High Fructose Corn Syrup
I’ve started to pay more attention to what I eat and drink in an effort to lose weight and be healthier. Unforuntaely, in America, there is an epidemic called High-fructose corn syrup, or HFCS, which is used a sugar substitute in a ton of food and drink. According to Wikipedia, HFCS is a group of corn syrups that has undergone enzymatic processing to convert its glucose into fructose, and has then been mixed with pure corn syrup (100% glucose) to produce a desired sweetness.
Why this is bad
There has been no studies done that examine what happens to HFCS when it is digested by the body. However there is a direct correlation between the rise in HFCS in our food and drinks, and the rise of obesity in America. As well there is little evidence that suggests HFCS is any different from regular sugar, but the difference is in how much we consume and how it’s processed by the body. According to Dr Robert Lustig, Professor of Pediatric Endocrinology at the University of California, HFCS is processed in one place: our liver.
“[I]t’s not the calories that are different it’s the fact that the only organ in your body that can take up fructose is your liver. Glucose, the standard sugar, can be taken up by every organ in the body, only 20% of glucose load ends up at your liver. So let’s take 120 calories of glucose, that’s two slices of white bread as an example, only 24 of those 120 calories will be metabolised by the liver, the rest of it will be metabolised by your muscles, by your brain, by your kidneys, by your heart etc. directly with no interference. Now let’s take 120 calories of orange juice. Same 120 calories but now 60 of those calories are going to be fructose because fructose is half of sucrose and sucrose is what’s in orange juice. So it’s going to be all the fructose, that’s 60 calories, plus 20% of the glucose, so that’s another 12 out of 60 — so in other words 72 out of the 120 calories will hit the liver, three times the substrate as when it was just glucose alone.”
What’s more because HFCS is so much cheaper than sugar, can be made sweeter than traditional sugar, and is really a liquid, it can be mixed with all of our food and drinks. Like nicotine in cigarettes, sugar in soda is there to make us want to drink more soda. We drink because of the sugar and the caffeine. Unfortunately this high-powered sugar liquid is thrown into everything causing us to unknowingly consume large amounts of sugar, not to mention our bodies inability to process it correctly. Ergo we’re eating straight fat.
What to do about it
The corn industry in America loves HFCS because it takes corn syrup to make HFCS. They will stop at nothing to keep HFCS pouring into our food supply. There are no restrictions and without carefully reading the label you’ll never know how much is really in there.
Sadly the best you can do is to reduce how much HFCS you consume by not consuming foods and drinks with it.
Why am I writing about this?
I’m a very fat person. No, seriously, I am. I can sock away a case of cherry coke in a weekend, easily. I consume a tremendous amount of sugar and I think this is why I have had an increase in weight. This didn’t come to me all of a sudden one day. Instead I realized that after big meals I get tires easily. It was becoming increasingly bad that every time I ate a meal, I fell asleep. What happened was that my blood sugar was getting too high.
So here’s what I’m doing about it: I am going to stop the consumption of HFCS and see what happens. If I lose weight, great, then I can make some causal link for my body that consumption of sugar is bad for me. If I don’t lose weight and I see no improvement in my health, then sugar, or more importantly HFCS, is not the answer.
Bottom line: I can’t find anything that definitively tells me one way or another if HFCS is bad for me. I see it in just about everything I consume, and I know the rise in obesity in America directly correlates to the rise in our consumption of HFCS. So to find out I’m putting myself to the test. Let’s wait and see.
Update: November 6, 2009 – It’s been 2 weeks since I stopped consuming HFCS and I’ve felt much, much better. Lost a few pounds, but the more important thing is that I am not falling asleep after every meal. That’s a reason to keep going in itself.
In the meantime I am going to create a list of non-HFCS foods and drinks. It won’t be easy.
- Pure H20 – Water, so far, has no HFCS.
- SOBE fuji apple pear “lifewater”
- Izze Sparkling Blackberry
- Ocean Spray Cranberry Juice Cocktail – Read carefully though. Cranberry Juice Cocktail is traditionally made with HFCS, but 100% is usually not. I have the juice cocktail but it says quite proudly on the front that it does not contain high fructose corn syrup.
- Tim Tams – The great snack cookie fro Australia is both addicting and NOT made with HFCS!