Tag Archives: fructose

Sugar: The Good

sugar - the good, the bad, the ugly

Should I avoid all forms of sugar? This is a frequently asked question from many of my patients that are in treatment for obesity or eating disorders, such as anorexia, bulimia, bulimarexia, and binge eating disorder (BED). As with all things polluted, sugar has developed a bad reputation. In its natural form, it is one of the most important sources of energy that we have on the planet. It is the only carbohydrate that circulates in the blood stream and it serves as the primary energy source for the brain. In the plant world, it is formed through photosynthesis, and is vital to the propagation of each plant species, as its job is to nurture the plant’s seed. Sugar is found naturally in many foods, such as fruits and vegetables, and even in milk. These sources of sugar are not a problem. It is the added sugar in all of its polluted forms, which is contributing to so many of our health problems today. It is also the amount of added sugar in the U.S. diet that is literally killing us. This week, we’ll be posting a three-part series about sugar, the good, the bad, and the ugly!

The Good

The two main types of sugar that we must know about in order to be healthy are glucose and fructose.

Glucose is a monosaccharide (simple sugar) that plays a critical role in providing energy for humans. It is found in the sap of plants, and in the bloodstream of humans where it is referred to as “blood sugar”. Glucose is one of the analytics the doctor looks at when you have a physical. The normal concentration of glucose in the blood is about 0.1%, or between 70mg/dl to 120mg/dl. It can be too high, as in pre-diabetes or Type II diabetes, or it can be too low, as in Hypoglycemia. Because it is the primary source of energy for the brain, it influences psychological processes such as self-control, decision-making and mood. Thus, when glucose is low these processes are impaired. So it is vital to our physiological as well as psychological well-being.

Glucose may come from fruits or grains. The majority of glucose in grain is combined into long chains of molecules called either amylose or amylopectin. Both are starches. Not all starches are created equal in terms of how much they raise blood sugar levels. Those with fiber have a lower glycemic load than those without it. Legumes, for example, convert from amylose into glucose + fructose, whereas sticky rice and potatoes convert from amylopectin into glucose + glucose. The latter produces a higher blood sugar level.

Fructose, or fruit sugar, is a simple monosaccharide found in many plants. Like glucose, it is absorbed directly into the bloodstream during digestion. Pure, dry fructose is a very sweet, white, odorless, crystalline solid and is the most water-soluble of all the sugars, making it ideal as a sweetener. Fructose is found naturally in plant sources such as honey, tree and vine fruits, flowers, berries, and most root vegetables.

Dr. J. Renae Norton is a clinical psychologist, specializing in the outpatient treatment of obesity and eating disorders such as anorexia, bulimia, bulimarexia, and binge eating disorder (BED) and the Director of The Norton Center for Eating Disorders and Obesity in Cincinnati, Ohio. She is the Director of The Norton Center for Eating Disorders and Obesity in Cincinnati, Ohio.

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Contact Dr Norton by phone 513-205-6543 or by form

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Medical Advice Disclaimer: The information included on this site is for educational purposes only. It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. The reader should always consult his or her healthcare provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for their own situation or if they have any questions regarding a medical condition or treatment plan. Reading the information on this website does not create a physician-patient relationship.

©2013, Dr J Renae Norton. This information is intellectual property of Dr J Renae Norton. Reproduction and distribution for educational purposes is permissible. Please credit ‘© 2013, Dr J Renae Norton. http://edpro.wpengine.com’.

Agave Syrup. Miracle Sweetener or Metabolic Nightmare?

Blue agave

photo used under a creative commons license via flickr user jay8085

Recently, I’ve received a few inquiries about the healthiness of agave nectar. Agave nectar is marketed as being a low glycemic, natural, plant-based sweetener with numerous health benefits such as improved calcium absorption, improved immune system function, and increased energy. How healthy is agave nectar? Is it the miracle sweetener that we should all be using?

Most agave nectar that is sold in stores today is a highly processed, man-made, condensed fructose syrup. This type of agave nectar contains a varying amount of fructose ranging from 70-97%. In comparison, high fructose corn syrup contains about 55% fructose. Anytime we consume more than 25 grams of fructose per day, it begins to take a toll on metabolic function. When consumed in excess, there is often an increase in insulin resistance. The majority of fructose is metabolized by the liver and converted directly to fat; often unhealthy visceral fat. In “The 76 Dangers of Sugar”, Dr. Mercola reports that fructose also –

  • elevates uric acid, which decreases nitric oxide, raises angiotensin, and causes your smooth muscle cells to contract, thereby raising your blood pressure and potentially damaging your kidneys. Increased uric acid also leads to chronic, low-level inflammation, which has far-reaching consequences for your health. For example, chronically inflamed blood vessels lead to heart attacks and strokes; also, a good deal of evidence exists that some cancers are caused by chronic inflammation.
  • Fructose tricks your body into gaining weight by fooling your metabolism—it turns off your body’s appetite-control system. Fructose does not appropriately stimulate insulin, which in turn does not suppress ghrelin (the “hunger hormone”) and doesn’t stimulate leptin (the “satiety hormone”), which together result in your eating more and developing insulin resistance.
  • Fructose rapidly leads to weight gain and abdominal obesity (“beer belly”), decreased HDL, increased LDL, elevated triglycerides, elevated blood sugar, and high blood pressure—i.e., classic metabolic syndrome.
  • Fructose metabolism is very similar to ethanol metabolism, which has a multitude of toxic effects, including NAFLD (non-alcoholic fatty liver disease). It’s alcohol without the buzz.

Coconut nectar is an excellent substitute for agave nectar. While processed agave nectar is nutrient void, coconut nectar contains 17 amino acids, potassium, magnesium, zinc, iron, vitamin C, and vitamin B. In addition, it has a very low glycemic load. There are several companies that make coconut nectar, the brand I use is by a company called Coconut Secret and can be purchased online, at some health food stores or at Whole Foods.

Sources: Shocking! This ‘Tequila’ Sweetener if Far Worse than High Fructose Corn Syrup

Agave a Triumph of Marketing over Truth

Let’s Connect!

Like me on Facebook

Twitter @drrenae

Contact Dr Norton by phone 513-205-6543 or by form

Inquire about booking Dr Norton for a speaking engagement

Read About Dr Norton

View video about Dr Norton

Medical Advice Disclaimer: The information included on this site is for educational purposes only. It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. The reader should always consult his or her healthcare provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for their own situation or if they have any questions regarding a medical condition or treatment plan. Reading the information on this website does not create a physician-patient relationship.

© 2012, Dr J Renae Norton. This information is intellectual property of Dr J Renae Norton. Reproduction and distribution for educational purposes is permissible. Please credit ‘© 2012, Dr J Renae Norton. http://edpro.wpengine.com’

News You Can Use – May 20 – 27 2012

News You Can Use

“As an Eating Disorder Professional, I know that many of my clients that are in treatment for Anorexia, Bulimia, Bulimarexia, Binge Eating Disorder or Obesity are overwhelmed by all the information in the news about our health. In hopes of relieving some of the stress this can inflict on both my patients and readers, I’ve highlighted some of the weekly health news that was of particular interest to all of us at The Norton Center for Eating Disorders and Obesity. From my eating disorder and obesity treatment center in Cincinnati, here is your news update for the week of May 20 – May 27 2012!”

Friend groups may encourage kids to be more active

Obesity not always tied to higher heart risk: study

Over Half of Americans: Figuring out Taxes Easier than Nutrition

Here’s why kale is called the ‘beef’ of a plant-based diet

Fructose makes you stupid; DHA makes you smart

A Calorie Is a Calorie, Or Is It?

Battle Brewing Over Labeling of Genetically Modified Food

Were there any news articles that you saw this week that really grabbed your attention? Leave a comment with a link. If the article helped you, it will likely help some of my other readers!

Let’s Connect!

Take my new Eating Disorder survey!

Like me on Facebook

Twitter @drrenae

Contact Dr Norton by phone 513-205-6543 or by form

Inquire about booking Dr Norton for a speaking engagement

Read About Dr Norton

View video about Dr Norton

Medical Advice Disclaimer: The information included on this site is for educational purposes only. It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. The reader should always consult his or her healthcare provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for their own situation or if they have any questions regarding a medical condition or treatment plan. Reading the information on this website does not create a physician-patient relationship.

© 2012, Dr J Renae Norton. This information is intellectual property of Dr J Renae Norton. Reproduction and distribution for educational purposes is permissible.

Please credit ‘© 2012, Dr J Renae Norton. http://edpro.wpengine.com’