The Truth About Fructose & Uric Acid # HP-EVOO - Blog # 66
Hi Everyone! Welcome back to another Friday Blog. We’ve all heard about fructose and glucose, but most of the focus has been on glucose and the rise in blood sugar it produces. So what IS fructose? Does it also raise blood sugar? Where do we get it and should we be consuming it or avoiding it? Let’s delve in.
When we hear the word fructose, most of us immediately think of HFCS (high fructose corn syrup) relative to obesity, T2D (type 2 diabetes) and MetS (metabolic syndrome). In the 1970’s we switched to HFCS from sucrose in soft drinks. This “added fructose intake has increased to a mean of approximately 7.5% of total energy intake.” Sugar sweetened beverages account for 46% of HFCS usage. Did you know that >60% of foods with a bar code in the grocery store have HFCS or a derivative? We all know this isn’t good for us and most of us try to avoid sodas and sweetened beverages. However, there are other sources of fructose in our diets. That wonderful glass of orange juice - turns out isn’t so wonderful for you!! Instead, eat the whole orange or apple that is full of phytonutrients, vitamin C and fiber that slows down the absorption. “Grain products account for 17.3% of fructose consumption, fruit and fruit products account for 13.4%, sugars and sweets account for 10.3%, milk and milk products account for 7.1%, and vegetables and vegetable products account for 2.7%.”
What is HFCS and why is it in so many of our food products? It is a corn starch product that is modified into a highly water-soluble sugary syrup. **Nearly all corn is GMO (genetically modified organism) and sprayed with glyphosate (anti-biotic/pesticide/herbicide)** The government subsidizes corn production, spending $5 billion/year! The food and beverage companies can’t afford NOT to use it to sweeten their products. Fructose:glucose in HFCS is 55-75% and much sweeter than regular table sugar, which is 50:50 fructose:glucose. It is roughly 1.5x sweeter than sucrose (table sugar). Here is a list of sweeteners and their rating. They know this. They actually hire taste experts to create products that are literally SO addictive that cocaine-addicted mice in studies will choose HFCS and sugar over cocaine when given the choice. “Research scientists claim that sugar alters mood and can induce reward and pleasure, in the same way drugs such as cocaine affect the brain. They cite studies in rats where sugar was preferred to cocaine, and studies in mice where the mice experienced sugar withdrawal symptoms.” The addictive centers in our brains light up when we consume these products. Trust me…WE…ARE…ADDICTED.
So, what is so bad about fructose and why should we care? It is all about the way it is metabolized in the body. It previously was thought of as a “safer” sugar because metabolism of fructose occurs in the liver. It does not immediately raise insulin levels in the body like glucose does, because it does not require insulin for metabolism. However, when the body sees too much fructose, bad things happen.
- Stimulates the production of glucose, called gluconeogenesis. So, it DOES raise blood glucose, but it isn’t immediate. Further, it keeps insulin levels high thus contributing to all the metabolic diseases related to high insulin.
- Stimulates the formation of UA - “Fructose is converted by fructokinase to fructose 1 phosphate, which reduces cellular phosphate and circulating ATP levels. The decrease in intracellular phosphate concentrations activates AMP deaminase, which catalyzes the transformation of AMP into inosine monophosphate and increases UA. Humans cannot oxidize UA because of the lack of uricase, which is present in other mammals and transforms UA into more soluble compounds, subsequently excreted by the kidneys. The largest part of circulating UA is represented by the soluble urate salt. When UA concentration exceeds 6.8 mg/dl, it crystallizes as monosodium urate.”
- Inhibits leptin sensitivity - leptin is a hunger-suppressing hormone that tells us we are full. If we inhibit it, we eat more.
- Tells the body to store fat. It is the sugar of energy storage, whereas glucose is the sugar of energy utilization. Fructose triggers our innate biology to store fat to prepare for winter. Understand that we have hundreds of genes to save us from scarcity! Fructose tells your body that food scarcity (winter) is coming and you might starve. It is a survival mechanism - You better make fat. You better turn on production of glucose to power your brain. You better elevate your blood pressure because you may not be able to find water. - Think about bears getting ready to hibernate. At the end of the hot summer, the berries are ripe. That’s when bears eat lots of berries full of fructose. They gain a LOT of weight in preparation for hibernation at roughly 3 lbs/day, gaining as much as 1,000 lbs! This may be why your body is hanging onto those extra pounds. You will NOT be able to lose them as long as your fructose consumption is high.
- Metabolism is energy-dependent. It requires ATP! The breakdown of fructose results in the production of URIC ACID! That’s right, your gout or shooting pains in your big toe are because of high consumption of fructose in your diet. This is very inflammatory. Very little uric acid is produced from meat consumption, as is often blamed as the culprit.
- Causes leaky gut. Fructose metabolism depletes ATP in the gut, causing leaky gut that exacerbates MetS, HTN (hypertension), obesity, insulin resistance, T2D, dementia, chronic kidney disease and hyperlipidemia
- Promotes pro-inflammatory gut microbes. It feeds destructive microbes in the gut that promote inflammation throughout the body and causes a dysbiosis or poor diversity of beneficial microbes.
- Fructose is alcohol without the buzz. It follows the same metabolism as alcohol.
- High serum sodium - induces conversion of blood glucose into fructose - adding fuel to the fire.
Okay, so metabolism of fructose results in uric acid. As these levels rise with consumption of fructose, many undesirable things begin to happen. UA has previously only been thought of as related to gout. Now, we understand that a high level of UA has direct consequences. It is mechanistically the CAUSE of high blood pressure, CKD (chronic kidney disease), obesity, dementias and NAFLD (non-alcoholic fatty liver disease). WHAT??? Okay, there are 3 sources of uric acid: alcohol (particularly beer), fructose and purines (breakdown of DNA,RNA).
Let’s look at what happens when UA levels rise. “A cross-sectional study determined that each 1 mg/dL increase in serum uric acid contributes a 20% increased prevalence of hypertension in a general population not treated with hyperuricemia and hypertension. Similarly, in longitudinal cohort studies, asymptomatic hyperuricemia without comorbidities predicts the development of hypertension. Moreover, hyperuricemia also contributes to the development of hypertension from prehypertension.” Holy moly!! If your UA levels are high and you have pre-HTN, you WILL get HTN!!! If you already have HTN, you better lower your uric acid levels to save your brain and kidneys, not to mention other things that require blood flow to work!!!
Uric Acid -
- Causes HTN (high blood pressure) - Compromises nitric oxide (NO) that allows our blood vessels to relax, widen and release hormones (insulin) and deliver oxygen to the tissues. UA “reacts directly with nitric oxide (NO) in a rapidly irreversible reaction resulting in the formation of 6-aminouracil and depletion of NO.” This results in system-wide low-level inflammation.
High UA, literally destroys the tiny blood vessels around our organs. It is a CAUSE of HTN. It is a CAUSE of CKD (chronic kidney disease). It is also a CAUSE of LVH (left ventricular hypertrophy) resulting in CHF (congestive heart failure). “Lowing uric acid is expected to be a new approach for prevention and therapy of HF.”
This explains why some people experience gout and some don’t. However, the outcome is the same.
- Directly damages kidneys - “Most UA is filtered by the kidneys and eliminated in urine. The rest passes through the gut and is cleaved by bacteria into waste substances, which are eliminated in faeces. Inefficient renal excretion of UA is the main cause of both primary and secondary hyperuricemia.” High UA levels further trigger deposition of urate crystals in main vessels. This causes inflammation and a pro-inflammatory response, causing more direct endothelial damage. To make matters worse, soluble UA upregulates the expression of aldose reductase in the endothelium and other tissues resulting in the blocking of NO production as well as the production of endogenous fructose! So fructose levels go up - bad news
- Causes Atrial Fibrillation (AF) - “the first rise in UA concentration is sufficient to increase the risk of AF in both men and women (male UA baseline level was >6.5 mg/dL, and female UA baseline level was >4.9 mg/dL). This evidence is sufficient that hyperuricemia is associated with an increased risk of AF in patients with or without other chronic conditions.”
- Interferes with insulin, since insulin requires NO to do its job. Insulin needs to get out of the artery and into the muscle cell to store glucose as glycogen. If insulin can’t do it’s job, blood sugar levels rise unmitigated. Higher levels of insulin increase UA by inhibiting the release of UA from the kidneys!! UA levels rise even more - 😳
- Promotes inflammation and increases all-cause mortality dramatically. For example, mortality from cardiovascular disease is increased 40%, stroke 35%.
- Increases all-cause mortality. For every point elevation of UA above 7.0, there is an 8-13% increased risk of all-cause mortality! Holy moly!!! It needs to be below 5.5.
- Damages the brain. Significantly increases risk for dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. A study in 2018 followed 1600 people x 12 years. They tested uric acid levels, MRI scans of brain and performed neurocognitive tests. Those with the highest UA levels were 4 times as likely to be demented with an 80% increased risk of dementia, 55% increased risk of Alzheimer’s Disease and 165% increased risk for vascular or mixed-form dementias. Elevated UA also is responsible for gliosis - or a scar-like formation in the hippocampus of the brain. This affects short, long-term and spatial memory. Our navigation skills and our limbic system is profoundly affected negatively. It can literally disconnect the higher brain from the limbic system - so the adult has left the room- we become less empathetic. Our emotions can become intense and we act out in aggressive ways. Understand where this anger and rage is coming from the next time someone cuts you off. Is your higher brain functioning, or is your limbic system reacting out of anger?
- Induces expression of CRP in blood vessels - C-reactive protein is an inflammation marker on bloodwork. “Epidemiological studies have shown that UA is positively associated with several pro-inflammatory markers such as CRP, white blood cell count, IL-6 and tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-α), and predicts an increase in their levels over a 3-year follow-up.”
- Induces insulin resistance. “The mechanism for uric acid-induced insulin resistance appears to be mediated by the development of mitochondrial oxidative stress and impairment of insulin-dependent stimulation of nitric oxide in endothelial cells.” Higher levels of insulin, increase UA by reducing excretion from the kidneys.
- Damages Mitochondria. “high concentrations of UA may induce oxidative stress in hepatocyte mitochondria, increasing ROS production and ultimately resulting in mitochondrial damage.” The production of ATP is super important for proper endothelial signaling and function! We need our mitochondria to work properly or we will experience low energy, fatigue, brain fog…
- Increases all-cause mortality - A large study published 2020 in Nature followed >500,000 Japanese people, ages 40-74, for 7 years testing UA levels. “A significant increase in the hazard ratio for all-cause mortality was noted with serum uric acid levels ≥ 7 mg/dL in men and ≥ 5 mg/dL in women. A similar trend was observed for cardiovascular mortality. This study disclosed that even a slight increase in serum uric acid levels was an independent risk factor for all-cause and cardiovascular mortality in both men and women in a community-based population.” They found that for every 1 mg/dL increase in serum UA over 7, there is an increased risk of all-cause mortality of 8-13%.
- Induces storage of fat - This is from a study published in Nature May 2022 “We found that higher baseline UA was a significant predictor of less favorable BMI, triglycerides, HDL, glucose, insulin, and HOMA, independent of age, sex, baseline weight, baseline level of the outcome variable, and weight gain prevention intervention. Additionally, ≥1% weight loss was associated with lower UA.” Basically, it is a driver for metabolic dysfunction, interfering with insulin and damaging our organ systems as well as our mitochondria (batteries of the cell).
The kidneys filter most UA so it is eliminated in urine. The rest passes through the gut and is cleaved by bacteria into waste substances, which are eliminated in faeces. Inefficient renal excretion of UA is the main cause of both primary and secondary hyperuricemia (high blood levels of UA).
Okay, there are also some drugs that can raise UA levels: aspirin, diuretics, acid-blocking drugs, beta blockers, xylitol, Alzheimer’s drugs and even drugs that enhance erectile dysfunction.
Like most things, there is an ideal range for UA, 3-4 for women, 4-5 for men. It is bad if too high, and bad if too low. However, most of us have levels that are too high. So, what can we do if our UA level is high?
- Eliminate sugar and liquid sugars: sodas, all fruit juices, sweetened beverages, beer, alcoholic beverages and sweetened coffee.
- Eliminate processed food, sugar, wheat, corn, oats and soy - destroys our microbiome, induces insulin resistance, direct path to T2D, damages our mitochondria, damages our brain, leads to NAFLD, cancer, cardiovascular disease, thyroid dysfunction, autoimmune disorders and more…
- Exercise - exercise lowers SUA (serum uric acid) levels. “It was found that chronic exercise lowered SUA 0.3 to 3.2 mg% in 80% of the subjects in the athletic and training groups, particularly in those persons with initial values of 7.0-8.5 mg%. In addition, it was found that as a group the greatest decrease in SUA occurred in members of the athletic group who had undergone the most strenuous training program.”
- Reduce Stress - Chronic cortisol and other stress hormones literally drive up all negative metabolic problems. Practicing breathing techniques or other stress-reducing practices effectively decrease these issues.
- Increase dietary fiber - eat real food in its whole form! Eat the rainbow of veggies and low-glycemic fruits as well as fermented foods to support the microbiome
- Quercetin - 500mg/day lowered UA levels significantly in males after 2 weeks and even more after 4 weeks. Quercetin is a powerful scavenger of ROS (reactive oxygen species) and increases NO production. Found in red onion, apples and tea.
- Turmeric - Curcumin has powerful antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, epigenetic properties, detoxification and more. Increase absorption by around 2,000% by adding it to EVOO and a little cracked pepper
- Oregano - much like quercetin reduces ROS and increases NO production, powerful antimicrobial, detoxifier
- Resveratrol - antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, neuroprotective, epigenetic properties - grapes, wine (particularly red) - Once your levels come down, you can have some wine occasionally.
- Berberine - antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, epigenetic properties - anti-diabetic (equivalent to metformin without side effects)
- Fisetin - This human diet constituent is reported to exert some beneficial anticancer, cardiovascular preventive, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant effects that support normal cell homeostasis and cytoprotection - grapes, apples, strawberries, onions…
- Vitamin C - Increases UA excretion and helps our blood vessels stay pliable
- Avoid or lower - organ meats (such as liver), meat extracts, seafood, yeasts and yeast extracts (such as beer, and alcoholic beverages), oatmeal, legumes. (Breakdown of DNA/RNA=purines)
- Sleep - We can’t function when we don’t sleep. Poor sleep drives up ghrelin that causes us to be hungrier and crave sugar and carbohydrates. It is crucial to guard sleep. Sleep is when our body repairs and literally washes our brain and sweeps our intestines, clears out dead cells or even disassembles to create a new one. Check out Blog # 30
- Omega 3s, particularly DHA to support brain and counteract damage that is happening inside the brain.
- Love/Connection/Community - Studies show people live longer when they have love and connection to others and are involved in community. This does SOO many good things for us including lowering inflammation, combatting oxidative stress and more.
- HP-EVOO - high polyphenol extra virgin olive oil - the polyphenols in EVOO literally tell DNA which genes to turn on and off. It works epigenetically to turn on the good genes and turn off the bad ones, such as cancer (oncogenes) genes. It is healing to our vascular and gut epithelium and AMAZING at attacking cardiovascular disease, HTN, insulin resistance, enhances mitochondrial function and microbiome diversity and enhance the activity of sirtuins. “Sirtuins are reported to modulate numerous activities by controlling gene expression, DNA repair, metabolism, oxidative stress response, mitochondrial function, and biogenesis. Deregulation of their expression and/or action may lead to tissue-specific degenerative events involved in the development of several human pathologies, including cancer, neurodegeneration, and cardiovascular disease.” It has powerful anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, anti-cancer, neuroprotective, cardiovascular protective, helps to reverse NAFLD and so many other properties! The higher the polyphenols, the better.