Fructose, which means "fruit sugar," is ordinarily healthy when taken in moderate amounts in the form of fruit. However, industrially-processed fructose is not the same and actually is very unhealthy. The majority of fructose in a person's diet comes in the form of sucrose and high-fructose corn syrup, which also contain 50 and 45 percent glucose, respectively. Generally, fructose is more damaging than glucose since it can lead to glycation, a process wherein sugar binds to proteins or lipids. This might not sound that bad, but it results in cell and tissue damage.
If you're wondering just how unhealthy fructose is, consider the fact it shares a lot of similarities with alcohol. One of these is their ability to trigger dopamine production, which is why consuming either of them produces a sense of happiness that can be addicting. Other similarities that they share include the metabolic pathways they are involved in. The close resemblance between these two makes sense since you can easily acquire alcohol from fructose just by adding yeast.
A study published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association further evaluated the metabolic, hedonic, and societal commonalities between fructose addiction and alcoholism. They found that metabolism of fructose promotes insulin resistance, unhealthy cholesterol levels, and fatty liver disease just like alcohol. Sugar also induces chronic liver inflammation similarly to the intermediary metabolite of alcohol called acetaldehyde. Lastly, excessive fructose consumption also creates habituation and dependence that could parallel the addictive effects of alcohol. Similarly, an animal study conducted by researchers from Connecticut College found that fructose is just as addictive as morphine and cocaine. (Related: More drug than food? What you need to know about high-fructose corn syrup.)
Other health effects associated with fructose toxicity include the following:
As scientists investigated the damaging effects of fructose, they also searched for natural compounds that can remedy these consequences. They found that the following substances significantly improve fructose toxicity:
Ultimately, the goal is to avoid fructose as much as you can, unless it's in the form of fruit. But if you can't seem to get rid of your sweet tooth, then you can choose to go for healthy sugar alternatives that have very low or even no fructose content. Some examples of these include the following natural sweeteners:
For more articles about the health risks associated with sugar, visit Sweeteners.news.