I’m sure most of you have heard about High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) as it’s quite often in the news. It is a processed sweetener made from corn starch and was first marketed in the early 1970s. It is much easier and cheaper to use in foods compared to cane sugar so the use of HFCS increased rapidly in the 1990’s. It is mostly used in sugar sweetened drinks, sauces and processed foods.
Consumption went from zero to over 25kg per person per year! It is no surprise that during this time obesity rates more than tripled and diabetes incidences increased massively (about seven times!). This can’t be just a coincidence.
Consumers started to get suspicious so the corn industry started to advertise HFCS as no different to cane sugar and stated it is natural. They started to call it ‘corn sugar’ to hide what it really was and to make people think it was safe.
However….it isn’t safe. It is a major cause of heart disease, obesity, cancer, dementia, liver failure, diabetes and more.
Here are some reasons to stay away from it!
- HFCS and cane sugar are not the same. Nor are they processed in the same way in the body. HFCS is a processed industrial food product. It is extracted from corn stalks and the sugars are extracted through a chemical enzymatic process. This causes it to be biochemically different. Instead of cane sugar being made of glucose and fructose in equal amounts, HFCS is split 55:45 fructose:glucose and fructose is much sweeter than glucose. This means you don’t need as much HFCS as you would regular sugar, so therefore it is much cheaper for manufacturers.
- Fructose goes straight to the liver and triggers the production of fats like triglycerides and cholesterol. This is why HFCS is a major cause of fatty liver disease.
- The glucose in HFCS is rapidly absorbed (quicker than the normal cane sugar) which triggers a big insulin spike. Insulin is our body’s main fat storing hormone. This massive release of insulin can lead to insulin resistance, diabetes, weight gain, cancer, increase in appetite and much more.
- Sugar in any form causes obesity and health conditions when consumed in high doses. It’s not just HFCS that is dangerous and I am not saying cane sugar is ok. This can also be very damaging. We are eating much more sugar these days compared to our hunter gatherers who ate the equivalent of 20 teaspoons of sugar a YEAR! Compare that to today…a 500ml bottle of soda (sometimes contains HFCS!) contains about 15 teaspoons!! That’s just the drink, what about the processed sugary cereal you had for breakfast, the chocolate bar in the afternoon and the couple of biscuits after dinner?? It soon adds up and our body’s don’t like it!
- HFCS contains contaminants such as mercury that are not regulated. A study conducted by Dufault R, et al. in 2009 shows that HFCS often contains toxic levels mercury due to how it is processed. Therefore HFCS is poisoned sugar! Not natural!
Now you have read some of the reasons to stay away from HFCS please be aware when you’re shopping and avoid it! But remember… if you eat whole, natural food in the same state it was in nature, you won’t ever come into contact with it! However, if you do buy any products in packets, always read the labels.