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Life Extension Magazine

Life Extension Magazine October 2013
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Are You Suffering from Fructose Poisoning?

By Roman Hartley
Are You Suffering from Fructose Poisoning? 

The processed food industry wants you to believe that fructose is a natural, healthy sugar derived from natural plant sources.1 The science shows something vastly different. In reality, fructose is a harmful toxin that is a key factor in the development of metabolic syndrome in America today.2

Excessive fructose consumption is responsible for a:

  • 39% increase in abdominal obesity in men.3
  • 9% increase in insulin resistance.3
  • 11% increased risk of hypertension in men.3

It also increases your risk of abnormal lipid profiles and inflammation.4,5 In fact, the highest consumers of sugar-sweetened beverages have a 20% increased risk of cardiovascular disease!6

The sweetener industry spends tens of millions of dollars each year in attempts to hoodwink the American public regarding the bitter truth about fructose.7 All their efforts are paying off: Between 1970 and 1990, Americans’ consumption of high fructose corn syrup rose by more than 1,000%, an increase that paralleled the rapid rise of the obesity epidemic.8

Fructose Poisoning

Are you a victim of fructose poisoning? If you have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, belly fat, or insulin resistance, the answer is likely yes.

Fructose might taste sweet to your taste buds, but there’s nothing sweet about what it does to your body. Mounting evidence shows that fructose is responsible for multiple factors involved in metabolic syndrome.2,3

The reason for these disastrous health problems is that high intake of fructose acts more like a toxin than a nutrient.9 Like a toxin, it is metabolized almost exclusively in the liver, where it is converted into dangerous byproducts (such as excess lipids and uric acid).10-16 And, like a toxin, fructose has direct harmful effects (glycation) on tissues throughout the body, while performing no necessary nutritional function.17,18

Recent research has shown that you can induce metabolic syndrome in rats by feeding them fructose in amounts relevant to human consumption.19 That’s incredibly important, since on average fructose now makes up 10 to 15% of the calories Americans consume.20,21 Some adolescents get nearly 30% of their calories from fructose!22

Study after study has demonstrated that excessive fructose consumption directly causes all five components of metabolic syndrome: abdominal fat, high blood pressure, abnormal lipid profiles, insulin resistance, and inflammation.2-5

Central Obesity

Central Obesity  

When scientists need to produce a quick model of central obesity, they’ve found a convenient solution: Feeding rats fructose for several weeks produces an animal with features of metabolic syndrome, including increased abdominal fat, high triglycerides, and elevated fasting blood glucose.23,24

Studies of primates and smaller laboratory animals now show that fructose intake can be directly linked to the development of central obesity.25 In addition, a recent study found that fructose-fed animals had increased levels of the enzyme that activates the stress hormone cortisol, which is a well-known cause of central obesity.26

Population-based studies show that women with the highest fructose intake have a 20% increased risk of abdominal obesity, while men have a 39% increased risk of abdominal obesity.3 A direct observational study of 559 adolescents demonstrated a strong and significant correlation between total fructose intake and abdominal obesity.22

From these data it’s clear that the more fructose you consume, the more abdominal fat you are likely to gain.

What You Need to Know
Deadly Effects of Fructose

Deadly Effects of Fructose

  • We are being systematically poisoned by fructose, a low-cost sweetener that is pervasive in our food supply.
  • Studies in both lab animals and in humans show that fructose produces all five components of metabolic syndrome.
  • Fructose can’t suppress your appetite the way glucose does, so you keep eating after you are full, contributing to abdominal obesity.
  • Fructose triggers changes in the liver leading to insulin resistance and elevated blood sugar.
  • Fructose diverts normal liver enzymes to produce abnormally large amounts of new fat molecules, contributing to unbalanced lipid profiles and fatty liver disease.
  • Fructose raises production of the metabolic toxin uric acid, which is a major contributor to hypertension.
  • Fructose acts through the “JNK” pathway to stimulate body-wide inflammation.
  • To avoid developing metabolic syndrome, limit your consumption of fructose to less than 25 grams per day.

Elevated Blood Sugar

Men and women who consume high levels of fructose have a 9% increased risk of insulin resistance, a key component of metabolic syndrome. 3 As is the case with central obesity, scientists have found that feeding rats a fructose solution can rapidly produce a reliable model of insulin resistance.27,28

The reasons why fructose elevates blood sugar are becoming increasingly better understood. Animal studies demonstrate that fructose consumption has direct harmful effects not only in the liver, but also in the brain. Fructose triggers signaling changes in the hypothalamus, the “appetite thermostat” that regulates food intake and directs other body tissues in how to handle sugar.10,29

One of those changes causes muscle cells to take up glucose less efficiently, contributing to elevated blood glucose levels even in the presence of sufficient insulin.30 Another causes the liver to ramp up its own production of new glucose, adding to the already high burden of blood sugar.31

Insulin resistance produced by fructose consumption not only produces high blood sugar, it also results in chronically elevated levels of insulin.32 An appropriate amount of insulin is necessary, but continuous exposure to raised insulin levels is now recognized as a major contributor to cardiovascular disease and cancer.33,34

Fructose: The Sweetest Toxin
Fructose: The Sweetest Toxin

Dr. Robert Lustig, a world-renowned expert on metabolism at the University of California at San Francisco, applied the term “toxin” to fructose.9 Based on the information below, it’s easy to see why.

Fructose doesn’t suppress hunger. When you eat a glucose-rich meal, your body releases a burst of insulin to drive the glucose into cells; the rise in insulin raises levels of leptin, a hormone that signals “I’m full” to the brain. At the same time, such a meal causes levels of ghrelin, the “hunger hormone,” to fall. The combined effect of rising leptin and falling ghrelin normally serves to tell your body to stop eating when you’ve had enough. The problem is that fructose doesn’t trigger a rise in insulin and leptin or suppress ghrelin.56 In fact, it does just the opposite: It causes ghrelin levels to rise.10 As a result, your brain perceives that you are still hungry, so you keep eating well after you have consumed the calories you actually need.10

Fructose increases fat formation by the liver. The liver is the only organ in the body capable of managing fructose.10,11 But whereas the liver stores excess glucose in the form of harmless (and useful) glycogen, it converts fructose into fats (lipids) very rapidly.12-14 That newly made fat is then formed into dangerous small LDL particles, which travel through the body to be taken up by fat cells and damage blood vessels.12 A substantial portion of that new fat remains in the liver, contributing to the fatty liver that’s part of metabolic syndrome.

Fructose increases glycation. Fructose is 7 to 8 times more potent at producing dangerous advanced glycation end products (AGEs) than glucose.17,18 AGEs are major triggers of inflammation, and are implicated in the development of diabetes, heart disease, and neurodegenerative diseases.

Fructose promotes uric acid production. Uric acid is a natural byproduct of metabolism that the liver normally converts into urea for excretion in the kidney. But fructose disrupts that process, boosting uric acid levels into the abnormal range.14-16 Uric acid is a powerful tissue toxin and has recently been shown to promote high blood pressure.15