October 2, ‘09
Fructose — Stranger to Our Bodies?
by Kathy Abascal
Lots of people are using agave nectar instead of sugar to promote their health. Agave nectar is almost pure fructose, a sugar that we need to be very careful with in our diet. Historically, man got relatively small amounts of sugars from fruits and sweet vegetables. Most of those foods contain some, but not too much, glucose and fructose along with lots of fiber and other nutrients. The overall amount of fructose in the diet was low.
Today, we eat a great deal of sugar and increasingly eat more fructose alone. Our diets are rich in
Suga , drawing by Kathy Abascal.
refined sugar (which consists of equal parts glucose and fructose), high-fructose corn syrup (a blend of industrial fructose and glucose) as well as pure fructose. Usually, we eat sugar in ways that provide little or no fiber: Refined baked goods, sweets, fruit juices, and sodas. We do not get much sugar from fruits and vegetables as those are only eaten in small amounts. Overall, per capita, we eat 150 pounds of sugar a year. About one-third of that is in the form of high-fructose corn syrup and on average we are taking at least 60 pounds of pure fructose a year.
Glucose enters the body easily, triggers the release of insulin, and can be picked up by any cell in our body. Fructose is transported into the body, does not cause an immediate increase in blood glucose levels, and is handled by the liver. The body responds quite differently to these two different sugars.
The worst effect attributed to excess glucose (when tested alone) is tooth decay. Fructose tested alone causes blood cholesterol, LDL (the
triglycerides, cortisol, and uric acid levels to rise. It is quite clear that excess fructose is bad for heart health. Fructose is linked to gout, because it raises uric acid. A fructose rich diet makes platelets more prone to form clots. It also raises blood pressure. While both glucose and fructose cause weight gain, fructose increases abdominal fat. Abdominal fat is inflammatory as it wraps itself around our vital organs and impedes their function. Animals on a high-fructose diet rapidly developed fatty livers, much as alcoholics tend to do. Finally, fructose affects hormones involved in appetite control. It reduces the production of leptin and ghrelin, both of which signal the brain to reduce our appetite.
It gets worse. Because fructose is not easily absorbed in the intestines, excess fructose ends up being fermented by the colon flora where it often causes bloating, diarrhea, flatulence, and pain. Thus, fructose likely triggers or
So, why are we eating so much fructose in addition to the excessive amount of fructose we get from plain old table sugar? It turns out that fructose is the sweetest of all
naturally occurring sugars and synergistically increases sweetness when combined with other sweeteners, both natural and artificial. On its own, it is 73% sweeter than refined sugar. So, fructose is increasingly added to our foods as you can use less sugar (more expensive) if you use more fructose (less expensive) and still satisfy the public’s sweet tooth. Obviously, if we want to be healthy, we need to drastically reduce sugar in our diet. We need to reject foods with added sugar (i.e., sugar that does not occur naturally in the food ingredients). After all, you do not need to add sugar to make a good broth. You do not need to add rice syrup to make a tasty rice cake or cracker. You do not need to add sugar to vegetable soups. You do not need cookies, candy, and ice cream every single day.
Next, we need to firmly reject any food with added fructose. High fructose corn syrup is a blend of glucose and fructose, technically much like white sugar. Except that it is made in an industrial setting used genetically modified enzymes and contains mercury. We do not need it. We do not need any food that has the words “fructose” on its label. Or any food that contains too much fructose. Agave syrup, discussed above, contains more fructose than high-fructose corn syrup.
The Vashon Loop, p. 9
New Classes Starting: Eating for Health & Weight Loss. By Kathy Abascal
Inflammation is a big factor in all chronic conditions including hypertension, arthritis, and diabetes. Excess abdominal fat is another inflammatory condition that takes a significant toll on your health. Fortunately, diet can effectively and easily reduce inflammation and the problems it causes. In this class you learn why some foods quiet inflammation while others increase it. Eating to quiet inflammation provides significant benefits that include a relatively effortless weight loss (if needed), improved sleep, and the disappearance of annoying aches & pains.
New 5-week series: Sundays beginning October 11, 12:00 – 1:30 PM. Thursdays beginning October 15, 7:00 – 8:30 PM
Advance registration at the Roasterie/Minglement and prepayment ($75) is required. There are also classes beginning in Burien, West Seattle, and online. For information on these classes go to ToQuietInflammation.com or email Kathy Abascal at
So, what about fruit? All fruits contain fructose as do many of the very sweet vegetables like beets, sweet potatoes, and carrots. Should we eliminate them too? Well, we certainly should avoid fruit juices for the most part: According to the American Pediatric Academy fruit juices are inappropriate for infants and fruit is much better than juice for children of all ages. Woman who drank juice had 18% more diabetes than women who ate fruit instead. Dried fruit should be limited as it is easy to eat larger amounts of dried fruit, leading to excess fructose.
Most people should continue eating fresh fruits. They are rich in fiber, minerals, antioxidants, and vitamins. They are extremely satisfying. But people experiencing bloating, flatulence, and/or diarrhea should try eating less fruit or switching to low fructose fruits like berries. They might well be ultra-sensitive to fructose, even in small amounts.
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We’ll feature fall and winter varieties of organic vegetable plants ready to plant now, tours of the greenhouses and fields, and lots of fresh produce: Potatoes - 10 varieties, Tomatoes - 40 varieties, winter squash - 20 varieties, Zucchini, summer squash, onions, leeks and 6 varieties of garlic, salad mix and much more.
Mardi, from Sound Food and Catering will provide food for sale and will be cooking on site with our farm’s vegetables including both vegetarian and meat lover’s plates.
There will be live music from Island musicians and free for kids: a nature craft table, with the fixings for making seed art.
Come on down to Dockton, see the Bumpkins - I’m referring to the pumpkins, not the local residents, and chat about the bounteous summer which we’ve all enjoyed, and discuss methods of preserving
I s l a n d B i r d i n g G u i d e T o u r s t o t h e b e s t V a s h o n a n d P u g e t S o u n d b i r d s p o t s S p e c i e s I d e n t i f i c a t i o n H o w t o A t t r a c t B i r d s Ed Swan
the bounty through the winter. Here, we are canning, pickling, freezing, and fermenting like crazy. The mental ferment here is really picking up speed. Winter projects will include continued adventures in large-scale composting, water- wise farming techniques.