Studies have shown that fructose, commonly found in soft drinks and processed foods can cause serious liver damage and increase the risk of heart disease. This raises concerns for millions of youngsters who consume soft drinks daily, along with processed and packaged foods.
Fructose, once consumed only when eating fruits and vegetables, is now added to just about everything we eat. The most common form is high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), also listed as corn syrup and fructose on labels. HFCS contains ±55% fructose and ± 45% sucrose.
Sucrose and fructose are metabolized in very different ways in the body. Sucrose can be broken down by nearly every cell in the body and utilized for energy production. Fructose, on the other hand, can typically only be utilized by the liver cells. When fructose enters the liver in high quantities it is converted into fat, which over time lead to a condition called non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. This causes problems similar to cirrhosis of the liver, a condition common in people who consume too much alcohol.
In addition fructose:
- elevates triglycerides
- increases harmful LDL (so-called bad cholesterol)
- promotes the build-up of fat around organs (visceral fat)
- increases blood pressure
- makes tissues insulin-resistant, a precursor to diabetes
- increases the production of free radicals, that can damage DNA and cells.
All the above increase the risk of metabolic syndrome, a precursor to heart disease, strokes, cancer and diabetes. Kylie Kavanagh, lead researcher of a 2013 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, said: “What surprised us the most was how quickly the liver was affected and how extensive the damage was”.
With even common refined sugar now containing ±50% fructose, it’s become the sweetener most used by food manufacturers and is in just about every packaged food one buys. The problem is that people aren’t aware of how ubiquitous it is and so don’t realize how much they are consuming. Researchers in Australia estimate that the average Australian eats the equivalent of ±40 teaspoons of sugar a day, and that doesn’t include cookies, chocolates and sweets!!
This, combined with the abundance of inflammation-causing Omega- 6 present in most fast, processed and packaged foods, puts youngsters at risk of developing serious health problems in later life. Parents, be aware and educate your children to the dangers of consuming too much fructose.
Not only youngsters are affected, adults are just as prone to the risks. The difference is that they will probably experience problems even sooner, as the older we get the less resilient the body becomes.
Sources for this article include:
For more health info go to the Health News page