High Fructose Health Hazards


Fructose commonly known as fruit sugar is a monosaccharide which amalgamates with glucose to form sucrose or table sugar. Monosaccharides serve as the building material of all carbohydrate molecules. Fructose is white in color and has crystalline structure which is highly water soluble. Simple sugars are particular types of carbohydrates that are quickly absorbed into the bloodstream to provide a fast supply of energy which body use. Fructose is one of the sweetest natural & artificial sweeteners available in the market, making it a common component in many processed, sugar based foods and in many plant products.

Many people assume that fructose is linked with fruits but it's not completely true. Fructose is one of the chief sugars obtained from fruits; the others are sucrose and glucose, so the belief is true to some extents. However the fructose present in processed foods is a totally dissimilar account. Food manufacturers and producers use high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) to sweeten foods which does not come from fruits in any way. It comes from a highly processed combination derived from corn, which most of the times can be genetically modified. Excess of HFCS in the diet means extra calories that can result in unwanted weight gain and health problems such as high blood pressure, increased risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes and many many more. Most of the carbohydrates that are eaten are made up of chains of glucose. When glucose goes through the bloodstream, the body liberates insulin to help regulate it. In contrast, processing of fructose takes place in the liver. When excess of fructose goes through the liver, the liver is not able to process it all fast enough for the body to utilize it as sugar. Instead, liver starts producing fats from the fructose and send them off into the bloodstream as triglycerides. Consuming excess amount of fructose at once is likely to devastate the body's ability to process it altogether.

The American Heart Association has stated precise guidelines for consumption of added sugar by men and women. They have recommended not more than 100 calories a day for most women and no more than 150 calories a day for most men. That accounts to roughly six teaspoons of added sugar for women and nine for men. Our ancestors ate diet that contained very small amounts of fructose. But these days, estimates show that about 10 percent of the modern diet contains fructose food. The majority of Americans consume more than 22 teaspoons or 355 calories of added sugar a day, which exceeds far beyond both the USDA guidelines and American Heart Association recommendations. The average consumption of HFCS per year by Americans is 55 pounds.

The best means to decrease HFCS and other added sugars from diet is to check the products that are consumed and watch out for its presence on the labels. Fructose is listed on labels of so many foods such as ketchup, soft-drinks, energy drinks, cereals, cookies, breads, crackers, ice creams, canned soups, and more. Added sugars are mentioned on ingredient labels as HFCS, fructose, sucrose, glucose, corn syrup, fruit juice concentrate, corn sweetener and dextrose. Restrict their consumption as much as possible and instead one should get sweet fix from only whole fruit. Not only one will get natural sugar this way, but will also get much required fiber and antioxidants.

Noted Risks Associated with Fructose

Fructose winds up evading the normal appetite signaling system, therefore, appetite-regulating hormones are not activated, leaving people feeling unfulfilled. This is possibly at least part of the cause of association of excess fructose consumption with weight gain.

There are rising facts that reveal too much fructose consumption may lead to higher insulin resistance, and ultimately resulting in type 2 diabetes. The study published in the journal Global Public Health compared 43 countries for their consumption of HFCS and correlation with incidences of diabetes. Half of those countries had little or no HFCS in their foods or residents’ diets. These countries were India, Ireland, Czech Republic, Austria, France, and China. The highest HFCS consuming countries are the United States, Mexico, Canada, and Japan. It was noted that those countries that have higher intakes of HFCS have a 20 percent higher incidence of diabetes compared to countries that use none or low amounts. Therefore, it is recommended to eliminate corn syrup and HFCS from the diets and processed foods that have corn syrup, including electrolyte drinks like Gatorade and other soft drinks.

Many studies also reveal that cancer cells lap up high-fructose corn syrup, which gives yet another reason to avoid it. A research conducted couple of years ago by the University of California-Los Angeles discovered that pancreatic tumor cells use fructose to divide and reproduce. Their findings which were published in the journal Cancer Research showed that cancer cells can readily metabolize fructose to boost proliferation which explained the correlation among the ingestion of fructose with pancreatic cancer. Thus, dietary refined fructose consumption have major significance for cancer patients and efforts should be made to lower refined fructose intake or restrain fructose-mediated actions that  may disrupt cancer growth.

Fructose consumption has also shown to impair liver by altering energy balance. Nowadays, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is a frequent diagnosis due to inability to efficiently clear out the fat reserves from the organ. Metabolic function promptly becomes compromised and potential fatal result can be liver failure. Study of researchers published in the journal of the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases, Hepatology, discovered that overweight patients with type 2 diabetes who ingest higher amounts of fructose, show lowered levels of liver adenosine triphosphate (ATP). ATP is a compound engaged in energy transfer between cells. The scientists established that increased uric acid levels are linked with more severe hepatic ATP diminution when fructose consumption is increased.

Latest research also demonstrates that intake of even small amounts of glucose or fructose can hold back brain and memory functions. In addition, excess added sugar can also avert learning and hamper performance on scholastic tests. The findings of researchers from the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA that was published in the Journal of Physiology illustrates that eating a high-fructose diet over the extended term deteriorates the brain's ability to learn and retain information. However, adding omega-3 fatty acids to the meals can aid in minimizing the damage.

Some measures to lower the added sugar in Diet
Omega-3 fats have shown to improve insulin signaling and counterbalance the damaging effects of a sugary diet.
Put limit to intake of sugar-laden sodas, candy high in added sugar and the non-nutritious, sugary and frosted cereals.
Always check to find out whether canned fruit is packed in water or natural juice and not in syrup.
Avoid condiments like ketchup, BBQ sauce and salad dressings.
Always check the content label of yogurt and dairy products for added sugar.
Avoid fast food as it is typically high in HFCS.
Have fresh fruit as a sweet delicacy and snack on vegetables instead of high calorie foods.