‘Fructose: The New Booze’ by Dr. Helena Popovic published in Great Health Guide (Nov 2016). Dr. Popovic discusses how fructose (another form of sugar) is commonly used in many processed food and drinks. Unlike glucose, fructose cannot be used by the body as energy so it is stored immediately as fat. Learn how you can minimise fructose consumption today.
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Nutrition: Fructose – The New Booze
written by Dr. Helena Popovic
Many people have heard that fructose is worse for the body than glucose because fructose can cause liver damage similar to that caused by alcohol. Yes, glucose and fructose are metabolised differently by the body. However, too much of either of these sugars causes visceral fat deposition via different mechanisms. This is not the place for a complex biochemistry lesson so I apologise in advance for oversimplifying the case. In short, glucose (but not fructose) stimulates the release of insulin, which is a protein that allows glucose to be absorbed from the blood into liver, muscle and fat cells. The glucose is then converted to glycogen (in muscle and liver) and triglycerides (in fat and liver).
When blood glucose levels (from a diet too rich in added sugar and refined carbohydrates) are consistently high, the pancreas needs to produce increasing amounts of insulin. This can lead to insulin resistance where the organs no longer respond to insulin and eventually results in diabetes. Diabetes is a risk factor for a multitude of other illnesses including heart disease, kidney failure, limb amputation and dementia. Diabetes can shorten lifespan by more than 10 years.
Fructose on the other hand is only metabolised by the liver, not by muscle or any other organ. This means the liver gets overwhelmed when faced with a constant influx of fructose. Once again I’d like to reiterate that fructose in whole fruits and vegetables does not pose a problem because the fibre in natural foods controls the rate at which fructose arrives at the liver and makes it manageable.