Fructose – What’s the problem with it? Part 1

sugar-cubesMetabolic syndrome, obesity, chronic disease and inflammation – what do they all have in common? They can both be caused and exacerbated by the consumption of excess fructose.

Dr. Robert Lustig has been working hard to get people, and especially the medical professionals, to realise just how damaging and toxic sugar is to our health. At the time of writing, Dr. Lustig’s YouTube video “Sugar: The Bitter Truth” has had over 6 million views.

So what does Dr. Lustig say about fructose?

Fructose is poison. It is uniquely fattening, is as toxic to our livers as alcohol and has seriously damaging long term health implications.

Going back to basics, ordinary table sugar (or sucrose to be scientific) is made up of 50% glucose and 50% fructose. What is different between these two types of sugars is the way our bodies metabolise them.

Glucose is easily broken down by the cells in our bodies. Our body can source energy from any three of the macronutrients protein, fat and carbohydrate, however, energy from carbs is the easiest. When we eat carbs, our body breaks them down into glucose, which is then transferred to our cells for energy.

When we eat fructose however, only our liver can break it down. Unlike glucose, fructose can’t be used by our cells for energy, so really, it is completely useless! Now, when we eat fructose in excess, or day in, day out, our liver has to work over time to get rid of it. Chronic fructose consumption then overloads the liver, meaning it spends so much time trying to get rid of the fructose that it begins to be so preoccupied that it can’t carry out its other functions.

How does the liver get rid of the fructose? It transforms the fructose into fat and sends it straight to our fat cells. This fructose dump on the liver then results in fat storage.

That’s right – eating fat won’t make you fat…but eating excess fructose will!

But fructose is found in healthy foods like fruit and veg? Does that mean we should stop eating them?

No, it doesn’t – fruit and veg contain other important nutrients. The problem is however, the massive doses of fructose we are exposed to today. If we sourced our fructose from vegetables and fruits only (where it originates) as most people did a 100 years ago, we’d consume about 15 grams per day. Today, however, the typical teenager gets 73 grams of the stuff per day…and that’s only from sweetened drinks!! (Don’t get us started on low-fat products – read our post here on The Truth about Fats).