Saturday, 29 January 2011

Newsletter 28, January 2011

Fructose, Diabetes, Weight Loss and High Blood Pressure

Is fructose healthy? Is it good for diabetics? Does it help you lose weight? Surely it must be good for you, because it is a natural sugar contained in honey, fruit and vegetables?

Diabetics have been encouraged to favour fructose (or 'fruit sugar') over ordinary table sugar (sucrose) because it does not require insulin to process it and because it is low on the glycaemic index, so it does not cause a spike in blood sugar.

The health-conscious and those trying to lose weight have also been encouraged to see the granulated fructose on their supermarket shelves as more healthy and natural than the bags of granulated sucrose sitting next to it. Agave syrup is another high-fructose product that has been marketed in this way.

However fructose may not be as benign as we have been led to believe. Fructose moves into the liver where it is processed into glycerol, a component of the triglyceride molecule. As a consequence, eating significant amounts of fructose usually causes levels of VLD (Very Low Density Lipoprotein) and triglycerides to rise, which is absolutely not what we want.

The latest buzz from the natural health world is that a byproduct of fructose metabolism is uric acid, which drives blood pressure up. Studies have also shown that regular consumption of fructose can impair the body's handling of glucose and lead to insulin resistance (the end point of which is type 2 diabetes). In fact, feeding lab rats fructose is a standard method of causing them to become insulin resistant and develop high blood pressure.

And what usually goes hand-in-hand with the development of insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes? Obesity. Many fructose researchers believe that high levels of fructose in our diet may be a significant factor in the development of today's obesity epidemic.

What's more, fructose is readily able to attach to proteins and damage them in the process called fructation. This can wreak havoc with critical body structures, causing permanent damage ranging from premature aging of the skin to cataracts and even failure of major organs such as the kidneys and heart.

The amount of fructose ingested and therefore the risk of suffering these effects increases massively with the consumption of processed foods and drinks. Particularly worrying in this regard are soft drinks and sodas. Almost all of those sold today contain very high levels of fructose because they are sweetened with high fructose corn syrup (HFCS). Manufacturers use HFCS instead of sucrose because it is cheaper.

So the bottom line seems to be that products containing HFCS have no place at all in anyone's diet, that granulated fructose 'fruit sugar' and agave syrup may be even worse for you than other forms of sugar, and that those who know they already have a problem with overweight, insulin resistance, diabetes or high blood pressure may even need to minimise their consumption of raw whole fruit (especially those with high levels of fructose such as grapes, mango, sharon, apples, pears and cherries).

For more information there is an excellent Youtube video on the dangers of fructose by Robert H. Lustig, MD, UCSF Professor of Pediatrics, Division of Endocrinology. On Dr Joseph Mercola's website there is also a transcript of his very interesting interview with fructose researcher Dr Richard Johnson.

New Recipes in the Low Carb / Low GI Cookbook

For those of our readers who are subscribers to the Low Carb / Low GI Cookbook, two new recipes have just been released: Sea bass with ginger (5-25) and coconut, hemp, sunflower and pumpkin seed cookies (3-27). You will find these recipes already in your Cookbook next time you log in.

Your Successes, Requests and Questions

This is your spot. Whether it's your dietary success story, a request to cover a particular topic in a future newsletter or a question you would like answered, we would love to hear from you. Please do contact us.

Here is a question we answered recently:

Q: I've been on the GI diet for three weeks now, and have lost only 2 pounds in total. I'm desperate to lose each week on a regular basis to keep me motivated - has anyone else had the same problem? I know there's not much between, low carb and GI, but from what I've read on this site, maybe I am eating too many carbs? I've been on a low carb diet before (not Atkins) and lost 7lbs my first week, and then 2-3 lbs thereafter. Perhaps I should switch, or perhaps it takes time for my body to adjust to a new way of eating?

A: It sounds to me that you may be one of those people whose level of carbohydrate tolerance is too low to lose weight on a low GI diet. I'm the same!

It is also true that losing weight gets more difficult on each successive diet. There are lots of other reasons why you might not be losing weight, but my advice would be to try out a low carb diet first to see if that helps. You might also find it helpful to read 'Why Can't I Lose Weight - the Real Reasons Diets Fail and What to Do About It'.

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With best wishes for your continued good health
Jackie Bushell
Founder Director,

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