Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Fructose and Fiber

"When God made the poison, he packaged it with the antidote." - Robert H. Lustig, MD.

I'm almost embarrassed to say that before hearing this man's lecture on the science behind sugar, I didn't really understand the difference between glucose, sucrose and fructose. I couldn't have answered the question, "What do the Atkin's Diet and the Japanese Diet have in common?" I couldn't have even taken a stab at the answer. The only thing that was obvious to me is that one diet is good for you and one is very bad for you. I see it so clearly now... Both diets have little to no fructose. 

I didn't understand that fructose with equal amounts of fiber is the only way fructose is NOT a toxin. Whether you are talking about corn sugar or cane sugar, it is all fructose, and often without the fiber needed to metabolize it the way nature intended. Don't be fooled by these new commercials by the Corn Refiners Association... It is all bad. Even "natural sodas" that have pure cane sugar, is fructose without the fiber and therefore causes a toxic reaction to your body in much the same way as a beer. It is alcohol without the buzz. 

The dangers of fructose and America's correlating obesity epidemic inspired Dr. Lustig to team up with several doctors and scientists from the University of Berkeley to discover the physical, social and political ramifications of this uncontrolled poison. I urge anyone who has children or who has a deep interested in becoming healthy themselves to watch this lecture, and learn for themselves the finer details of sugar science. 

Some quick highlights of the lecture:

  • is a toxin
  • is a carbohydrate that metabolizes as fat
  • does not suppress ghrelin, the hormone responsible for telling you that you are full
  • does not produce insulin
  • is NOT glucose 
  • is 7x more likely to form Advanced Glycation End Products, which looks like the browning or carmelization that occurs on your grill, as it behaves the same in your arteries... you can see it.
  • damages your liver in the same way that ethanol (fermenting alcohol) causes damage, except since the liver is the only organ that can process fructose, it strains it and produces no warning of an overdose, such as the brain producing side effects that alcohol causes
  • promotes metabolic syndrome
Metabolic Syndrome is the leading cause in:
  • Obesity
  • Diabetes
  • Hypertension
  • Cardio Vascular Disease
  • Lipid issues 
There are recent studies being released in the effects of our diet as it relates to many other health issues as well, such as ADHD, ADD, Fibromyalgia, mental health, etc. It is hard to say how much fructose enters into the equation.

Glucose, on the other hand, is the "energy of life." All cells can use it. All living things can use it. Glucose is created from carbohydrates - is a simple sugar - and can be stored up in the liver as glycogen for long periods of time, which is why athletes do a "carboload" before a big event. And while High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) is added to Gatorade to help athletes "store up" glycogen before a big race, it is marketed and consumed by children, primarily... particularly those who are lacking a good, nutritionally dense breakfast, and think that a good tasting energy drink will help them stay alert, when in reality, it does little to help them, and in fact, leads to the overconsumption of other foods.

While we've been regulating and controlling substances worldwide for centuries, it is mind blowing that despite the research showing the dangers of fructose on the human body, the FDA and the USDA will not control, tax or regulate it in any way. It is recognized as GRAS (Generally Regarded As Safe) despite zero testing or long term studies. Acute toxins, such as tobacco and ethanol are regulated, but chronic toxins, toxins that build up fatty deposits in the liver over a long period of time, such as alcohol, are not regulated. This is because ethanol can be processed by the brain as well as the liver and other organs, unlike fructose, so there are side effects showing an acute reaction to the poison. If we were to label fructose as an acute toxin, the USA would have to admit to the world that our entire food system from our pyramid to our WIC programs are contributing to nearly all of the medical and health problems of the 21st century.

So what can we do?

  • improves the skeletal muscle insulin sensitivity
  • functions as a stress reducer, and resultant cortisol release
  • causes TCA cycles to run faster, making the liver process toxins, such as fructose and ethanol, at a quicker rate
  • Improves hepatic insulin sensitivity
  • Spend equal amounts of time being active and sedentary. If you sit for an hour, play for an hour.
Avoid Fructose:

  • Drink water, herbal iced teas, milk or nut mylks
  • Avoid all soda
  • Avoid all juice
  • Avoid all sports drinks, save coconut water
  • Avoid candy and junk food

Eat sugars in moderation, WITH FIBER: 
  • Fruit - fresh and dried
  • vegetables - fresh and dried
  • complex carbohydrates
  • dairy
These all contain natural sugars with fiber, for slow metabolically precise processing... 
the kind our body were intended to utilize, in a healthy way. You'll find that once fructose is limited or eliminated completely, the natural sugars in whole fruits will become much sweeter to you. If you must have something sweet, opt for limited use of foods sweetened with agave nectar, honey, molasses, stevia or xylitol.

For more information on the science of sugar, 
please take the time to watch and listen to this very informative lecture:

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