The Problem with High Fructose Corn Syrup

By Ben Fuchs | Pharmacist Ben

The next time you see that commercial where the two people are trying to figure why high fructose corn syrup is problematic, here’s somethings YOU can think about…

Table sugar is made up robust chemical bond that connects fructose and glucose; it’s a natural product with a natural bonding that makes it very strong. High fructose corn syrup, which is made up of an artificially processed combination of fructose and glucose has no such chemical constituency. The two sugars aren’t bonded. And that means it’s is fructose is free and easily absorbed by liver which doesn’t really know how to handle kind of fructose load. High Fructose Corn SyrupThe net result is a too horrible words that when it comes to your health and longevity that you don’t want to hear together “fatty liver”.

High fructose sweeteners have another unpleasant quality. While all sugars can make you fat, fructose-fat may be specific for the belly. In a study published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation, researchers showed that volunteers who consumed fructose sweetened beverages experienced significantly higher accumulations of fat within the abdomen even though they and their glucose drinking experimental colleagues gained the same amount of total weight.

Got gout? Well, it turns out one of the ways the the liver handles all that excess fructose ends up creating the uric acid crystals that wreak so much havoc in millions of big toes around the country. And uric acid doesn’t just cause the grief of gout. It associated with high blood pressure and kidney disease too.

And if that’s not enough, there’s recent literature that suggests that even though fructose doesn’t raise insulin, it may increase insulin resistance. In article published earlier this year in Diabetes Care, fructose consumers were more likely to have depotentized insulin than glucose consumers.

Perhaps the worst thing about high fructose corn syrup is a particularly distressing feature it shares in common with most common sweeteners, artificial and “natural”. They make you want to eat more. In the book ‘Salt Sugar Fat” by Michael Moss, there’s an interesting and revealing vignette about how surprised researchers were to discover that sweetened beverages more hungry not less. And now it turns out that fructose may be particularly culpable. Two papers in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in 2007 showed that pure glucose decreases food intake while fructose had the opposite effect fructose increased it .

Posted by Ben Fuchs in Toxic

Fructose is Natural, but …

By Ben Fuchs | Pharmacist Ben

I’ve been thinking a lot about fructose lately. And it seems like so are a lot of other people. Every week I get between 10 and 20 letters asking for clarifications about this not-so-sweet subject. Fructose, known colloquially as fruit sugar seems like such an innocuous substance. After al, it come from fruit. And we all know how wonderful fruit is, right? And besides, it’s natural!

Fructose is NaturalWell, at the risk of bursting nutritional and mythological bubbles, it seems that, much like everything else, even natural fruit sugar has a dark side. The problem is that humanity’s exponentially evolving skills at manipulating technology has gotten so sophisticated that we can now extract sugars from plants with such proficiency that we are all getting far more fructose than the body, and specifically the liver can handle. The average American is ingesting around 60 pounds of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) and 140 pounds of sucrose every year. When you do the math (HFCS is usually around 55% fructose and sucrose, ordinary table sugar, is around 50% fructose) we’re looking over two pounds of fructose a week, per person, per year. And that doesn’t include the amount people are getting from fruit and honey and other sources. That’s a lot of fructose for a body has evolved and is equipped to handle the sweet stuff in only the smallest of quantities.

So, what’s the problem with fructose? Well, because of the human body is not supposed to be dealing with alot of fructose (for millennia it was a rare find), the metabolic systems that metabolize (process and store) it are easily overloaded. This is especially problematic for the digestive system in general and specifically for the liver. The alarming incidences of fatty liver disease (which is so prevalent that it is now considered a normal part of aging) and pervasive intestinal illnesses are at least partially related to the skyrocketing fructose ingestion statistics.

There is some interesting chemical choreography that is associated with fructose metabolism. One of the most relevant biochemical ballets when it comes to human health or the lack thereof, involves the way fructose can combine with the amino acid tryptophan. The resulting interaction can keep tryptophan from getting to the brain and when this happens BIG trouble can follow!

Tryptophan is incredibly important. It’s a must-have for the repair, recovery and the building of tissue. And, it’s mega, mega important for mood and well being and for getting a good night’s sleep. It gets turned into melatonin and serotonin which are arguably the two most important chemicals in the brain and fundamental to mental health. You can think of tryptophan as natural Prozac and from many people fructose will be blocking it’s access to the brain.

And there’s a fascinating fructose/tryptophan connection to eating behavior. Appetite and satisfaction (the feeling of fullness) a regulated by the brain. We eat or don’t eat in response to signals from the brain and one of the most important determining factors in what type type of signals will be sent is the presence or absence of certain chemicals. One of these is tryptophan. The brain in constantly scanning the blood looking for tryptophan and if it can’t find any, it sends it’s owner out on a highly focused, one-pointed hunt for food. If fructose is complexing with this vital amino acid, dietary tryptophan can become unavailable to the brain and there won’t be enough to activate the satisfaction centers vs. the “let’s go get a Coke or an apple or some kind of sugar” centers. An insatiable appetite for sugar or other foods is the ultimate result.

Another indication of fructose/tryptophan complexing issues is digestive symptoms like gas and bloating and loose stools, although it can show up in other ways. Especially when they occur after eating and drinking fruits, fruit juices and HFCS containing foods. This is especially a problem with big hits of liquid or powdered fructose which are quickly absorbed. Little kids are major victims because of of the vast variety of fructose-containing processed foods that target children. And mothers, please do not do the “apple-juice-in-the-pacifier-tipped- bottle” thing where your baby sucks the sweet toxin out at his leisure. When your baby cries for his apple juice he’s going through withdrawal symptoms that’s are just as severe as those associated with opium. The same with adults. There is a well-researched link between the sweet taste and so-called “opioid” receptors in the brain. These receptors are called “opioid” because they respond to opium. In other words, sugar and opium (think heroin) both “turn on” the same chemical systems in the brain. Which means, sugar is essentially brain heroin and when a baby (or adult) goes without it he screams because he’s withdrawing! That’s one of the main reasons it’s so hard to get off of sugar. It’s a withdrawal stress on, what is for most people, an already stressed out body system. In a way, ingestion of fructose and the associated problems are better than adding another stress in the form of withdrawal.

Taking 500-1000mg of tryptophan or 100-200mg of 5HTP once a day is a great way to stabilize mood and suppress the appetite. It may also be helpful for sugar cravings. 1/2 to 1 teaspoonful of glutamine powder taken once or twice a day may also be helpful. Glutamine powder is tasteless and dissolves easily in a glass of water. Like tryptophan, high brain blood concentrations of glutamine signal satiety. Both of these supplements can be supportive if you’re trying to lose weight. There’s alot more you can do if you’re trying to extricate yourself from the fructose morass. We’ll be addressing those strategies in a later post.

Posted by Ben Fuchs in Nutrition