People are always asking, “What's the skinny on High Fructose Corn Syrup?” My response is that there is nothing skinny about HFCS. Does H.F.C.S. stand for High Fructose Corn Syrup or Having Fat Children Stinks?
Developing sugar from corn became imperative in the 1970's because the U.S. government imposed tariffs and quotas on imported sugar. This increased the price of sugar in the U.S. and Canada well above the global price.
Because the technology for making sugar from corn was invented in 1927, it
was easy in the 1970's to break down a natural substance into its basic components, tinker with its enzymes and make inexpensive sugar. High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) was born. By definition then, HFCS is a highly processed sweetener. Of course, too, corn is a highly subsidized crop by the US Food and Drug Administration.
HFCS was introduced into our foods from 1975-85 as a cheaper way to sweeten our foods and beverages (Coke and Pepsi began using HFCS in 1984). HFCS is now in 80% of our processed foods.
Shockingly, and as recently as 2009, two U.S. studies showed that half of all tested samples of HFCS contained mercury, which was also found in a third of 55 popular brand-name food and beverage products where HFCS is the first or second highest labeled ingredient. Mercury is toxic in all it's forms.
HFCS is twice as sweet as sugar and twice as addictive as regular sugar, but is four times more addictive than alcohol, cocaine or prescription drugs. It has a unique process of metabolizing -different than glucose found in fruits - HFCS is metabolized in the liver and the damage in the liver is equal to the damage done by alcohol. This is where "fatty" livers comes from, which is really just cirrhosis caused by HFCS. As many as thirty percent of adult American's have non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) which is the precursor to cirrhosis of the liver and liver cancer. Imagine what this sweetener is doing to our children!
By itself, HFCS suppresses insulin, ghrelin and leptin which are three of the most powerful appetite regulators in the body! This means that HFCS tricks your body into thinking it wants more which leads to weight gain, high triglyceride levels, Type 2 diabetes, hypertension and obesity. Your drink may read “No Fat” on the label, but all that extra sugar gets converted to fat.
Now that you know how HFCS tricks your body, it will be easier to understand why so many Americans and children are overweight or living with Type 2 diabetes.
Let's take a look at some of the most common items that contain HFCS. Soda, sports drinks and energy drinks are the largest users of HFCS. These drinks are for many people, their beverage of choice. When we are thirsty, our body wants to crave water, but the HFCS has tricked your metabolism into wanting more HFCS. By comparison then, you are drinking 100% more calories than you should be drinking (which leads to weight gain). If you are regularly allowing your children to drink any of these beverages you are feeding a dangerous addiction that can lead to serious health problems in their future.
HFCS isn't just present in our beverages, but also in our ketchup, tomato sauce, marinades, cereals, breakfast bars, yogurt, lunch meats, breads and the list goes on. We are inundated without even knowing it.
Here's a suggestion, take a tour of your pantry or cabinets and read the ingredient list. You may be surprised by how many products in your own home have HFCS. The next time you go to the grocery store, take a little extra time to read the labels and only put things in your cart that don't have this dangerous ingredient.
It is important to understand that many food companies are in business to sell their product, not to nourish you. Using ingredients like HFCS get you addicted to their product. If you're addicted, you buy more, and they are counting on that.
You are now an educated and informed consumer. Every time you make a purchase at the grocery store, you either cast a vote for more HFCS, or for less when you buy whole foods and healthy foods. Use your voice, shop smart!