Today I promised to talk about high fructose corn syrup in our foods. This product has been being added to so many of our foods that it is important to take a look at where it comes from and what it does in the body.
High fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is made from corn, and usually from corn that has been genetically modified to be sweeter. First, we mill the corn to produce corn starch, then we process it into corn syrup. Corn syrup is mostly glucose, but then enzymes are used to convert some of the glucose to fructose. This makes it taste sweeter, and more like sugar.
Different kinds of high fructose corn syrup can have different proportions of fructose. Many sugar-based sweeteners are high in fructose, and many of our foods, like salad dressings, ketchup, and other condiments have high fructose corn syrup added to them.
Table sugar(sucrose) and high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) are the two main types of sugar added to our foods. Regular sugar is 50% glucose and 50% fructose, while high fructose corn syrup is about 45% glucose and 55% fructose.
Fructose was initially thought to be a better choice for diabetics due to its low glycemic index. But only your liver cells can process fructose, and that creates a problem. According to Dr. Mark Hyman, fructose is metabolized in your liver to create fats called triglycerides and cholesterol.
Yes, that means that it is the sugar, not the fat, that creates elevated cholesterol and triglyceride levels!
“What’s even worse,” Dr. Hyman notes, is that high doses of fructose “punch little holes in your intestinal lining, causing what we call a leaky gut.” He explains that this allows foreign food proteins and bacterial proteins to enter into your bloodstream, which triggers inflammation, makes you gain weight and causes type 2 diabetes.
“Studies show that high fructose corn syrup increases your appetite and promotes obesity more effectively than regular sugar. High fructose corn syrup also contributes to diabetes, inflammation, high triglycerides, and something we call non-alcoholic fatty liver disease,” says Dr. Hyman.
High fructose corn syrup has not decreased our use of regular sugars; we seem to be adding it to our sugar consumption. It has a really smooth and almost creamy texture, so it works well in a wide variety of foods, from sodas to cough syrup. It has become a staple sweetener and texturizer in many foods and fluids.
Studies indicate that high-fructose corn syrup represents more than 40% of the caloric sweeteners that are added to our foods and beverages. As we reduce or eliminate refined and overprocessed foods from our food plans, this will reduce our intake of high fructose corn syrup. But it is essential that we read the labels on all the foods we buy, and choose foods with as little as possible of this product.
Sugars and high fructose corn syrup can be packaged and processed under several different names; if you would like a copy of our list of names for sugar, please call or email us and we will be happy to share it. We know that added sugar of any kind can increase our cravings and obsessions.
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend cutting back on added sugar, limiting it to no more than 10 percent of total daily calories. The American Heart Association recommends that most women get no more than 100 calories a day of added sugar from any source, and that most men get no more than 150 calories a day of added sugar. That’s about 6 teaspoons of added sugar for women and 9 teaspoons for men! It is easy to go way past that goal with processed foods!
We’ve said here that fructose can be transformed into fat in the liver. This may affect your insulin resistance, obesity, diabetes, fatty liver disease, and metabolic syndrome. The fat the liver creates from this tends to accumulate in your stomach and upper abdomen.
A group of studies done at Princeton University and published in 2010 indicated that high fructose corn syrup has very different reactions than other sweeteners in the body of rats.
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 known 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.
In results published online Feb. 26, 2021 by the journal Pharmacology, Biochemistry and Behavior, the researchers from the Department of Psychology and the Princeton Neuroscience Institute reported on two experiments investigating the link between the consumption of high-fructose corn syrup and obesity.
“These rats aren’t just getting fat; they’re demonstrating characteristics of obesity, including substantial increases in abdominal fat and circulating triglycerides,” said Princeton graduate student working in the program. “In humans, these same characteristics are known risk factors for high blood pressure, coronary artery disease, cancer and diabetes.” In addition researcherss note that they do not know yet why high-fructose corn syrup fed to rats in their study generated more triglycerides, and more body fat that resulted in obesity.
And one study noted that if the HCFS was removed abruptly the rats had symptoms like withdrawal, of shaking, tremors and apparent seizures.
Now I have spent hours reading the research; I’ve included many of the references below as urls. If you want more information, please call or email me.
But here is my conclusion and my advice: I think HFCS will not help us reach our goals. I encourage you to read labels on everything you buy, and avoid or minimize your intake of foods and beverages containing HFCS.
In my grocery, there are several brands of ketchup. On one ingredient list the first ingredient is water. On a second, the first ingredient is High Fructose Corn Syrup. On a third, the first ingredient is tomatoes. I like tomatoes in my ketchup, don’t you? So, I will choose the third one, and hope you will too! (This one also has sugar below the 5th ingredient.)
Blessings to you,
p.s. – Please see the addendum to the Water blog below!
https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/high-fructose-corn-syrup-vs-sugar#productionHFCS 55 is similar to sucrose (regular table sugar), which is 50% fructose and 50% glucose.
AND AN ADDENDUM TO THE LAST BLOG
Last week, we talked about how much water the body needs.
This week, I had to go get some blood drawn. It was fasting, so I drank enough water to take my meds, and went to the lab. Usually, the lab technician can draw the blood on her first or second needle stick try. This time, she tried six times without luck, and asked another technician to try. It took her four tries. I asked the technician why. She said, “Honey, how much water did you drink this morning? This happens when you are really dehydrated!” I did not know that you are allowed to drink water before fasting lab work! But if you usually have this trouble, the answer is………
Drink Your Water!!!