How Consuming Fructose Can Damage Your Liver
Fructose is very hard on your liver, in much the same way as drinking alcohol.
- Liver burden number one: After eating fructose, 100 percent of the metabolic burden rests on your liver—ONLY your liver can break it down. This is much different than consuming glucose, in which your liver has to break down only 20 percent, and the remaining 80 percent is immediately metabolized and used by the rest of the cells in your body.
- Liver burden number two: Fructose is converted into fat that get stored in your liver and other tissues as body fat. Part of what makes fructose so bad for your health is that it is metabolized to fat in your body far more rapidly than any other sugar. For example, if you eat 120 calories of fructose, 40 calories are stored as fat. But if you eat the same amount of glucose, less than one calorie gets stored as fat. Consuming fructose is essentially consuming fat!
Fructose metabolism is very similar to the way alcohol is metabolized, which has a multitude of toxic metabolites that, if consumed in excess, can lead to NAFLD. Metabolically, consuming fructose is very similar to consuming alcohol. The byproducts are similar, which is why the effects on the liver are similar. For a complete discussion of fructose metabolism, see my comprehensive article about this.
Ironically, the very products that most people rely on to lose weight—low-fat diet foods—are often those that contain the most fructose. Studies confirm that consuming large amounts of HFCS may contribute to the development of NAFLD. And most kids today are consuming massive amounts! It is my belief that fructose is the largest dietary factor behind the rising rates of fatty liver disease among today’s youth.