Whether you’ve resolved to lose weight this year or simply want to achieve better overall health, here’s a suggestion: a fructose-free diet, eliminating even high fructose corn syrup (HFCS). In fact, cutting out all sugar is one of my top dietary recommendations for optimal health and well-being.
For years, we believed that fructose was the best of all caloric sweeteners. Mother Nature put it in fruit, so what could be more natural and healthy? Furthermore, because fructose has less of an effect on blood sugar than sucrose, it was thought to be better for people with diabetes.
We were wrong. Our bodies can certainly handle a little fructose—the amount, say, in a piece of fruit—especially when it comes packaged with fiber, vitamins and other nutrients. We cannot, however, handle the massive amounts in sodas and other sweetened beverages and processed foods.
Five Reasons to Try a Fructose-Free Diet
Contributes to weight gain and overeating. Fructose is readily taken up by the liver, where it is converted into fat—some of which is released into the bloodstream and some that is stored in fat cells, causing weight gain. This is why a fructose-free diet is so important. Studies also suggest that fructose interferes with satiety-signaling hormones in the brain, which may contribute to overeating and even greater weight gain.
In one recent study, researchers compared the effects of glucose and fructose in this capacity. They found that, unlike glucose, when participants consumed fructose it did not trigger the hormones that tell the body it is full and satisfied. Although these findings are preliminary, they further support the theory that fructose may actually be a bigger culprit than glucose in our epidemics of obesity and diabetes.
Raises risk of metabolic syndrome. Excessive fructose consumption is clearly linked with metabolic syndrome, as it boosts virtually every risk factor for this increasingly prevalent condition.
In one study, Spanish researchers placed men on a very high-fructose diet, and after just two weeks, they had significant increases in blood pressure, triglycerides, insulin and liver enzymes, as well as reductions in insulin sensitivity and protective HDL cholesterol. Overall, markers of metabolic syndrome increased by 25 percent to 33 percent! (These parameters returned to normal within two months of resuming a normal diet.)
Initiates the formation of AGEs. Fructose is eight to 10 times more reactive than glucose in terms of initiating the chemical reactions that create advanced glycation endproducts (AGEs), which are an underlying cause of diabetes complications, cataracts, Alzheimer’s and overall aging. A fructose-free diet may be one of the best ways to avoid these conditions.
Increases risk of gout and kidney stones. A high-fructose diet raises blood levels of uric acid, which increases risk of gout. In a large epidemiological study, men who consumed two or more soft drinks a day had an 85 percent greater risk of gout than men who drank just one soda a month. Other studies have found an association between a high intake of fructose and an increased risk of kidney stones.
Contributes to NAFLD. Excessive fructose consumption has also been implicated in nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), a condition most common in overweight people with metabolic syndrome.
Now it’s your turn: Have you ever noticed a change in your appetite after consuming fructose? Have you tried a fructose-free diet?
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