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Sugar Shock

Filed Under: Sexual Health at 11:42 am | By: Susan Coyle, Senior Editor
Sugar CubesThe sickeningly sweet taste in soda, the just-what-you-needed flavor of a pastry, the balance in otherwise tart ketchup, the perfect addition to your coffee and cereal, the lure of the deep, fruity jellies and the sugary subtleties of every apple – each distinct flavor owes its sweetness to one compound: fructose. It can be found in nearly all processed foods and exists naturally in many others. It’s everywhere, filling our foods and sating our sweet tooth, yet when it comes to diets, it’s largely ignored.

We tend to focus on glucose, fructose’s more well-known and feared partner. When we go on a diet, we judge foods based on how they affect our blood-glucose levels, ranking them accordingly as either high or low on the Glycemic Index. Those that are low are eaten more readily than their more dangerous counterparts. We rule out starches, such as rice, potatoes and pasta, preferring fruits, vegetables and whole grains. This works only theoretically because we are forgetting about fructose and what it can do to our bodies.

Fructose is known to spike the body’s uric acid levels, which can block insulin’s ability to regulate how sugar and other nutrients are used and stored. As a result, conditions such as obesity, metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes become more likely, developing at a heightened rate. It’s probable that the country’s love affair with the sweet substance is why glucose-obsessed diets don’t always work.

If you’re trying to lose weight or trying to be healthy, examine your daily fructose intake. You’re probably getting more than you think, as it appears in everything from processed foods to fruits. You don’t want to cut it out completely (fruit, sugary as it may be, is an important part of your diet) but you do want to limit it. Avoid the products with the most fructose (soda etc.). Create an index similar to the Glycemic Index that will help you keep track of what’s good and what’s bad. And no matter what, practice moderation, even with the healthier fructose-laden foods. Eight apples in one sitting will elicit a sugar shock just as quickly as a cupful of table sugar. 

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