The intake of added sugars, such as table sugar (aka sucrose which is made up of glucose and fructose) and high fructose corn syrup, has increased dramatically over the last 100 years.
This form of sweetener is cheap, easy to produce and readily available. Hence, many food companies use Fructose as their primary source of sweetener in most of the everyday foods and drinks we consume on a massive scale.
Studies from the 1960s through to the 1990s have documented the worrying metabolic effects of Fructose consumption, such as worsened hypertriglycerdema and insulin resistance.
One study, which involved feeding an overweight test subject a diet comprised of 25% fructose or 25% glucose for 10 weeks, showed that the fructose group had worse hepatic (liver) synthesis of fatty acids, a decrease in insulin sensitivity (noted by elevations in fasting glucose and insulin levels), increased total and visceral fat deposits, higher uric acid levels (which blocks important vasodilation of blood vessels), increased inflammatory mediators and a lower resting energy expenditure (i.e. a slower metabolism).
An elevated uric acid reading (caused by fructose consumption) is also one of the best independent predictors of diabetes and commonly precedes the development of both insulin resistance and diabetes. Elevated uric acid also predicts the development of fatty liver disease, obesity, hypertension and elevations in C-reactive protein.
Needless to say, it’s imperative that we limit or eliminate fructose consumption. This is no easy feat considering the staggering amounts of soft drinks, sugary treats, table sugar, processed foods and re-packaged meals (all of which contain some form of fructose product) that Australians eat on a daily basis.
Be an educated consumer
Look for the words ‘Fructose’ or ‘High Fructose Corn Syrup’ in the ingredients list of the foods you buy.
What about fruit?
After all, fruit does in fact contain fructose. However, further analysis has shown that fresh, unprocessed fruit in it’s normal state contains numerous substances that block the harmful effects of fructose, including Potassium, Vitamin C, Resveratrol, Quercetin and other antioxidants and flavonols.
Overweight test subjects who had their processed fructose intake restricted showed improvements in all markers of health even though fruit was present in their diet. With that said, fruit should still be eaten only in moderation, with a focus on the lower fructose varieties (such as berries).