A Tale of Two Sugars

Did you know that our food supply is contaminated with a poison that our beloved government is completely aware of? Yes that’s right they are aware that we are eating poison every day but yet they still allow us to eat this crap. I am assuming you want to know what I am talking about, so I will let the cat out of the bag. High Fructose corn syrup or HFCS, I am sure you have heard of this before as it is practically everything but do you know why it is so bad for you? I didn’t until recently so I figured I would pass on what I learned to all of you.

You see in 1982 the National Research Council recommended that the Standard American diet lower fat intake from 40% to 30% because they assumed that higher fat meant increased heart disease. They assumed that because overweight people were more likely to have heart disease then dietary fat must cause heart disease. This lead to the high carb low fat diet craze, which we still see today. The problem was that when you took out fat the food tasted like crap, so they had to figure out a way to make the the food taste better. Enter HFCS. High fructose corn syrup is any group of corn syrups that has undergone enzymatic processing to convert glucose to fructose to get that sweetness. In the U.S. most companies use high fructose corn syrup in lieu of cane sugar, simply because it’s cheaper. Corn is subsidized by the U.S. government, making the high fructose corn syrup cheaper.

While tariffs and import taxes are placed on foreign sugar. High fructose corn syrup contains 24 percent water and the rest of it is sugars. The most widely used type of high fructose corn syrup called HFCS 55 has 55 percent fructose and 42 percent glucose. The relative sweetness of HFCS 55 is somewhat equivalent to sucrose. Since high fructose corn syrup is a liquid, it makes it easier to blend in to products than sucrose, or table sugar, is.

Ok so it’s cheaper and easier to use but why is that a bad thing? I mean this stuff is found in fruit and fruit is good for you right? Yes fruit is good for you in a balanced diet because it has fiber, and fiber not only keeps you regular it slows the absorption of fructose by the body and increases satiety. Without fiber HFCS is simply a poison that we are fed everyday with detrimental results. Is it any coincidence that the obesity rate has increased substantially since 1982? No and I will explain to you how fructose is poisoning you and your children every day.

In order to understand how your body responds to these different sugars you have to know which each one is.

 Glucose

The most important monosaccharide is glucose, the body’s preferred energy source. Glucose is also called blood sugar, as it circulates in the blood, and relies on the enzymes glucokinase or hexokinase to initiate metabolism. Your body processes most carbohydrates you eat into glucose, either to be used immediately for energy or to be stored in muscle cells or the liver as glycogen for later use. Unlike fructose, insulin is secreted primarily in response to elevated blood concentrations of glucose, and insulin facilitates the entry of glucose into cells.

Fructose

Fructose is a sugar found naturally in many fruits and vegetables, and added to various beverages such as soda and fruit-flavored drinks. However, it is very different from other sugars because it has a different metabolic pathway and is not the preferred energy source for muscles or the brain. Fructose is only metabolized in the liver and relies on fructokinase to initiate metabolism. It is also more lipogenic, or fat-producing, than glucose. Unlike glucose, too, it does not cause insulin to be released or stimulate production of leptin, a key hormone for regulating energy intake and expenditure. These factors raise concerns about chronically high intakes of dietary fructose, because it appears to behave more like fat in the body than like other carbohydrates.

Sucrose

Sucrose is commonly known as table sugar, and is obtained from sugar cane or sugar beets. Fruits and vegetables also naturally contain sucrose. When sucrose is consumed, the enzyme beta-fructosidase separates sucrose into its individual sugar units of glucose and fructose. Both sugars are then taken up by their specific transport mechanisms. The body responds to the glucose content of the meal in its usual manner; however, fructose uptake occurs at the same time. The body will use glucose as its main energy source and the excess energy from fructose, if not needed, will be poured into fat synthesis, which is stimulated by the insulin released in response to glucose.

Now since you understand that glucose and fructose are different and that sucrose is a combination of the two I will explain how chronic fructose exposure leads to metabolic disorder (high blood pressure, obesity, type2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. When glucose is ingested insulin is secreted allowing the body to use 80% and 20% is metabolized by the liver. Fructose has no effect on insulin and can only be metabolized by the liver and what do we call substances that can only be metabolized by the liver? Poison! Alcohol is one of these poisons and we have very strict regulations on it, so why would we have strict regulations on alcohol and not fructose? We all know the acute buzz we get from drinking alcohol but do we know about the chronic effects of alcohol? Hypertension, cardiomyopathy, pancreatitis, obesity, liver dysfunction, and insulin resistance are all diseases that come from excess fructose consumption. Fructose and alcohol metabolize the same way leading to the same chronic disorders. Why is fructose allowed in everything we eat? The FDA allows food companies to poison us because fructose has no acute effects, i.e. no buzz! One fructose meal won’t you harm but one thousand will.

Fructose is 7x more likely than glucose to form AGEs (Advanced Glycation End-products) are harmful compounds that form when excess protein and sugar bind together. These compounds prematurely age our bodies and have been linked to many different serious health concerns. Some experts believe that our AGE levels should be a medical marker just like how blood pressure, body mass index and blood sugar are.

Fructose does not suppress ghrelin the hunger hormone. If ghrelin is not suppressed than our brain thinks we need to keep eating.

Fructose metabolism in the liver creates a special combination of the enzymes Citrate, Acetyl-coA, and Acyl-coA, inducing Lipogenisis or fat production. These are packaged with LDL cholesterol creating the negative lipid profiles we see in obese individuals. Fructose has a 30% greater impact on fat storage than glucose.

In a 5 day study Fructose consumption showed a dramatic increase in triglyceride production, a 5x increase in lipogenisis, and doubling of free fatty acids. Free fatty acids cause insulin resistance.

Fructose also activates an JNK1 in the liver a protein kinase leading to an inactive insulin response in the liver creating liver resistance, making the pancreas work harder and generating higher insulin levels. This leads to hypertension, lipogenisis(fat making), and higher insulin also creates lower leptin levels. Leptin tells you when you’re full.

So we have two sugars that are only metabolized in the liver, ethanol and fructose, but only one has strict regulations. The reasons for this are many and varied, but they all come down to money and politics. The sugar and corn lobby are very involved in congressional campaigns donating millions of dollars to keep their commodities valuable. The FDA has only approved High Fructose Corn Syrup with no more than 55% fructose content. Yet a 2010 study found that samples of Coke, Pepsi and Sprite all had fructose levels much higher than the legally approved FDA limit.  Fructose is sweeter than glucose. And HFCS is cheaper than sugar because of the government farm bill corn subsidies. Products with HFCS are sweeter and cheaper than products made with cane sugar. This allowed for the average soda size to balloon from 8 ounces to 20 ounces with little financial costs to manufacturers but great human costs of increased obesity, diabetes, and chronic disease.

Lastly you should always be aware that anything with HFCS is a sure sign of poor nutritional content, processed, nutritionally depleted, full of artificial ingredients, and empty calories. Stay away from this crap if you want to be healthy. Eat whole foods and drink water. This will ensure a steady diet of fiber, vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, and antioxidants. With this one simple dietary change you can radically reduce your health risks and improve your health. It’s not only what you eat but what your body does with what you eat. It is your responsibility to educate yourself about this info, don’t take my word for it.

If you need any help with diet don’t be afraid to reach out I love to hear from my readers.

  • Ben Azadi

    Good stuff JK. Just like you said it’s not only what you eat but what your body does with what you eat. People need to educate themselves!