Is Fructose Causing Your Belly Fat?
For millions of people, the issue of belly fat is one that makes them most self-conscious in a bathing suit or form fitting outfit. While there are a number of different causes of increases in belly fat as well as increased body weight, many people have recently begun to wonder if the sugars in their diet is a contributing factor of their bulging belly. While there are many types of sugar, this article will focus on natural fructose and high fructose corn syrup, the differences between the two, and the potential benefits and harmfulness of both.
What is Fructose?
Fructose, or fruit sugar, is found in both fruits and vegetables and is commonly added to a host of different candies, beverages, and processed foods in the form of high fructose corn syrup. If you are consuming high levels of fructose, particularly in the form of high fructose corn syrup or added natural fructose in into already sweet foods, you may find that fructose is indeed causing your belly fat. Natural fructose, like anything in your diet, should be consumed in moderation and in conjunction with a diet full of vegetables, lean protein, and whole grains.
Natural Fructose from Whole Foods vs. High Fructose Corn Syrup
There are two types of fructose: natural fructose, which is commonly found in fruits including apples, grapes, pears, mangos, and berries. In small amounts, natural fructose found in fruits and vegetables can be beneficial to the body, particularly because of the many vitamins, nutrients, and antioxidants found in these fruits and vegetables. (1)
On the other hand, high fructose corn syrup is not a naturally occurring substance, but very processed. High fructose corn syrup is made from sweet corn, which contains fructose, milled into a starch, and combined with water. At this point, the starch contains glucose. Two enzymes, one made from a certain type of bacteria and one made from a fungus, are added, which breaks down the glucose into shorter chains. At this point, this substance is known as corn syrup.
After adding another enzyme to turn some of the glucose back to fructose, high fructose corn syrup is formed. This results in a syrup that is cheaper and sweeter than regular sugar. However, high fructose corn syrup isn’t without its disadvantages. (2)
3 Natural Effects of Fructose On The Body
1. Fructose is Sweeter Than Sugar
Fructose is sweeter than sugar, which may seem like a bad thing, but is actually a good thing. Naturally occurring fructose generally has less calories than something that contains high fructose corn syrup, glucose, and sucrose, and it isn’t necessary to eat as much to get the same sweet taste you are craving.
2. Fruits and Vegetables That Contain Natural Fructose Also Contain Fiber
While it can be tempting to cut out anything with sugar in it when you are trying to lose weight, it is important to still consume a few servings of fruit and vegetables containing fructose in your diet every day. Many of these fruits contain high levels of fiber, which is key in any weight loss journey and cutting down on belly fat. Fiber helps to keep you feeling fuller longer, and will actually slow down the process in which the body absorbs the sugar that was just consumed. (3)
3. Fructose is Low on the Glycemic Index
In the United States, diabetes is becoming more and more common. Currently, almost one out of every ten adults suffers from type 2 diabetes, in which the body does not correctly utilize the insulin that it makes. Other types of sugars can be hard for diabetics to digest, but since fructose is not digested in the pancreas but rather in the liver, it is easier for diabetics to digest without raising their blood sugar levels to unsafe levels.
Of course, if you suffer from diabetes, it is important to talk with your doctor and a nutritionist to find the best diet to fit your needs. (4)
3 Negative Side Effects Of High Fructose Corn Syrup On The Body
1. High Fructose Corn Syrup Can Cause Cholesterol Increase
Recent studies have shown that even a ‘modest’ increase of high fructose corn syrup in your diet can raise your levels of bad cholesterol, also known as LDL. Researchers have found have even adding the equivalent of a half of a can of soda worth of high fructose corn syrup to your diet three times a day can increase bad cholesterol levels, while decreasing levels of good cholesterol. High levels of LDL can lead to heightened risk of heart disease, heart attack, and stroke. (5)
2. High Fructose Corn Syrup Can Raise Blood Pressure
Recent studies have also shown that high fructose corn syrup can have detrimental effects on blood pressure levels. A recent study has shown that even in adults who are not otherwise at risk for hypertension increase their risk of developing this condition later, just by drinking the equivalent of two and a half cans of soda per day. Untreated hypertension can also lead to an increased risk of heart disease, heart attack, and stroke. (6)
3. High Fructose Corn Syrup Can Contribute To Leaky Gut Syndrome
For years, modern physicians have thought that leaky gut syndrome is a made up condition, but have recently begun to take notice of the validity of this condition. Leaky gut, or intestinal permeability, occurs when the lining of the intestines weakens and breaks down, allowing toxins, waste, and bacteria to leak into the bloodstream. The resulting autoimmune response to the foreign bodies in the bloodstream can lead to a host of different conditions, including bloating and cramping, skin rashes and acne, food allergies, and excessive fatigue. (7)
While there are many theories about what can cause leaky gut syndrome, many believe that high fructose corn syrup may be partially to blame in many cases and consumption can exacerbate existing conditions. Avoid high fructose corn syrup and opt for natural sugars instead. (8)
While the chemical difference between high fructose corn syrup and natural fructose are relatively small, there are some big health differences between the two. It can be particularly difficult to avoid high fructose corn syrup, as it is added to many beverages, candies, and junk food. Therefore, it is important to to be mindful not only of how much sugar is in your diet, but where the sugar is coming from as well.
When eaten in moderation and in conjunction with a healthy diet and exercise, there is no reason you can’t eat natural fructose and prevent any problematic belly fat as well.