Is Fructose Making You Feel Hungry All The Time?

You just ate a bowl of cereal for breakfast two hours ago. Now you're starving. And when you see the glazed doughnuts in the break room, you can't resist.

Should you kick yourself for having low willpower? Or maybe … just maybe … should you blame that bowl of fructose-sweetened cereal?

It might surprise you to learn that more and more evidence implicates the cereal — not you. In two separate studies, Kathleen Page and her team at the University of Southern California uncovered evidence linking fructose — the type of sweetener used in many cereals, as well as sodas and thousands of other processed foods — to increased hunger.

In their most recent study, Page and her team asked 24 people to drink a beverage containing either glucose or fructose. Then the researchers performed functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scans of the participants' brains as they viewed pictures of a variety of foods (for instance, chocolate cake) and described how hungry they were.

The researchers say participants who drank the fructose drink reported higher levels of hunger. In addition, fructose caused a stronger reaction in the nucleus accumbens, a "reward" center of the brain, increasing the participants' desire to eat.

In earlier research, Page and her team asked 20 people to drink beverages containing glucose or fructose. Then the researchers measured changes in blood flow to the hypothalamus, which plays a key role in regulating hunger. Glucose, but not fructose, caused a significant slowing in the activity of this brain region. The same study also showed that people drinking the fructose experienced a much smaller surge of insulin, a hormone that promotes a feeling of fullness.

Page says, "These studies have important public health implications in a society that is inundated with high-sugar foods and tantalizing food stimuli."

While she stresses that her team's findings are preliminary, this is just the latest research indicating that fructose — and especially high fructose corn syrup, or "fructose on steroids" — is bad news. Here are some other good reasons for cutting fructose-sweetened processed foods out of your life:

And here's one final reason to say au revoir to fructose: You don't need it. It has virtually no nutritional value, so there's no biological downside to giving it the boot. The only time fructose is worth eating is when it's contained in natural foods, which also provide you with fiber, vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients your body needs.

So here's what I suggest: Go fructose-free, except for the natural fructose in fruits and honey. In particular, avoid foods containing high fructose corn syrup. (Read labels carefully, because manufactures sneak fructose into the most surprising places.)

At a minimum, you'll be healthier when you do this. You'll also look younger. And if you're lucky, you'll find it far easier to resist the siren song of those break room doughnuts.

Kellyann Petrucci, M.S., N.D.

Kellyann Petrucci, M.S., N.D., is the author of the New York Times bestselling book Dr. Kellyann’s Bone Broth Diet, Dr. Kellyann’s Bone Broth Cookbook, and The 10-Day Belly Slimdown. She also is the host of the highly successful PBS special, 21 Days to a Slimmer, Younger You and 10-Day Belly Slimdown with Dr. Kellyann.A weight-loss and natural anti-aging expert, Dr. Petrucci is a concierge doctor for celebrities in New York City and Los Angeles. She is a board-certified naturopathic physician and a certified nutrition consultant. Dr. Petrucci did postgraduate work in Europe, studying naturopathic medicine in England and Switzerland. She is one of the few practitioners in the United States certified in biological medicine by the esteemed Dr. Thomas Rau of the Paracelsus Klinik Lustmuhle in Switzerland.Dr. Petrucci is a weekly contributor on Dr. Oz and appears regularly on Good Morning America and other national news programs. She has authored six best-selling books for John Wiley & Sons. In addition, she is a regular contributor to the Huffington Post and MindBodyGreen. She has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Woman’s World, Life & Style, Closer, Harper’s Bazaar, Daily Mail, Cooking Light, Redbook, and more. As the driving force behind the popular website drkellyann.com. Currently, Dr. Petrucci is focusing much of her attention on developing innovative beauty- and food-based products.
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Kellyann Petrucci, M.S., N.D.

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