Fructose is a simple carb (or sugar) that is naturally occurring in fruits and vegetables. Glucose is a naturally occurring sugar and breaks down in the body from food sources such as carbohydrates. High-fructose corn syrup is a manufactured form of fructose, made from converting cornstarch from glucose into fructose. The conversion process makes the taste much sweeter.
Whether we are eating glucose or fructose matters! Nature never intended for humans to be ingesting fructose in the amounts we currently do. The Centers for Disease Control estimate that 10% of the annual caloric intake in the average American diet is fructose.
In a June 2015 study conducted by the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology at the University of Illinois, researchers found a direct link between the increased amount of fructose in the average American diet, and rising rates of obesity and diabetes. The study fed two groups of mice of an equal weight, appropriate amounts of calories from sugar for their weight and species. However, one group got their sugar calories from fructose, while the other group got their sugar calories from glucose. The study found that the fructose fed mice had significantly increased body weight, liver mass, and fat mass in comparison to the glucose-fed mice.
Why Does This Matter to People in Recovery?
At Spiritual Adrenaline, we focus on sugar given the high numbers of people in recovery with Type 2 diabetes and hyperglycemia. Given the impact of poor nutrition and the impact of substance abuse on our internal organs, it is critical to get our sugar from naturally occurring sources, in the amounts nature intended, rather than the manufactured version.
Liver function in people with a history of alcoholism, alcohol abuse or other substance abuse, is often compromised. In people with a damaged liver it may be very difficult, and sometimes impossible, to break down high-fructose corn syrup and other man-made processed sweeteners. The Beckman also confirmed that high-fructose corn syrup can accumulate in the liver and increase liver mass. This is why we suggest sticking to the real deal.
My advice is to check the ingredients of processed foods you eat and avoid those containing high-fructose corn syrup. Foods that are common and contain large amounts of high-fructose corn syrup include ketchup, candy and soda.
There are plenty of all natural sweeteners on the market and you can avoid high-fructose corn syrup by eating higher quality products that contain less filler. An easy example is chocolate with a cocoa content in excess of 70%. That way you are actually eating chocolate, and not high-fructose corn syrup. You can eat sweets and other foods you enjoy, I am not telling you to give up what you like. You just need to check the package, and ensure that you are really eating the food, and not getting cheap filler.
I recommend you try honey, xylitol, Stevia, Coconut Sugar and Maple Syrup, as alternative sweeter, check your packaging and try to eat higher cocoa content chocolate and other sweets.
This knowledge will take you a long way toward helping to restore balance in your diet and to your overall health. Stay tuned for future blog posts on alternative sources for healthy sugars and spices that will help reduce blood sugar if eaten over an extended period of time.
We would love your feedback on this blog post. If you have modified your diet, what results did you see? What kind of sweeteners do you use? If you think this is bunk, why is that exactly?
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