Fruity Sweetness

I have spoken numerous times about eating refined sugar and too much foods containing sugar. Unless you want to sabotage your health, then by all means go for it. But sometimes you find different forms of sugar on the market that seem to be a healthier option. With terms like low G.I., slow release and longer lasting energy, they sound great. But some can really be a trap and cause harm in many ways you couldn’t imagine.

Fructose is one of those sugars. I have mentioned it briefly in the past, but I really think it deserves elaborating on a bit further.

As athletes, we are quite often in more danger of over consuming this sugar than many others. Being such a low glycemic rated sugar, the theory is that it enters the blood stream at a much slower rate than other sugars (like glucose for instance). This makes it perfect for use in energy drinks and gels. Or should I say, it makes it far more marketable!

Fructose unfortunately doesn’t act like other sugars in the body. Sure, most sugars enter the blood stream, we produce insulin to process it (unless your diabetic) and it gets stored in your cells, muscles and organs for later use. With any excess being stores as fat. The danger with fructose is the fact that it doesn’t create an insulin response, so the only thing that the body can do with it is send it off to the liver where it is converted directly into fat. Is that the ideal result from your energy gel when running? I don’t think so.

This is not the only thing that happens with the fructose. Your liver can’t always get rid of all the fat, so some deposits remain in the liver causing an issue called fatty liver. If you have been diagnosed with this or know someone who has, you need to get yourself or them off the fructose immediately. It can cause damage to the liver tissue and even lead, in worst case scenario, to liver failure or diseases more commonly associated with alcoholics.

Some people actually have problems with absorbing fructose through their intestinal walls. At first this sounds good as they are less likely to get a fatty liver, although the fructose that hangs around in the intestines can start to ferment and encourage growth of bad bacteria. This will result in bloating, excess gas and possibly diarrhoea. Not something that would be too pleasant during an ultra.

Again, this is one of those topics that is far too big to cover in just one of these posts and really, you don’t need to know all the side effects of this damaging sugar. You just need to know how to avoid it as best you can.

You may be now panicking about that piece of fruit you had earlier, but there is no need to worry too much. Yes, fruit is high in fructose, but as it is part of a whole food, there are things like fiber, vitamins, minerals and many antioxidants that make fruit a good choice. The issue comes about when it is isolate from its natural state and then consumed. Fruit juices on the other hand are to be avoided as they can be very high in fructose.

Other things to avoid are high fructose corn syrup and agave nectar as they are sometimes promoted as a healthy sweetener. Also avoid any gels or sports drinks containing fructose, all you need to do is read the ingredients list.

So in a nutshell, don’t sabotage your good health with a seemingly innocent ingredient. There really is no point to consuming fructose in anything other than fruit itself and maybe the occasional bit of honey!

Run Well

Chris O’Driscoll

P.S. Remember, if there is any topic you are unsure about, or would like me to cover, just email me at chris@brewstersrunning.com with your suggestions.

Leave A Reply (4 comments so far)


  1. Jamie
    4 years ago

    Hi Chris, great article. I have been trying to avoid Fructose for a while and working with a Nutritionist to work out GI issues that I current, and have for a long time, deal with. At the moment I am \”mostly\” following a low FODMAP diet, so I am basically avoiding foods with these sugars in them. Although I am interested to read about the fact that fruits with Fructose are ok, I believe fruits should be alright, also limiting and avoiding some veggies like Avo and Mushrooms, but I think that starts to fall in the same category of being ok due to the fibre and being a complete, whole, food. Do you have any advice on this subject??? I definitely agree with avoiding added Fructose and very high simple fructose sources such as Agave.
    Thanks again, Jamie


  2. Chris O'Driscoll
    4 years ago

    Hi Jamie, thanks for the reply.
    Intolerance of foods is very different for everyone, so there is no way of saying that everyone needs to follow the same diet principles.
    Following a low FODMAP diet is a great start. Although what I would recommend doing is slowly reintroducing foods that you have avoided, but would like to eat, and seeing if they have any effect on you. For instance with avocados, you reintroduce them for a week, assess how you feel and if you feel worse off, leave them off the list. If there is no difference, keep eating them as you like and try the next food on the list.
    It can be long and tedious process, but I think you will find there are many foods on the “avoid” list that you can still enjoy.
    Chris


  3. Antony Daamen
    4 years ago

    I have read quite a few of your articles now, and if you would apply it all, you would only be drinking water. no milk (bad fats, not natural for humans to drink cows milk) no fruitjuice (fructose kills you), etc. No alcohol… no bread (gluten etc)

    I agree that water is the most natural to drink (without the chloride and fluoride etc – oh and DDT and other chemicals that are now in the water). However we are omnivorous – like pigs- and our body has an amazing ability to use many different foods.

    I had a heartattack and an quadruple bypass. Since then I have turned my diet quite around :D. However, to live of water and fruit and vegetables -although probably the healthiest- is quite boring to say the least.

    I understand that the more processed the food is, the less it is beneficial for the body. – in general, but some foods need to be processed for us to be able to use. we cant eat grass – we dont have 4 stomachs. like wise certain vegetable need to be cooked, steamed whatever to be able for our bodies to use it.

    Another reason is, the vegetable or wheat or whatever tastes better when it is processed – cooked or made into bread.

    As always in moderation, our bodies are quite capable to eat and drink many items.


  4. Chris O'Driscoll
    4 years ago

    Thanks for the comment Antony.
    I agree with your comments in part, with the fact we are omnivorous. Although I have never suggested that we just live off water, fruits and vegetables. Protein from animal sources is a very important part of our diets, including the fats we get from these foods. There are earlier posts on this subject.
    Yes some foods need processing before they can be eaten, especially the more starchy foods like grains and potatoes. But for many of us, these foods can cause all sorts of issues and even lead to things like needing a quadruple bypass.
    Everything in moderation is fine for the average person. I just don’t want to be average and just survive. I want to thrive. My posts are merely suggestions on how we can improve our health and improve our running. Take from it what works for you and forget what doesn’t. We are all individuals, and for me to suggest that we all need to eat exactly the same would be totally misleading and incorrect.
    Thanks again Antony, it’s great to hear your thoughts.
    Chris

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