What You Should Know About High Fructose Corn Syrup
As a nutrition student and a native of West Virginia, one of America’s most overweight states, I am particularly offended at some of the recent commercials I’ve seen on television regarding high fructose corn syrup (HFCS). These commercials make the claim that the health effects of HFCS are no worse than those of ordinary table sugar (sucrose). I don’t know how these commercials are even allowed to air, because what they are saying is a complete and total lie. Although table sugar isn’t good for you either, HFCS is terrible for you. Here are just a few things that these commercials are omitting.
Even though table sugar and HFCS both contain 4 kilocalories per gram, the human body metabolizes sugar and HFCS in different ways. Unlike table sugar, HFCS gets absorbed by the intestine and enters the liver without insulin regulation. (Inuslin is the hormone that lowers your blood sugar level by forcing your body to burn the sugars you eat for fuel, which is a good thing – elevated blood sugar is not good for you.) This lack of glucose regulation leads to elevated blood glucose levels, which may eventually lead to obesity, insulin resistance, or Type II Diabetes. High blood glucose also impairs wound healing because it decreases the ability for your blood to carry oxygen to your tissues (it binds to hemoglobin instead of oxygen).
Also, HFCS causes terrible damage to the liver. In your liver, HFCS is converted to: free fatty acids (FFA’s),which are the building blocks of all fats; very low-density lipoproteins (VLDL’s) and triglycerides, which are causes of cardio-vascular disease; and uric acid, which is associated with vascular inflammation. The net effect of HFCS consumption on the liver is basically the same as that of excessive alcohol consumption – cirrhosis of the liver.
Not only is HFCS terrible for you, it’s also addictive. Unlike table sugar, HFCS does not suppress ghrelin, which is the hormone responsible for hunger suppression. This means, that if you were to eat a cupcake that contained HFCS, ghrelin would not be supressed, and you would continue to feel hungry. You’d probably reach for another cupcake, and another because without ghrelin suppression, your brain doesn’t realize that you’re getting full.
You may have noticed that HFCS is in foods that aren’t even sweet, like some breads, for example. The reason HFCS is an ingredient in many foods that don’t need sweetened, is because it’s a powerful preservative. HFCS is extremely toxic to bacteria and other pathogens that might be in food, and this toxicity makes it a great preservative – but not so great for your body.
There are more negative effects of HFCS consumption, but I just wanted to point out a few. I’m not advocating excessive consumption of sugar instead of high fructose corn syrup, because sugar is also bad for you. But I am saying that sugar is the lesser of two evils, and that low/moderate sugar consumption is okay. HFCS consumption, on the other hand, is not okay at all. So the next time you buy groceries, avoid buying anything that contains any high fructose corn syrup and you’ll be significantly lowering your risk of obesity, type II diabetes, cardiovascular disease, hypertension, liver damage, sleep apnea, and colon cancer.