Do you know how much fructose you are eating?

From a historical point of view, fruits and honey were the only fructose-rich foods in our diet. In the 17th century the average sugar intake of each person was as low as 5 g per day. Big changes of dietary habits only occurred after the industrial scale production of sugar from sugar cane, sugar beets and the introduction of high-fructose corn syrup. Suddenly, sugar was available in large quantities and at low costs.

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Common table sugar is made up of fructose and glucose in equal parts: with each gram of sugar you ingest half a gram of fructose. In 1950 the average intake of fructose in the USA was already 37 g and by 2004 has risen to 49 g daily. The equals almost 100 g of sugar – each and every day, which is a twenty fold increase in the last 300 years! One also has to consider that these are only average values – 10 % of the Western population ingest almost twice that amount! Especially the intake of teenagers and young adults is alarmingly high.

According to latest research, massive sugar consumption is associated with more and more diseases. High blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, hyperinsulinism, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, fructose malabsorption, gout, hyperuricaemia, breast cancer and renal diseases can either directly or indirectly be caused by the ingestion of huge amounts of the fructose. Therefore, it is very interesting to take a closer look at your actual daily amount of sugar (and fructose respectively).

The human organism did not have much time to adapt to such drastic changes in our dietary habits. It is not prepared for handling such great amounts of fructose. This takes a toll that should not be underestimated. Evidence suggests that 25 g of table sugar daily lead to an increased risk for diabetes. Therefore, the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends not to exceed this amount.

Sources:
W. Douard et al., The role of fructose transporters in diseases linked to excessive fructose intake, J Physiol 591.2 (2013) pp 401-414
http://green.wiwo.de/who-warnt-vor-hohem-zuckerkonsum-mehr-als-ein-glas-cola-pro-tag-ist-ungesund/ (09/2015)

Image: Martin Kirkegaard, https://www.flickr.com/photos/martinkirkegaard/5390749335 (CC BY-ND 2.0)