Fructose and Addiction

10 Mar 2013

We have known for some time now that fructose affects the brain and chronic excess ingestion leads to an addiction of overeating, weight gain and development of the metabolic syndrome in many of us. An estimated 67 million adults now suffer from the consequences of excess fructose in our diet.

The craving for overeating has been linked to a lack of brain regulation of our appetite by hormonal influences. Initially, it was unclear how or why this was occurring. The data is now mounting that it is derived by a specific sugar, fructose.

A brand new study published in 2013 in the Journal of the American Medical Association revealed that fructose and not other sugars directly alters blood flow to different areas of the brain and leads to altered hormone levels that are responsible for appetite control.

The metabolic and hormonal effects of fructose on the brain, as demonstrated in this study performed on healthy adult volunteers, were striking. Hormones that are known to suppress our appetite and blood flow to areas of the brain that regulate hunger and satiety are blunted by fructose but not other sugars.

The consequences of this dysregulation are that we overeat, crave fructose and eventually, turn on a metabolic pathway in the liver that leads to high “bad” cholesterol, low “good” cholesterol, elevated triglycerides, high blood pressure, gout in some people, type 2 diabetes, fatty liver, increased belly fat, heart rhythm problems, stroke and heart attack.

While government agencies are focused on saturated fat and cholesterol consumption (see my eggs and heart disease article) and the glycemic index and salt intake, the push to educate us about the addiction to fructose and the metabolic mess that daily, excess consumption produces in our bodies should be emphasized. The mounting data clearly demonstrates that fructose, not salt and eggs, is the problem child of a great number of medical ailments seen in many Americans.

I wrote an entire book about the impact of excess, daily fructose on our body’s metabolism. Michael Pollan also published a very enlightening book about how we got into this dietary mess from a geopolitical perspective. Both books will bring better understanding about fructose to the interested reader.

The bottom line is that we need to return to the era of the 1950’s when we consumed only ten grams of fructose per person per day rather than the present-day level of over 85 grams per day. The impact of this increase is that it is clearly affecting the outer waistline as well as the inner functioning of the human body.

1. Journal of the American Medical Association. 2013; 309(1):63-70.
2. Fructose Exposed by M. Frank Lyons, 2010.
3. Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan, 2006.