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Close up image of lips with sugar crystals

From time to time I hear from people who are concerned and confused about fructose and sugar in general.  Fructose, as the name implies, is the same sugar that comes from fruit. A typical pear contains roughly 15-20 grams of fructose. Should we rule out fruit?  Of course not. The key as with any ingredient is dose.  All sugar in overdose, just like any other element, can become toxic.  For example, excess Glucose leads to diabetes and fructose in overdose can lead to liver damage.  But fructose offers great benefits when used in moderation.  First and foremost it is twice as sweet as glucose and 4 times sweeter than sucrose so a small amount goes a long way in achieving palatability. 

Let's put this into perspective.  With one gram of fructose in Ola Loa ENERGY (multi) and REPAIR (bone-joint) we have the equivalent amount of sugar found in one bite of a pear maybe less.

Recently while at a trade-show I had a discussion with a woman that was so concerned about sugar that it bordered on hysteria.  I was amused as she was “raving” about the 1 gram of fructose in our product while she was drinking a large Jamba Juice which had approximately 120 grams of fructose in it.   Interestingly she went as far as to refer to fructose as a poison.  I assured her that it is not a poison, it is a physiological substance present in food and is a normal part of the human diet.  I also pointed out that your body makes fructose from glucose, i.e. it is normally found in the human body and just as there are transporters for glucose there are transporters for fructose in human chemistry. This can be seen in the following illustration that can be found in any biochemistry text book.

Close up image of lips with sugar crystals

The concern is with excess, just like any other physiologic molecule, including water. Keep in mind that many fruit drinks have as much as 30 - 100 times more sugar per volume compared to Ola Loa.

Of all the sugars, fructose in low dose is the safest sugar to use and at this dose it doesn't effect the glycemic index and does not induce an insulin push.  In other words low dose fructose is safe for diabetics and is the preferred sugar.

Last but not least, fructose functions as a carrier to bring the nutrients into the blood, in particular zinc and copper.

For another perspective take a look at this article from Biochem Journal which shows that muscles use Fructose as an immediate source of energy.

Biochem J. 1995 October 15; 311(Pt 2): 517–521.

Carrier-mediated fructose uptake significantly contributes to carbohydrate metabolism in human skeletal muscle.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7487889

J R Zierath, L A Nolte, E Wahlström, D Galuska, P R Shepherd, B B Kahn, and H Wallberg-Henriksson, Department of Clinical Physiology, Karolinska Hospital, Stockholm, Sweden.

To determine whether fructose can be utilized as a metabolic substrate for skeletal muscle in man, we investigated its incorporation into glycogen, its oxidation and lactate production in isolated human skeletal muscle. Rates of fructose oxidation and incorporation into glycogen increased in the presence of increasing fructose concentrations (0.1-1.0 mM). Lactate production increased 3-fold when extracellular fructose was increased from 0.1 to 0.5 mM. Cytochalasin B, a competitive inhibitor of hexose transport mediated by the GLUT1 and GLUT4 facilitative glucose transporters, completely inhibited insulin-stimulated glucose incorporation into glycogen and glucose oxidation (P < 0.01), but did not alter fructose incorporation into glycogen or fructose oxidation. Insulin (1000 mu-units/ml) increased glucose incorporation into glycogen 2.7-fold and glucose oxidation 2.3-fold, whereas no effect on fructose incorporation into glycogen or fructose oxidation was noted. A physiological concentration of glucose (5 mM) decreased the rate of 0.5 mM fructose incorporation into glycogen by 60% (P < 0.001), whereas fructose oxidation was not altered in the presence of 5 mM glucose. Irrespective of fructose concentration, the majority of fructose taken up underwent non-oxidative metabolism. Lactate production accounted for approx. 80% of the fructose metabolism in the basal state and approx. 70% in the insulin (1000 mu-units/ml)-stimulated state. In the presence of 5 mM glucose, physiological concentrations of fructose could account for approximately 10-30% of hexose (glucose + fructose) incorporation into glycogen under non-insulin-stimulated conditions.

In conclusion, fructose appears to be transported into human skeletal muscle via a carrier-mediated system that does not involve GLUT4 or GLUT1. Furthermore, under physiological conditions, fructose can significantly contribute to carbohydrate metabolism in human skeletal muscle.


Some thoughts on fructose from Richard Kunin, M.D., Director of Research at Ola Loa Products:

Fructose is metabolized by muscle.  The minor amount of fructose in Ola Loa is used as a flavoring agent and is preferred because:

  1. It is natural fruit sugar, an evolutionary food.
  2. It is not insulin stimulating, i.e. it is low glycemic index.
  3. It tastes good and makes Ola Loa more acceptable to the American palate.
  4. It does not contribute to the excessive amount of fructose in the American diet—caused by high fructose corn syrup in processed foods.

Recent research confirms benefits of low dose fructose consumption. A meta-analysis from the Journal of Clinical Nutrition shows that low dose fructose is used more efficiently than ANY other sugar and is safe in particular for diabetics and pre-diabetics.  In the following study researchers found that fructose intake up to 50 gm per day had a positive impact on glycated hemoglobin and on plasma triacylglycerol.  It was found that fructose did not raise triglycerides and lowered glycation and coagulation, ie fructose made the cells less sticky in other words it is a mild anticoagulant protecting you from unwanted clots.

Am J Clin Nutr. 2008 Nov;88(5):1419-37.

Fructose consumption and consequences for glycation, plasma triacylglycerol, and body weight: meta-analyses and meta-regression models of intervention studies.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18996880

Livesey GTaylor R.
Independent Nutrition Logic, Wymondham, United Kingdom. 

Comment in: Am J Clin Nutr. 2008 Nov;88(5):1189-90.

Abstract

BACKGROUND: The glycemic response to dietary fructose is low, which may improve concentrations of glycated hemoglobin (HbA(1c), a marker of dysglycemia). Meanwhile, adverse effects on plasma triacylglycerol (a marker of dyslipidemia) and body weight have been questioned. Such effects are reported inconsistently.

OBJECTIVE: We aimed to evaluate the effect of fructose on these health markers, particularly examining treatment dose and duration, and level of glycemic control.

DESIGN: A literature search was conducted for relevant randomized and controlled intervention studies of crystalline or pure fructose (excluding high-fructose corn syrup), data extraction, meta-analyses, and modeling using meta-regression.

RESULTS: Fructose intake < 90 g/d significantly improved HbA(1c) concentrations dependent on the dose, the duration of study, and the continuous severity of dysglycemia throughout the range of dysglycemia. There was no significant change in body weight at intakes <100 g fructose/d. Fructose intakes of <50 g/d had no postprandially significant effect on triacylglycerol and those of <or=100g/d had no significant effect when subjects were fasting. At >or=100 g fructose/d, the effect on fasting triacylglycerol depended on whether sucrose or starch was being exchanged with fructose, and the effect was dose-dependent but was less with increasing duration of treatment. Different health types and sources of bias were examined; they showed no significant departure from a general trend.

CONCLUSIONS: The meta-analysis shows that fructose intakes from 0 to >or=90 g/d have a beneficial effect on HbA(1c). Significant effects on postprandial triacylglycerols are not evident unless >50 g fructose/d is consumed, and no significant effects are seen for fasting triacylglycerol or body weight with intakes of <or=100 g fructose/d in adults.

The bottom line is that fruit sugar (i.e., fructose) in a low dose offers many benefits. Making products like Ola Loa, which provides incredible micronutrient support, palatable to the point where you can look forward to Drinking Your Vitamins.

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