by the FDA. An FDA researcher asked corn producers to ship a barrel of high fructose corn syrup in order to test for contaminants. Her repeated requests were refused until she claimed she represented a newly created soft drink company. She was then promptly shipped a big vat of HFCS that was used as part of the study that showed that HFCS often contains toxic levels of mercury because of chlor-alkali products used in its manufacturing.(i) Poisoned sugar is certainly not “natural”.
When HFCS is run through a chemical analyzer, or a chromatograph, strange chemical peaks show up that are not glucose or fructose. What are they? Who knows! This certainly calls into question the purity of this processed form of super sugar. The exact nature, effects and toxicity of these funny compounds have not been fully explained, but shouldn’t we be protected from the presence of untested chemical compounds in our food supply, especially when the contaminated food product comprises up to 15-20 percent of the average American’s daily calorie intake?
I certainly think so.
3. HFCS is almost always a marker of poor-quality, nutritionally-depleted disease-creating industrial food products, or “food-like substances”, full of empty calories and artificial ingredients. If you find “high fructose corn syrup” on the label, you can be sure it is not a whole, real or fresh food full of fiber, vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients and antioxidants. It’s quite the opposite. Stay away if you want to stay healthy.
We still must reduce our overall consumption of sugar, but with this one simple dietary change you can radically reduce your health risks and improve your health. While debate may rage about the biochemistry and physiology of cane sugar vs. corn sugar, this is in fact beside the point. *Source: MarkHyman.com, author of The Blood Sugar Solution
“At current levels, added-sugar consumption, and added-fructose consumption in particular, are fueling a worsening epidemic of type 2 diabetes,” says DiNicolantonio.
Although fructose can be found naturally in whole foods, such as fruits and vegetables, in these foods it exists in much lower concentrations, it is metabolized totally differently in the body than processed foods. And in it’s pure, natural form.
The authors report that approximately 75% of all packaged foods and beverages in the U.S. contain added sugars, mostly fructose.
DiNicolantonio and his fellow authors say current dietary guidelines are harmful since they recommend levels of sugar consumption that are unhealthy. For instance, the Institute of Medicine says added sugar can make up 25% of the total calories we consume and the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans say up to 19% of calories from added sugars is alright. That varies greatly from the American Heart Association, which recommends no more than 6 tsp (or 24 grams) of sugar a day for women 9 tsp (or 36 grams) for men. The World Health Organization has proposed that added sugar make up only 5% of a person’s daily calories.
Seems much more reasonable, don’t you think?
The authors recommend more restrictive recommendations in order to protect people from diabetes and its cardiovascular consequences.
Solution: EAT REAL, WHOLE FOOD in it’s natural form and eliminate or at least decrease the amount of processed foods, or food-like substances. And of course, reduce sugar in all forms.
Here and here are 2 videos if you’re interested in learning more about this growing epidemic – sugar addiction, over-consumption and ultimately, disease.
If you need help to break the cycle of sugar-laden products, please contact me. I would love to help!
Integrative Health Coach and Functional Nutrition Consultant
at Ask Dr. Garland
Greg Ashby, CHHC, AADP lives in Ogden, Utah and is an Integrative Health Coach and Functional Nutrition Consultant. Greg has been in the Health and Wellness industry for over 20 years.
Because of his personal experience with Adrenal and Thyroid disorders, as well as Cancer, he’s committed to the areas of Autoimmunity and Cancer prevention and management when it comes to research and his work. He enjoys studying the Psychology of Eating and Behavioral Disorders.
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