Dear Dr. Mo: I love sweet foods. I am slightly overweight but nothing serious and I try to control it. I’ve heard that fructose can cause heart disease and is bad for the health. Now I know fructose is found in fruit so how can this be true?
Dear reader: Let me begin by saying that two predominant sugars in our modern diet are glucose and fructose. Our cells need sugars (carbohydrates) to extract energy form them. Virtually every cell in our body can use glucose to get that energy.
With fructose however, the story has a little evil twist – only the liver cells can get energy directly from fructose metabolism and this is where the trouble starts for us.
Fructose in liver undergoes a series of metabolic changes and one of those changes is that the liver uses fructose to create fat!
So when you think of fructose think of fat as well.Feed your liver with enough fructose (especially in today’s fast diets which unfortunately abound with sugary foods and beverages) and gradually, very small droplets of fat will begin to accumulate inside the liver cells – such a process of fat build up is called non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, virtually unknown before 1980 and affecting a large number of adults and 80-90% of those who are obese or have diabetes.This goes to say that what’s changed in the past few decades has not been us physically, but our life styles and especially our diets and I don’t mean extra fruit intake but all the sweet foods and drinks we manufacture.