Excessive fructose: an “environmental toxin”

This candy, a traditional treat to celebrate the Day of the Dead, may be telling us something about the hazards of sugar!

I’ve sometimes been accused of going a little overboard when it comes to nutrition and diet, and I have to admit I do put a great stress on food choices as a component of health and wellness. I advocate (and for most of my adult life have followed) a vegetarian diet, with an emphasis on organic and raw or minimally processed food. In particular, I sound a warning gong every time I see someone eating a lot of sugar in their diet.

I feel like I’ve been vindicated (at least on the sugar topic) by a research study that was just published in the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology (JASN). The review study exposes the dangers of excessive fructose in diet.

In their study, Richard J. Johnson, MD and Takahiko Nakagawa, MD (Division of Renal Diseases and Hypertension, University of Colorado) provide a concise overview of recent clinical and experimental studies to understand how excessive amounts of fructose, present in added sugars, may play a role in high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, and chronic kidney disease (CKD).

As noted by the authors, dietary fructose is present primarily in added dietary sugars, honey, and fruit. Americans most frequently ingest fructose from sucrose, a disaccharide containing 50% fructose and 50% glucose bonded together, and high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), a mixture of free fructose and free glucose, usually in a 55/45 proportion. With the introduction of HFCS in the 1970s, an increased intake of fructose has occurred and obesity rates have risen simultaneously.

The link between excessive intake of fructose and metabolic syndrome is becoming increasingly established. However, in this review of the literature, the authors conclude that there is also increasing evidence that fructose may play a role in hypertension and renal disease. “Science shows us there is a potentially negative impact of excessive amounts of sugar and high fructose corn syrup on cardiovascular and kidney health,” explains Dr. Johnson. He continues that “excessive fructose intake could be viewed as an increasingly risky food and beverage additive.”

Their final piece of advice was even more radical than mine usually is: “We suggest excessive fructose intake should be considered an environmental toxin with major health implications.”

The research is an important one that includes highly documented scientific references that overcome the credibility gap created by the disclosure that the authors are listed as inventors on several patent applications related to lowering uric acid for the treatment or prevention of hypertension, diabetes, and fatty liver. Dr. Johnson has also published a book, “The Sugar Fix” that covers this topic for the general public.

SOURCE: “The Effect of Fructose on Renal Biology and Disease,” November 29, 2010, doi 10.1681/ASN.2010050506. ABSTRACT

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