High Fructose Corn Syrup

Revision: 1.00, 15.Oct.07 14:27

There is a growing body of evidence that this ubiquitous sweetener is very bad for the human organism.  Yes, it's easy to find lots of self-serving, corn-industry sources that try to contradict that position.  But I've found more than enough evidence to convince me that this insidious material should be dumped from the human food chain.  If not for others, certainly for myself and my family.

One final point, if you're wondering -WHY- companies are putting this sweetener into their products, it's simple: cost.  HFCS is cheaper than natural sugar, so companies are using it to bolster their bottom line.  Why is it cheaper?  You can thank your Congress for that.  They continue to impose artificial price supports for their buddies in the the American sugar industry--that means they're setting the price *you* pay for sugar from domestic manufacturers.  You probably never stopped to think what's actually in that annual agriculture bill that gets bandied about by both sides of the isle.  Like everything else that elected "officials" touch, they will invariably screw it up.  The only real way make this work is to let the market set the price.  That will ALWAYS give to you the lowest cost product with the best quality.

The material below is a compendium of various sources.  When I've used their own words, I did my best to give the credit where due. 

When HFCS breaks down in the intestines, near equal amounts of glucose and fructose enter the bloodstream.  The digestive and absorptive processes for glucose and fructose are different.  For starters the fructose short-circuits the glycolytic metabolic pathway for glucose, leading to all the problems associated with sucrose (ordinary "table" sugar).  Fructose converts to fat more than any other sugar, and is known to significantly raise triglyceride levels.

In addition, HFCS seems to be generating a few of its own problems, epidemic obesity being ONLY one of them.  The biggest problem being that fructose does not stimulate insulin production and also fails to increase leptin (a hormone produced by the body's fat cells which acts to turn off the appetite and control body weight).  In addition, fructose does not suppress the production of ghrelin, a hormone that works to increase hunger.  Together, these two factors cause the consumer to continue to eat, well beyond satiation.  Now, I'm not saying that the food processing industry went out of its way to get that result...but there it is.

It should be obvious to anybody with a functioning pair of eyes that obesity is a major epidemic in America today.  Aside from the obvious reasons ("knife-&-fork" disease compounded by a sedentary--read:  "reality TV"--lifestyle), its root causes are still unclear.  But when food consumption patterns were analyzed using US Department of Agriculture food consumption tables from 1967 to 2000, the consumption of HFCS increased > 1000% between 1970 and 1990, far exceeding the changes in intake of any other food or food group.  HFCS now represents > 40% of caloric sweeteners added to foods and beverages and is the sole caloric sweetener in soft drinks in the United States.  The increased use of HFCS in the United States mirrors the rapid increase in obesity and its attendant maladies: diabetes, macular degeneration, heart diseases or all kinds, and circulatory diseases of all kinds among others.

The digestion, absorption, and metabolism of fructose differ from those of glucose.  Hepatic metabolism (in/by the liver) of fructose favors lipogenesis (direct conversion to fat).  Unlike glucose, which the body uses, when one consumes large amounts of fructose it is a relatively unregulated source of fuel for the liver to convert to fat and cholesterol.  As noted earlier, also unlike glucose, fructose does not stimulate insulin secretion (or enhance leptin production).  This is bad because insulin and leptin act as key signals in the regulation of food intake and body weight.  And, possibly because of their desirable taste, calorically sweetened beverages seem to encourage caloric over-consumption.

Fructose has no enzymes, vitamins or minerals so it takes micronutrients from the body as it assimilates itself for use.  However, eating a small piece of whole fruit, which contains natural fructose, is not likely to be a problem for most people because fresh fruits contain the enzymes, vitamins and minerals that are needed for the fructose to assimilate in the body.  When high fructose corn syrup changes the balance of nutrients in the body, it can lead to problems with vitamin and mineral deficiency.  The most noticeable effects of HFCS include problems with the liver disease, heart failure, minerals, osteoporosis, micronutrients, accelerated aging, and copper deficiency.

Here is a list of ten, specific health dangers associated with the intake of HFCS.  Two of them are not only health dangers, but also relate to our weight and beauty.

  1. Research has found that diets high in fructose can accelerate the aging process.  Fructose interferes and alters the metabolic process in our cells, which causes oxidative damage.  Fructose breaks down collagen (based on studies done on rats), and plays a larger part in this breakdown than glucose does.
  2. For women using oral contraceptives, fructose interacts with them and actually elevates insulin levels in the body.  If the level of insulin in the body is high, it can lead to high blood pressure.  High insulin levels also contribute to the retention of sodium, which in turn leads to water retention.  This can also attribute to high blood pressure, and even congestive heart failure.
  3. Fructose causes a deficiency in copper in our bodies and inhibits its metabolism.  When we are deficient in copper, this leads to: “bone fragility, anemia, defects of the connective tissue, arteries, and bone, infertility, heart arrhythmias, high cholesterol levels, heart attacks, and an inability to control blood sugar levels.”
  4. If your motivation comes more so from weight loss, HFCS contributes to weight gain since it stops our brain from getting the signal that we are full.  HFCS inhibits the production of ghrelin (the hormone of hunger) and increases the production of leptin (the hormone of satisfaction).
  5. “HFCS can be manufactured to either contain equal amounts of fructose and glucose, or up to 80 percent fructose and 20 percent glucose.”  Fructose and glucose are metabolized differently in the body.  “Glucose is metabolized in every cell in the body, however all fructose must be metabolized in the liver.”

    When the fructose is dumped directly in the liver to be metabolized, this creates fatty deposits and results in a “fatty liver”.  The liver also develops cirrhosis, a disease that is normally seen in alcoholics.  A person who has not had a alcoholic beverage in their life, but who eats a diet high in HFCS ends up having a liver that is similar to that of an alcoholic.

    There have been studies done on today’s children and found that they actually have fatty livers because of all of the HFCS they are ingesting.  Most of this is ingested in the form of soda and fruit juices as they contain HFCS.
  6. Pure fructose contains no nutritional benefits for the body.  There are no vitamins, enzymes, or minerals contained in the additive HFCS, therefore it depletes the store of valuable micronutrients in the body in order to assimilate itself in the attempt to provide a physiological use to the body.
  7. Fructose can cause complications with the (dangerous) disease of diabetes, much more so that glucose (sugar) can.
  8. HFCS has been found to create elevated blood cholesterol levels, as well as blood clots.  As you know, blood clots can be fatal if they travel into the brain or heart.
  9. It has been discovered that HFCS inhibits the white blood cells (the defense team of the body), so much so that they cannot do the vital job of defending the body against harmful foreign invaders.  This could mean not only more sickness, but also leaving the body open to all sorts of disease.
  10. Fructose can lead to type-2 diabetes (an obesity related disease), since it “reduces the affinity of insulin for its receptor”.  This is the first step for glucose to enter a cell and be metabolized.  As a result, the body needs to pump out more insulin to handle the same amount of glucose.  Type 2 diabetes is now considered an epidemic (as is obesity), and is expected to continue to rise exponentially.  This prediction makes perfect sense when you consider the “normal” diet of the current “civilized”, albeit toxic environment.

If you would like to read the full article, this information can be found in “The Double Danger of High Fructose Corn Syrup” by Bill Sands, BS, and MBA.