One of the misinformed dieting fads in Kuwait is using fructose in cookies and cakes and calling it part of a weight loss or low carbohydrate diet. This is part of a campaign in which many companies are marketing various “diet” desserts in bakeries and various supermarkets around the country. The first time I ever encountered this phenomenon here I took the time to call up the so-called “doctor” and discuss it with her. When I asked what sort of sugar substitute was in the desserts, she said fructose. I was quite surprised, knowing full well that fructose reacts the exact same way in a body as glucose does. She informed me that there were some other sugar substitutes as well, but mostly fructose. She argued that it is better than “regular” sugar and is metabolized differently. I, naturally, disagreed and informed her of the correct scientific facts, which we will discuss below. She continued to argue her point, and only after I brought up more and more information did she finally remain quiet, admitting defeat. The worse part is that she isn’t the only person out there who is confused. Although her confusion is inexcusable, (particularly because she is a health professional in the field of dietary medicine), she is certainly not alone.
So, when is sugar not sugar? Never! (That is unless it has been chemically altered, and we will discuss that later). While we have several kinds of sugar substitute, sugar is always sugar, no matter which name you decide to call it, and it has plenty of names. The bottom line is that when the body takes in sugar it reacts the very same way no matter where it was from (unless you have a food sensitivity to beets, for example, in which case you will react to that sort of sugar).
Sugar goes by many aliases, including the following:
*sugar (sucrose, fructose, etc)
*glucose (pure sweetness found in fruits, honey, and vegetables)
*sucrose (table sugar)
*fructose (sugar from fruit)
*(crystalline) solid disaccharide
*cane sugar (sugar made from sugar cane)
*beet sugar (sugar made from beets)
*lactose (milk sugar)
*galactose (found in dairy products)
*dextrose (pure sugar from fruit
*maltose (sugar formed as a breakdown of starches)
*trehalose (sugar disaccharide)
*disaccharide (double molecule sugar)
*monosaccharide (single molecule sugar)
*ribose (kind of sugar found in human cells, often used as a supplement for athletes, particularly body builders)
*white sugar (basically table sugar made from either sugar cane or beets, also known as granulated sugar)
*brown sugar (which is just white sugar with molasses)
*table sugar (pure sugar, normally consisting of one molecule of sucrose and one of fructose)
*castor sugar (super finely ground)
*powdered/confectionary sugar (finely ground)
*fruit sugar (fructose, often said to be absorbed slightly slower into the blood, but having almost the same rating in a glycemic index, which judges rates of use by the blood)
*raw sugar (initial pressing of unrefined sugar)
*turbinado sugar (filtered through wood charcoal)
*muscovado sugar (a type of less refined sugar with some molasses content, thus more nutrients)
*demerera sugar (a type of raw cane sugar, thus more nutrients)
*honey (what bees make)
*molasses (the byproduct of sugar production, full of nutrients)
*corn sweetener (sugar derived from corn)
*corn syrup (sugar derived from corn)
*maple sugar/syrup (sugar/syrup derived from the maple tree, full of nutrients)
*high fructose corn syrup (sugar derived from corn)
(The following are sugar alcohols, which are not supposed to act quickly on the blood, and thus are suitable for diabetics and low carbohydrate dieters).
(This is one of the newest forms of sweetener. This one is derived from sugar but isn’t supposed to react in the body as sugar).
*sucralose (otherwise known as Splenda)
(There are other artificial sweeteners as well, but we won’t go into them right now).
While each of these sugars is different in a variety of ways, they are still all sugar. While they don’t act on the body in exactly the same way, they are all basically the same in the long run, as they increase the level of sugar in our blood, thereby requiring that our bodies deal with it, which can cause a variety of symptoms including weakness, exhaustion, and worse, in certain cases. In fact, all this hype about fructose and other so-called “diet” sweeteners being healthier looks like it is going to go the opposite way as scientific studies delve into the side effects and detriments of using it. Tune in right here next week to get the low down on what that research is discovering.
There are millions of people out there desperately trying to be healthier, lose weight, or keep their weight at a normal level. I am one of them, and I am certainly one of those people who have tried a variety of sugars and sugar substitutes in my quest to be healthier and thinner. The problem with this is that it is apparently not working. There are several reasons for this, and the main one is that the information that business minded people are giving out is incorrect. It is simply not true! Giving these companies the benefit of the doubt, the probably have good intentions most of the time, but still, regardless of their intentions, millions of people are being misled by false advertising with regard to these sugars and sugar substitutes that are being marketed.
Let’s take the fructose issue, since that seems to be one of the more sensitive ones. Here in Kuwait and all over the world there are people who are marketing fructose as a healthy alternative to sugar. Well, the lowdown is that fructose is just another kind of sugar. In fact it is sweeter than table sugar, and while you need less of it to get your foods sweet, the basic analysis of its use is something you’re going to want to hear.
There are several reasons why fructose isn’t a great idea, even though in some forms it has a lower glycemic index than table sugar (remember in the form of high fructose corn syrup its glycemic index is very high). According to studies that have been done, diabetics and heart patients often have adverse effects from the use of fructose because of how it raises their blood lipid levels abnormally, specifically cholesterol and LDL, which are fats that you don’t want to have, and this is apparently true for diabetics particularly, and in men this reaction is higher than in women. It also increases blood clotting, which is another dangerous side effect, particularly when you are suffering from heart disease or a circulatory disease. Don’t forget that diabetics have a higher rate of heart disease than most other people too, so the use of fructose is definitely a dangerous endeavor for them. Fructose has also been found to affect the natural absorption of certain minerals, including copper, which is important for healthy blood. It has also been linked to the heightened process of aging, and causing the skin to deteriorate resulting in wrinkles, lines and age spots.
Naturally though, practically anything in small enough quantities isn’t going to have an adverse effect on much, but still, quantities can add up when you’re not looking! Fructose and its not-so-nice sister high fructose corn syrup are not diet foods and are implied in many studies showing detrimental effects to our health when we eat them, even for normal weight people.
Did you know that fructose metabolism causes the body to store fat more than regular sugar? Indeed, when it is metabolized in the liver (which is the only place it is metabolized), as opposed to glucose (which is used by the entire body), it is almost completely converted to fat. Also, another interesting fact is that since fructose doesn’t stimulate insulin production, and because of this, it encourages overeating. In fact, over time, it can even create insulin resistance! In addition to that, fructose doesn’t contain even one single vitamin, mineral, or enzyme, and in its metabolism by the body, these things are actually leached from our bodily store of them!
I bet you didn’t know that most of the fructose out in the market today isn’t even derived from fruit, did you? It’s derived from corn for the most part, and corn alone is one of the grains that I always tell people to stop eating when suffering from any kind of health problem, particularly allergies and food sensitivities. It can also be made from beets, sugar cane and other plants. Hmm…. that is exactly where table sugar comes from! In fact high fructose corn syrup has been linked directly to the increase in obesity of children and adults all over the world, due to its high use in processed foods everywhere. It is turning up in foods that don’t even need to be sweetened! And, apparently, according to the research, the fatter you are the worse you are affected by fructose!
So, reading ingredients lists is your first defense. Just don’t buy products containing fructose, corn syrup, or high fructose corn syrup. When you begin reading, you will be surprised at what you will find. High fructose corn syrup is everywhere! You will find it in cereals, soft drinks, bottled and canned juices, fruits, and vegetables, canned foods (such as sauces, soups, etc), grain products, frozen prepared products, prepared spice blends, and more! And you will find tons of it in fast foods, even in the most unlikely places, like in your “healthy” salad dressing, for example!
Now, keeping in mind that some forms of fructose are better than high fructose corn syrup, still the better route is to go as natural as possible. The best idea is to completely cut the sugar out. The bottom line is, if you want high quality, “good for you” fructose, eat whole fruit! You can’t go wrong with a couple pieces of healthy, preferably organic fruit a day. Try to choose fruit with plenty of fiber for the best results.
More on Sweeteners in the next post (stay tuned)… but in the meantime… check out my two favorite natural, safe, GMO-free, sweeteners that can be effective with low carb, ketogenic, and Paleo diets.