In my last post, I talked about the dangers of drinking soda. One ingredient in soda is so awful for you that I thought it deserved it’s very own article! That ingredient is high fructose corn syrup or HFCS.
High fructose corn syrup is defined by the medical dictionary as a sweetener made by processing corn syrup to increase the level of fructose, usually to between 42% and 55% of the total sugar, with the balance being glucose. It is used extensively as a sweetener in processed foods and soft drinks, particularly soda and baked goods, but it is included also in many foods not normally thought of as sweet foods.
High fructose corn syrup was introduced into our foods from 1975 to 1985 (Coke and Pepsi began using HFCS in 1984) and is now in 80% of processed foods in the United States! In Europe, HFCS is restricted to 2-3% of sugar production. It is made by an enzymatic process from glucose syrup that is derived from corn.
Here are the top 10 reasons you should never consume high fructose corn syrup:
1. It can cause weight gain and obesity
HFCS is metabolized to fat in your body much more quickly than sugar. In March, 2010, a study was done at Princeton University about the effects of high fructose corn syrup on weight gain. Here is what the research team found out (from Princeton University’s website):
“The first study showed that male rats given water sweetened with high-fructose corn syrup in addition to a standard diet of rat chow gained much more weight than male rats that received water sweetened with table sugar, or sucrose, in conjunction with the standard diet. The concentration of sugar in the sucrose solution was the same as is found in some commercial soft drinks, while the high-fructose corn syrup solution was half as concentrated as most sodas.”
“The second experiment – the first long-term study of the effects of high-fructose corn syrup consumption on obesity in lab animals – monitored weight gain, body fat and triglyceride levels in rats with access to high-fructose corn syrup over a period of six months. Compared to animals eating only rat chow, rats on a diet rich in high-fructose corn syrup showed characteristic signs of a dangerous condition knows in humans as the metabolic syndrome, including abnormal weight gain, significant increases in circulating triglycerides and augmented fat deposition, especially visceral fat around the belly. Male rats in particular ballooned in size: Animals with access to high-fructose corn syrup gained 48 percent more weight than those eating a normal diet.”
A 48 percent weight gain equates to a 200 pound man gaining 96 pounds! No wonder nearly 2/3 of Americans are overweight or obese and childhood obesity is tripled was it was a generation ago. Do I think high fructose corn syrup is contributing to the obesity epidemic in America? Yes, I do! The obesity epidemic costs the nation as much as $147 billion each year, along with several lives.
2. It can cause an increase in developing Type-2 Diabetes and cause diabetics to gain weight
Type 2 diabetes is strongly related to lack of exercise and a poor diet. It develops slowly, typically over several years.
According to Earl Mindell and Virginia Hopkins, authors of “Prescription Alternatives,” when HFCS is consumed, there is a depletion of chromium in the body. Chromium is important in helping glucose pass from the bloodstream into the cells. Mindell and Hopkins say that studies done at the US Department of Agriculture’s Human Nutrition Resource Center reveal that consuming fructose in this form (high fructose corn syrup) causes chromium levels to drop, in turn raising LDL cholesterol and triglycerides, and impairing immune system function. “As our consumption of high fructose corn syrup has risen 250 percent in the past 15 years, our rate of diabetes has increased approximately 45 percent in about the same time period,” said Mindell. To learn more go to: http://www.naturalnews.com/009333_diabetes_sugar.html#ixzz27ahd2RVN
Since high fructose corn syrup doesn’t stimulate glucose levels and insulin release, there’s no release in leptin levels. Insulin controls the hormone leptin which tells your body to stop eating when you are full. Since your brain is not getting this message when you consume HFCS, you can gain weight.
3. It can elevate triglyceride levels (bad cholesterol)
According to the American Heart Association, the amount of triglycerides (or blood fats) in blood are one important barometer of metabolic health; high levels are associated with coronary heart disease, diabetes and fatty liver disease.
4. It can cause long-term liver damage
Because of the way your body metabolizes fructose, the entire burden of metabolizing it falls upon your liver. According to a study at Duke University, liver scarring is associated with consuming high fructose corn syrup. The condition, dubbed non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is present in about 30% of all American adults. Fatty liver disease can lead to cirrhosis, hepatitis, liver cancer and liver failure.
5. It can make the body more acidic
A body that is more acidic than alkaline is a breeding ground for low energy, weight gain and disease. Anything with high fructose corn syrup has high acidic content.
6. Independent medical and nutrition experts do not support the use of HFCS in our diet
There is a lot of information out there about high fructose corn syrup. Some say it is unhealthy, others say is does not affect your health. The Corn Refiner’s Association confuses us through print and tv ads by trying to convince us that it is natural and no different than cane sugar.
The problem with this is that there have been several studies done on the effects of eating a diet high in high fructose corn syrup. And even without these studies, you can look around and see that obesity is an epidemic in our nation for both adults and children. According to the Food Research and Action Center, two-thirds of U.S. adults are overweight (68.8%) or obese (35.7%) and a quarter of 2 – 5 year olds and one-third of school age children are overweight (31.8%) or obese (16.9%) in the U.S.
7. Products that contain high fructose corn syrup are almost always indicative of a poor quality food product
Because HFCS is the cheapest sweetener to use, food manufacturers use it in many products. If HFCS was of high quality and nutritious for you, it would not be used as much as it is because it would cost the food industry much more to use.
High fructose corn syrup has no nutritional value whatsoever. Remember in number 2 when I said that the hormone leptin is what sends the signal to your brain that you are full? And that high fructose corn syrup blocks that hormone? Have you ever noticed when you or your child eat a snack or drink something that contains HFCS, you never feel full? You want more of whatever you are eating because it is not satisfying your hunger? To combat that feeling, you need to learn to choose something healthy that does not contain high fructose corn syrup. A glass of water, handful of nuts, piece of fruit, vegetables, seeds, something that does not contain HFCS.
8. High fructose corn syrup has been linked to Metabolic Syndrome
Metabolic syndrome is a name for a group of risk factors that occur together and increase the risk for coronary artery disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes.
9. There is concern because of how high fructose corn syrup is processed
The corn that high fructose corn syrup is metabolized from almost all comes from modified corn which has it’s own health issues.
10. The quantity in which Americans are ingesting high fructose corn syrup is alarming
The food industry has been putting HFCS into our food supply since the 1970s. Since HFCS is so cheap, enhances flavor and shelf life, the food industry overuses it. Because of this, Americans, especially, are consuming HFCS at such a rapid rate and our bodies just can’t keep up with it without there being devastating health problems.
Please remember to read those labels! The food industry does not care if you are getting fat because of the high fructose corn syrup in their products! All it cares about is making a buck!
It is never too early to start teaching your kids about great eating habits. When my daughter was four, she is six now, was at my parents for the weekend, my mom called to tell me something funny. She said when they sat down to eat dinner, my dad pulled out a popular brand of barbeque sauce. My daughter said, “papa, you can’t eat that because it has high fructose corn syrup in it and is very unhealthy for you!”
Your kids have the right to know what they are putting into their bodies! We talk about nutrition, what is healthy and what is unhealthy, all the time in our household. The world is a crazy place to maneuver. Teach your kids about great nutrition and they will be armed for life against weight gain, diabetes, and other preventable diseases.