Fructose and Metabolic Syndrome
I was called by one of my favorite referring physicians the other day and he wanted to know about a comment that I had made to one of his patients. I explained the comment and he retorted, saying “I thought table sugar was pure glucose?” I pointed out that sugar, also known as sucrose, is 50% glucose and 50% fructose. He promptly replied, “I better read your book!” He was referring to my most recent book, Fructose Exposed.
What his lack of knowledge points out to me is that unless you have an interest in something, you may not understand something that is all around you, directly affects you and can damage you if consumed in excess. Fructose is the case in point. This simple sugar, also known as fruit sugar, is found abundantly in many foods and beverages that we consume every day.
Fructose is found in large quantities in what I call the big five when I am educating my patients: fruit, fruit juice, honey, table sugar and high fructose corn syrup. Half a century ago we consumed about twelve to fifteen grams of fructose per day but that has now increased to over 75 grams daily.
Our liver was never designed to accommodate that large amount of fructose and chronic, daily consumption leads to development of what is known as the metabolic syndrome. This syndrome now affects over 65 million adults and many of our youth all across America. Metabolic syndrome includes three of any of the following: central obesity in the abdomen, high blood pressure, elevated “bad” cholesterol, elevated triglyceride levels and type two diabetes. These problems have directly led to the explosion of heart disease and stroke in America in the last fifty years.
The highest concentrations of fructose found naturally in the western diet are found in fruits and honey. While these foods contain many vitamins, minerals and other substances that are beneficial to our health, fruits like apples (12 grams per medium sized apple), cantaloupe (11 grams per one half melon), pears (12 grams per medium sized fruit) and watermelon (11 grams per slice) each contain enough fructose per serving to reach the limit of our liver’s metabolism of fructose per day. Yet, we have been encouraged by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Food and Drug Administration and agribusiness to consume up to five servings of fruit per day. This daily excess consumption of fructose has turned on the metabolic syndrome in millions of Americans.
The lack of insight concerning the metabolism of fructose by most of us has led to the obesity epidemic, the rise in the disorders of the metabolic syndrome and eventual heart disease and stroke that are now affecting younger and younger people all across the country.
One of the important revelations about fructose and metabolic syndrome is that it is reversible in most of us if we go through a prolonged dietary fast from fructose ingestion. Most of us can shut down deleterious fructose digestion in the liver leading to metabolic syndrome in a matter of two to three weeks but it may take up to a year or two for some individuals to totally normalize the altered hormone levels that develop during the development of the biologic disaster created from this sugar.
While high fructose corn syrup has been the target of much of the damage caused by excess, daily fructose ingestion, we are now realizing that fructose from any source induces the same enzyme systems responsible for the metabolic syndrome. The problem with the western diet is that many foods contain large amounts of fructose and we are now consuming six times the quantity of fructose than our liver can metabolize safely on a daily basis.
My recent book, Fructose Exposed, outlines the bigger story about this issue that is now damaging our children as well as adults all across America. I would encourage you to read this book as it outlines the problem and the solution to fix your diet. See links to Amazon or Barnes and Noble or Xulon Press.