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!!

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).

 

 

MTHFR and the Thyroid

As you will know from our other posts on this topic, the MTHFR gene is responsible for producing the MTHFR enzyme. When the gene is mutated, the enzyme produced does not function correctly. This incorrect function has an impact on our thyroid health and our ability to heal (because managing hypothyroidism or any other autoimmune disease isn’t tough enough!).

Conversion of T4 to T3

The Thyroid System

Unfortunately the relationship between MTHFR and the thyroid, once out of whack, can be a vicious cycle of negative impacts.

At its most basic level, hypothyroidism means low levels of thyroxine (T4) in the body. When we have a MTHFR gene mutation, it becomes more difficult for the body to convert T4 into T3.

But that doesn’t matter right? The doctor will just prescribe T3 to address the problem of an underactive thyroid…Unfortunately, this is not the case. Taking T3 in isolation ignores the body’s problem with producing T4. It’s almost like a band aid affect, as T4 is important for a number of bodily functions (but you need to make sure your body can convert the T4 to the right T3. If it converts to reverse T3 you could experience even worse problems).

T4 is responsible for producing our body’s active form of Vitamin B2, FAD (or flavin adenine dinucleotide if you want to get technical). In order for our body to use Vitamin B2 it must be converted to FAD, but if we don’t have enough T4 then we can’t convert it. Consequently the levels of FAD in our body is reduced.

FAD is important because the MTHFR enzyme relies on adequate levels of FAD to do its job properly! When FAD levels are reduced, the MTHFR enzyme slows down. A sluggish MTHFR enzyme leads to low levels of methylfolate and low SAMe.

SAMe is responsible for maintaining immune responses. Therefore when SAMe gets low, the immune responses start to get out of control. And the cycle starts again.

Adrenal HealthWhat is Adrenal Fatigue

Adrenal health, thyroid problems and methylation are all interrelated. When one doesn’t function properly, the others also won’t function properly.

As we discuss above, T4 is required to convert Vitamin B2 into FAD. And FAD is important because it controls the functioning of the MTHFR enzyme. When you can’t convert Vitamin B2 into FAD, you can become Vitamin B2 deficient.

Vitamin B2 is important for adrenal health as it helps to support the strong functioning of them in the face of thyroid issues. So not only does MTHFR impact thyroid health, it also has an impact on adrenal health.

Glutathione

Methylation is also important for the production of glutathione. Glutathione is our body’s protector – it is responsible for controlling the level of inflammation in our body and detoxifying any toxins we have come across. It also helps to regulate our body’s nitric oxide cycle which is essential for a healthy functioning immune system.

When there is a MTHFR gene mutation, synthesis of glutathione is compromised. As a result, the level of glutathione required to maintain its optimum functioning is reduced. Lower glutathione means a reduced ability to detox and fight inflammation, which all have an impact on thyroid health and our ability to heal and manage autoimmune diseases.

Why I Love…Fermented Foods

Besides fermented foods being delicious (…bar fermented fish…), they also provide us with a number of health benefits. Here are our top 5 reasons you should start fermenting.

IMG_20160528_105010

1. It builds gut health

Unfortunately our Western diet of processed, sugary foods has wreaked havoc on our gut health. These foods feed the bad bacteria in our gut and suppress the growth of healthy flora in our intestines. Fermented foods contain probiotics and acids that balance the pH levels in our gut and support the good bacteria – helping to heal our digestive system and build its health.

2. It activates nutrients  

The lactic acid in fermented vegetables activates enzymes that aid in the digestive process. These acids also help to unlock vitamins in the vegetables, such as Vitamin A, Vitamin C and Vitamin K2.

3. It reduces food wastage

Ok so this one isn’t necessarily a health benefit, but it is still a benefit!! Fermenting foods that are based on lacto-fermentation (using salt – and sometimes whey, not sugar to ferment) is a great way to preserve vegetables. The lacto-fermentation process encourages the natural and ‘good’ bacteria (lactobacillus if you want to be technical) in the vegetables to flourish. This then produces lactic acid that starves the ‘bad’ bacteria that would otherwise cause the veggies to go rotten.

4. It reduces the sugar content

Like the same process that causes grapes to turn into red wine; fermenting eats up the sugar in the vegetables, with the end result being fructose-free.

5. It reduces sugar cravings

The bacteria in our gut actually secrete proteins that act in a similar way to our hunger-regulating hormones. When you eat sugar, these bacteria gobble it up and then send the signal to our brain that we need more – feeding the sugar craving cycle. Fermented foods combat this craving cycle by growing and feeding the ‘good’ bacteria. As the good bacteria grow, they overpower the bad bacteria and diminish the craving cycle.

 

If these 5 reasons haven’t convinced you to ferment your own veg, why not try our favourite fermented recipes (and hopefully the tastiness of them will convince you)!

 

What is Leaky Gut?

Hippocrates, the founding father of modern medicine, once said “all disease begins in the gut“. And he was right.

You have probably heard the term ‘leaky gut’ in health blogs recently, but what really is leaky gut syndrome? Autoimmune Disease Leaky Gut Gluten

Medically, leaky gut is an intestinal tight junction malfunction. But since that doesn’t really clear anything up, think about the lining of your digestive tract as being a net that separates the food that you have eaten and your blood stream.

In a healthy digestive tract, the holes in this net are tiny, only allowing specific nutrients through to your bloodstream. However, when you suffer from leaky gut, this net is damaged and the holes are bigger, which allows foreign bodies to seep into your bloodstream.

Unfortunately, as these holes get bigger toxins, including undigested food particles, gluten and bad bacteria, leak from your digestive tract into your bloodstream and cause inflammation. As the inflammation builds up, it can cause an immune reaction, leading to a variety of sensitivities and in turn illness.

Symptoms of leaky gut

The inflammation caused by leaky gut can emerge as the following symptoms:

  • Food allergies, digestive-system
  • Asthma,
  • IBS,
  • Low energy and fatigue,
  • Bloating,
  • Food sensitivities and intolerances,
  • Headaches,
  • Digestive issues,
  • Skin problems,
  • Weight gain,
  • Thyroid conditions,
  • Joint pain,
  • Anxiety,
  • Bipolar,
  • Depression,
  • Malabsorption,
  • Syndrome X, and
  • Other autoimmune conditions.

Generally experiencing multiple food sensitivities and becoming bloated after eating are the biggest warning signs that you are suffering from leaky gut. Another indication you suffer from leaky gut that has progressed is when there is undigested food in your poo!

If left untreated, leaky gut can lead to more severe health problems.

In our next post, we’ll focus on what causes leaky gut.