Tag Archives: high blood pressure

Fruit and Fructose

No matter what point you’re at on the journey towards health through optimizing your nutrition, more information is always a plus.  The transition away from mostly boxed, processed foods to fresh produce consisting of colorful fruits and vegetables is always a big step.  Looking at the quality of the produce and opting to pay a little extra now for certified organic (instead for piles of meds later) is another major step in the nutrition evolution.

One thing to keep in mind at the grocery store and again in the kitchen is the fact that fruits and vegetables contain sugar.  Granted, when consuming sugar these are bar none your best source, the fact remains that each packs a delicious dose of fructose.  There is a reason that fruits in particular are so delicious and considered nature’s dessert.

“Oh great; now he’s saying fruits are bad and we shouldn’t eat them either.” That’s not what we’re saying at all.  Fruit is great, and along with the fructose can deliver ample beneficial antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, etc.  However, too much fruit can actually be a bad thing due to the high fructose content, especially if you are watching your weight or struggling with diabetes, high blood pressure, or high cholesterol.  (Once again my mother’s suggestion of moderation comes to mind.)

Another interesting fact is that sugar actually inhibits the release of human growth hormone (HGH) which is one of the main factors behind building muscle.  Something to think about if you are still opting for a high sugar, fruit smoothie after that workout.

The following is an excerpt from a recent article on Mercola.com pertaining to this topic.  After that, there are links to charts illustrating the approximate fructose content in various fruits and vegetables, if you wish to keep a closer eye on your levels, or are just curious.

“Most overweight Americans have some degree of insulin and leptin resistance. This also includes people with diabetes, and many individuals with high blood pressure or high cholesterol.

If you fall into this category, it would be prudent for you to restrict your fructose consumption to about 15 to 25 grams of fructose per day from all sources.

Those who are normal weight and relatively healthy may also benefit from reducing their intake of fructose, particularly from foods containing high fructose corn syrup or sugar, as the effects of high sugar and HFCS intake may have effects that build up over time.

Naturally, fruits also have fructose but contain many beneficial nutrients and antioxidants. For someone who is obese, one has to be careful with eating fruits that have substantial fructose content. Some fruits, such as lemons and limes, have minimal fructose content and are safe.

Other fruits, such as grapefruit, kiwi, and berries, also have relatively low fructose content and high levels of nutrients. However, fruit juices, dried fruits, and some fruits that are rich in fructose (such as pears, red apples, and plums) should be eaten relatively sparingly.

There was just a paper published in the British Medical Journal, which looked at individual fruits as a risk factor for obesity and diabetes,” Dr. Johnson says. “Certain fruits, which we know have relatively low-sugar content and very high vitamin and antioxidant contents, are actually quite healthy. Berries, in particular blueberries, are very, very healthy.

But juices, where you put all the fruit together and you get a lot of sugar in one glass, it’s just too much. When you drink that, you can flood your liver with fructose, and then that will overwhelm the benefits of all the antioxidants. You’ll still get an increased risk for fatty liver, obesity, and diabetes from fruit juice.”

If you are concerned about any of this and interested in tracking your intake, the following chart can be used as a reference guide to help you get and stay on track:

http://www.organicbuenosaires.com/2012/07/25/fructose-chart-how-much-sugar-is-in-fruit/           

For the most part vegetables are relatively extremely low in fructose and should be consumed without concern.  However, if you are someone who struggles with weight and or cravings and would like the follow the 15-25g of fructose/day stringently, the link below is a quick reference of fructose content in various veggies:

http://www.weightchart.com/nutrition/food-nutrient-highest-lowest.aspx?nn=212&h=True&ct=Vegetables%20and%20Vegetable%20Products

 

REFERENCES

http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2014/01/05/dr-johnson-leptin-resistance.aspx?e_cid=20140105Z1_SNL_Art_1&utm_source=snl&utm_medium=email&utm_content=art1&utm_campaign=20140105Z1&et_cid=DM38424&et_rid=389480005

 

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5 More Reasons to Drop that Weight

In a culture obsessed with image and appearance, it’s no wonder that the weight loss industry continues to reign supreme.  We are inundated with images of slim supermodels, shredded athletes, and air-brushed celebrities creating an often unrealistic and unattainable perception of the ideal.

While this has the potential to lead to frustration and unhealthy habits, on the other hand it can serve as motivation to drop that extra baggage.  You see in a society fixated on superficial aesthetics, unfortunately, health winds up taking a back seat.  If striving to fit into that bathing suit can serve as a catalyst for those slowly dying due to the extra baggage to take steps toward a healthier life, then so be it.  (Call that your alkalizing lemonade out of organic lemons or your colloidal silver lining.)  Provided of course, it is done in a healthy and controlled manner.  No fad diets or quick fixes here.

The truth of the matter is the dangers of living life overweight or obese stretch way beyond the outward appearance.  Here are 5 more hazards you may or may not have already been aware of that will hopefully spark you or someone you love to wake up and change before it’s too late.

In order to appreciate these hazards, it needs to be acknowledged that a fat cell is not a benign cell, but rather an endocrine cell; that is, a cell that secretes hormones classified as adipokines.  Hormones are secreted throughout our bodies to serve as communicators and messengers in carrying out various tasks and functions.  This is vital for life, but when not functioning correctly, can be severely detrimental to our health.

HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE

I know we’ve all heard being overweight can lead to increased blood pressure, but why?  Other than the fact that the body needs to work harder to do everything due to the surplus of lbs., fat cells (aka as adipocytes) actually secrete a hormone called angiotensin.  Release of this hormone normally occurs due to the kidney to control blood pressure, but an excess of fat cells leads to an excess of angiotensin, leading to high blood pressure and all the well documented risks that come along with that.

INCREASED INSULIN RESISTANCE

Another hormone secreted by fat cells is called resistin.  This hormone causes insulin resistance, which is one of the key factors involved with type II diabetes.  Mounting research implicates the fat cell’s release of resistin as the linking factor between obesity and diabetes.  Insulin resistance also is involved in hypertension and atherosclerosis.

INCREASED INFLAMMATION

You can’t read anything health related these days without seeing the word inflammation being named as the common denominator involved with virtually all disease processes.  So what do you think the fat cells have the ability to secrete?  You guessed it, numerous inflammatory mediators (i.e. PGE, TNF, IL-6) that increase pain and cause internal destruction.

INCREASED RISK FOR BLOOD CLOTS & STROKE

The hits just keep on coming here.  Fat cells release something called plasminogen activator inhibitor-1 (PAI-1).  This is a protein that essentially diminishes the body’s natural ability to breakdown clots, and enable continuous blood flow.  Too much PAI-1 and you’re prone for sluggish circulation, which can culminate in clots and stroke.  This poor circulation can also lead to swelling and other symptoms such as pain, numbness and tingling due to the lack of blood flow to our peripheral nerves.

This protein is also produced in the cells that line our blood vessels (endothelial cells).  It is normal and quite necessary for these hormones to be present in our bodies.  The main issue here is with excess fat cells comes excess presence of these hormones, leading to a loss of balance (homeostasis) and subsequent pathology.

ESTROGEN DOMINANCE

The last issue we will touch on here is the fact that fat cells produce estrogen.  The more fat cells you have, the more estrogen will be produced.  Male breast cancer continues to rise congruently with obesity.  An overweight male taking part in testosterone therapy is simply providing the fat cells more fuel to convert into estrogen and all the other issues correlated with elevated estrogen levels (infertility, erectile dysfunction, enlarged prostate, cancer, etc.)  Excess estrogen in females can also lead to various forms of cancer, hair loss, hypothyroidism and uterine fibroids.

Obviously the consequences of carrying excess fat extend way beyond these mentioned, but add these to the continuously enlarging list.  I also realize that losing weight is exponentially more difficult than simply saying the words and the degree of difficulty varies on an individual basis.  However, research, evidence and history have shown us that it can be done.

If you’ve tried time and time again to no avail, and are somewhat lost at this point, but willing to truly sacrifice today in order to invest in the future, consult a healthcare professional.  If you’d like to begin your path in the right direction with a nutritional consult, feel free to contact me at anytime (contact information at the top of the page to the right).

A consistent commitment to exercise and a diet overhaul can be life changing and in many cases, saving.  Add the assistance of someone trained to identify functional imbalances that may be impeding your progress, and some serious momentum in the right direction can be attained.  We only get one shot down here and one body to carry us through the journey.  Respect life and make the investment in your future today.

REFERENCES

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23839524

http://www.abcam.com/index.html?pageconfig=resource&rid=12300&pid=10694

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14671216

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15049878

http://www.diabetesdaily.com/wiki/Resistin

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11201732

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11450024

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23011535

Video

High Fructose Corn Syrup: Good or Bad?

We’re going to switch gears this week and address a topic that, due to the powers that be, is surrounded by uncertainty and conflicting messages.  Without getting into the history of how and why high fructose corn syrup became a staple of the American diet, we will cut to the chase and hit you with some of the science behind the breakdown of this sugar in our bodies.  The hope is that the following information will help clear up any confusion created by ads like the one below:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lQ-ByUx552s

What is Fructose?

Like glucose, fructose is a sugar molecule, differing in the total number of carbons.  Fructose naturally occurs in things like fruit, veggies and in other food as sucrose (a glucose and fructose molecule bonded together).  Naturally occurring fructose found in fruits should still be consumed in moderation, but is not as harmful for a couple of reasons:

1) Fruit also contains a whole food source of essential vitamins and minerals.

2) Fruit is also packing a load of fiber.  This fiber has numerous positive effects on the breakdown of the sugars in the fruit including slowing down the rate of absorption in the intestines (thus controlling insulin and blood sugar levels).  Fiber is also responsible for triggering the release of a hormone called PYY, which tells us when to stop eating.

High fructose corn syrup on the other hand is a man-made creation made by the processing and reprocessing corn starch.  While this extends the shelf life of food and lowers the cost of production (as corn is government subsidized), it does not contain any of the vitamins, minerals or fiber that make some fructose containing fruits a healthy choice.

The Problem is in the Metabolism

To understand the hazardous issue associated with highly concentrated doses of nutrient empty fructose, we must first look at how glucose is broken down.

Glucose Metabolism

(Bear with me here; as this brief explanation of glucose metabolism will help you better understand the problem with fructose.)

When we consume glucose, roughly 80% of it is distributed and utilized as energy by virtually every cell throughout the body.  This leaves roughly 20% of it to be processed by the liver into glycogen (stored glucose used to live in between feeding).  Once the liver is full, any leftover  glucose is then converted into something called VLDL (very low density lipoproteins) which promote fat storage and when seen in excess, coincide with cardiovascular disease.  So it is true, excess sugar/carbs of any kind is a bad thing.

The metabolism of glucose also involves the triggering of insulin (released by the pancreas to deliver the glucose to your body’s cells) and the release of a hormone called leptin, which like the aforementioned PYY, sends a message to our brain that we are full.

The Effects of Fructose Metabolism

Increased Body Fat

The issue with fructose starts with the fact that only our livers can metabolize it.  So right off the bat we see a difference between glucose (~20% going to the liver) and fructose (~90% going to the liver) as far as work load for our livers.  This means the liver glycogen is filled first, leaving all the remaining fructose and glucose in the liver to be converted into VLDL and then fat.  This fat can remain in the liver causing problems there or be transported out and distributed throughout your body.

Gout

Due to fructose being a different beast than glucose, different enzymes are required to break it down.  One of these enzymes ultimately ends up as uric acid, which is a waste product that we excrete in our urine.  Traditionally, gout has been attributed to the breakdown of chemical compounds called purines which are seen in food such as liver, anchovies, mackerel, dried beans and peas, beer, and wine.  The purine breakdown leads to elevated levels of uric acid in the blood which can then deposit crystals in the joints causing the pain and destruction associated with gout.

Due to uric acid being a by-product of the metabolism of fructose, one can see why excess or HIGH FRUCTOSE can lead to the development of gout.  Studies have shown an association with high fructose dense soda consumption and gout.  Interestingly the same correlation was not shown in the consumption of diet soda.  What’s the difference? The high fructose corn syrup.

High Blood Pressure

The excess uric acid also wreaks havoc by blocking an enzyme that is responsible for the production of nitric oxide in our bodies.  Endogenously produced nitric oxide is very important to us because it dilates the blood vessels providing a natural way of lowering our blood pressure.

This association has been further demonstrated by the administering of a medication called allopurinol to patients with high blood pressure.  Allopurinol is normally given to patients with gout, in order to alleviate the symptoms of excessive uric acid buildup.  What was found was that allopurinol also lowered the blood pressure.  What does this mean?  It shows us that excessive uric acid, which is a by-product of excessive fructose intake, can lead to high blood pressure.

Triggers Overeating

Again, due to the different steps involved in the metabolism of fructose, numerous signaling hormones do not function as they do with the consumption of glucose.  Fructose breakdown actually decreases our brains sensitivity to leptin.  Meaning, the message sent from the stomach to the brain to convey the message that we are “full” never arrives.  Compound that with the fact that fructose does NOT suppress another hormone called Ghrelin, which is a hunger hormone that is normally suppressed by feeding.  So as we can see, meals or drinks (soda AND juices) can actually trigger overconsumption and subsequent obesity, type II diabetes, etc.

AGEs

If you’ve read any previous posts, we’ve touched on the subject of AGEs (advanced glycation end products) before.  Without reiterating why these are so bad, the take home message here is that fructose is seven times more reactive than glucose in forming AGEs.  This is not a good thing.

So there you have it; some of the reasons why regular consumption of fructose and especially HIGH fructose corn syrup is actually bad for you.  It’s rough on consumers due to the fact the HFC is a main ingredient in the majority of processed foods.  This can be avoided by cutting back on the boxed, canned, bagged items and sugary drinks (soda, juice, sports drinks) and consuming more fresh produce, raw, unsalted nuts and leans meats.

In light of this information, it seems as if this commercial would be a better fit:

http://www.nbc.com/saturday-night-live/video/corn-syrup-commercial/n13086/

REFERENCES

http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/003616.htm

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23933265

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23896654

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23924506

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23793849

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18244959