The Great Fructose Debate: The Journey of a Plant-Based Mama.

donna wild

I’ve been vegan for 14 years (and vegetarian for 24), and I get most of my calories from fruit.

Now, that sounds crazy to some people.

After all, we’ve all heard the hype about fructose by now:

“High-fructose corn syrup! Fructose ruins your liver! Fructose—run!”

So of course we wonder, “what about…fruit?”

Fruit—nature’s beautiful, delicious, organic source of fructose—do we need to worry about that too?

Listen, I’ve been doing research on the plant-based lifestyle for over a decade, in part for my own benefit, and in part so I can be sure I’m giving my readers and clients the most accurate information available. In that time, I’ve carefully followed the emerging knowledge on fruit and its role in a balanced diet, and I want to share it with other fruit-loving, health-conscious people out there! Here’s what I’ve found:

Studies have linked liver problems, blood sugar imbalances, weight gain and other health issues to “industrial fructose” consumption only—that is, these problems seem to be a result of added, processed sugars, and not fruit. In fact, studies have found that between a diet restricting all fructose, including that from fruits, and one restricting only industrial fructose, people on a fruit-inclusive diet will lose more weight.

What exactly does “industrial fructose” mean? I know, it’s a weird term, and I had to do a little digging. Basically that term refers to the white sugar we put in our coffee, the high-fructose corn syrup hiding in our soda, and the many other processed and overly-sweet non-foods stacked by the hundreds on grocery store shelves.

Fructose found in fruit, on the other hand, has not been shown to have any negative effects on our health.

Scientists wondered if this had to do with the antioxidant or fibre content of whole fruit (which industrial fructose is obviously missing), so they did some tests. 

Here’s what happens with industrial fructose: If someone drinks a few tablespoons of sugar mixed with water (the equivalent of a can of soda), their blood sugar will spike massively in the first hour. Then by hour two, they’ll be practically hypoglycemic, meaning their blood sugar will be way too low. After that, their body will move fat into their bloodstream, thinking it’s needed.

Add some berries to that sugar water, though, and not only will the blood sugar spike be a bit lower, the following hypoglycemic dip won’t happen. Adding only berry juice (without the fiber whole berries have), won’t block the blood sugar spice like the berries do, but it will prevent the dip.

Why? I wanted to know too!

Some nutritionists have suggested that phytonutrients in berries and other fruits (juiced or blended) partially block our bodies’ absorption of sugar through our intestinal wall. For example eating berries along with high glycemic foods like white bread seems to prevent the insulin spike these foods would usually induce.

So not only does fruit sugar not negatively affect our health, it seems it may actually protect our bodies from the negative effects of other less healthy foods, too.

I don’t know about anyone else, but I am totally amazed by what fruit does for our bodies—and there’s plenty more to learn!

This is exactly why I tell my clients to eat as much fruit as they want—every single day. And that’s why I and my family do the same. We’ve never been healthier.

References & Further Reading:

R Torronen, M Kolehmainen, E Sarkkinen, H Mykkanen, L Niskanen. Postprandial glucose, insulin, and free fatty acid responses to sucrose consumed with blackcurrants and lingonberries in healthy women. Am J Clin Nutr. 2012 Sep;96(3):527-33.

S Petta, G Marchesini, L Caracausi, F S Macaluso, C Camma, S Ciminnisi, D Cabibi, R Porcasi, A Craxi, V Di Marco. Industrial, not fruit fructose intake is associated with the severity of liver fibrosis in genotype 1 chronic hepatitis C patients. J Hepatol. 2013 Dec;59(6):1169-76.

R H Lustig, Fructose: It’s “Alcohol Without the Buzz. Adv Nutr. 2013 Mar 1;4(2):226-35.

R Torronen, M Kolehmainen, E Sarkkinen, K Poutanen, H Mykkanen, L Niskanen. Berries reduce postprandial insulin responses to wheat and rye breads in healthy women. J Nutr. 2013 Apr;143(4):430-6.

K Johnston, P Sharp, M Cliffor, L Morgan. Dietary polyphenols decrease glucose uptake by human intestinal Caco-2 cells. FEBS Lett. 2005 Mar 14;579(7):1653-7.

S Manzano, G Williamson. Polyphenols and phenolic acids from strawberry and apple decrease glucose uptake and transport by human intestinal Caco-2 cells. Mol Nutr Food Res. 2010 Dec;54(12):1773-80.

M Madero, J C Arriaga, D Jalal, C Rivard, K McFann, O Perez-Mendez, A Vasquez, A Ruiz, M A Lanaspa, C R Jimenez, R J Johnson, L G Lozada. The effect of two energy-restricted diets, a low-fructose diet versus a moderate natural fructose diet, on weight loss and metabolic syndrome parameters: a randomized controlled trial. Metabolism. 2011 Nov;60(11):1551-9.


Author: Donna Wild

Images: Author’s own

Editor: Erin Lawson

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Irene Chávez Mar 4, 2018 12:50pm

This is awesome but i'd like to read more!

Ceci Trigos Dec 7, 2016 4:46am

Awesome! Thanks, I have always wanted to eat more fruit, I feel mybody craves it. But always think about the bad wrap sugar has and don´t. I´m going to star doing it now! Can you recommend what winter fruits are in season? CC

Donna Wild Dec 5, 2016 4:09am

Thanks so much :)

Troy Haines Dec 4, 2016 12:51pm

Very insightful. Well researched, great conclusions. Thanks for sharing :)

Fotini Katziouni Dec 3, 2016 9:15pm

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Donna Wild

Donna Wild, Founder

When Donna was 12 years old, she had a dream to be a dancer and have a house on a property with some happy cows. However, this was the year that doctors diagnosed her with juvenile arthritis and began medicating her for the pain. At 17 years of age, she visited specialists who diagnosed her with chronic rheumatoid arthritis in her entire body and said she would be crippled by the time she was just 22. By then, she had spent her life training to be a professional dancer, however, had become 13 kilograms overweight and directionless.

Donna believes that animal cruelty is wrong and personally suffers when she sees the way humans treat animals, she has worked tirelessly for a decade to empower people and families to eat in alignment with their belief- cruelty-free.

Today, Donna is a Mum of a four-year-old, a Nutritionist, a popular plant-based health and lifestyle author and an Australian Latin Dance Champion. She is completely free of arthritis, pain, and medication.

With her experience transitioning from a meat-eating to vegetarian, to vegan, to purely plant-based diet, and with the tens of thousands of hours she’s put into learning about nutrition and human bodies, Donna has gone just as deep into the ethics behind what we eat which is how she came to found this charity.

Til The Cows Come Home is a charity that aims to be the World Vision for livestock animals, on a mission to rescue animals that are too sick or injured to make it to slaughter and re-home them to a sanctuary to live a full and happy life, just as Donna imaged as a child.

Donna welcomes comments and questions!

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