Fructose More Likely than Glucose to Cause Diabetes

Sugared drinks are fattening because the human brain does not recognize liquid sugar as calories to make you eat less food. We get our sugar in drinks in three forms: glucose, fructose and sucrose (glucose and fructose bound together in a single molecule). Now a report from the University of California Davis shows that taking in too much fructose increases your risk for diabetes and heart attacks (Journal of Clinical Investigation, May 2009). Thirty-two overweight men and women drank 25 percent of their daily energy requirements in either fructose or glucose- sweetened drinks. In 12 weeks, both groups gained similar amounts of weight, but the people taking fructose-sweetened drinks had higher triglycerides and more abdominal fat, and were more resistant to insulin. All three factors precede diabetes which markedly increases risk for heart attacks.

The subjects were fed drinks that contained only glucose or fructose, so this study will not help you make good beverage choices. Virtually all sweetened beverages contain both fructose and glucose. Soft drinks sweetened with high fructose corn syrup have 55 to 58 percent fructose, while fruit juices and beverages sweetened with table sugar contain equal parts fructose and glucose. I recommend the following:

1) Take sugared drinks only when you are exercising or within a half hour of finishing exercising. All sugar-sweetened beverages increase risk for insulin resistance (Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine, April 2009). Contracting muscles are exquisitely sensitive to insulin and therefore help protect you from the high rise in blood sugar that causes the liver to make triglycerides, that block insulin receptors that cause the pancreas to release huge amounts of insulin that causes fat to be deposited in the belly.

2) When you are not exercising, quench your thirst with water or non-calorie beverages. Eat whole fruits rather than taking in your sugar in drinks. Fruit with its pulp does not cause as high a rise in blood sugar as do sugared drinks (including fruit juices). The higher your blood sugar rises, the more sugar sticks to the surface of cells, causing cell damage. An orange satisfies your daily requirement for vitamin C, has 2.8 grams of fiber and 64 calories from 17 grams of sugar. More on preventing diabetes


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