High Fructose Corn Syrup:
the good, the bad and the ugly.

I have always thought that corn was a good thing, a great vegetable with a little butter, and corn syrup was just the sugar that is squeezed out of corn. What could be wrong with that, right? I found out that HFCS is actually a highly processed unnatural product that is often sold as “all natural.” It acts as a preservative, extending the shelf life of foods, and it’s cheaper than sugar. HFCS is heavily used in the United Stated because of heavy governmental corn subsides and genetically modified corn that keep the price low. In fact, consumption has increased 1000 percent since 1970. Every American consumes an average of 60 pounds of HFCS a year.

So HFCS is chemically altered corn that keep our food fresh longer. What’s the problem with that? Well, as it turns out, multiple studies have documented the ill effects of this product so conclusively that it has been banned in Europe. HFCS has a heavy connection to obesity, diabetes and heart disease. Apparently, the problem lies in how our bodies react to the substance. Unlike glucose, fructose does not stimulate insulin secretion or enhance lepton production which makes it difficult for our bodies to regulate our appetite and increases fat storage. Lepton helps the brain to send the signal to stop eating, so without it we get full, but we don’t feel full. It makes our bodies physically crave this stuff, and it makes you wonder why you can’t eat just one.

A study was done by the US government which compared rats fed a glucose diet to rats fed HFCS and the results were disturbing. Male rats where affected the most; they did not reach adulthood, their testicles did not develop fully, and they had high cholesterol and enlarged hearts. Female rats fared a little better but could not produce live babies. Both sexes had fatty cirrhotic livers that looked like an alcoholic’s liver. Apparently, every cell in the body can metabolize glucose, but fructose must be metabolized in the liver.

The lists of bad effects of this stuff goes on and on, and yet the food industry in the United States disagrees and has even started a pro-HFCS campaign that you can see on TV. What is most infuriating to me is that this stuff is in its highest concentration in foods marketed to children. In our house we have started the process of trying to eliminate this stuff, although it is really hard to get rid of. It is in everything from vitamins to BBQ sauce, but the worst is soft drinks. So if you do nothing else, stop drinking soda, and that step alone will reduce your intake. No wonder that Coke tasted so good in Europe, or then again, maybe it was the great food, amazing architecture and beautiful art.

Posted by: Dr Bruce on June 23, 2011

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