How Safe is Fructose?

by Dr. James Howenstine, M.D.
(Reprinted here with written permission.)

High fructose corn syrup came into widespread use as a sugar substitute in the 1970’s because of its lower price. By 1990 the quantity of fructose consumed had gone up ten fold. This is now present in candy, soda, cereal, crackers, bread, packaged foods and hundreds of other foods.

Fructose was believed to be a safe sugar substitute because it has no adverse effects on either blood sugar values or insulin output. However, there are two serious problems from fructose usage.

When ingested, fructose is immediately shuttled directly to the liver. In the liver it is a key building block in the manufacture of triglycerides. These triglycerides are then transported to the bloodstream carried by LDL (bad) cholesterol to the arteries where they can deposit in the artery walls. Animal research has shown that feeding a high fructose diet to animals is one of the fastest ways to raise triglyceride levels in the blood. The amount of fructose eaten by Americans is comparable in quantity to that fed to these animals. Diabetics commonly have elevated blood triglyceride values which clearly contribute to the development of arteriosclerosis.

Fructose is commonly regarded as the sugar found in fruit. The important distinction is that in fruit the quantity of fructose is small and it is bound to complex plant fiber, nutrients and minerals. Because of this fructose contained in fruit is slowly released into the bloodstream and fruits are considered a valuable protection against cardiovascular disease and other health problems because of their powerful anti-oxidant qualities.

The second major problem with fructose is its ability to combine with amino acids to form advanced glycation end products (AGEs). AGEs are believed to be permanent. They accumulate in body tissues where they accelerate aging and thus contribute to the formation of cataracts, narrowing of arteries and kidney disease.

High intake of fructose contributes to increased levels of glycation in the body. Reducing all sugar and fructose intake appears to be a wise health measure. When you eat only food that spoils, avoid sugar and transfats, and begin Omega 3 essential fatty acids you will start turning your health around.

How Can Type 2 Diabetics Recover From Their Illness?
Several features are common to most diabetics:

  •  Sedentary life style

  • High Intake of synthetic hydrogenated transfats

  • Hugh intake of refined simple carbohydrates (sugar)

  • Absence of adequate amounts of dietary essential Omega 3 fatty acids

  • Inadequate body stores of trace minerals, vitamins and nutrients. When blood sugars are elevated diabetics pass large quantities of urine containing important vitamins, minerals and nutrients. Dietary repletion is difficult until blood sugar control is restored.

Processed food contains pesticides, additives, synthetic disease producing fats, sugar, and artificial sweeteners some of which are quite deleterious to health (Nutrasweet [aspartame], Sucralose, Splenda etc). If the sugar substitute is made in a factory you can be certain it is dangerous to health. Many of these contain chlorine. The best safe sweetening substance appears to be the natural substance stevia. Several of the glycosides in stevia have blood sugar lowering capability.

To regain normal blood sugar values requires: 

  • Permanent elimination of all packaged food. This means that foods packaged in boxes, cans, bottles have objectionable contents in 90% of cases. Read labels so you can refuse to buy dangerous foods. The simplest solution is to buy only foods that will spoil. Fast foods are loaded with calories, sugar and transfats and should be avoided. All transfats must be permanently terminated. This is what caused the problem and if you return to eating transfats the diabetes will recur. In the supermarket all bottles labeled soy oil, canola oil, corn oil, saffola oil, sunflower seed oil contain dangerous transfats. Substances labeled unsaturated fat and polyunsaturated fat are also transfats made in factories that will not spoil.

  • Initially get rid of all sugar intake. This means sugar, sodas, candy, pies, cakes, cookies and ice cream must go along with the packaged food. When blood sugar values have stabilized at normal values small quantities of honey and brown sugar may be added. Use safe stevia for sweetening foods.

  • One of the characteristics of the Type 2 diabetic is failure to progress into severe ketoacidosis, which is a medical emergency. This has been attributed to the presence of small amounts of residual insulin sufficient to prevent ketosis. This residual insulin is adequate to slowly decrease blood sugar values if the fat intake is restricted As soon as the dietary fat intake is violated there will be prompt reappearance of elevated blood sugar values and the dangerous hyperinsulinemia with the risk of arterial narrowing. Remember high insulin levels are just as dangerous as high blood sugar levels. Dietary fat needs to be restricted to 15 to 25% of total calories. This is far less than the average American’s fat intake of 45% of total calories. An informed intelligent dietician can be an asset in creating low fat meals.

  • When my bout with Type 2 Diabetes occurred in 2000 Dr. Julian Whitaker’s book “Reversing Diabetes” was a valuable resource because it contained menus for 30 days of low fat meals. After terminating the use of transfats my appetite decreased and I was able to lose 50 pounds in 6 weeks. My food intake since then has been about 70% of previous caloric intake.

  • Restore your body’s mineral and nutrient content toward normal by taking Glucobalance or Blood Sugar Improvement Formula. These can be found in health food stores and the Tehama Clinic pharmacy phone 425-264-0059. Dr. Jonathan Wright suggests diabetics have a daily intake of the following nutrients chromium 1000 to 2000 mg., Niacin 1.5 to 2.5 mg , Niacinamide 50 to 100 mg ,Biotin 8 to 16 mg., Alpha-lipoic- acid 300 mg., Co-Enzyme Q 10-60 mg. Vitamin K 5 to 10 mg., Vitamin D -2000 I.U. daily, Vitamin E (as mixed tocopherols) 400 IU, Vitamin C 2000-3000 mg., Magnesium 300-400 mg., Vanadium 1-2 mg., Zinc 30 mg. Copper 2 mg., Manganese 5-10 mg., Most supplements will lack a few of these ingredients which can be added from another source.

  • Begin taking Omega 3 fatty acids. Thomas Smith currently suggests alternating 2 or 3 tablespoons of flax oil or 4 tablespoons of ground flaxseed one day with one capsule of fish oil twice daily the following day. We like Barlean’s flax products which can be found in health food stores. Because flaxseed has cancer preventing lignans and valuable aminoacids it has greater health values than flax oil. We like Nordic Naturals Artic Omega brand of fish oil because of the high quality controks used in it’s production and it’s pleasant taste. This can be ordered by phoning our fulfillment house at 1-800-416-2806 and is also found in health food stores. Both these oils supply the body with the healthy omega 3 fatty acids needed to build normal cell membranes. As the cell membranes heal the blood sugar values will improve.

  • Food intake initially will be ideal if large amounts of raw foods such as vegetables in salads with Bragg’s raw apple cider vinegar are eaten. The food enzymes are preserved in uncooked food when it is raw.

  • Initially minimize dietary fats as much as possible other than the daily Omega 3 fatty acids (Flax oil, Fish oil). Baking and broiling will help. After blood sugar control has been restored butter, unrefined coconut oil, and extra virgin olive oil and unrefined sesame oil may be slowly added back into the diet. The addition of these new fats should be gradual so no relapse in blood sugars from excessive fat intake occurs. Use only butter, extra virgin olive oil, and unrefined coconut oil for cooking. Add water to the olive oil and coconut oil as needed to avoid burning.

  •  A critical cornerstone of diabetic management is regular exertion (walking, swimming. gym workouts etc.) This can be as simple as walking two miles 5 or 6 days weekly. Burning up calories by exercising greatly improves blood sugar values. If you wish to undertake strenuous exertion it is advisible to obtain an exercise treadmill test first as diabetics are notorious for having significant coronary artery arteriosclerosis without symptoms. Weight lifting increases muscle mass which facilitates greater calory burn up with exercise. Fifteen to 20 minutes of exercise after meals works very well to lower blood sugar values but should be avoided if you have chest pain (angina) after meals.

Guidelines Toward Recovery From Type 2 Diabetes 
Initially all sugar needs to be eliminated. This impedes the liver’s ability to transform sugar into fat. Remember, when blood sugar levels are returned to normal the insulin blood level is often still elevated. High blood insulin levels are implicated in damage to arteries Later when glucose control is well established you can add brown sugar for flavoring, dates, stevia and honey in small quantities. When sugar is added prematurely the blood sugars rise and the recovery is set back in time.

Obese patients take longer to recover blood sugar control possibly because they have larger fat reserves than thin persons. These large fat reserves contain more abnormal trans fats, which may still be used in building cell membranes. When these abnormal fats have been totally metabolized away the new forming cell membranes will be normal and sugar will again enter cells normally with return of blood sugar to normal. Continue to take flax oil and fish oil permanently.

A glucometer will be needed to monitor response to therapy. Blood sugar control can be assumed to have satisfactorily returned when blood sugar values are below 100 mg. on seven consecutive mornings. At this stage blood insulin levels are still probably elevated.

To be successful in ridding yourself of Type 2 diabetes you must change what you eat. If you continue to believe that “I deserve a break today” you will have great difficulty curing this disease.

To summarize: Type 2 diabetes appears to be an illness caused by abnormal fat metabolism induced by absence of Essential Omega 3 fatty acids and the presence of dangerous artificial fats in the diet. Omega 3 fatty acids are responsible for the maintenance and repair of cellular membranes. When the body lacks Omega 3 fatty acids the omega 6 and omega 9 fatty acids must be used. This results in a stiff and sticky cell membrane, instead of the usual slippery and smooth membrane. These abnormal membranes do not permit easy transport of glucose into the cell and the blood sugar stays high.

The disease is reversible with appropriate dietary changes in approximately 90% of cases. Mr. Smith is uncertain why 10% of cases fail to respond to these dietary changes. Some of these failures may be related to faulty compliance.

DHEA May Postpone Or Prevent Insulin Resistance 
The adrenal gland hormone dihydroepiandosterone (DHEA) is the precursor hormone for the formation of both estrogen and testosterone in the human body. Levels of DHEA steadily fall from maximum levels at age 25 to 30 to about 50 % of normal by age 40 (200 mcg./dl.). Supplementation with DHEA in the elderly has slowed some of the effects of aging on estrogen and testosterone. Stress is counteracted, immune function is improved, protection against the appearance of cardiovascular disease may occur, increased insulin growth factor appears which preserves muscles and diminishes fat accumulation, excessive clotting of blood is slowed, improved survival is seen in population studies, depression is alleviated in 50 to 60% of persons often beginning within 10 days and brain aging is stopped.
A recent research article sheds some interesting light on the problem of insulin resistance and central obesity seen in elderly patients. Fifty six patients with an average age of 71 were studied for glucose and insulin response to a standard sugar challenge. All 56 patients had a MRI evaluation of the extent of abdominal fat. One half these patients were given a placebo and the other half received 50 mg of DHEA for 6 months. When retested after 6 months those patients who were given DHEA showed significant decreases in abdominal fat. Those DHEA receiving patients also exhibited a decrease in insulin output with no change in blood sugar response. following glucose administration. This suggested their resistance to insulin had decreased.[1]

These results showed that resistance to the effect of insulin can be reduced by DHEA therapy. Development of Type 2 Diabetes might be postponed or prevented in elderly patients by the use of DHEA therapy. The dosage of DHEA selected for this study (50 mg.) is a dosage that is known to cause pimples and less frequently increased hair growth in women. A lower dosage of DHEA in women of 10 to 25 mg. daily should avoid these effects. Monitoring DHEA, etiocholanolone, androsterone, estrogen in males and testosterone in females and will ensure that the DHEA dose is proper. The Meridian Valley Laboratory in Washington State offers a Comprehensive Steroid Analysis that can be ordered by individuals as well as health care providers. Taking DHEA after age 40 may improve general health as we age. DHEA is found in health food stores.

Reprinted with permission.


1, Villareal, DT, Holloszy, JO Effect of DHEA on abdominal fat and insulin action in elderly men and women : a randomized controlled trial JAMA; 292 (18):2, 243-248

Dr. James A. Howenstine is a board certified specialist in internal medicine who spent 34 years caring for office and hospital patients. After 4 years of personal study he became convinced that natural products are safer, more effective, and less expensive than pharmaceutical drugs. This research led to the publication of his book A Physicians Guide To Natural Health Products That Work. Dr. Howenstine can be reached by mail at Dr. James Howenstine, C/O Remarsa USA SB 37, P.O. Box 25292, Miami, Fl. 33102-5292.