Fructose hasn't always been the villain. In fact, back in the day it was a treasure. During our ancestor's days of scavenging for food, finding a berry bush was an excellent way to get quick energy and store it for future use.
This stored energy was essential for survival to last them through the winter months or give them the burst of energy needed to hunt.
But this isn't the case anymore. We aren't hunting for our food. We aren't hibernating through the winter months.
Its actually quite ridiculous how convenient access to food is these days.
I took my car into the auto shop for an oil change, and sure enough there's a candy dispenser in the waiting area. Just in case I became famished while waiting. A delicious handful of diesel covered Peanut M&M's while breathing in those gasoline fumes. Yum.
A key factor of fructose that served our ancestors so well is its inability to trigger the satiety hormones. Instead it tricks your brain into wanting more. So they could eat as much as they could find, storing up endless amounts of energy. Or at least as much energy the berry bush could provide.
Every other food we eat has its corresponding hormones telling us we've had enough.
Glucose triggers an insulin response (the fat storage hormone). When insulin levels get high enough, leptin is stimulated. Leptin is an appetite inhibitor. It tells us to stop eating, we've had enough.
Leptin also tells the body to start using up the fat that was stored by insulin.
Glucose also suppresses ghrelin. Ghrelin is essentially the hunger signal. It rises to tell us to eat, then falls after a meal, telling us we're satisfied.
Fat and protein both have their responding hormones as well.
Fructose, on the other hand, doesn't stimulate insulin, therefore no trigger for leptin, and it doesn't suppress ghrelin.
When you start drinking a super sized soda, you can drink and drink and drink. The calories add up but they don't make you full. You might be running to the bathroom more often, but you'll still be hungry.
Fun fact, soda also has a boat load of sodium in it to make you thirstier. So you'll drink even more. You get more thirsty by drinking something to quench your thirst? Pretty clever, hey.
This is the first key to why fructose acts so differently than other sugar types in our body. Our bodies are biochemically driven; and the foods we eat determine the signals.
Start paying attention to how you feel when you eat a meal loaded with sugars compared to a meal with veggies, meats and fats. See when you get full. Listen to your body telling you to stop eating.
You may notice you're adding in the calories pretty quickly with those sugary beverages that are keeping you hungry.
And keep in touch for next week's fructose segment.
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