Fructose vs. Fruit
Daily fruit intake allows your body to replenish the nutrients it requires in the correct quantities. Fructose occurs naturally in fruit. Fructose is a monosaccharide which is one of the simplest forms of carbohydrates. It composes fruit, table sugar (bonded glucose and fructose), and high-fructose corn syrup (a mix of glucose and fructose). Be careful not to mistake conversations regarding fructose for fruit.
When we review the studies referencing fructose as harmful, the research looks at concentrated, processed forms of fructose as items such as sugar-sweetened beverages, not fruit. The fructose you need to be cautious of is the concentrated forms. High-fructose corn syrup permeates many American foods (especially highly processed items). Foods stripped of fiber and other complex, interactive healthy nutrients such as juice can be damaging. Juice stripped-down is just a concentrated sugar drink. Do not confuse the negative of fructose concentrates with whole, real fruits.
Anything in Excess is Detrimental
Eating a handful of berries is a power-charge to our immune system and bodily functions. Drinking a soda with high-fructose syrup is the equivalent of drowning your system in thousands of these berries, a feat impossible to do naturally. Your body is clever and has safeguards against consuming too much. From hormones to fullness triggers our bodies are intelligent and built for whole, real foods. Anything in excess is detrimental but especially processed items that bypass our fail-safe mechanisms.
For example, glucose overconsumption is harmful. Glucose, however, is vital for each cell in our bodies. Glucose consumed through whole-food diets such as bananas or whole grains is necessary. Same with fructose. Fructose consumed in whole food diets such as through high fiber, nutrient-dense fruits is highly beneficial.
The concentration of consumption is also a factor. If you are hydrated, the concentration of solutes in your blood, such as glucose or sodium, is minimized, which means lower blood sugar or lower sodium levels that in turn allow you to maintain your blood pressure (Kanbay, M, et al. 2018). Hydration matters.
Drinking the correct amount of water gradually over your day matters. We can not emphasize enough how your hydration levels affect every part of your health. It is one of the most significant game-changers. Keeping a high water content in your blood puts less pressure on your heart to pump it through. The more concentrated and viscous your blood is, the more work your heart has to put in and the higher your blood pressure.
Our bodies are interconnected and clever in how they function. For example, if you have a high blood concentration of sodium, one of our body's mechanisms to deal with this is to take hold of the glucose in our system and convert it to fructose. This is not talking about fructose from our diet (like fruit or honey). It is a chemical fail-safe method to deal with high concentrations of sodium. Think of it like a spillover mechanism in a bathtub; if you're putting in the correct amounts, the bathtub functions as required. If you put in too much water, a fail-safe mechanism is required, and the upper drain compartment gets rid of the excess. However, if you keep overloading the bathtub, the drain can only handle so much for so long, and the bathtub will spill over. Water in a bathtub is meant to be there, but excess amounts are detrimental to your bathroom. Same with fructose, we are meant to consume it, but excess amounts wreak havoc across the whole system.
Large amounts of fructose allow us to store fat, as with excess consumption of most food items. Prior to hibernation, animals consume a lot of ripe fruit (Knott, et al. 1998). The key point here is a lot! Fruit does not make us fat, but high quantities or concentrations of fruit and fruit substances can cause fat storage, such as fruit juice or high-fructose corn syrup. These make us fat. Carrying fat on our bodies is not unhealthy as it protects our joints, organs, and brain. We need fat. However, excess fat is harmful. This is what the fructose studies on mice and other animals are referring to and why people get mixed up and reference fruit. These studies are extreme for a reason as they show us the detriments of excess.
The phytonutrients and fiber in fruit are beneficial both for us and our gut bacteria. The phytonutrients are processed in complex and compounding ways in our bodies. Vitamins, minerals, and good bacteria interact to fuel and facilitate our brains and bodies' peak performances. Plant foods such as fruit reduce our risk of cardiovascular disease, boost our immune system, and not only reduce the risk of cancerous cells but actively stimulate their death. Forget fad diets like Keto; if you're looking for a magic bullet, it's plant foods.
We know a balanced eating pattern of fruits, vegetables, fats, and lean proteins is the best diet for humans. Studies have repeatedly proven that whole, real foods are best for longevity, health, and happiness. It may not be exciting media headlines, but it does work.
So "Eat food, not too much, mostly plants." - Michael Pollan
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