by Mila McManus, MD
All sugars are harmful for us, especially when eaten in excess. We always recommend reduction of sugar intake as far as you possibly can. Fructose is increasingly in the forefront as causing significant health problems.
The negative effects of fructose include:
- Fatty liver
- High Triglycerides
- Weight Gain
- Leptin Resistance
- Keeps you feeling hungry
- Increases uric acid which contributes to Cardiovascular Disease, cognitive decline, and kidney stones to name a few
- Causes insulin resistance
Fructose is a simple sugar found in fruit, vegetables, and some natural sweeteners, and is also added to a wide variety of processed foods and beverages. Over the last 50 years, fructose use by the food industry has increased considerably.
The body’s preferred source of fuel is glucose, the form of sugar we are “wired” to use. While fructose is a simple sugar, the process of converting it to glucose must be done by the liver. Once converted, it will be used for energy if the blood needs glucose, or it will be stored in the liver, or in fat cells. The process of converting fructose results in a waste product called uric acid, a key contributor to gout and heart disease. A good analogy would be to say that glucose is a clean fuel and fructose is a dirty fuel that pollutes your body.
High fructose corn sugar is a combination of fructose and glucose and made from corn starch. It is cheaper and sweeter than cane sugar. It is found in soft drinks, bread, juices, ice cream, canned fruit, canned soup, ketchup, sweetened dairy products, cakes, cereal bars, salad dressings, and many other manufactured foods. We recommend elimination of these foods for a multitude of health reasons notwithstanding the ones listed above.
We also recommend avoiding corn syrup, honey, and agave nectar, and limiting fruit to no more than 2 servings a day. Grapes, watermelon, jackfruit, and dried fruit like cranberries, raisins, apricots, and apples are intensified forms of fructose, so best avoided or very limited. Small fresh fruit is a better choice and offers natural fructose. Fructose in fruit isn’t what’s causing disease in most people. Along with the fructose in a piece of fruit you’re also getting fiber, vitamins, minerals, and other micronutrients that your body needs. Good choices include apples, apricots, berries, melon, citrus fruit, kiwi, cherries, pear, plum, and peach. A portion is about the size of a tennis ball, or ½ to 1 cup of fresh bite sized pieces.
If you need help getting fructose out of the diet, our staff nutritionist is available to guide you to healthier choices that are best for your unique body and health status.
Eat Well, Be Well.
Dr. David Perlmutter, author of Drop Acid: The Surprising New Science of Uric Acid