This week I thought I would look at the ‘ose’ family – glucose, lactose, sucrose and fructose. These are the 4 main types of sugar that are found in nature. By looking and learning more about this family you can be aware of where they are in the foods and drinks we consume and how our body uses them.
Glucose – is found in nearly every food we eat.
Glucose is the main source of energy for our bodies. Everything we eat contains glucose which the body needs and relies on for living.
Lactose – is found in milk
Lactose is made up of glucose and galactose and is usually the first ‘sugar’ that humans taste through breastfeeding. Galactose which if found in milk is also found naturally in a number of human organs. It is a part of lactose and the main sugar found in animal milks (including a mothers breast milk). Galactose is made up of the same elements as glucose.
Sucrose – is found naturally in sugar cane and fruit.
Sucrose is found in all different types of fruits and in sugar cane. It is made up of 50% glucose and 50% fructose.
Fructose – is found in tree and vine fruits, some root vegetables, some grains, honey and maple sugar.
Fructose is nearly twice as sweet as sucrose. It is mostly consumed as sucrose (table sugar) and it is the most common form of sugar added to foods and non-alcoholic beverages in Australia.
Now that we have all been introduced ….
So now that we have met the family lets have a closer look at glucose and fructose as these 2 sugars seem to cause all the fuss. Remember these two combined 50/50 make up sucrose – white table sugar. Here is a image to show the differences between them and some of the effects that they each have on the body.
The amount of sucrose that is now saturating our foods is taking a pretty big toll on our bodies. It is the fructose part of sugar that our bodies find hard to deal with and is what much of the research suggests is causing many of our health issues. Davis Gillespie in his book ‘Eat Real Food’ says that there are many ways fructose will ‘destroy your body’. I will go through 12 of them and hopefully in a simply quote explain why these are such a concern. (David explains each of these in greater depth in his book.)
1. FRUCTOSE will rot your teeth
Every time you eat or drink anything sugary, the sugar reacts with the plaque in your mouth which in turn produces harmful acids that can damage our teeth.
Dr Sameer Pate
2. FRUCTOSE will inflame your gut.
Our small intestine can become inflamed when toxic molecules normally attached to bacteria (endotoxins) escape through our intestinal walls and into our bloodstream. Our immune system has an inflammation reaction to endotoxins.
3. FRUCTOSE will destroy your liver.
Our body metabolises fructose differently from glucose; the entire burden of metabolizing fructose falls on our liver, where excess fructose is quickly converted into fat, which explains the weight gain and abdominal obesity.
4. FRUCTOSE will mess with your pancreas.
When fructose-fat accumulates in the liver and bloodstream, it affects insulin sensitivity. The receptors never get to the cell surface and the result is that the glucose doesn’t get used by the cells (or not as many of them), it stays in the bloodstream longer and the result is a longer than normal high blood sugar concentration. This is called insulin resistance or pre-diabetes.
5. FRUCTOSE will add weight to your body.
Our appetite control hormones are perfectly balanced to ensure we have just the right amount of energy on hand. A disrupted appetite control system can store too little or too much fuel. Too little looks like anorexia, too much looks like obesity. It is a symptom of a failure of the balance of hormones controlling how much food we take in. The blood glucose is cleared from the bloodstream by making us fatter.
Just for good measure, fructose also interferes directly with leptin signalling. Leptin is our long term energy storage hormone, the one that tells us not to eat between meals. Fructose makes us less sensitive to that hormone and as a result we eat more.
Adapted from David Gillespie
Fructose makes us eat more. Unlike all other food molecules, fructose has no corresponding “we’re full now, stop eating” switch (or enzyme) in our brain. This means we can keep eating and eating the stuff without getting satiated. It also increases another hormone, ghrelin, which makes us feel hungrier.
6. FRUCTOSE will mess up your kidneys.
When Fructose is converted to fat by our liver, a significant amount of a waste product called uric acid is produced. Our kidneys are our built in pool filter for removing waste products like uric acid. But they can be overwhelmed by the quantities that will be produced by the amount of fructose in the modern diet.
High levels of blood sugar make the kidneys filter too much blood which puts too much pressure on them. The kidneys can start to leak and eventually fail.
7. FRUCTOSE will give you gout.
A side effect of that failure to remove uric acid is that it accumulates in the joints of the feet and ankles, causing a form of acute arthritis called gout.
8. FRUCTOSE will give you high blood pressure.
A number of studies have confirmed that people with elevated serum uric acid are at risk for high blood pressure, even if they otherwise appear to be perfectly healthy.
9. FRUCTOSE is bad for your heart.
It is known from various studies that high consumption of fructose from the added sugar on daily diet results in the risk of high blood pressure. High blood pressure is known to contribute to the risk of heart attack, heart strokes, heart failure.
10. FRUCTOSE destroys your brain.
Researchers have performed brain scans on subjects eating something sweet; what they’ve seen resembles the brain of a drug addict.
Brain fog – Research out of the University of California, Los Angeles, suggests that sugar forms free radicals in the brain’s membrane and compromises nerve cells’ ability to communicate. This could have repercussions in how well we remember instructions, process ideas, and handle our moods, says Fernando Gómez-Pinilla, Ph.D., author of the UCLA study.
11. FRUCTOSE affects your moods!
Blood sugar levels spike upon consumption and then plummet. When your blood sugar inevitably dips back down (hence the “crash”), you may find yourself feeling anxious, moody or depressed.
But most studies suggest that one in ten of us is suffering some form of depression at any given time. Something is messing with our serotonin system and the evidence is starting to mount that the something is fructose. Fructose is the only carbohydrate which produces a significant spike in our cortisol levels.
12. FRUCTOSE feeds cancer.
“These findings show that cancer cells can readily metabolize fructose to increase proliferation,” Dr. Anthony Heaney of UCLA’s Jonsson Cancer Center and colleagues wrote.
The difference between glucose and fructose appeared to be that while both could be used for energy, only one supplied significant quantities of the building materials for tumour growth. A tumour treated with fructose grew much more aggressively than one in a bath of glucose. Having lots of fructose in the diet appears to create a perfect environment for cancer growth.
The good news is that it can all be reversed!
As seen in the film ‘That Sugar Movie’ and as written in David Gillespie’s book, all these issues can be reversed. The detox may not be much fun but with what is outlined above it is surely worth it. David states ‘all you need to do is stop eating fructose!’ (from his book ‘Eat Real Food”)
As I face my own detox I can say that I have experienced headaches, low energy and cravings for something sweet. But on the whole it hasn’t been too bad – not sure if my family have the same perspective! So I will soldier on and keep reminding myself why I am doing this for me and my family.
Feature image from – dailymail.co.uk