High Fructose Corn Syrup

HFCS is ubiquitous

HFCS permeates our food supply; we couldn't avoid it if we tried.  It appears in almost all processed foods, all kinds of soft drinks, almost all commercial baked goods, salad dressings, soups, yogurt and many, many more.  

Check the labels for the shock of your life...high fructose corn syrup truly defines the word "ubiquitous".

This is important to know since high fructose corn syrup really does some bad things to our health not to mention our waistline.  But first, what is it?

What is it?

HFCS is corn syrup that has had it's glucose content converted to fructose by an enzymatic process, then the fructose is mixed pure corn syrup which is 100% glucose. 

It raises the question as to why go to the bother of converting the glucose in corn syrup into fructose only to mix it with more corn syrup?  The answer is that it is a cheaper process and easier to control the degree of sweetness by mixing controlled amounts of fructose with pure glucose. 

Food companies have been doing this for over 50 years since the process was first developed in 1957.  Today all almost all soft drinks contain HFCS that is 55% fructose and 45% glucose and a huge amount of commercially processed food and baked goods use an HFCS that is 42% fructose and 58% glucose.  OK, so why should anyone care?

It is pretty clear that a lot of people do care greatly.  Here's a book from Amazon.com that presents the dark side of HFCS.  CLick on the  "High Fructose Corn Poison" link below or the book image top left for more information on the book or to order it.

Another reason to care is that consumption of all that refined sugar programs our brain to want more and more of it.  We grow to crave it.

Rather than go into all that detail here, go to Sugar Cravings where Colleen has done the work by creating a whole page on why we have sugar cravings and what we can do about it.

High Fructose Corn Poison

The Claims

The concern is that there is lot of evidence that high fructose corn syrup is harmful to our health.  Obviously, the food companies dispute this and the FDA doesn't seem to be too concerned since they have approved it for human consumption.

They tagged it as GRAS, Generally Regarded as Safe.  It's not!

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The first claim is that the increased usage of high fructose corn syrup is responsible for the obesity epidemic in the U.S. since the rise in obesity seems to track the rise in HFCS consumption.  This seems to be pretty circumstantial evidence. 

Nevertheless, glucose is pure sugar as is fructose and the more we consume, the greater the strain on our pancreas in the form of insulin spikes.   

Recall that insulin converts sugar to fat and if it is not burned as energy, it is stored as fat.  There is a major difference, however, between glucose and fructose; namely they are metabolized differently. 

Fructose doesn't trigger an insulin release and thus doesn't affect leptin, the hormone that tells us we are full, don't eat anymore. 

Be sure to take the time to view the embedded video lecture by Dr. Robert H. Lustig, MD to see why.

What do the Lab Rats think?

Studies done with lab rats confirm that consumption of fructose instead of sucrose stimulate the liver to produce triglycerides and induce insulin resistance. 

Another rat study showed that fructose suppresses the sensation of fullness and within four weeks the rats showed signs of fatty liver disease and type II diabetes.

Here is a book available from Amazon.com that goes into more detail on what sugar, especially HFCS, is doing to us.  Click on the link below or the book image to check it out.

The Sugar Fix: The High-Fructose Fallout That Is Making You Fat and Sick

In yet another rat study, after six months on a high-fructose diet, the rats showed signs of developing leptin resistance. 

After switching to a high fat diet from the high-fructose diet, the rats gained more weight that those without leptin resistance and who had not been fed a high-fructose diet.

What do the Corn Refiners think?

Studies funded by a large corn refiner disputed all the findings in the rat studies.  Their study showed that high fructose corn syrup didn't contribute to obesity any more than other sweeteners. 

Another study found no difference between blood glucose, insulin levels, leptin or ghrelin levels due to consumption of HFCS or any other energy sources.  These studies would probably have more credibility if they weren't funded by the corn refiners.

Contributor to Diabetes?

Insulin and the pancreas brings us the the diabetes question.  Studies have shown that soft drinks sweetened with HFCS instead of sucrose (table sugar), are often ten times higher in harmful carbonyl compounds. 

These are chemicals that have been found to be elevated in people with diabetes and are implicated in many of the collateral damage of diabetes such as foot ulcers and eye and nerve damage.

The Mercury Issue

Another concern is that some HFCS produced in the U.S. a few years ago contained trace amounts of mercury.  The mercury apparently came from chemicals used to manufacture high fructose corn syrup. 

About half of the samples tested contained mercury concentrations between .012 ug/g to .57 ug/g.

What to do?

First off, take time to watch the aforementioned embedded video titled, "Sugar: The Bitter Truth". 

It is a video lecture from the University of California San Francisco by Dr. Robert H. Lustig, MD.  He is an endocrinologist and Professor of Pediatrics at UCSF. 

It is an hour and a half long but watch it all.  It will change your life and possibly save your life.

Common sense seems to dictate that sugar in any refined or processed form is either burned as energy or stored as fat and in today's sedentary society, the latter is the more likely outcome.  With fructose, fat accumulation is a rock-solid certainty.

Dr. Mark Hyman, who is cited frequently in this website, has penned an excellent article for the Huffington Post titled The Not-so-Sweet Truth About High Fructose Corn Syrup. Anyone who is not yet convinced that the high fructose stuff is bad, should read the article.

Again, read the labels and be shocked at how much fructose and people are eating in the form of high fructose corn syrup.  In 2004, the average intake of high fructose corn syrup per person was 63 pounds per year; undoubtedly it's a lot higher now.  As Dr. Lustig points out, it is all by design; a conspiracy. 

At a minimum, it is prudent for optimal health to limit our consumption of processed foods, especially foods that contain added sugar in any form.

Cut out soda and sports drinks, including diet sodas; not only for the HFCS content but also the phosphoric acid content, but that's another story.  How about a nice drink of filtered water instead?

Fresh fruit and vegetables is highly more preferable than the canned stuff in its heavy, sweetened syrup or canned veggies in a solution of preservatives and salt.

Fruit is good because it has fiber along with the sugar.

Finally, get smart on what is happening to our food supply and shop, cook and eat accordingly.

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