More Bad News About Fructose
As if the news this week weren’t bad enough for manufacturers of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), it was also reported recently that fructose—not glucose—makes you overeat.
That’s right. According to research presented to attendees at the annual meeting of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology, held in Phoenix, Arizona, in early December, fructose affects reward circuitry in the brain that essentially tells you to keep eating. Even when you’ve had your fill. Or more.
That’s big news, because industry proponents have been claiming for years that high fructose corn syrup is no different than table sugar (sucrose). The body treats all sugar calories the same, they argued. And HFCS only supplies 5% more fructose than sucrose, anyway, they claimed, so it’s hard to argue that one’s worse than the other. To some extent that’s true. Table sugar is 50% fructose, and 50% glucose, while HFCS contains 55% fructose. The bigger problem has to do with sugar consumption in general.
But it’s not glucose that’s making us fat. And it’s not even fat that’s making us fat. It’s fructose. Our bodies can’t handle the amount of fructose that most of us are routinely consuming. Fructose really is handled different in the body than glucose. Most simple carbohydrates are broken down into glucose in the body. And glucose is burned directly by cells for energy. But according to new research presented in Phoenix, glucose does not stimulate hunger. Fructose does.
Rather, glucose circulating in the bloodstream after you eat signals a structure of the brain involved in hunger and satiety—the feeling that one is full—while fructose has no such effect. In essence, glucose tells the brain when you’ve had enough. But fructose doesn’t. So your brain keeps asking for more, even when you’ve had too much. And that sets you up for excess weight gain, obesity, diabetes, kidney disease, etc.
Ironically, although fructose is the primary sugar found in most fruit, it’s never been shown to be a problem when consumed in its natural form. The real problem is added sugars, which provide more fructose, in a more concentrated form, than the body can handle. So ditch the packaged highly-sweetened packaged goods and soft drinks, and reach for a piece of fruit instead.