Abnormal Lipid Profiles
As we’ve seen, the effects of fructose in the liver produce marked increases in the production of fats, especially dangerous triglycerides. Elevated triglycerides and lowered HDL cholesterol levels together make up another component of metabolic syndrome.
A high fructose intake produces very high after-meal triglyceride levels in both animal and human studies.35-38 In humans, this has been shown to be directly related to fructose-induced impairments in the way triglycerides are cleared from the blood.35,38 Animal studies confirm this effect and also demonstrate that fructose induces many genes that increase new fat production and raise triglyceride levels.4,39
One human study demonstrated that just seven days of elevated fructose consumption increased fat deposition in liver and muscle, while increasing VLDL-triglycerides.40 Similar studies comparing the effects of excessive calories from either glucose or fructose showed that fructose (but not glucose) produced high 23-hour triglyceride exposure and new fat formation in the liver.12,41 Another study showed that ingesting fructose caused a 2.5 mg/dL drop in beneficial HDL.15
All that excess fructose-induced fat production leads to increased fat deposition in the liver.42 Excessive liver collections of fat, beginning as non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), are considered the liver manifestation of metabolic syndrome; up to 30% of adults now suffer from this condition.42,43 Fructose is now widely recognized as a major contributor to NAFLD.42 NAFLD progresses to produce non-alcoholic steatohepatitis, a precursor to liver cirrhosis and eventual liver failure.42
High Blood Pressure
When lab rats are given drinking water with 10% fructose, they develop hypertension, yet another manifestation of metabolic syndrome.44 High fructose consumption in humans has a similar effect, raising the risk of hypertension by 9% in women and 11% in men.3
Just two weeks of excessive fructose consumption in healthy adult men raised their systolic (top number) blood pressure by an average of 7 points, and their diastolic (bottom number) by 5 points.15 And just one serving of soft drinks raised blood pressure by 1.6 and 0.8 points systolic and diastolic, respectively.45
Laboratory studies now show that there are a number of ways in which fructose consumption raises blood pressure. Fructose triggers very high rates of uric acid production in the liver, which in turn causes blood pressure to rise.16,46,47 High uric acid is a common finding in people with metabolic syndrome.48 Treating fructose-induced hypertension with the gout drug allopurinol returns both uric acid levels and blood pressure to normal.15
Fructose also triggers excessive sodium retention, which is a major contributor to hypertension.45,49 Conversely, a low-fructose diet lowers blood pressure in chronic kidney disease patients.50
Central obesity, insulin resistance, lipid disturbances, and high blood pressure are the four “classic” components of metabolic syndrome.51 Increasingly, however, raised markers of chronic inflammation are recognized as playing an essential role in the condition as well.51,52 Let’s look briefly at how fructose promotes inflammation.
Inflammation: The Role of “JNK” Food
The human liver contains a natural stress-response system that goes into high gear as a result of various kinds of stress, especially stress from toxins. Officially called “c-Jun terminal kinase,” this system is known to scientists simply as “JNK.” Fructose (and foods that contain high amounts of fructose) activate the JNK pathway, which contributes to insulin resistance and ultimately to inflammation.11,53,54
Even low- to moderate-sugar sweetened beverage consumption promotes inflammatory changes in otherwise healthy young men.5
Such changes have been shown to produce a 20% increase in cardiovascular disease risk for the highest consumers of sugar-sweetened beverages.6 Even children aged 3 to 11 years show increases in their cardiac risk factors in direct proportion to their consumption of such beverages.55
As noted earlier, fructose-induced inflammation has been shown to contribute to non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, which has been referred to as “diabetes of the liver.”21
Despite the best public relations efforts of the corn sweetener industry, there’s no longer any doubt that Americans are slowly being poisoned by fructose, which has become ubiquitous in our food supply.
Study after study has shown that when we consume fructose in large quantities, our bodies treat it as a toxin. Fructose goes directly to the liver, where it disrupts a host of normal metabolic processes, producing each and every component of metabolic syndrome: central obesity, insulin resistance, abnormal lipid profiles, elevated blood pressure, and inflammation.
Unfortunately, it’s difficult to avoid fructose and high fructose corn syrup. Since the 1970s, high fructose corn syrup has been added to just about every prepackaged product you can think of.
If you haven’t already eliminated fructose from your diet, now is the time to do so. Read product labels. Don’t be fooled by industry propaganda. Recognize that both high fructose corn syrup and table sugar provide vastly more fructose than your body can safely handle. And consider protecting yourself from this mass poisoning by taking nutrients that reduce the risk of fructose-induced metabolic syndrome.
If you have any questions on the scientific content of this article, please call a Life Extension® Health Advisor at 1-866-864-3027.