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Fructose: cause of brain damage

Fructose: cause of brain damage

Fructose is becoming increasingly popular in the food industry - and thus more and more often mixed as a sweetener in beverages, sweets and finished products. But fructose changes genes in the brain so that it can come to the most diverse diseases, announce scientists of the University of California. A special omega-3 fatty acid, however, seems to be able to reverse the fructose-induced brain damage.

Fructose (fructose) has become the darling of the food industry in terms of sweeteners. Because fructose is cheaper and in addition a lot sweeter than normal table sugar (sucrose). You need a lot less of that to get the same sweet result.

Whether fructose is harmful to the consumer or even more harmful than sucrose, the food industry is not interested in doing so. It saves a lot of money when it uses fructose - and that's all it takes.

We have already described the known harmful effects of fructose here: Fructose - the most dangerous of all sugars

For example, fructose inhibits satiety. At the same time it promotes fat formation. So it makes you fat, leads to fatty liver and strengthens insulin resistance, which in turn brings diabetes in the long run.

Fructose also increases uric acid levels, which can promote gout and kidney stones. Blood pressure and blood lipid levels are also rising thanks to fructose, making heart disease more likely.

Very new are the findings that fructose can actually cause brain damage, which is why the increasing number of sufferers with Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, depression, ADHD, etc. no longer needs to be surprised.

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Industrial fructose is in many drinks and finished products

Fructose is popularly called fructose, simply because fructose is naturally also found in fruits. However, eating fruits does not result in the harmful effects of fructose (see below).

Fructose becomes a problem when it is consumed in an isolated, concentrated and industrially processed form, such as the form of the industrial sweetener called high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) - a high-fructose corn syrup that accounts for 40, 55 or 90 percent Fructose can persist.

Hardly anyone will have this corn syrup at their home - and yet it is not uncommon to eat it daily. Because the food industry mixes it into many products, such as sweetened soft drinks, sweets, desserts, dips, breakfast cereals and much more.

In addition, since 50% of table sugar (sucrose) is fructose, you will always consume plenty of fructose with every sugared food.

Overall, one assumes in this country from a daily fructose consumption of 60 grams per person (in adolescents usually more because of the soft drink consumption), which results in about 20 kilograms of fructose per year. In the US, the numbers are even higher due to the higher prevalence of the HFCS.

Parallel to the increasing consumption of sugar and fructose, the numbers of the cited diseases of civilization (high blood pressure, diabetes & Co.) are also increasing, so that in countries with higher fructose consumption also more sick people live.

The above-mentioned fructose-induced brain damage not only lead to diseases such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's & Co, but also to the typical civilization diseases. All these diseases can therefore have their origin in the brain.

Brain damage from fructose

Many diseases - from diabetes to cardiovascular disease to dementia, Parkinson's, depression, bipolar disorder and ADHD - are associated with changes in certain genes in the brain.

A study of University of California UCLA from 2016 showed that fructose can lead to exactly these genetic defects. The sugar damages about 900 genes in a way that ultimately causes the diseases mentioned. Fructose not only favors these diseases, it almost causes them.

Fructose removes or re-adds a specific biochemical group from the DNA (from the nucleotide cytosine). With this strategy, fructose can switch genes on and off at random.

There are 700 genes in the hypothalamus (the largest metabolic control center in the brain) and more than 200 genes in the hippocampus (the area of ​​the brain responsible for learning and memory).

Previous research by the same group of scientists had already shown that fructose interferes with cell communication between brain cells and increases the accumulation of toxic molecules in the brain.

This all together then leads to brain damage, which u. a. in a reduced learning ability and a reduced memory.

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DHA: An omega-3 fatty acid that protects against brain damage from fructose

At the same time, the participating scientists kept in their publication in the journal EbioMedicine but also good news ready:

A specific omega-3 fatty acid - docosahexaenoic acid DHA - seems to reverse the brain damage caused by fructose.

"DHA does not repair just one or two genes, and DHA appears to catapult the entire gene pattern back to its normal, healthy state," explains Dr. Xia Yang, study lead and assistant professor of integrative biology and physiology at UCLA. " We were even able to clarify why DHA has such positive effects. "

DHA is a natural and essential component of the human brain cell membrane. DHA strengthens the synapses in the brain and thus promotes learning processes and memory, exactly those functions that are damaged by fructose.

DHA: A very special fatty acid

DHA is partially an essential omega-3 fatty acid. Essential means that a nutrient needs to be ingested with food.

"Partially essential" is DHA because the human body is able to produce alpha-linolenic acid from the vegetable omega-3 fatty acid to some extent DHA. However, this self-production is not always sufficient to meet the DHA needs of the body. Therefore, one usually advises to take even with the diet in addition to DHA.

However, given the large quantities of sugar consumed today, the naturally present dose of DHA is usually insufficient to repel disease.

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Prevent brain damage: avoid fructose - take DHA

The researchers involved therefore urgently recommend sweetened soft drinks, desserts and otherwise sweetened finished products to avoid the described brain damage, ie generally to consume less sugar and to optimize the DHA supply.

But one should not believe that DHA will fix everything, so you just have to swallow together with the daily liter of cola and all the sweets a few omega-3 capsules and already the sugar no longer harms.

Although the omega-3 fatty acid seems to be very helpful in limiting frigose damage, it does manage to avert all illnesses if you do not care about your health otherwise.

However, if you opt for an overall healthy lifestyle, you should always pay attention to the comprehensive supply of omega-3 fatty acids. If you eat a piece of cake in between, drink a glass of juice or eat a chocolate bar, then these manageable amounts of sugar can be well compensated by the ingested DHA.

Here's how you can look after an optimal omega-3 supply: Cover vegan omega-3 needs

How to avoid fructose

The highest amounts of fructose are sweetened with sweetened soft drinks, sweetened yogurts and sweets.

soft drinks

Especially lemonades are often enjoyed in large quantities. A liter and more a day is normal for many people. One liter of Coke or Fanta already brings 100 grams of sugar (about 33 sugar cubes), at least half of which is fructose.

If the soda is sweetened with HFCS or fructose, the fructose content is even higher.


Fruits are no problem. They are not eaten by the kilo and at the same time they consume fiber and nutrients. Moreover, fruits are not nearly as rich in sugar as sugared drinks and sweets.

Most fruits contain between 1.5 and 4.5 g of fructose per 100 g.

For example, tangerines with only 1.3 g of fructose per 100 g and blackberries with only 1.35 g per 100 g are considered to be low in fructose. Some fruits are considered fructose rich. These include apples, pears, figs, cherries and grapes. They contain between 5 and 7 g of fructose.

fruit juices

Not recommended are only fruit juices from concentrate, which can be subsequently sweetened with fructose.

Freshly squeezed juice, on the other hand, yields only 2.5 g of fructose per 100 ml using the example of orange juice. A cola contains more than twice as much. While the juice still provides vitamins and phytochemicals, the Coke not only loaded with sugar, but also with phosphoric acid and caffeine.

Apple juice (6.5 g) and grape juice (8 g), on the other hand, are among the high-fructose fruit juices that you should not use as a thirst quencher (neither bought nor freshly squeezed), just like pure fruit smoothies.

Now and then a glass is not a problem. However, to meet the fluid requirements, water is still the best solution.

finished products

For other finished products (dips, dressings, ketchup, jam, etc.), carefully read the ingredient list. If HFCS, fructose-glucose syrup, glucose-fructose-syrup, fructose, fruit concentrates or similar appear there, it is better to choose another product. Our recommendation is for you: make your ketchup yourself quickly and easily. Healthy dressings and dips can be found here.

thick juices

If you want to buy a thick juice in the organic supermarket, you should prefer not to agave syrup, pear and apple syrup, as they have high Fructoseanteile. Choose maple syrup or rice syrup. Here the glucose content is much higher than the fructose content. Of course, glucose is not exactly healthy, but it's not as harmful as fructose.

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Avoid brain damage from fructose: healthy sweeteners

To avoid brain damage from fructose, it is best to use only harmless sweeteners, but of course these only in manageable amounts. More information can be found here: The healthiest sweeteners

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