The Plague of High Fructose Corn Syrup

Take a look at the ingredients in this bottle of catchup (or Ketchup if you prefer). You see the nice line about it being a natural source of the antioxidant Lycopene? Sounds healthy huh?

It’s not, look at the ingredients, half-way down you will also see High Fructose Corn Syrup.

What’s so evil about that? Isn’t fructose a more natural sugar than dextrose?

Yes, it’s naturally evil. One of the nastiest food ingredients widely used in processed foods today. It causes premature hardening of the arteries and high blood pressure, premature loss of accommodation in the lens of the eye, damage to joints, premature aging of the skin, and obesity. This crap should be called the death additive.

Ordinary table sugar, sucrose, consists of a molecule of glucose and fructose bound together. The body has to split these two apart before it can enter the bloodstream as glucose. Fructose enters the blood stream much faster.

How fast carbohydrates are turned into glucose in the bloodstream is referred to as a foods “glycemic index”, a high glycemic index food is extremely unhealthy for a variety of reasons.

First, when glucose levels rise in the bloodstream it gives rise to higher serotonin levels in the brain. If this happens slowly, this results in a sense of being satiated, and we are no longer hungry. This feedback loop is good. But if it happens rapidly, our brain associates immediate actions that gave rise to the rapid increase as a reward, and an addiction results.

We tend to become addicted to high glycemic index foods and obesity results from their consumption. Obesity in the United States directly correlates with the rise in the use of high fructose corn syrup in processed foods. Obesity leads to diabetes, clogged arteries, and a variety of other health problems.

There is a second mechanism through which high fructose corn syrup wreaks havoc with the body. Blood sugar levels are regulated by the secretion of insulin by the pancreas. Insulin causes glucose to be taken up by the liver, muscle, and fat cells. The liver and muscles act as short term stores of glucose for energy production, fat acts as a long term store.

While the body depends upon glucose for energy production, it is also damaging to the body. Glucose molecules bind adjacent protein molecules in the arteries hardening them, causing blood pressure to rise. Glucose molecules bind adjacent protein molecules in the lens of the eye causing it to stiffen and no longer accommodate changes in focal length, and eventually clouding of the lens (cataracts). Glucose molecules bind adjacent protein molecules in the skin causing a loss of elasticity and wrinkles. Glucose molecules bind adjacent proteins in the ligaments and cartilage resulting in joint damage. Glucose molecules bind adjacent proteins in the discs of the back resulting in degeneration of the spine.

Just as oxygen is necessary for the body to function but at the same time produces oxidative damage, glucose is necessary for energy production but causes damage by binding adjacent proteins. Antioxidants present in our diet and produced by our body greatly reduces oxidative damage, but no such analog substances presently exist to prevent damage by glucose.

There is an experimental drug presently being tested on animals that reverses this damage but it has not yet entered the human testing phase, so is not presently an option for us to avoid this damage.

It turns out that the rate that glucose does damage is extremely sensitive to blood glucose levels. Damage happens at a slow rate if we maintain the levels necessary for normal energy production but do not exceed them. If we exceed that level, even briefly, the rate of damage increases exponentially. This is what causes the cardiovascular damage in diabetic individuals.

When we eat a high glycemic index food such as high fructose corn syrup, our blood sugar rises faster than mechanisms that counter it can come into play, the pancreas takes time to increase the production of insulin, the fat, muscle, and liver cells all take time to respond to this signal. So what happens when we eat a high glycemic index food is first our blood sugar spikes, causing rapid glucose damage, and then it plummets causing us to feel hungry and consume more high glycemic index foods.

What we need are low glycemic index foods, complex carbohydrates that are broken down slowly by the body and cause glucose to enter the bloodstream at a slow steady rate that the pancreas, liver, fat, and muscle cells have time to respond to and regulate properly. When we eat low glycemic index foods, or blood sugar neither spikes to a high level, nor crashes when the glucose regulating insulin loop catches up. Thus we get a constant long duration supply of energy, and we do not become hungry until we have truly depleted that supply, thus avoiding obesity, and glucose damage.

The food industry loves to load our processed foods up with high fructose corn syrup for two reasons. First, it is less expensive than sucrose, ordinary table sugar. It causes glucose damage at a rate approximately six times that of sucrose for an equivalent sweetness, but that doesn’t affect this quarters results so the food industry doesn’t care. Second, it is addictive. Our brains make the association between eating high glycemic index foods and a good feeling that results from increased serotonin production and we become addicted to these foods. There isn’t a corporation on this planet that doesn’t want earth’s entire population addicted to their products.

Fructose is six times more damaging than sucrose (table sugar), and sucrose is more damaging than more complex carbohydrates. The bottom line is sweets are bad for us, but especially fructose.

I don’t think we can reasonably expect our government to outlaw high glycemic index foods. The responsibility to not consume them lies with us. Start reading labels, avoid buying products containing high fructose corn syrup. It can be difficult but if you shop around, there are healthier alternatives available. Avoid sweetened foods, avoid processed foods, start eating things that actually grow in the earth.

Educate your fellow human being. If enough people stop buying this toxic waste being passed off as food, and start buying healthy alternatives, corporations will stop selling toxic waste disguised as food, and start selling healthy alternatives.

This isn’t just about living long, it’s about living healthy, maintaining good functionality into old age, having healthy eyes, arteries, joints, spine and skin into old age.

Proper nutrition isn’t the only key to living long and healthy but it is an important element.

7 thoughts on “The Plague of High Fructose Corn Syrup

  1. 7-Up just avoided a suit by dropping it’s “100% Natural” label to focus on the naturalness of ingredients “for which there is no debate”. Of course, that doesn’t mean they’ll take the stuff out.

    (“CSPI to sue… over ‘All Natural’ 7_Up”)
    (“7-Up drops claim”)

    What gets me as well is that there’s lately rarely any choice other than (a) chem-lab-experiment “high-fructose corn syrup”, (b) chem-lab-experiment “aspartame”, or (c) chem-lab-experiment “Splenda”. I especially cringe at the circular definition of Splenda (“Splenda contains Sucralose” … “Sucralose(n): Splenda brand sweetener”). What does few-years-old chem-lab treated (“chlorinated”) sugar do internally that makes it “healthier” than known-for-centuries sugar?


  2. You want to know what’s KILLING US??It’s the HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP. A CHEMICAL that is labeled FALSELY as a sugar!! It is a sugar like rubbing alcohol is a vodka!! HFCS is a poison that has been used as a cheaper sugar substitute. The FDA NEVER TESTED IT!! Watch King Corn DVD. The cornsyrup industries would NOT let anyone in the manufacturers! WHY?? Becuase they do not want the public to see that it’s a CHEMICAL!! Do not eat foods with HFCS!! Google it and READ the information! This is why MY MOM died of Pancreatic Cancer at age 36 and she was normal weight, active and lived a CLEAN life, no booze or ever any cigs, or drugs (a suzy homemaker). The corn industry does NOT want you to know the truth and the FDA does not give a crap. The FDA is PAID by the corn industry!!!

  3. Amybeth,

    The reason fructose is not tested by the FDA is that it is a natural ingredient in tree fruits, berries, melons, and some vegetables.

    It’s not that fructose is toxic in and of itself. It ultimately gets broken down into glucose and used by the body in the same manner as other sugars. The problem comes from the fact that it breaks down very rapidly.

    In these foods, it is packaged by nature with a lot of fiber. This causes it to be absorbed slowly avoiding a rapid blood sugar spike and the problems associated with that.

    But in a syrup form, as in corn syrup, it’s absorbed extremely rapidly, directly in the stomach before it even passes into the intestines, and causes a huge blood sugar spike. This forces the pancreas to react by excreting a huge dose of insulin to bring blood sugar down. Before long fat cells become plump and unresponsive to insulin and you have diabetes. The pancreas has to work extra hard to yea, not surprised that pancreatic cancer might result.

    But just to be clear; corn in reasonable amounts is not inherently evil, neither are fruits and vegetables that contain fructose along with healthy amounts of fiber.

    What is problematic is growing corn genetically engineered for high fructose yields, pressing syrup from that, and then consuming it not integrated with large amounts of fiber so that it is absorbed rapidly, which is what happens when you eat any number of prepared food items that incorporate high fructose corn syrup.

    Personally, I’m in favor of education rather than outlawing substances. I think all food substances with sugars ought to be labeled with their glycemic index boldly on the containers so that one can readily decide what to avoid and then the market would address the issue.

  4. High Fructose corn syrup is not just fructose. It is a chemical process of around 30 steps just to make the chemical goop. I have a Master’s degree in science from University of Miami. The FDA never tested HFCS because they were told by the government leaders to do anything to keep the corn farmers in business, includind letting a CHEMICAL get approval without one test being performed. It was a con job. They just claimed “it’s sugar” in a different form. The fructose in HFCS is metabolized differently the sugar. Our livers are confused and generally freaked out by the chemical. Our metabolism slows down, we burn less calories, we gain adipose tissue, and we get fatter and fatter everyday. Even people who eat LESS calories are unable lose weight after 25 years of this chemical OVERLOAD in our food supplies. We are being poisoned, our kids are being poisoned and our unborn children are being poisoned!! Autisim rates have grown in tandem to the addition rates of HFCS to our food supplies.

  5. Amybeth,

    Your point is well taken, however, even if the fructose were 100% pure it would cause most if not all of these problems.

    The problem with fructose is that it is broken down far too quickly rapidly raising the glucose level in the blood stream.

    The pancreas can’t react fast enough and the glucose levels spike above safe levels resulting in rapid cross-binding of adjacent proteins with glucose, hardening of the arteries, loss of flexibility in the air sacks in the lungs, loss of accommodating ability in the lenses of our eyes. Fructose causes all of these things to happen six times faster than ordinary table sugar.

    And then this huge spike in blood-sugar levels causes the pancreas eventually to over-react, put out too much insulin, and store that sugar as fat instead of burning it.

    Overtime our fat cells become less sensitive to insulin overshoots and we end up being diabetic.

    The stuff is plain evil, and the chemical contamination you mention that results from a 30-step process only exacerbates the situation.

    The corn industry lobbyists have really screwed us in so many ways, food additives are just one of them.

    In 2000, flex-fuel cars could run on any combination of ethanol, methanol, and gasoline, after 2000 only ethanol and gasoline. Why? Cause you can make methanol from cheap waste material, ethanol comes from corn.

    You can also make ethanol from sugar beats, and you get about 400% return in energy if you do so, where with corn at best you can get a 30% return, and with corn you need more than 4x the acreage to produce the same amount of ethanol.

    ADM and the like are bastards bent on profits at all costs, regardless of what human and environmental expenses they impose.

  6. Yet another mention in recent news points to the process of refining HFCS as a source of mercury contamination in nearly half of the tested samples and a third of “name-brand products” off the shelf in late ’08.

    The “Environmental Health” report is here: Mercury from chlor-alkali plants: measured concentrations in food product

    (Washington Post article):
    “‘The bad news is that nobody knows whether or not their soda or snack food contains HFCS made from ingredients like caustic soda contaminated with mercury. The good news is that mercury-free HFCS ingredients exist. Food companies just need a good push to only use those ingredients,’ Wallinga said in his prepared statement.”

    Or, how about the fact that there are many alternatives out there that have NO HFCS in the first place?

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