The Dangers Of Fructose Consumption
Fructose and its other version, high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) have been widely used as cheaper alternatives for sugar. This sweetener has applications as a sweetener in the preparation of a variety of foods. Fructose has been widely implicated in a large number of disorders like metabolic syndrome, diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Glucose and fructose are similar in a number of ways. Both of them share the same molecular formula. Yet, the brain looks at glucose and fructose differently. Glucose is essential for the brain while fructose is not.
The MRI scans of people infused with glucose and fructose separately, showed some interesting results. Fructose inhibited the activity in the cortical region of the brain. At the same time, glucose increased the activity in this region. When the cortical region undergoes activation, it decides how people react to the taste and the smell of the food. When glucose is consumed, it produces a satiety response in the brain and therefore, also elicits a ‘stop eating’ response. In contrast, this feedback is absent when fructose is consumed. Therefore, there is no ‘stop eating’ signal produced in the brain. This leads to overeating. Thus, the consumption of fructose-containing foods can lead to obesity.
Decades back, fructose consumption was very low in the US, but right now, fructose is the major supplier of calories. It is an alarming situation. While obesity may be the major outcome arising out of fructose consumption, there are other concerns as well. The greatest threat is the rising level of uric acid. For example, in the early half of the twentieth century, the average uric aid levels in the US were around 3.5mgs/100 ml. In 1980, this rose to around 6.5mgs/100 ml, an almost doubling of the uric acid levels. When uric acid levels rise, there is increased risk for kidney disease, hypertension, insulin resistance, fatty liver, obesity, diabetes and a number of other conditions.
Uric acid is having low solubility and thus, when its blood levels rise, it tends to precipitate, particularly at the joints. This leads to the erosion of the joint structures and can lead to painful arthritis. Fructose also elevates the angiotensin levels and lowers the nitric oxide levels. This combination is deadly. Elevated angiotensin causes the blood pressure to rise and this in turn can produce stroke and heart disease. Nitric oxide has the ability to relax the blood vessels and this keeps them flexible, allowing for the smooth flow of the blood. When nitric oxide is lowered, the arteries become hardened and lose their elasticity. This also can promote heart disease. Another danger also lurks nearby and this is the link between fructose consumption and cancer. Insulin resistance has been implicated in several forms of cancer and one of the consequences of excessive fructose consumption is insulin resistance.
It should be understood that only fructose from the processed foods is dangerous. Fructose obtained from fruits is not having these deleterious consequences because this fructose is always accompanied by fiber and antioxidants.