3 Reasons to use Melatonin

Melatonin – or as we like to call it, the wonder hormone – is a hormone produced by the pineal gland; a tiny gland found in our brain.

This gland is thought of as the master controller of our body clock. It manages our day-to-day circadian rhythm, telling us when to sleep and when to wake, and our longer-term biological clock, telling us when we get to experience those wonderful major hormonal milestones, such as puberty and menopause!pineal-gland

The pineal gland controls our circadian rhythms by releasing melatonin. Melatonin synthesis and its release is stimulated by darkness and hence is primarily produced at night. Typically, melatonin is used as a sleep aid to help people overcome jetlag or to help shift workers who have difficulty sleeping.

And that’s why we started using melatonin – to help us sleep. However, melatonin can also help with regulating hormones, thyroid function, our immune system and even help with slowing down aging!

Here are 3 of the benefits to using melatonin:

  1. Melatonin improves your sleep

As we mention above, our pineal gland controls our wake-sleep cycles by releasing melatonin. Melatonin is stimulated by darkness. However, when we watch tv before going to bed or lay in bed playing with our phones, the light from these devices interrupts the release of melatonin.

This disruption throws off the entire melatonin cycle, impacting both the quality and length of your sleep. When you don’t sleep, you suppress all of the systems in your body. Supplementing with melatonin helps your body to regulate its sleep-wake cycle and helps to prevent a breakdown of the other systems in your body.

sleeping

2. Melatonin helps to regulate hormones

I started supplementing with melatonin to help with sleep. However, after a couple of weeks using it, my period returned – after missing for five years! Initially I thought that this was down to the melatonin improving my sleep and therefore reducing the amount of stress in my body. Yet after some further research, I found that melatonin can actually help with regulating hormones.

Italian physician Walter Pierpaoli, MD, in particular, has spent decades researching melatonin and its effects on hormones. Dr. Pierpaoli believes that supplementing with melatonin can not only re-synchronize our circadian rhythms and wake-sleep cycles but also our overall endocrine system.

In one of his studies, Dr. Pierpaoli looked at perimenopausal and menopausal women aged between 42 and 62. This study found that using melatonin supplements for 6 months:

  • Increased estrogen levels,
  • Improved thyroid function,
  • Reduced follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH) levels in the women under 50,
  • Restored normal menstrual cycles in the younger women,
  • Restored normal menstrual cycles in a number of women who were already postmenopausal,
  • Delayed characteristic endocrine changes that occur during menopause, and
  • Helped with the conversion of T4 to T3, resulting in increased T3 levels in the study group.

3. Melatonin can help slow down aging

As we age, the pineal gland produces less and less melatonin. This natural decline means the pineal gland has to work harder to produce the melatonin we require to sleep well. Supplementing with melatonin allows the pineal gland to rest, protecting the pineal gland from aging and slowing down the aging process of our other glands and organs.

Studies of mice and the effects of melatonin have shown that, when provided with a melatonin supplement, the treated mice demonstrated regained energy, a youthful sex drive and a normal thyroid hormone cycle. As such, melatonin may slow some of the effects of aging.

 

I really believe that melatonin is one of the reasons my period returned after five years. Not only are my hormones returning to normal levels, I also feel much more relaxed and even rested when I wake up in the morning. One thing I should mention though – if you do decided to supplement with melatonin, just be aware that your dreams can become very vivid!!

The Truth About Cholesterol (Part 2)

This post is the second article in our series The Truth About Cholesterol. Read about why we need cholesterol here.

In this post we’re going to discuss the fallacy of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ cholesterol aka HDL and LDL.

Veg Oil

There is no such thing as good and bad cholesterol. In fact HDL and LDL are not even cholesterol but lipo-proteins which act as transport mechanisms for cholesterol.

The propaganda bus has created an irrational fear that LDL is ‘bad’. However, our bodies cannot function without LDL – it transports 25% of our total cholesterol to our brain (fun fact – our brain’s weight is 20% cholesterol) for neurons to use in the transmission of vital messages between receptors. (Number one side affect of cholesterol lowering statins is memory loss and brain fog!).

HDL, the so called ‘good’ cholesterol, is the lipo-protein which transports cholesterol from the bloodstream back to the liver for reprocessing.

The real problem isn’t the level of LDL, rather the type of LDL particles circulating in the bloodstream. LDL particles can range between small and large – and it’s the small ones that are the problem.

Small LDL particles are more susceptible to oxidisation. When these particles oxidise, they create inflammation in our arteries which supply blood to our organs. This can then lead to an increased risk of heart attack and stroke.

So the real question should be: “what is causing LDL to oxidize?”

When there is a high level of oxidation present in the body, there also tends to be free radical activity in the tissues. Consuming adequate amounts of antioxidants such as Vitamins C and E prevents oxidative free radical damage.vegetableoilpoison

Consuming artificial, partially hydrogenated oils (trans fats) will not only cause LDL to oxidize, so will a diet high in refined sugars, alcohol and smoking cigarettes. Elevated levels of LDL also may be caused by chemical and heavy metal toxicity, liver toxicity and stress, hypothyroidism and kidney failure.

Calling LDL ‘bad’ is very misleading, especially if you are not identifying causation.

Low levels of HDL reflect a sedentary lifestyle. Doctors and others who push the misinformation about raising HDL as being a good thing, fail to address that HDL levels greater than 75 are actually correlative with autoimmune processes. This is a strong possibility especially if triglyceride levels are low (less than 40). Excess consumption of alcohol, drug use, hypothyroidism, and excess estrogen can also cause HDL levels to become too high.

The Truth About Cholesterol (Part 1)

The Truth About Fat

What actually is cholesterol? Well if we believe the propaganda perpetuated by public health and medical bodies over the last 50 years you would think it is a highly dangerous sticky fat that clings to the walls of our arteries forming plaques, creating arthrosclerosis and causing heart disease, stroke and death!!!

In fact every cell of our body is made from it – cholesterol is one of the most vitally important bodily substances. ALL of our steroid hormones are manufactured from cholesterol, including our sex and adrenal hormones!

Why on earth are we told to lower it then? Good question and I will attempt to explain this later! I say attempt because I find it difficult to understand how the combined brain power of all of the researchers on this subject over the past 50 years have actually concluded that cholesterol is dangerous and the major cause of heart disease, despite the fact their studies have found no such link!

First though let me tell you all of the wonderful things that cholesterol does for us.

The six steroid hormones our bodies need to function are all synthesized from cholesterol and they include :

  • Glucocorticoids which are vitally important for the metabolism of carbohydrates. In particular cortisol, a powerful adrenal hormone that has multiple functions in the body including blood glucose control and anti-inflammatory actions that oppose the hyper reactions of our immune system.
  • Mineralcorticoide hormones, in particular aldosterone which is in charge of electrolyte balance. In lay man’s term keeping sodium and potassium in balance with each other. (Remember that awful feeling of dehydration that comes with a hangover – that comes from an electrolyte imbalance!)
  • Adrogenic hormones such as DHEA and testosterone are critical for libido, bone density, memory and anti-aging, (if you are sick of using the ol’ headache as an excuse get your man on some cholesterol lowering statins – they will take care of his libido! Yes it is one of the most common side effects of statin drugs).
  • Progestagens such as progesterone are vital in regulating women’s menstrual cycles and maintaining a healthy pregnancy.
  • Estrogens such as estradiol are critical for sexual development and bone and brain health.
  • Vitamin D, actually a sterol but don’t worry about that, as it behaves as a steroidal hormone which is converted in the liver and has hundreds of vital immune supporting functions along with calcium regulation in the blood.

As you can see cholesterol is vital for survival!

In fact I am living proof that we need good levels of cholesterol to function. During my acute phase of anorexia when I was living on lettuce leaves, low fat yoghurt and black tea my total cholesterol plummeted to 3.2mmol/L. Along with a multitude of other issues this created, I regressed back to my pre-pubescent years (I was 17 and built like a 9 year old!) everything shrank to the size of a lentil!!!! And I mean everything!!! I was surviving, just, but my clever body knew that I was not fit to bring life into this world and reacted accordingly.

Why I Love…A Keto Diet

A keto (or ketogenic) diet is a low-carb, moderate protein, high fat diet (read our post Keto Diet 101 here). There are a number of health benefits of a keto diet – the number one reason often touted is weight loss, and fast weight loss! Here are the top 5 reasons we love a keto diet.

1.Reduction in blood sugar levels and insulin resistance

Type 2 diabetes is caused when the body can no longer bring spikes in blood sugar levels back to normal. When we eat carbs, the body breaks them down into simple sugars (typically glucose), which is then transferred to the blood stream, elevating our blood sugar levels. As high blood sugar levels are actually toxic, the body has to respond to this spike by pumping out insulin. Now, when people are healthy, this response is often quick. However when we continually eat high carb diets (re a lot of the western world) a lot more insulin is required and this reaction becomes slowed, leading to insulin resistance and eventually type 2 diabetes. As we reduce our carb intake (as per a keto diet), we reduce the need for all of that insulin and our blood sugar levels reduce and stabilise.

2. Reduction of triglyceride levels

Triglycerides are an indicator for heart disease – the higher they are, the higher the risk of heart disease. Whilst triglycerides are fat molecules, the main driver of high triglyceride levels is actually carb consumption (and especially fructose consumption). When people reduce their intake of carbs their triglyceride levels fall (in comparison, low fat diets lead to increases in these levels). Therefore, eating more saturated fat can actually reduce your risk of heart disease!

keto-food-pyramid

3. Fat loss

When you reduce your carb intake and replace it with fat, your body goes into a metabolic state called ketosis. In ketosis, instead of using your glucose stores for energy, your body taps into its fats stores and burns those for energy instead. Studies have shown that people on low-carb diets tend to lose more weight (and faster), than people on low-fat diets. And because fat is filling, low-carb dieters often aren’t left feeling hungry. On the keto diet, appetite tends to be suppressed and dieters end up eating fewer calories without even trying. These studies also show that a large percentage of this fat loss comes from the visceral fat (i.e. the bad fat) that gets lodged around our organs.

4. Improvement in metabolic symptoms

Metabolic syndrome is a cluster of symptoms including obesity, high blood sugar levels, high triglycerides, low HDL levels, high blood pressure and insulin resistance. It is also highly correlated to diabetes and heart disease. As we mention above, a low carb diet can actually reverse these symptoms and reduce the symptoms of metabolic syndrome.

5. Improved brain function

Saturated fat is a key building block for our body. In fact, our brains are made up of 60% saturated fat. When we eat a low fat diet, we starve our bodies of the key nutrients they need to function. Saturated fat is actually one of the main components of brain cells, and is therefore necessary for healthy brain function. Studies have shown that people who included more saturated fat in their diet reduced their risk of developing dementia by 36%. Other studies have also shown that a keto diet improves memory.

10 reasons fructose is poison

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:

  1. 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!

  1. 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.

sugar-cubes

  1. 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!

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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).

gut_bacteria

  1. 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!).

  1. 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:

obesity-levels-and-sugar-consumption

http://goo.gl/EvKt2Q

 

Do you have a magnesium deficiency?

Do you suffer from ‘growing pains’? Muscle cramps? Insomnia? Anxiety? PMS or even chronic fatigue? If so, you might have a magnesium deficit.

Magnesium is a powerful mineral that is important for helping our bodies to function. Anything that is cramped, tight, irritable and stiff — a body part or a mood — is an indication of magnesium deficiency. Magnesium is responsible for more than 300 enzyme reactions and is found in all our muscles, bones and brain. We need magnesium to help our cells make energy, stabilize membranes and help our muscles relax.

The list of symptoms caused by a magnesium deficiency is long – medical references show there are more than 3,500! These are the most common:

  • Muscle cramps or ‘growing pains’magnesium deficiency
  • Muscle twitches
  • Restless Legs Syndrome
  • Constipation
  • Headaches
  • Migraines
  • Insomnia
  • Sensitivity to loud noises
  • Anxiety
  • PMS
  • Menstrual cramps
  • Irritability
  • Palpitations
  • Asthma
  • Kidney stones
  • Irritable bladder, and
  • Irritable bowel syndrome

Magnesium deficiency has also been connected to whole body inflammation (and as you know, inflammation is a problem/cause of all autoimmune diseases).

Unfortunately, our modern world can again be blamed for why so many people suffer from these issues. Many of us live on a diet of highly-processed, refined food that is predominantly made from white flour and sugar – all of which contain no magnesium! Furthermore, magnesium is poorly absorbed, and easily lost, from our bodies – especially when we consume excess alcohol, coffee, table salt, or are involved in intense exercise with lots of sweating or prolonged stress (which also relates to adrenal fatigue!).

Toxic Food - What NOT to eat with Hashimoto's

However, a number of medical studies have found that these symptoms can be reduced or eliminated by adding a magnesium supplement to our diet.

The most absorbable forms are magnesium citrate, glycinate and taurate. It’s important to note though that the magnesium found in those cheap, supermarket shelf supplements are often magnesium carbonate, sulfate, gluconate and oxide. These are poorly absorbed by our bodies and best avoided.

In order to aid in its absorption, magnesium supplements should also be taken alongside Vitamin B6 and Vitamin D.

To really amp up the absorption, you can take a warm bath with Epsom salts (magnesium sulfate)…we like to use our Epson salt bath as time to meditate and take some time out for ourselves!

Now, you’ll know if you have taken too much magnesium as you’ll be running to the toilet all day! If this occurs, just scale back the about of magnesium you are taking.

We like to take our magnesium supplements at night. This helps our bodies to relax and sleep better. We also find that magnesium really helps with our stress levels!!

Why Healthy Gut Bacteria is Important

Gut bacteria impacts everything from our metabolism to digestion, mental function and immune system. It’s estimated that our gut actually contains 100 trillion bacteria – 10 times as many bacteria as cells in the human body! These bacteria help to extract energy from the food we eat to build the strength of our immune system to protect against infection and disease.

As Hippocrates, the founding father of modern medicine, said “all disease begins in the gut”. This post covers three key things our gut health can impact.

gut_bacteria

  1. Weight Loss

A change in our gut bacteria can actually cause us to overeat. Studies have shown that the bacterial makeup of obese and lean people is different. When studying the gut health of mice (because, believe it or not, mice and humans have a very similar gut make up) the gut bacteria of lean mice was swapped with the gut bacteria of obese mice. The results showed that the obese mice, with the lean mice’s gut bacteria, lost weight and the lean mice gained weight. It turned out that this was because the bacteria of the gut in obese individuals actually increases the amount of energy (aka calories) extracted from food.

  1. Immunity

Our gut bacteria make up 84% of our immune system. When our exposure to toxins (such as antibiotics, xenoestrogens and probiotic-poor foods) increases, the balance between the good and bad bacteria in our gets out of wack. As the good bacteria are depleted and the bad bacteria take over, inflammation occurs in our gut and cause damage. This is significant because our gut is the first line of defence between us and toxins. Healthy gut bacteria improves our immunity through a number of ways:

  • They strengthen the “netting” of our gut wall (read more about the make up of our guts here) and help to physical protect us from potential toxins.
  • They compete for both space and food with the bad bacteria in our gut. As we mentioned earlier, our gut is home to a sensitive balance of good and bad bacteria. If our healthy gut bacteria is already consuming all the resources (aka space and food) available, there’s nothing left to feed the bad bacteria.
  • They regulate our body’s inflammatory immune response. As you are probably already aware, inflammation is complicated! Good gut bacteria help to regulate our inflammatory response without over-reacting.
  1. Brain Function

The health of our gut plays a role in how well our brain functions. Studies have shown that when more probiotic-rich foods (such as ferments, you can make your own here) are consumed, the cognitive development and sensory processing functions of our brains exhibit positive responses.

You can read more about gut health and how to heal a leaky gut here.

Keto Diet 101

Fat – the macronutrient demonized by ‘healthy guidelines’ dietary professionals. For a very long time now people have believed that eating fat, and especially that dreaded saturated fat, is what causes obesity and heart disease.

But if you’ve read our post on The Truth about Fats, you will know that this is all wrong! In fact, fat is probably the most important nutrient for weight loss, healthy cholesterol, brain function and overall health!

Including more saturated fat in your diet is a great start to improving your health. The keto diet is essentially the name given to the diet that focuses on this.

What is a Keto Diet?

Simply put, a keto (or ketogenic) diet is a low-carb, moderate protein, high fat diet. On a keto diet, healthy meals are structured around keeping carbs to only 5% of your total macronutrient intake. Protein consumption ranges from 20% to 35% and fat intake ranges from 60% to 75%. At an extreme level, fat can make up 80% of the diet with 20% coming from protein, and no consumption of carbs!

The idea behind the keto diet is that if you reduce your carb intake and replace it with fat, your body goes into a metabolic state called ketosis. In ketosis, instead of using your glucose stores for energy, your body taps into its fats stores and burns those for energy instead.

Why go on a Keto Diet?

There are a number of benefits to a keto diet. The number one reason often touted is weight loss, and fast weight loss! When you move into a state of ketosis your body becomes highly efficient at burning fat for energy. Not only that, fat is both tasty and filling – a number of studies have shown that, when compared to a low-fat diet, low-carb dieters lose 2 to 3 times more weight. And because fat is filling, low-carb dieters often aren’t left feeling hungry. On the keto diet, appetite tends to be suppressed and dieters end up eating fewer calories without even trying.

But a keto diet offers a number of other health benefits too, including:

  • Improved insulin sensitivity
  • Reduced risk of heart disease
  • Reduction in visceral fat (the bad fat that lodges around your organs)
  • Improved brain function and memory
  • Reduced risk of Type 2 diabetes
  • Reduced symptoms and progression of Alzheimer’s disease
  • Reduction in epileptic seizures
  • Improvement in skin conditions such as acne
  • Reduction in triglyceride levels

keto-food-pyramidWhat food should be avoided?

As we mention, the keto diet is all about reducing carbs from your diet and replacing them with fat. Therefore, any foods high in carbs should be limited. This means limiting:

  • Sugary foods: Soda, fruit juice, smoothies, cake, ice cream, candy, etc.
  • Grains or starches: Wheat-based products, rice, pasta, cereal, etc. (Read why here).
  • Fruit: All fruit, except small portions of berries like strawberries.
  • Beans or legumes: Peas, kidney beans, lentils, chickpeas, etc.
  • Root vegetables and tubers: Potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, parsnips, etc.
  • Low-fat or diet products: These are highly processed and often high in carbs.
  • Some condiments or sauces: These often contain sugar and unhealthy fat.
  • Unhealthy fat: Limit your intake of processed vegetable oils, commercial mayonnaise (you can make your own here), etc.
  • Alcohol: Due to its carb content, many alcoholic beverages can throw you out of ketosis.
  • Sugar-free diet foods: These are often high in sugar alcohols, which can affect ketone levels in some cases. These foods also tend to be highly processed.

What food can I eat?

Rather than focusing on what foods you can’t eat, its best to look at what foods you can eat to heal and nourish your body. The majority of your meals should focus on:

  • Meat: Grass-fed steak, pork, bacon (check out our home-cured bacon recipe), chicken and turkey
  • Fatty, sustainable fish: Such as salmon, trout, tuna and mackerel/sardines.
  • Eggs: Read our blog on eggs 101 to workout which eggs you should be buying.
  • Grass-fed butter and cream: If you’re intolerant to lactose you might want to try our recipe for ghee.
  • Cheese: Unprocessed cheese…raw milk cheeses are even better.
  • Healthy oils: When cooking with heat, use coconut oil, for drizzling over salads use virgin olive oil or avocado oil and when making homemade mayonnaise use macadamia nut oil.
  • Avocados.
  • Low-carb veggies: These include leafy greens, zucchinis, spaghetti squash, celery, tomatoes, onions, capsicum, etc. As a rule of thumb, veggies grown above the ground have fewer carbs than those grown below the ground.
  • Condiments: You can use Celtic sea salt (in fact, to help overcome any withdrawal symptoms in the first week, you should add Celtic sea salt to your water and sip throughout the day), pepper and various healthy herbs and spices.

Just remember to switch up what meat and veggies you are eating…whilst technically chicken breast with a keto-fied dessert may still keep you in ketosis, it’s doing nothing to nourish and heal your body…and you’ll get bored very quickly!

Fructose – What’s the problem with it? Part 2

This post is Part 2 in our series ‘Fructose – What’s the problem with it?’. Read Part 1 here.

sugar-cubes

It is really scary how much fructose we consume.

Today, however, the typical teenager gets 73 grams of the stuff per day…and that’s only from sweetened drinks!!

All of this excess is playing games with our brains and causing our metabolisms to go haywire. When we eat fructose, not only does it suppress the message to our brain that we are full, it sends the message that we are still hungry! And it is addictive!

In fact, the part of your brain that responds to what you eat is the same part that responds to nicotine, morphine, amphetamine, alcohol, exercise and sex! That’s why people taking drugs tend to overeat.

Fructose actually undermines the normal satiety signals, increasing calorie consumption in a couple of ways:

1. Fructose does not stimulate a leptin rise (the hormone that sends the message to our brain that we are full), so your satiety signals are diminished. Fructose raises triglycerides and reduces the amount of leptin crossing our blood-brain barrier.

2. Unlike glucose, fructose doesn’t suppresses ghrelin (the hormone that makes us want more food).

Fructose increases insulin levels, interfering with the communication between leptin and the hypothalamus, so our pleasure signals aren’t extinguished. Our brain thinks we are starving and tells use to eat more.

Interestingly, fructose alters our hedonic response to food, driving excessive caloric intake and setting up a positive feedback loop for overconsumption.

Our next post will cover the 10 reasons why you should limit your fructose consumption. But for the meantime, it’s important not to stress too much about your diet. If you are eliminating other toxic things in both your diet and environment (such as grains and vegetables oils – you can read our posts about why) your body may become more tolerant to a little extra sugar (key word being little! This is not an excuse to binge on high amounts of fruit and sweetened goods).

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).