Life Extension Magazine October 2013
Are You Suffering from Fructose Poisoning?
By Roman Hartley
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
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
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.
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