We’ve all heard of glucose, but what about fructose? Like glucose, fructose is a monosaccharide; but unlike glucose it bypasses the complex breakdown processes in our body and is directly shunted to the liver in a process called the ‘metabolic shunt’, where it is used in lipogenesis.
Lipo- = lipid aka fat
-genesis = make
So literally, fructose converts into fat within the liver…
which then starts a cascade of events that result in obesity, insulin resistance, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease…
- Firstly, excess lipogenesis leads to dyslipidemia, which basically means an abnormal amount of lipids (fat) in the blood
- This includes Low Density Lipoprotein-Cholesterol, the bad stuff that gets stuck to your blood vessel walls and narrows your blood vessels, increasing your risk for cardiovascular disease.
- Excessive build-up of fat within liver cells can also lead to non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NFLD)
- Which is often accompanied by the development of insulin resistance, so there is poor control of blood sugar levels, and no insulin-generated signal to the brain that you’re full.
- So you keep eating (possibly more fructose-loaded foods)…. And the cycle continues.
But you probably already know this. Maybe not in such dreadful detail, but there’s been so much debate about whether fruit and juices are good or bad for you, so the only time you have Boost juice is on your free birthday offer.
While you can still get away with a moderate intake of fruit, because it still contains fibre and vitamins, there’s something you can’t get away with…
High Fructose Corn Syrup = HFCS = Horrifying Food that Create Shit**
(**in this case, Shit = Fat)
There are many different varieties of HFCS, based on their composition. For example,
- HFCS 42 = ~42% fructose if water were removed. Commonly used in cereals and baked goods
- HFCS 55 = ~55% fructose if water were removed. The most commonly used form of HFCS.
- HFCS 90 = Oh shit. Thankfully, we don’t usually use this directly in food, it is commonly mixed with HFCS 42 to make HFCS 55
But if HFCS is so bad for us, why do we use it? Well, because…
- #Treaties. Fructose is sweeter than glucose. So to save cost, food manufacturers prefer to use HFCS
- It extends the shelf-life of processed foods, making it the favoured sweetener for food stockists
- It protects frozen foods from freezer burn (dehydration and oxidation of frozen foods caused by insecure air-tight packaging)
- It makes baked products brown in the oven so that they look more “natural” – trust me, there’s nothing natural about it
While we’re lucky enough not to have HFCS in Australian products, that doesn’t stop us from importing foods that contain HFCS. Whatsmore, companies within Australia are allowed to use cane sugar, which contains sucrose, a disaccharide of glucose bonded to fructose. So it’s 50% fructose, only 5% less than HFCS 55!
While some argue that this slight difference matters, and that cane sugar isn’t as bad as HFCS, one thing’s for certain – and it’s this:
You don’t need any added sugar in your nutrition.
Be careful of what you buy off the shelves. Always read nutrition labels thoroughly.
- Conquering Low Fat Food and Your Hormones (5 podcasts that will change your life)
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- The Gut – What You Must Understand… (part 1)