Tag Archives: high fructose corn syrup

Is Excessive Fructose Consumption the Cause of Type 2 Diabetes?

Lumps of Diabetes

Cubes of Diabetes?

A Pharm.D (Dr of Pharmacology) and a pair of MD’s surveyed much of the available scientific literature—both animal and human studies—and concluded that fructose is a major culprit in the rise of type 2 diabetes and prediabetes. Fructose does its damage by increasing insulin resistance. ScienceDaily has the details.

Be aware that their conclusion is certainly not universally accepted. I just read “Pathogenesis of type 2 diabetes mellitus” at UpToDate.com and saw no mention of fructose. Under dietary factors, they mainly talked about obesity and how that increases insulin resistance, leading to elevated blood sugars, while the reverse happens with weight loss. I haven’t looked at all the research so I have no definite opinion yet on the fructose-diabetes theory; I’m skeptical.

Fructose is a type of simple sugar. Common dietary sources of fructose are fruits, table sugar (aka sucrose, a 50:50 combination of glucose and fructose molecules), and high-fructose corn syrup (which is usually 42 or 55% fructose).

Damaging effects, if any, of fructose in these fruits may be mitigated by the fiber

Damaging effects, if any, of fructose in these fruits may be mitigated by the fiber

A few quotes from ScienceDaily:

“At current levels, added-sugar consumption, and added-fructose consumption in particular, are fueling a worsening epidemic of type 2 diabetes,” said lead author James J. DiNicolantonio, PharmD, a cardiovascular research scientist at Saint Luke’s Mid America Heart Institute, Kansas City, MO. “Approximately 40% of U.S. adults already have some degree of insulin resistance with projections that nearly the same percentage will eventually develop frank diabetes.”

*   *   *

While fructose is found naturally in some whole foods like fruits and vegetables, consuming these foods poses no problem for human health. Indeed, consuming fruits and vegetables is likely protective against diabetes and broader cardiometabolic dysfunction, explained DiNicolantonio and colleagues. The authors propose that dietary guidelines should be modified to encourage individuals to replace processed foods, laden with added sugars and fructose, with whole foods like fruits and vegetables. “Most existing guidelines fall short of this mark at the potential cost of worsening rates of diabetes and related cardiovascular and other consequences,” they wrote.

If you’re eating a typical Western or American diet, you’ll reduce your fructose consumption by moving to the Mediterranean diet, the Advanced Mediterranean Diet, Low-Carb Mediterranean Diet, or the Paleobetic Diet.


Steve Parker, M.D.


Filed under Causes of Diabetes, Sugar

Is Fructose Unfairly Demonized as a Cause of Obesity?

Mainly because of its low cost, HFCS [high fructose corn syrup] consumption replaced approximately one-third of the total sugar consumption in the USA between 1970 and 2000, paralleling to some extent the increasing prevalence of obesity during this period. Consequently, HFCS has been a particular focus of possible blame for the obesity epidemic. However, HFCS consumption has remained very low in other parts of the world where obesity has also increased, and the most commonly used form of HFCS contains about 55% fructose, 42% glucose, and 3% other sugars, and hence is associated with similar total fructose and glucose intakes as with sugar. Furthermore, sucrose is hydrolyzed in the gut and absorbed into the blood as free glucose and fructose, so one would expect HFCS and sucrose to have the same metabolic consequences. In short, there is currently no evidence to support the hypothesis that HFCS makes a significant contribution to metabolic disease independently of the rise in total fructose consumption.

Given the substantial consumption of fructose in our diet, mainly from sweetened beverages, sweet snacks, and cereal products with added sugar, and the fact that fructose is an entirely dispensable nutrient, it appears sound to limit consumption of sugar as part of any weight loss program and in individuals at high risk of developing metabolic diseases. There is no evidence, however, that fructose is the sole, or even the main factor in the development of these diseases…

— Luc Tappy in BMC Biology, May 21, 2012 (the article is a review of fructose metabolism and potential adverse effects of high consumption)

PS: Luc Tappy believes that excessive calorie consumption is an important cause of overweight and obesity.


Filed under Uncategorized

Are Fructose and High Fructose Corn Syrup Bad for Us?

Table sugar (sucrose) is a combination of glucose and fructose

Darya Pino earlier this month posted at her Summer Tomato blog a video regarding high fructose corn syrup.  The speaker in the video is pediatric endocrinologist Robert Lustig, M.D., of the University of California—San Francisco.
In the U.S. between 1970 and 1990, consumption of high fructose corn syrup increased over 1000%.  During those two decades, the incidence of overweight and obesity nearly doubled.  Many wonder if this is more than just coincidental. Most of this fructose is in soft drinks.  Soft drink consumption per person in 1942 was two servings per week.  In 2000, consumption was two servings per day.  Of course, these drinks typically have few nutrients other than sugars.

Dr. Lustig is convinced that high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is a chronic toxin, at least in the amounts many of us eat, and the cause of our current epidemic of childhood and adult obesity and overweight.  Even if this idea is not new to you, you may be interested to hear the biochemistry and physiology behind his position.  If you didn’t enjoy college lectures or are not a food science geek, you probably won’t be able to sit through this 1.5-hour video. 

I enjoyed the heck out of it!  Made me feel like I was back in college again.  Few of my professors were as good as Dr. Lustig at lecturing. 

Here are a few of his other major points:

  • HFCS was invented in Japan in the 1960s, then introduced to U.S. markets in 1975
  • sucrose and fructose are both poisons
  • in the U.S. we eat 63 pounds (28.6 kg) of HFCS and 141 pounds (64.1 kg) of sugar per year [he didn’t define “sugar” in this context]
  • he praises Yudkins book, Pure, White, and Deadly [I’ve written about the Cleave-Yudkin carbohydrate theory of chronic disease]
  • the triglyceride/HDL ratio predicts heart disease much better than does LDL cholesterol
  • chronic high fructose intake causes the metabolic syndrome [does he think it’s the only cause?]
  • only the liver can metabolize fructose, in contrast to every other tissue and organ that can use glucose as an energy supply
  • high fructose consumption increases the risk of gout and high blood pressure
  • fructose interferes with production of our body’s production of nitrous oxide—a natural circulatory dilator—leading to higher blood pressures
  • fructose increases de novo lipogenesis—in other words, it creates body fat
  • fructose interferes with natural chemical messengers that tell your brain you’ve had enough food and it’s time to stop eating
  • high fructose intake reduces LDL particle size, potentially increasing the future risk of cardiovascular disease such as heart attacks [small, dense LDL cholesterol is more damaging to your arteries that large, fluffy LDL]

So What? 

You don’t need polititians to reduce your consumption of sugary soft drinks and high fructose corn syrup—do it yourself starting today.  Read food labels—HFCS is everywhere.  I’ve found it in sausage! 

The food industry greatly reduced use of trans fats in response to consumer concerns, before the polititians ever dabbled in it.  HFCS can go the same route.  Consumption of soft drinks, sports drinks, and other sugary beverages—the major sources of HFCS—is up to you.

Steve Parker, M.D.

PS: The Advanced Mediterranean Diet and Ketogenic Mediterranean Diet are naturally low in fructose.


Filed under Carbohydrate, Causes of Diabetes, Overweight and Obesity, Shameless Self-Promotion