Is the massive consumption of fructose in the modern diet making us all dumber? I’m not asking this question as a rhetorical one, but as an honest question and one that I hope is being investigated by science.
It bothers me that I hear so many people–laymen, doctors, and scientists alike–continue to make the claim that fructose is nutritionally equivalent to other monosaccharide sugars, thereby claiming that it doesn’t matter what kind of sugar one consumes, because they’re really all the same.
A quick perusal of the Wikipedia articles on the three monosaccharides (fructose, galactose, glucose) shows that they are not at all the same. In fact, the body has significantly different pathways for metabolizing all of them and they produce different byproducts and produce different effects as a result of that metabolism. Just looking at the molecular diagrams for each of those sugars shows they’re not the same.
Yet, I know from my own experience what consuming large quantities of fructose specifically does to me. After consuming it–say, in the form of soda–I know that my brain seems more sluggish and I am less motivated. Frankly, compared to most, I consume a small amount of fructose compared to the average American, and even with that smaller amount I can see that something is wrong.
All of which makes me wonder whether we haven’t all fallen for a marketing sleight of hand that has reduced the problem far below its complexity and left us all worse off because of it.