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How fructose causes health problems
Chemically speaking your sugar treats are a mix of glucose and fructose. The exact blend, depends on the nature of the snack. Click here to learn more.
Your tongue doesn’t give a damn.
Sugar is sugar and it’s F-A-B-U-L-O-U-S.
But the nether regions of the gut, are mindful of the blend. The small intestines LOVE it, gobbling it up. But the liver and the colon, find the presence of fructose, somewhat more challenging.
This is what the team of researchers from Princeton University recently uncovered.
The small intestine cleans up
The team found, the cells lining the small intestine, come with fructose processing equipment, so they delight in it’s presence.
In fact, they have a special glucose gate, the GLUT5 gate, that ushers fructose in. And once it crosses the threshold, ketohexokinase, seals it’s fate.
The enzyme pops on a phosphate, trapping the fructose inside.
And then it’s ASSIMILATED.
Okay, it’s not assimilated per se ……
It’s TURNED into glucose
The research team found, the fructose was transformed into glucose. Providing the small intestine, which for the record is NOT a small organ, with the fuel it needs – to transport a host of nutrients, port side.
Any excess power (glucose) that is generated, is generously shared with the rest of the body.
The hepatic portal vein
The nutrients are transported into the hepatic portal vein and proceed to the liver.
It is here that they are ASSIMILATED.
The liver sets about, whipping up batches of this, that and the other. Now the liver is a master chef, but he is not that fond of the fructose sugar !
It’s a matter of balance
Now, if you were a chemist, and you looked at a molecule of fructose and compared it to glucose, you’d conclude……….. they are exactly the same.
Each molecule consists of 6 carbons, 12 hydrogens and 6 oxygens.
But to BURN a 6 carbon sugar, the molecule needs to be split in half, the two halves, each made up of 3 carbons, then needs to be fed into the Krebs cycle, to create energy.
When glucose splits, two identical molecules are created.
When fructose splits, the split is does not create identical molecules.
A dihydroxyacetone phosphate, which as the name suggests, it bears a phosphate is made, but the other 3 carbon molecule is a glyceraldehyde. This guy is missing the phosphate appendage.
The phosphate is a requirement for further processing.
The unbalanced “sugar”
Has to be balanced.
A phosphate needs to be added.
Now to be fair, this is not an exceptionally hard reaction to do, but it’s a bother. And one the liver would rather, NOT do.
The reaction requires a specialized enzyme and some ATP energy.
The balancing act
When it’s done and dusted, creates a dihydroxyacetone phosphate ready for duty.
Plus a molecule of uric acid.
And an ever so slight, energy shortage.
So what ?
Bad body chemistry in the making
The fancy footwork required to handle the unbalanced sugar, upsets body chemistry, a little.
The uric acid molecule, needs to be processed.
Failure to do so, puts you at risk of gout.
And the energy shortage, disrupts energy maths…………….
Leading to more fat being produced in house.
And the more fat accumulates inside the liver.
The team found, the excess fructose didn’t all end up in the liver – some made it’s way down to the colon….
An unexpected feast
For the residents of the colon, this fructose is an unexpected windfall – food, glorious food !
For those that can, they tuck in.
Hopefully ! What is not enjoyed by the gut residents, ends up in the poop.
Of course, this changes, the who is who in the gut zoo………………..
And this too has consequences, for body chemistry.
Too much of a good thing
It’s not that fructose is BAD.
But when the fructose delivery, exceeds the capacity of the small intestine to process it – problems arise.
Now, the point at which overwhelm happens, will be different for everyone.
Practise improves performance
In fact, the team found, small intestines could get better at gobbling fructose, the more they practised.
But, there always came a point…………where the fructose got through.
And this in the long run sets up bad body chemistry.
Cutting your liver some slack
You can help your liver handle this slightly unbalanced little sugar molecule, by consuming less of it, and doing it SLOWLY.
Step 1 : Eat it, don’t drink it.
And when you do drink it, eat something with it, so your small intestine has time to process it.
Bats don’t have access to aspirin and silencing a thousand shrieking neighbours is not an option. So what does a bat do when it eats fermenting fruit ?
Gout is caused by eating too much meat and swigging back too much beer. Well that is what the health gurus and medical textbooks proclaim BUT…
Spoonfuls of table sugar in tea, soda containing high fructose corn syrup or a glass of fruit juice –they all contain fructose. And fructose makes you fat.