That heading might sound a little bit extreme, but if you have read our series Fructose – What’s the problem with it? you will know that our bodies metabolise fructose differently to other sugars. In fact, when we eat fructose in excess, our body stores it completely as fat.
Here are 10 reasons why excess consumption of fructose is so damaging to our health:
- Excess fructose makes you fat
As we said, fructose is metabolised by our bodies differently to any other sugar. In fact, fructose can only be metabolised by our liver. Unlike glucose, fructose can’t be used by our cells for energy and hence 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…and how does it do this? The liver transforms the fructose into fat and sends it straight to our fat cells!
- Fructose causes leptin resistance
Leptin is one of our hormones that controls appetite and metabolism. It is the hormone that helps us maintain a healthy weight. However, when we eat fructose in excess, we rapidly develop leptin resistance, meaning our stomachs don’t send the “stop eating, you’re full” message to our brain and we can’t control our weight as easily…so just looking at that muffin makes us gain 10kg.
- Excess fructose raises ghrelin
Fructose not only doesn’t send the “stop eating” message to our brain, making us think we are still hungry…but it also can raise the levels of ghrelin. Ghrelin is a hormone in our body that stimulates appetite, therefore when we eat fructose, this hormone is raised, making us even hungrier! A double whammy for our appetite!
- Fructose can cause insulin resistance
Excess fructose can damage the liver. As we said in point 1, our liver transforms the excess fructose we eat as fat and this fat is in the form of triglycerides. High triglycerides are more of an indicator of potential heart disease than HDL/LDLs, so the lower the level of triglycerides the better. High triglyceride levels can be a factor in causing insulin resistance.
- Fructose is more toxic to the liver than alcohol
Yep, you read that right – fructose is more damaging than alcohol to our liver. Excess fructose consumption can lead to non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.
- Excess fructose causes inflammation and chronic disease
This one is extremely important for us sufferers of autoimmune diseases. When we consume fructose in high amounts, the sugar reacts with the proteins and polyunsaturated fats in our bodies to create advanced glycation end-products (AGEs). As AGEs compound they create oxidative damage in our cells, leading to inflammation and chronic diseases.
- Increased risk of heart disease
Because of the damage to our livers caused by excess fructose, chronic consumption can cause your blood lipid markers to rise, indicating a higher risk for heart disease.
- Fructose consumption messes with your gut
Our gut health is integral to our bodies’ functioning. Whilst our cells can’t use fructose for energy, the bacteria in our gut can. Therefore, when we consumer fructose in excess, the bacteria grow and multiply leading to gut flora imbalances and bacterial overgrowth (which, when not treated can have some serious health implications).
- Fructose consumption impairs brain function
In line with the impact fructose has on our gut, excess fructose can also affect how our brain functions. We know from points 2 and 3 that fructose sends horrible signals to the part of our brain that controls appetite, but it also can impair memory (couple that with brain fog from an autoimmune disease and it’s a surprise we are still managing to function at all!).
- Excess fructose can cause the problems of metabolic syndrome
Diabetes, heart disease, obesity – all of the problems of metabolic syndrome can be caused, and exacerbated, by excess fructose consumption. Now we’re not going into the debate about causation and correlation, but just think about this graph: