Sugar has two major components called glucose and fructose. and of these two, fructose is bad for health. Many researchers are of the view that fructose had worse health effects than glucose when taken in excess.
Let us know if fructose is bad for health as we are always told. What is the truth and are there any pieces of evidence to prove the same?
Before we go into some details let us know more about Fructose first.
What is Fructose?
Fructose is a kind of simple sugar that forms the 50% part of the table sugar also known as sucrose. Glucose found in table sugar is the source of energy for body cells. but our body cells cannot directly use the fructose from sugar for energy. It means that the liver first converts fructose into glucose and then it can be used by the body cells.
Fructose is also a major part of many sugary sweeteners like corn syrup and agave syrups. You would have often read on product labels that it contains added sugar as the main ingredient. In that case, you can sure that it will have a high content of fructose. It is only after refined sugar is being produced on a large scale that we have started consuming it in high amounts.
Fructose is also present in some vegetables and sweet fruits, but the content is very low. In some conditions, our body is not able to absorb all fructose it consumes. This is known as fructose malabsorption. This condition can be identified by digestive pain and excess gas in the body.
When the person suffers from fructose malabsorption, fructose works like a fermentable carb. This is classified as FODMAP or “fermentable oligo-, di-, mono-saccharides and polyols”. In this condition gas, bloating, stomach pain, diarrhea and constipation are common symptoms.
In contrast with glucose, fructose does not raise the level of blood sugar much. For this reason, some health experts favor fructose to be used as a sweetener. These are also “safer” for people suffering from type 2 diabetes.
Some experts have a completely different viewpoint. They opine that high fructose intake can result in some metabolic problems.
The truth about Fructose
Our body uses fructose and glucose in very different ways. Our body cells can use glucose directly, whereas fructose can only be utilized by our liver. Fructose is metabolized by the liver and converted into glucose.
But in conditions where our diet is full of calories and fructose, this creates an overload for the liver to process. In that condition, the liver turns the fructose into fat and stores it.
Some researchers even say that most of the serious illness and diseases that we face today is the result of high fructose consumption. These diseases can be obesity, diabetes, heart disorders, and cancer. However, there is not much human evidence yet to support this theory. Researchers and scientists are not unanimous on the decision of fructose being the key driver for these disorders.
Damaging effects of consuming excess Fructose
An excess of anything is bad for our body, so is excess consumption of fructose is bad for health. But still, there is a lot of controversy about its ill effects on human health. But some researches can be considered as evidence to justify the health concerns from fructose. When you eat a lot of fructose as added sugar components in products, the following effects can be possible:
- The composition of body fluids gets disturbed badly. Increased consumption of fructose can increase the levels of VLDL cholesterol. This in turn will lead to the deposition of fat in the body causing obesity and finally leading to heart-related problems.
- It leads to increased levels of uric acid in the blood which causes gout and increases blood pressure also.
- Consuming high fructose may lead to fat deposits in the liver which may lead to non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.
- It can also cause the body to resist insulin and lead to obesity and further to type 2 diabetes.
- Fructose can lead to overeating. It does not control the appetite as glucose. Our stomach does not seem full and so the person will eat more food and can become prone to overeating.
- By consuming more fructose a person can become resistant to leptin. It disturbs the regulation of fat accumulation on the body and thus leads to obesity.
It is important to note that all of the above points about the harmful effects of consuming fructose do not have substantial evidence. Most of these tests are done as controlled studies and so cannot be treated as most certain. However, we will have to wait for the evidence from more studies being done on these topics, and hopefully, future results will be able to give us a clearer picture.
Which kind of Fructose is bad?
After we have learned some of the harmful effects of excess consumption of fructose, it is very important to discuss what source of fructose is bad for us.
it is important to know the fructose that we get from whole fruits is not bad for us. So the above effects do not apply to fructose that we consume from eating whole fruits. Fruits are not only full of fructose but also are low in calories and a good source of fiber.
Overeating is not possible when eating fruits and fruits do not contribute to any harmful effects of fructose. For that, you will have to eat fruits in a large quantity to reach that level of fructose intake.
When compared to any diet containing added sugar, the fructose from fruits will always be a negligible source of fructose.
Most of the harmful effects of fructose are due to western diets that contain added sugar and a lot of calories.
So we can safely say that fructose from whole fruits and vegetables is harmful to our body. We should stay away from any products that contain added sugar.
Now we know what is fructose and what are its harmful effects on our body. We understand what kind of fructose is bad for our health and we need to avoid those sources of fructose.
Part of the Diet for Weight Loss Editorial Team 2021