Dew on table
Creative Commons License photo credit: Tim Psych

Diabetes is an insidious plague upon modern humankind. In the United States alone 23,600,000 individual humans have diabetes and 57,000,000 are pre-diabetic (1). Such numbers are almost impossible to comprehend.

So lots of people have diabetes, big deal. That’s right. Diabetes is a big deal. Adults with diabetes have heart disease death rates 2 – 4 times higher than adults who do not have diabetes. The risk of you having a stroke is also 2 – 4 times higher if you have diabetes. Diabetes is also the leading cause of new cases of blindness, kidney failure and amputations (1).

Diabetes is a big deal. If you’re doing the same thing 81 million other people in the United States are doing chances are you’ll end up with Diabetes. If you do and you don’t do something about it you’ll have blindness, kidney failure, amputations and stroke to look forward to.

Very clearly something is wrong and the advice being pushed in the mainstream by many indoctrinated professionals is not helping the situation. Frankly looking at these numbers it’s obvious that they are horrendously ineffectual. Not very long ago a case of Diabetes was rare. What happened?

Let’s Do a Little Digging
The November 2008 edition of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition contains a very interesting editorial that considers the safety of fructose for persons with or without diabetes.

For starters studies that find fructose to be safe at a certain dose per day hide a shady underbelly. One such study by an industry-sponsored group based its findings on a highly selected list of 42 studies. 42 out of a total of over 3,300 studies (2). This study proves nothing beyond the fact that so-called scientific research can be easily manipulated to produce a predetermined outcome.

Fructose intake in industrialized countries such as England and the United States has quadrupled since approximately 1920 with most of the acceleration in consumption occurring in the last 30 years (3). A phenomenon that parallels the rise in obesity, diabetes, hypertension, and kidney disease (3, 4).

In 1870 the average Australian consumed about 1kg of fructose per year. By 2000 Australians were eating about 1kg every 10 days! Fructose gets converted to fat very rapidly by your liver and then circulates in your blood. That much fat in your arteries messes up your appetite control system. When your appetite control system gets messed up you eat too much and get fat.

While this association does not prove a causal role experimental studies in animals have shown that fructose can induce most features of metabolic syndrome including insulin resistance, elevated triglycerides, abdominal obesity, elevated blood pressure, inflammation, oxidative stress and fatty liver.

Such effects are not seen in animals fed the same amount of calories of glucose or starch suggesting metabolic syndrome is not dependant on excessive caloric intake (5). This little factoid goes against almost everything presented by the official line on weight loss and diabetes that says consuming too many calories causes people to become overweight and get diabetes.

Consider an Example
Lets use me as an example. My body burns an approximate baseline of 2,600 calories per day. If I was to eat 4,000 calories a day from grass fed steak, eggs, free-range chicken, fish, broccoli, spinach, celery, onion, carrot, walnuts, almonds, apples and berries and drank only water could you honestly say that you would expect me to end up with diabetes?

Theoretically I would probably get bigger but I bet you it would be almost all lean body mass (muscle) as I lift a lot of heavy weights. I say theoretically because in practice it may simply not be physically possible to consume that many calories long-term from that sort of food. It would literally become a test of willpower to eat that much.

Not only are protein and fiber both very satiating but also the body possesses natural mechanisms for controlling appetite. I know from personal accounts by professional powerlifters that they simply could not get bigger and stay big beyond a point unless they ate large amounts of junk food.

Your Appetite – What’s Going on Inside?
The hormone leptin, released by your fat cells tells your brain to reduce food consumption because you have enough body fat. In someone who is obese the body’s appetite control mechanisms are clearly not functioning the way they should. Something is breaking the natural feedback mechanisms that would normally in nature make eating yourself to death impossible.

Interestingly, fructose does not appear to trigger the endocrine signals involved in the long-term control of energy balance (6). In one study, subjects fed fructose reported a greater appetite the following day than did glucose-fed controls (7). In another study, rats fed fructose for 4 months developed leptin resistance (meaning the brain could not know that enough has been eaten) and, when switched to high-fat high-energy diets, showed greater energy intake and weight gain than did starch-fed controls (8).

Fructose uniquely up-regulates its own transporter and metabolism meaning the more fructose you eat, the more sensitive you become to its effects (9). So clearly anyone with even a little understanding can see that a calorie is not simply just a calorie. Different compounds in food and drink do have different effects on your body. Some like OMEGA-3 fatty acids are nourishing and conducive to good health. Some, like fructose are damaging to health.

Live Naturally
These are the messy little details that the fitness and weight loss industries gloss over in the mass media blast of catchy sound bites. Sure you can reduce your calorie intake for a while and thereby reduce your overall body weight. But eating less crap is still eating crap and you will not get away with it for long. The rebound is just around the corner.

Without learning good nutritional habits based on real understanding it is highly unlikely that you will be able to resist the physiological imperative to consume more as a result of eating compounds like fructose that mess with the natural order of your body’s self-regulating systems.

The nature of these things is the more you eat of them the more you want to eat them. And as we have seen with fructose the more you eat of it the more it affects you. There is no natural off switch in your body for things like fructose. Calories from fructose aren’t even detected by your brain. So your brain thinks you haven’t eaten. So you get hungry again quick and you eat more. That’s a good business model if you’re the Devil.

In nature there just wouldn’t be that much fructose available to matter. In nature there is no refrigerated airplane to fly bananas from one side of the world to another where it’s the middle of winter. I remember reading in Guns, Germs and Steel that most fruits today do not resemble the fruit that existed in the past. Just about all the fruits that existed before humans messed with them were much smaller than they are now. Varieties of fruit have also been manipulated to be sweeter. You couldn’t even buy orange juice in Australia until the 1950’s.

However, if you eat the things you’re supposed to eat in balance and harmony with the natural order of things your body with all its natural intelligence will regulate itself for your health and wellbeing. Your natural appetite control system will take care of itself and you wont get diabetes or get fat.

I recall from the lecture embedded in The Battle of the Diets about a study that involved subjects who ate a so-called Paleolithic diet of animal protein and fat, fibrous vegetables, nuts and seeds who ended up eating rather low calorie diets all on their own. After reading this article such information should not surprise you at all. Switching on your natural appetite regulation system is a simple way to lose weight and improve your health without feeling like you’re staving.

If you’ve read this far I highly recommend you read the transcript of an interview with Dr Robert Lustig, Professor of Pediatric Endocrinology at the University of California, San Francisco. It clearly articulates many of the ideas I’ve tried to express here in this article and in other articles recently on Balanced Existence. It’s worth your time.

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References
1. Diabetes Statistics from the American Diabetes Association website

2. How safe is fructose for persons with or without diabetes?
American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2008, Vol. 88, No. 5, 1189-1190,

3. Johnson RJ, Segal MS, Sautin Y, et al. Potential role of sugar (fructose) in the epidemic of hypertension, obesity and the metabolic syndrome, diabetes, kidney disease, and cardiovascular disease. Am J Clin Nutr 2007;86(4):899–906.

4. Segal MS, Gollub E, Johnson RJ. Is the fructose index more relevant with regards to cardiovascular disease than the glycemic index? Eur J Nutr 2007;46(7):406–17

5. Nakagawa T, Hu H, Zharikov S, et al. A causal role for uric acid in fructose-induced metabolic syndrome. Am J Physiol 2006;290(3):F625–31

6. Havel PJ. Dietary fructose: implications for dysregulation of energy homeostasis and lipid/carbohydrate metabolism. Nutr Rev 2005;63(5):133–57

7. Teff KL, Elliott SS, Tschop M, et al. Dietary fructose reduces circulating insulin and leptin, attenuates postprandial suppression of ghrelin, and increases triglycerides in women. J Clin Endocrinol Metab 2004;89(6):2963–72.

8. Shapiro A, Mu W, Roncal C, Cheng KY, Johnson RJ, Scarpace PJ. Fructose-induced leptin resistance exacerbates weight gain in response to subsequent high fat feeding. Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol 2008

9. Ouyang X, Cirillo P, Sautin Y, et al. Fructose consumption as a risk factor for non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. J Hepatol 2008;48(6):993–9