When you pop open a can of soda, or rip into pretty much any candy bar, that’s fructose. Fructose is in the majority of added sugar that we come into contact with on a regular basis.
Now, most regular sweeteners are a blend of two different varieties of sugars: glucose and fructose. Of these two, fructose is the one you want to watch out for.
1. What Is Fructose And How is it Made?
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Why ? It’s simple.
Glucose is a naturally occurring element of our body’s chemistry, which means that since it’s already part of our body’s system, it naturally has a place to go and a function to perform.
Fructose however, has no place in the system.
Fructose comes strictly from fruit, which might seem to indicate that sweet fruits should be avoided. That’s not the case.
According to a group of studies collected by Dr. Michael Greger M.D., the fruit itself contains natural balances or preventatives to the harmful effects of the fructose it contains.
The undesirable effects of fructose come from added sugar, which is sugar that is separated from the original substance and added to other products. Corn syrup, which is an inverted sugar, is one of the most common examples.
So what risks do we run by using so much added sugar in our diet?
2. Increased Fat Production
Obesity is the most obvious side-effect of sugar overuse and fructose consumption. What isn’t quite as obvious however, is why it has this adverse effect.
This fact has to do with the very nature of the fructose. Fructose is completely alien to the system, and therefore does not convert naturally into energy in the same way other elements such as glucose do. Because it is not converted to energy, the only place that fructose can go is the liver.
According to a study conducted by Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center and published in the June 19 online edition of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, if enough fructose enters the liver, it can become a liver contaminant.
This means that the liver has to get rid of it as soon as possible, and the quickest way for it to do this is to transform it into fat molecules. Another factor of fructose that adds to weight gain, is the suppression of the hormone leptin.
Leptin is the hormone that tells your brain when you have had enough to eat. If this hormone is shut off, your brain has no way to tell when you should stop eating.
So fructose essentially cuts of all communication between your appetite and your brain. Minor obesity is one of the smallest problems that fructose can cause.
According to the work of Dr. Robert Lustig, Professor of Pediatrics in the Division of Endocrinology at the University of California, San Francisco, fructose is a cause of many major diseases.
3. Liver Damage
In consuming large quantities of fructose, the largest risk is to the liver. Since the liver is only part of the body that can deal with fructose, overdoses would be naturally harmful, even if the only dangerous factor were overwork.
However, as stated in a study by Dr. Lustig, Professor of Pediatrics in the Division of Endocrinology at the University of California, fructose creates liver problems similar to those caused by overuse of alcohol.
One of the most common problems created by fructose is NAFLD or non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. NAFLD has been noted to lead to other, more serious health complications, most notably cirrhosis and diabetes.
4. Insulin Resistance
As stated before, the liver metabolizes fructose directly into fat. All of this excess fat is exceedingly dangerous to your system, causing more than one directly linked health problems.
A common outcome of this is increased insulin resistance in the system.
4.1. A Foundation for Diabetes
Insulin resistance is dangerous for more than one reason, but its most important consequence is the development of diabetes.
Both type I and II diabetes are directly caused by insulin resistance, and according to nutrition research scientist Kimber Stanhope of the University of California, the majority of overweight people are also experiencing insulin resistance.
4.2. Increased Risk of Heart Disease
Insulin resistance not only leads to diabetes, but can lead to heart disease as well. But it is not the only product of fructose that can lead to the disease.
All the excess fat produced as a result of fructose consumption contributes to the development of dyslipidemia, a condition in which excess fat molecules can clog the bloodstream, introducing dangerous heart complications.
5. Cancer Inducing Environment
Since the time of the German 1931 Nobel laureate, German Otto Warburg, Ph.D, it has been a theory that sugar is a food source for cancer. And it has since been proven, in a study using pancreatic cancer cells as the test subject.
Of the two sugars, glucose and fructose, fructose has been proven to contribute more to the growth of cancerous cells.
While the cancer did indeed feed on both substances, it responded much more visibly to the addition of fructose, noticeably increasing its growth.
6. Uric Acid Problems
Gout, kidney stones and disease, and heart diseases are all a byproduct of another factor of fructose consumption.
This factor is the production of excess uric acid. Uric acid is handled by the kidneys, so excessive amounts of it cause the kidneys the same problem that excessive amounts of fructose cause the liver.
So the two places most vulnerable to excess fructose are the kidneys and the liver, giving rise to a whole host of health problems.
7. Why Do We Use It?
As you can see now, there are far greater apprehensions about added sugars than simply losing weight.
Some of the most common and alarming health conditions have been proven to be linked, even if indirectly, to our favorite sweetener.
And it turns out that this most common sweetener on the market is also one of the most harmful substances that people consume on a daily basis.
So why do we use it?
There are many natural sweeteners out there that could take the place of fructose-rich products, with far less harmful side-effects.
If you’ve experienced any of these problems or symptoms, why not try cutting back on added sugars and give your body and your health a chance?