Doctors have long recommended that patients cut down on sugar to lose weight and become healthier. But a recent review conducted by osteopathic physicians shows that avoiding one type of sugar can quickly lead to better health outcomes.
The researchers say that cutting down on the simple sugar fructose can help consumers avoid dangerous health conditions like obesity, fatty liver disease, and type 2 diabetes. They explain that fructose – and most notably high fructose corn syrup – accelerates the body’s conversion of sugar to fat.
"Fructose provides no nutritional value and isn't metabolized in the brain. Your body converts it to fat, but doesn't recognize that you've eaten, so the hunger doesn't go away," explains Dr. Tyree Winters. "Many young patients tell me they're always hungry, which makes sense because what they're eating isn't helping their bodies function."
Reducing hunger cravings
The review examined several controlled studies which found a link between high consumption of sugar and increased fat synthesis in the liver. The researchers say that fructose is much worse than other types of sugar like glucose because it is primarily metabolized in the liver and converts to fat up to 18.9 times faster.
Unfortunately, many of the products that consumers regularly buy at the grocery store contain high fructose corn syrup because it is cheaper and sweeter than raw sugar. Winters explains how cutting out this additive can have a remarkable positive effect on the body.
"If we cut out [high fructose corn syrup] and make way for food that the body can properly metabolize, the hunger and sugar cravings fade. At the same time, patients are getting healthier without dieting or counting calories," he said. "This one change has the potential to prevent serious diseases and help restore health."
The researchers admit that getting consumers to stay away from processed foods and high fructose corn syrup is difficult, but they say that changing some common recommendations could go a long way.
For example, many doctors currently tell their patients to change their diet and start exercising heavily in order to lose weight and get healthier, but Winters and his colleagues argue that this rarely works and leads patients to failure.
Instead, they say that doctors should encourage patients to cut down on sugar and have them come in after two weeks for blood work. By then, patients will be able to clearly see the results of the intervention, which can drive them to further improve their health.
"That single change in diet improves metabolic results in less than two weeks. Imagine the power of doing a 'before and after' comparison with a patient, so they can see for themselves that their health is improving," said Winters. "Seeing those results, instead of just stepping on a scale, can motivate them to keep going."
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