For years, common thought has held glucose to be the “bad” sugar and fructose to be the “good” one – after all, fructose is naturally occurring sugar found in fruit, it must be good for you, right? Wrong.

Glucose is the sugar that the body depends on for survival – it is a primary fuel for the body. Fructose, on the other hand, contributes to weight gain even when consumed in whole fruits. Whereas glucose is broken down by every cell in the body, with the liver bearing only 20% of the responsibility, fructose puts the burden solely on the liver. In addition, fructose gets broken down into free fatty acids, VLDL (the bad form of cholesterol) and triglycerides that get stored as fat.

Fructose also affects hormones differently than glucose. Glucose communicates with leptin, the hormone that allows you to feel full, and suppresses the hunger hormone ghrelin. Fructose has no effect on ghrelin and actually interferes with the brain’s communication with leptin. So if you consume fructose, you will continue to be hungry and not feel full.

Fructose has other negative effects – it is a potent pro-inflammatory agent that creates advanced glycation end products (AGEs) and speeds up aging in the body. New studies indicate that AGEs are associated with the development of chronic degenerative diseases such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s, all of which are also associated with aging. In animal studies, those that had AGE-restricted diets also had reduced oxidative stress and inflammatory markers, as well as an increased lifespan.

So how do you avoid overdosing on fructose? When consuming fruit, stick with those high in fiber, and eat them whole. The high fiber content helps fill you up, and the amount of fructose in whole fruits (as compared to juice or dried fruits) is fairly low. But the best way to avoid fructose is to avoid sweetened beverages, most of which rely on high fructose corn syrup for sweetening. If you have to have a bit of sugar in your coffee, use stevia-based sweeteners, which are low calorie and plant-based. Finally, if you’re worried about already-incurred oxidative stress, consider adding Protandim into your daily routine. The Nrf2 synergizer works to reduce oxidative stress, and helps your body work at its optimum.

To learn more about sugar and weight loss, read “Decoding Sugar and Weight Control” by health coach Janet Solie.