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Fructose Short-Circuits Glycolysis

First some terminology.

Fructose ... a five carbon sugar that occurs naturally in fruit, does not cause as much insulin to be secreted as glucose and tastes sweeter than glucose.

Glucose ... a six carbon sugar that is the breakdown product of glycogen(a polymer of glucose, multiple glucose units hooked together) that occurs naturally in potatoes and grains.

Glycogen ... multiple units of glucose hooked together (a polymer).What is typically called "complex carbohydrate" today.

Glycolysis ... derived from the Greek stem glyk- "sweet" and lysis meaning dissolution. The metabolic pathway for the initial utilization of glucose.

Phosphofructokinase ... the enzyme that catalyzes the reaction offructose 6-phosphate to fructose 1,6-biphosphate. You don't need to understand anything more about this reaction otherthan the fact that if fructose comes from a source other thanthe degradation of glucose, it blocks this step for glucoseuntil all the non-glucose derived fructose has been metabolized.

Glucose and Fructose Are Both Metabolized via Gylcolysis

Both fructose and glucose are metabolized via glycolysis. Both end up at some point as three carbon fragments. In order for glucose to be broken down into three carbon fragments it must first be metabolized to a five carbon sugar, actually fructose. This is where the trouble starts, since fructose is already a five carbon sugar. The following analogy Ihope will aid in explaining this. The analogy, however, is far from perfect.

Whether we start out with separate glucose and fructose as inhigh fructose corn syrup or honey, or with fructose and glucose hooked together as in sucrose(common table sugar), makes nodifference. As soon as sucrose hits the bloodstream, it isimmediately broken down (hydrolyzed) to fructose and glucose.

Freda Fructose gets married to Gary (Glucose) Sucrose. They livehappily on Sugar Lane. Both work in muscle and liver cellswhere they are metabolized usually into fat and slow the immune system to a crawl. They get up early in the morningand both have to get on the Glycolysis Road to get to work. Gary (Glucose) is one carbon atom heavier than Freda Fructose and because of that, he cannot cross the river on one of the lighter and faster bridges on their way to work. Freda Fructose however, being lighter, has no problem crossing the faster bridge and making the short-cut to the Glycolysis Road. Gary Glucose, however, has to get on the road well above the short-cut, since he is too heavy to take the lighter bridge short-cut.

The Phosphofructokinase Intersection

As usual Freda Fructose gets to the Phosphofructokinase intersection well before Gary Glucose. By the time Gary Glucose gets to the intersection, the traffic directing policeman is once again allowing all the Freda Fructoses to make the turn onto Glycolysis Road while, all the Gary Glucoses can do is sit in traffic and wait. Once again, Gary, and all the other Glucoses on their way to work, must sit and wait for all the Freda Fructoses to get on Glycolysis Road before they can continue.

LA Traffic Control

Traffic control sees all these Glucoses sitting stuck in traffic, just like traffic backs up everyday in LA. It reacts by injecting a lot of green lights (insulin) into the pathway for the Glucoses to get to work. Finally, all the Fructoses pass and now because there are too many green lights, all the Glucoses pass quickly. All of the sudden there are no Glucoses to be found on the Glycolysis Road. All the cells along the way that used to be able to snag some Glucose can't because there isn't any. Whether it is the excessive insulin that isthe cause of so many of the lifestyle diseases we see todayor, all the backed up Gary Glucoses decide to cause theirown damage to the arteries they are in, I don't know. It is however, clearly established that the ingestion of sucrose (fructose and glucose) is related to many of our lifestyle diseases today including the extensive damage to the vascular system that occurs with adult onset diabetesmellitus. I know, my damaged arteries are up on this site.


Now you begin to feel lightheaded, dizzy and a bit disoriented.Traffic control has injected too many green lights and theconcentration of glucose drops precipitously. The brainstarts to complain because it no longer has enough glucoseto function. If the blood sugar gets low enough, seriouscomplications can occur.

Fructose and Glucose Together

The combination of fructose and glucose should be avoided asmuch as possible. When you eat your fruit, try to allow at least an hour or preferably two, before eating potatoes, whole grains or rice. Also avoid as much as you can sucrose,high fructose corn syrup, honey and maple syrup or, anysweetener that has as it main ingredients, fructose and glucose.

Other Sweeteners

Brown Rice Syrup

Brown rice syrup is roughly about 45% maltose (two glucose unitshooked together), 50% complex carbohydrates and 3% glucose. Noglucose and fructose together but still sweet and I have knownsome people who can even get hypoglycemic from it.

Barley Malt Syrup

Made from whole barley it is about 65% Maltose and 30% complexcarbohydrates.

Fruit Concentrates

These are usually combinations of glucose, fructose and sucrose and should be avoided.

Maple Syrup

Maple syrup is about 65% sucrose and should be avoided.

Today's Health Tip:

If you want sweet, you are safest with stevia. Next would be sweeteners derived from rice and barley. Sucrose, high fructose corn syrup, maple syrup and fruit juice concentrates should be avoided.

Stryer Biochemistry Fourth Edition

Copyright John Mericle M.D. 2005 All Rights Reserved

To really get off of sweets and "deprogram a sugar-coated palate," the MericleDiet is hard to beat. Generous servingsof organic complex carbohydrates will keep you and your brain happy. To visit the MericleDiet follow the link below.

One of our readers Wendy in the UK writes:

Just to let you know that according to the website below that takes you to Carol Bond Health Foods it is spelt Stevita. I couldn't find it anywhere on the site and through asking the chat section it was spelt differently. Thought you would like to know so that you can let the other newsletter recipients know.

PS Really enjoy the newsletter. Find it very informing so thank you. Gave up drinking milk last year after reading your article! Feel much healthier as a result.

To take Stevia for a test drive or purchase some onlinefollow the link below. I had luck just searching steviabut you could also search the product "Stevita."
Thanks for your time. is devoted to achieving optimal health and peak performance through diet and lifestyle change. Dr. Mericle brings together a unique blend of formal training in organic chemistry and biochemistry, medical education, 29 marathons, 3 Hawaii Ironman competitions and a lot of practical real life experience.



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