Fructose vs Glucose
We left off in the first part of this article talking about fructose. Fructose over the past decade has gotten a pretty rotten (and well deserved) rap mostly because of the creation and overuse of high fructose corn syrup. HFCS is made synthetically, meaning it does not occur in nature. The process to make HFCS goes like this. You take corn syrup, which is highly likely made from GMO corn, and it goes through a process where the glucose is turned into fructose. The reason this is done is to make the product sweeter. The glucose is turned into fructose and if you remember from the first part of this article, sugar is made up of half glucose and half fructose. Basically they are stripping out the glucose which is much less damaging to the body and replacing it with more fructose which creates more cravings for sweets. Not only are you spiking your insulin levels more than you normally would eating regular table sugar but you are creating a deeper dependency on a cellular level.
And if you have noticed, these days you would be hard pressed to find candy, soft drinks or the like without HFCS. Anytime my husband and I go on a road trip, we pack the refrigerator that is built into his truck. But usually on the way back, we are down on supplies. And every time, we stop at a gas station, truck stop, convenient store, I find no drinks outside of water that do not contain HFCS. Regular sugar is disappearing from products to make way for its cheaper step cousin. HFCS generates a higher blood fructose level in the body which when over consumed, can have damaging effects on the metabolic system. But again, fructose is not the only enemy. It has been put on steroids in the form of HFCS but other sugars in the forms of carbohydrates and fruit sugars can create substantial albeit less damage to our systems as well.
Let's talk about carbohydrates, in regards to sugar, as glucose. As all things in life, carbohydrates are not created equal. And in my humble opinion, when people are trying to lose weight and are only counting calories and not where their calories are coming, what foods they are eating together and at what times of day, weight loss can be a tricky and an uphill battle. But glucose as a carbohydrate is an essential part of life.
When glucose does not contain its counterpart fructose, it is called a starch. Starches produce empty calories that are fantastic for burning and or storing energy. Diets like the Atkins or Paleo diet that restrict all starches will tell you that eating starches is what causes weight gain. And this is half true. Glucose does raise insulin in the body which triggers it to store energy into fat cells. And an imbalance of starches without other main components to a healthy diet like fats and proteins can create weight gain especially in certain metabolic types. And if your body does not convert glucose into glycogen which is a natural process of the liver, the extra glucose is converted to triglycerides. And when your body has high levels of triglycerides in the blood stream, cardiovascular imbalance can occur.
Everyone has a metabolic type of either protein, mixed or carb and knowing this about yourself will ultimately help your heath, well-being and optimal weight for your body. Completely trying to avoid starches can be damaging to certain metabolic types. Blanket diets like Atkins, do not work for everyone because we all have different ways our metabolism functions optimally.
This is the half that Atkins avoided to address. When glucose is combined with fiber, it limits the insulin response in the body and is an essential component to a nourishing diet. Eating an organic brown rice pasta with a heap of vegetables is much better and easier for the body to process than eating a plain bowl of white rice. One will spike insulin levels very quickly and the other will burn slower and sustain levels, and lessen the load on the liver. For those of you who feel you are holding more weight than you would like, limit your starches, choose whole grains only like brown rice or quinoa and combine them (when you do have them) with high fiber foods like beans and vegetables. And to go deeper, work with a practitioner who utilizes the benefit of metabolic nutrition as I do.
Now we have had a brief look at both glucose and fructose. As you gathered, fructose is much more damaging than glucose. But in too high of quantity without combining it properly with fiber, glucose can over time, cause potential weight gain and cardiovascular imbalance.
This will be an unpopular concept to most health foodies. If we think
about what happens when we strip fiber from glucose, we realize it can
have adverse effects on the body. So what does obsessive juicing do to
the metabolism? Juicing has become a super health trend in the last handful of years. And while juicing in moderation, especially green juices made up of mostly vegetables can be a beneficial part of a health regime,
drinking juices green or fruit has a similar effect on the body as
consuming sugar. Fruit contains fructose but it also has insoluble fiber. And the reason the fructose in fruit doesn't cause major damage is because of the fiber that makes up the solid part of the fruit. When you eat an apple, as a whole food, the fiber slows down the journey to the liver, which allows the liver to keep up with the processing of the fructose.
When people are on a "juice only" cleanse they always
"feel better." You know people, who will praise the song of the juice, and
it is because they are high on sugar. And yes I know your digestion gets
a rest, your body is flooded with nutrients but it also flooded with
fructose. No matter where fructose comes from, without fiber, it wreaks havoc on your metabolism.
Like David Wolfe says "chew your juice." For my dollar, I blend my "juices" into what are called green smoothies. I use a ratio of 2-1 vegetables to fruit and I add super greens and super herbs to round out the smoothie. I use water or coconut water, tea, or nut milk as a base. (If you need some ideas for smoothies check out my pinterest page.) But even when blending, you still lose some of the cellulose and insoluble fiber. And we need both the soluble and insoluble fiber to make things just right. There is no replacement for foods in the form Nature created. So eat your vegetables!
In the final part of Sugar High, I will talk to you about what sugars are the best for your body to consume when cooking and (mostly) baking. Because after all, we are human and deserve la dolce vida!
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