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Fructose and Maltodextrin may not be a Sweet Deal for Alzheimer’s Prevention

Posted on | May 30, 2014 | No Comments

sweeteners for Alzheimer's prevention

 There has been quite a bit of recent controversy about which sweeteners are best for Alzheimer’s prevention.  Many new sweeteners (found in sports drinks and bars as well as many other foods) claim to offer healthy complex carbohydrate ingredients.  Two such  substances are “fructose” and “maltodextrin.”  If you read food labels there is no doubt you have stumbled across these two seemingly harmless ingredients-but are fructose and maltodextrin healthy carbohydrate sources as the food industry claims?

Good Carbs/Bad Carbs

There are basically 2 kinds of carbohydrates-simple carbs (like white table sugar) and complex carbohydrates found in high fiber foods such as black beans and whole wheat.  Complex carbohydrates (recommended as part of the Alzheimer’s prevention diet) have a very low rating on the glycemic index (GI).  When the body digests complex carbohydrates, the glucose molecules are absorbed slowly and high spikes in blood sugar levels are avoided.  The significance of this slower absorption is that the body is not forced to release high levels of insulin-which eventually may lead to fat production, insulin resistance and type II diabetes.

What is Fructose?

Many people think that fructose is harmless because it is derived from a natural source- fruit.  But according to a recent study conducted at CU University of Medicine, it may be fructose and NOT glucose that triggers fatty liver and insulin resistance.  The study reported that mice were able to convert glucose to fructose in the liver, and that “this conversion was critical for driving the development of obesity and insulin resistance,” according to­­ Science Daily.  This study was led by Miguel Lanaspa, PhD.  “Ironically, our study shows that much of the risk from ingesting high glycemic foods is actually due to the generation of fructose, which is a low glycemic sugar. These studies challenge the dogma that fructose is safe and that it is simply the high glycemic carbohydrates that need to be restricted.” said Lanaspa.

What is Maltodextrin?

Maltodextrin gets its claim to fame for being a complex carbohydrate because of its molecular structure-but is it really healthy?  According to many expert sources, the answer is no. Maltodextrin is actually comprised of a string of glucose units-much like a protein peptide.  This “polymer” of glucose units (in theory) qualifies maltodextrin to be in the complex carbohydrate category.  However, it’s a different story when maltodextrin is broken down in the body.  “When you ingest this carbohydrate, the bonds holding the glucose molecules together are degraded and glucose is rapidly liberated into the blood stream,” says Intense Muscle.com.  Many other nutritional experts agree, saying that these “polymers” are easily broken down and maltodextrin is quickly converted into a high glycemic index substance.   In fact, maltodextrin has been found to have a GI rating of nearly 140-150, higher than table sugar! Instead of promoting lean bodies maltodextrin ends up causing you to be “soft and fat,” says Intense Muscle.com.

The truth is that substances such as fructose and maltodextrin are inexpensive and many companies are interested in keeping things status quo because they have big profits at risk.  But consumers are ahead of the curve when it comes to being educated.  Stay informed, read labels and at all costs avoid products loaded with high GI rated ingredients such as high fructose corn syrup, (HFCS), fructose and maltodextrin.  Your brain will thank you for it!


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Harvard-trained Neurologist, Richard S. Isaacson, M.D. currently serves as Associate Professor of Clinical Neurology, Vice Chair of Education, and Education Director of the McKnight Brain Institute in the Department of Neurology at the University of Miami (UM) Miller School of Medicine. He completed his residency in Neurology at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center/Harvard Medical School, and his medical internship at Mount Sinai Medical Center in Miami Beach, FL. Prior to joining UM, he served as Associate Medical Director of the Wien Center for Alzheimers disease and Memory Disorders at Mount Sinai.

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