This is your brain on fructose

Don’t get me wrong. I think sugar in all its forms is pretty much the scourge of the earth.

But can we stop pretending that all sugars are the same? Because the high fructose corn syrup we’ve been force fed over the years–the same sugar that has paved the way to the obesity epidemic–is by far the worst.

And it’s about time the rest of the world finally started to catch on to this simple fact.

As part of a recent study, researchers gave 20 healthy adult volunteers of normal weight a small drink of either pure glucose or pure fructose. They performed MRIs on each subject both before and after the beverage consumption.

Wouldn’t you know? The effect that each type of sugar had on the subjects’ brain was dramatically different.

Imaging after glucose ingestion showed brain responses that correlated with reduced hunger signaling and increased feelings of satiety and fullness. These included reduced activity of the hypothalamus–the part of your brain that tells you it’s time to eat.

But fructose consumption? Results showed it actually kicked hypothalamic activity up a notch, while dropping overall levels of insulin and lighting up a part of the brain called the striatum.

All of which, of course, adds up to greater hunger… and less ability to stop eating, even when you’re full.

Or as the study authors themselves put it, in all likelihood, “fructose increases food-seeking behavior and increases food intake.”

I don’t know how much clearer the evidence could be. High fructose corn syrup is addictive and dangerous. And yet, food and soft drink manufacturers still insist it’s perfectly healthy “in moderation.”

If you ask me, this is just a little bit of history repeating itself.

Let’s not forget about the cigarette companies that knew they had an addictive compound in their product–yet denied it for years. Would it surprise me if the food industry knew about the addictive nature of fructose?

Not one bit. Especially considering how good it is for business.

So I’ll just continue sounding the alarm until the message finally sinks in. Stay away from fructose. And that goes for high fructose corn syrup as well as agave.

Although it’s marketed as a safe natural sugar substitute, agave has even more fructose than the garbage it’s supposed to replace. So if you think it’s so much healthier than sugar, think again.

This is one wolf in sheep’s clothing you definitely want to avoid.

Fructose Effects in Brain May Contribute to Overeating. Medscape. Jan 02, 2013.
“Effects of Fructose vs Glucose on Regional Cerebral Blood Flow in Brain Regions Involved With Appetite and Reward Pathways” JAMA. 2013;309(1):63-70. doi:10.1001/jama.2012.116975.