Fructose: It’s Natural & Healthy, Right?
When looking to substitute refined sugar for a healthier option, it’s common to choose fructose. Fructose comes from fruit. It’s natural, and therefore we assume that it’s healthy. But the truth is, it’s problematic. The body responds differently to fructose than it does to the other simple carbohydrates, sucrose and glucose.
Yes, it’s found naturally in many fruits and vegetables, but it’s not the first choice of energy for the body. Unlike glucose which is immediately burned or stored, fructose is only metabolized in the liver and produces much more fat than glucose: it’s lipogenic. But there are a couple of other factors that render fructose dangerous for our health.
Why Fructose is Dangerous for our Health
Fructose stimulates neither insulin – the blood sugar regulator – nor leptin – the energy regulator. This means that while it’s sweet and seductive, the body/brain doesn’t receive the hormonal messages of when to stop consuming it. We’ll keep eating and drinking the fructose laden substance, even though we’re full and our blood sugar levels are elevated.
Fructose in the form of High Fructose Corn Syrup is a common ingredient in fizzy drinks and is found throughout the range of processed foods. The global increase in hypertension, heart disease, obesity and diabetes is directly on a par with the increase in fructose consumption.
Fructose vs Fresh Fruit
This doesn’t mean we should stop eating fruit! A piece of fruit is much more complex than pure fructose. Fruit contains synergistic combinations of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and phytonutrients. The problem with pure fructose is that the production process has removed it from its natural context, stripped it of nutrients, and because of the lack of hormonal messages, it’s too easy to over consume it.
A little fresh fruit is okay, but it needs to be treated with the same caution that we apply to sweets and treats in general. Because it’s sweet and delicious, fruit can keep the Sugar Dragon alive and strong. And we need to keep the Sugar Dragon under control forever.
Also , remember that the fruit we’re eating now is very different from the fruit of our ancestors.
- It’s bigger
- It’s sweeter
- It’s more colorful
- It’s available all through the year.
Fresh fruit now contributes to an unlimited supply of sweetness.
Fresh Fruit and the Glycemic Load
Some fruits are more problematic than others because of their glycemic load. The glycemic load indicates how an average portion of food will increase blood sugar levels.
To give you an idea, the fruits here are listed from the lowest (lime) to the highest (raisins).
- Lime, Strawberries, Apricots, Grapefruit, Lemon, Melon, Nectarine, Oranges, Pear, Watermelon, Blueberries, Peach, Plum, Apple, Pineapple, Kiwi, Mango, Cherries, Banana, Grapes, Dates, Raisins.
We want to be aware of not only how much fruit we’re consuming but also which kinds.
The Difference Between Fructose and Sucrose
Apart from fructose, fruit and vegetables also contain sucrose. Common table sugar which is derived from sugar cane or sugar beets is a pure source of sucrose. Sucrose is a disaccharide, meaning it’s comprised of two sugar molecules. Once consumed, it’s broken down into its individual glucose and fructose units. Glucose activates the response to insulin, but fructose doesn’t.
Of course, any energy from both glucose and fructose that isn’t burnt immediately is transformed into fat.
Fructose, Fresh Fruit and Health Goals
So, you can see that eating a lot of fruit isn’t going to assist your health goals. Too much fruit will keep your blood sugar and insulin levels high. It will contribute to keeping you in trapped in the metabolic pattern of fat storage. And it will most certainly reinforce the Sugar Dragon. For long term health we need to recalibrate our relationship to “sweetness”.
We need to
- reeducate the taste buds
- decrease the amount of sweeteners that we use (or not use them at all) and
- decrease the occasions when we reach for sugar, fruit and sweet foods.
What you’ll see as you embark upon the Paleo Reset 31 is that within a very short time your sense of taste will change. By the end of the month the super-sweetness of industrialized foods and your old favorites will have become sickly sweet.
Instead, you’ll find that the natural sweetness of fresh fruit and the refined flavours of homemade desserts are perfectly satisfying.
Transform Pain into Freedom, Weight into Energy, Confusion into Confidence… and Stress into Joy.
Learn how in your Free 30 page Guide to the Paleo Reset 31.
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Woman with Orange Halves Photo by Гоар Авдалян on Unsplash | Pouring Cola Photo by Artem Beliaikin on Unsplash | Hands holding fruit platter Photo by Chen Mizrach on Unsplash | Woman eating apple Photo by Matt Seymour on Unsplash