High Fructose Death Syrup Causes Low Energy and Fatty Liver

By: Byron J. Richards, Board Certified Clinical Nutritionist
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It is a testament to Pavlov and his dogs that the average American is dumb enough to consume 35 pounds of high fructose death syrup every year.  The Corn Refiners Association loves to say that their death syrup is no different than any other sugar.  Two recent studies prove that is not true and also prove that the death syrup uniquely causes fatty liver disease, which is a key marker of metabolic malfunction.  Even the FDA is onto the charade, denying a petition from the Corn Refiners Association to change food labels from “high fructose corn syrup” to innocent sounding “corn sugar.”

The public has a great deal of confusion on this topic because fructose is also the sugar naturally contained in fruit.  The new information helps explain why excess consumption of high fructose corn syrup creates metabolic problems; it turns one’s liver fatty and increases the risk for becoming a “metabolic cripple” when higher levels of fructose intake continue as problems are occurring.

Clearly, the preferred intake of fructose is from fruit (never high levels of fruit juice).  Fruit is a comprehensive nutritional package that also contains flavonoid antioxidants, magnesium, potassium, vitamin C, and fiber – along with a modest amount of fructose.  In comparison, most manufactured products containing large amounts of high fructose corn syrup have little nutritional value. Instead, they contain a branded flavor that is full of addictive chemical stimulants.  The goal for manufacturers is to create brand addiction, resulting in the powerful subconscious urge to consume more of their brand, which leads to massive overconsumption of fructose. 

The interesting thing about fructose is that unlike other sugar molecules it actually requires ATP (energy) to be metabolized.  At the same time the fructose molecule could potentially become energy as it is metabolized, leading to increased ATP synthesis.  When healthy people eat fruit, this happens.  Unfortunately, consuming high fructose corn syrup in excess is like flooding your engine with gas.  Your liver simply conks out.  Energy is actually depleted.  And enzymes are activated that turn on fat buildup in the liver while elevating uric acid to a point that it causes free radical damage and inflammation.  This is a fast path to obesity, fatty liver disease, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.

Two studies show the results of high fructose corn syrup intake.  The first is an animal study that analyzed how fructose is metabolized.  It shows that fructose is first acted upon by the fructokinase enzyme, which adds energy (ATP) to the fructose molecule so that it can proceed in metabolism.  As it turns out there are two forms of this enzyme, fructokinase A and C.  Fructokinase A operates around the body and has a low affinity for fructose, meaning that when eaten in moderation this enzyme will slowly and steadily help metabolize the fructose.  Fructokinase C is highly concentrated in the liver and loves fructose.

These researchers showed that if both enzymes were knocked out in mice then they couldn’t develop metabolic syndrome from any amount of fructose metabolism because none of the fructose was metabolized.  Then they showed that mice lacking the A form rapidly developed insulin resistance, fatty liver, and metabolic syndrome.  They went on to show that the A form balances and protects against the potential adverse effects of the C form, but only at moderate intake.  At high intake the A form, which has low affinity for fructose, is no longer able to maintain balance and the C form goes wild.  This study is extremely important as it is the first to show this precise mechanism explaining why high intake of fructose is problematic.

The next study involved human type 2 diabetic patients and their ability to metabolize fructose.  The researchers used less than 15 grams of fructose per day to define low and more than 15 grams per day to define high fructose intake.  Please note that the average American consumes about 42 grams per day to get to 35 pounds a year. 

Diabetic patients who consumed more than 15 grams of fructose had lower stores of liver ATP, meaning liver energy function was compromised as predicted by the above animal study mechanism.  Furthermore, a fructose challenge resulted in further decreased energy production, meaning that the people were metabolic cripples when it now came to the fructose they were consuming in high amounts.  The degree of the fructose metabolism problem predicted fatty liver disease and its severity, as well as higher than normal levels of uric acid, which is highly inflammatory to the liver and general circulation. 

High fructose corn syrup is the fastest way to get large and excess amounts of fructose into your body.  It is clear that this compromises your liver’s energetic function, which will take its toll sooner or later.  The first sign of a problem is weight gain.  If not corrected, liver damage and malfunction follow, locking in metabolic disease.  This is not a pretty picture.

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