In my previous post, I mentioned HFCS (high fructose corn syrup) as being one of the most dangerous food ingredients humans can consume. I didn’t spend too much time backing up that claim, because I planned on penning this follow up article to exhaustively illustrate the truth about HFCS and the impact it’s having on the collective health of America.
HFCS is now contained in a wide range of foods. While processed foods and sugary drinks (like soda and even fruit juices) contain some of the highest concentrations of HFCS, these products are just the tip of the iceberg.
What has led to HFCS being such a prominent ingredient in our food supply?
I’ll go into greater detail on this below, but HFCS is cheaper to manufacture and is also produced from corn – a crop that’s subsidized by the government. The more food manufacturers can replace natural sweeteners with HFCS, the greater profits they will ultimately realize, while still keeping the prices of their products down for us consumers.
Sounds pretty good, right? Well, as the old saying goes, everything comes with a price. In the case of HFCS that price is proving to be quite steep and it isn’t the food manufacturers who are footing the bill.
It’s the millions of Americans who are having their health compromised by this dangerous ingredient, leading to obesity, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, dementia and liver failure. 1
But We’ve Been Told That HFCS Is Just As Safe As Sugar?
The corn industry has invested millions attempting to protect its prized possession by calling into question any claims that HFCS may be harmful to the health of humans. For instance, corn conglomerates run ads which refer to their products as “natural” corn sugar.
They’ve even resorted to using emotive television ads to make parents feel at ease with feeding HFCS containing foods to their children.
Once such commercial shows a father walking his daughter as he provides the following reassurance as to the safety of HFCS:
Like any parent, I have questions about the food my daughter eats – like high fructose corn syrup. So I started looking for answers from medical and nutrition experts and what I discovered… Whether it’s corn sugar or cane sugar your body can’t tell the difference. Sugar is sugar. Knowing that makes me feel better about what she eats and that’s one less thing to worry about.
Here ‘s the full clip in case you want to see it in its entirety:
Pretty convincing, huh? The scientific evidence, however, paints a very different picture.
The body doesn’t process HFCS the same as it does sugar and it angers me to no end that food conglomerates find it acceptable to use children in their political game aimed at maximizing their profits.
Consider, too, this is superimposed on the backdrop of childhood obesity having more than doubled in children and tripled in adolescents in the past 30 years, while HFCS consumption has increased by more than 1,000% in that same timeframe. 2 & 3
An Objective Look At HFCS Calls The Intellectual Honesty of The Corn Industry Into Question
As the commercial above alludes to, the common claim being made by the corn industry is that HFCS is essentially the same to the body as cane sugar and equally safe as part of a person’s diet.
Incidentally, one of the projects I worked on in my profession as a Project Manager involved a system upgrade being performed at the site of one of the nation’s largest HFCS production facilities.
While on site, I asked several different employees about how safe it was for humans to consume HFCS and every single one of them responded by saying it was just as safe as eating cane sugar.
I knew each of these individuals fairly well and don’t believe their intent was malicious or meant to be deceitful. They were simply relaying the mistruths their employer had educated them with.
But What Does The Science Say About HFCS Being The Same As Cane Sugar?
Let’s start with a study conducted by a Princeton University research team, which convincingly demonstrated that HFCS and table sugar do not affect the body identically. In this study, rats with access to HFCS gained significantly more weight than those with access to table sugar, even though each group’s caloric intake was identical.
The HFCS group also gained significantly more abdominal fat and experienced a rise in triglycerides. So HFCS consumption may well be keeping you from having sexy abs, while also increasing your risk for heart disease. 4
Some people have claimed that high-fructose corn syrup is no different than other sweeteners when it comes to weight gain and obesity, but our results make it clear that this just isn’t true. – Bart Hoebel (Professor)
Proof HFCS and Cane Sugar Are NOT Biochemically Identical
HFCS is an industrially processed food product. While it may meet the FDA’s poor criteria for what it considers to constitute a food as being natural, any logical thinking individual will conclude otherwise after objectively examining the evidence.
HFCS sugars are extracted through a chemical enzymatic process (note the word “process”) that results in an end product that absolutely IS NOT molecularly identical to cane sugar.
I’m going to put my nerd hat on for a moment, so please bear with me.
Regular cane sugar (sucrose) is made of two sugar molecules (fructose and glucose) that are bound tightly together by an oxygen atom. The amount of fructose and glucose in this structure is identical – a 50/50 split. Once consumed, the body must break down the sucrose into its basic fructose and glucose components before it can be absorbed into the body.
Like cane sugar, HFCS is also made of fructose and glucose.
However, it is 55% fructose and 45% glucose (hence the name: “high fructose”). This fact, along with the government subsidy incentive, makes HFCS a very lucrative product.
You see, fructose is much sweeter than glucose. So, when replacing natural sugars with HFCS, manufacturers can use a much smaller amount while maintaining an equivalent level of sweetness. As if that wasn’t enough financial incentive to use HFCS at every opportunity, the U.S. government also subsidizes the production of corn.
Cha-ching! Hello profits!
HFCS being sweeter than cane sugar isn’t the only difference, though. The devil is in the details.
Unlike the molecular structure of cane sugar, the HFCS fructose and glucose molecules are not bonded.
This is a significant difference that is often conveniently omitted. It is significant because it results in HFCS requiring zero digestion for the sugars it contains to be rapidly absorbed into the blood stream.
This leads to massive insulin spikes – causing the liver (and fat cells) to be overloaded with sugars. Over time this causes considerable fat gains – above and beyond that which table sugar would induce – and can also lead to a condition known as “fatty liver”, which currently affects around 70 million people in the U.S. 5
Frequent, massive insulin spikes, besides the obvious effect of storing additional fat on the body, are also known to be a major contributing factor in the onset of type 2 diabetes, which is deemed to be preventable at least 90 percent of the time and still makes up to 95 percent of all diabetes cases in the U.S.
A federal report detailing a study conducted from 1995-2010 reveals just how devastating the spread of this mostly preventable disease truly is. It is reported that during that fifteen year period 18 states saw their rates of diabetes cases double.
The impact was considerable in every state, though, with 42 states seeing their diabetes cases increase by at least 50 percent! 6
Viewing this in light of the fact that the average yearly consumption of HFCS per person more than tripled from 1980 to 1995 – and hasn’t declined by a considerable degree since – makes it hard to make the case that HFCS is an innocent bystander in these staggering statistics. 7
One final point about the differences in chemical structure between HFCS and cane sugar…
High doses of free (unbonded) fructose (as is contained in HFCS) have been proven to literally punch holes in the intestinal lining. These holes allow nasty byproducts of toxic gut bacteria and partially digested food proteins to enter your blood stream.
This effect has been strongly linked to the conditions of obesity, diabetes, cancer, heart disease, dementia, and accelerated aging.
Neither molecularly bonded cane sugar, or naturally occurring fructose in fruit (which is part of a complex of nutrients and fiber), exhibit these detrimental biological effects that are inextricably linked with the kind of unbonded high fructose complexes found in HFCS.
The takeaway: Cane sugar and the industrially produced, euphemistically named, “corn sugar”, are not biochemically or physiologically the same. 5
Other Health Related Reasons to Avoid HFCS
I’ve painted HFCS with a fairly negative brush here. I’m just reporting what I’ve uncovered after months of researching the truth about HFCS.
If this information is somewhat shocking to you, I want you to know that it was shocking to me, as well. Once I discovered how physically dangerous this ingredient is, I now feel a sense of moral obligation to educate those in my sphere of influence on what those dangers are, and hopefully convince them to avoid HFCS as often as possible.
I want to expose a couple additional debilitating reasons to avoid HFCS before I wrap up…
HFCS and Metabolic Syndrome
Metabolic Syndrome affects more than 50 million Americans and is a condition characterized by high cholesterol, high blood pressure and hyperglycemia. 8
Metabolic Syndrome occurs as a direct result of the continual influx of HFCS and correlating immense insulin spikes. These regular spikes in insulin lead to the development of a condition known as insulin resistance.
Insulin resistance describes the condition in which your body’s ability to produce insulin has been compromised.
This condition prevents your liver and muscle tissue from being able to store glycogen (sugar energy that is stored in the liver and muscle tissue). This shortage of insulin results in your blood sugar levels remaining chronically elevated, causing a much greater percentage of consumed sugars to ultimately be stored on the body in the form of fat.
In other words, insulin resistance makes fat loss extremely difficult. It’s worth noting that insulin resistance also makes your body extremely sensitive to carbs so that even relatively small carb portions can lead to fat gain.
If you have reason to believe that you’ve developed a case of insulin resistance, you’ll want to avoid HFCS, processed foods and carbs in general for 2-4 weeks. After that time you can slowly introduce carbs back into your diet (no more than 50 grams per day).
After another 2-4 weeks, a more moderate non-HFCS carb intake can be resumed (0.5 to 1 gram per day for every pound of body weight you have). HFCS and processed foods should continue to be mostly avoided from that point forward – unless you desire to become insulin resistant again and pack on pounds of additional body fat.
HFCS Compromises Your Immune System
Research has uncovered that unbonded fructose has been found to inhibit the action of white blood cells, one of the key elements of your immune system strength. These studies have shown that eating or drinking 100 grams (8 tbsp) of HFCS, the equivalent of one typical can of soda, can reduce the ability of your white blood cells to kill pathogens by up to 40 percent!
In fact, refined sugar suppresses your immune system for hours after you consume it. The immune system-suppressing effect of sugar starts less than 30 minutes after it’s ingested, and may last up to five hours.
Consuming HFCS causes your immune system to be largely “off-line” for a long period of time, leaving you much more susceptible to germs, viruses, parasites, and whatever else might be hanging around.
Avoiding HFCS foods as often as possible will almost immediately strengthen your immune system. 9 & 10
How To Avoid HFCS
HFCS containing foods are pretty much the norm in most supermarkets today. However, sticking to the perimeter of the store, where mostly natural, whole foods are found, is a great strategy for avoiding them.
You also want to avoid commercial fruit juices and soda brands. They are LOADED with HFCS. You heard me right. Commercial fruit juices are not a healthy drink option for you or your kids. Stay away from them!
Start checking the food labels of every food item you purchase. If you see high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, iso-glucose, glucose-fructose syrup, glucose syrup or crystalline fructose, leave it alone.
You’ll notice most processed foods that come prepackaged contain HFCS. Therefore, putting a considerable dent in your HFCS consumption is going to require you to prepare your own foods the majority of the time.
If you aren’t used to preparing your own meals, don’t worry. Most people unexpectedly discover that they actually enjoy cooking their own foods using fresh ingredients.
Besides, being able to prepare a meal is a life skill that everyone should possess. I know grown men that would struggle to steam rice. Seriously.
I also recommend doing what I did a while back and invest in a cookbook (like this one) that you can refer to for healthy and tasty meal ideas.
An Intelligent Approach for Avoiding HFCS
Despite what the corn industry would have you believe, HFCS is dangerous, and you’d do well to avoid it at every opportunity.
That being said, avoiding HFCS altogether will simply not be possible for most people. Breads and processed grains, milk, crackers, sports drinks and candies all contain HFCS.
I still enjoy the occasional pizza, cheeseburger and even have a soda from time to time (I drink about 6 sodas per year). However, I reserve these guilty pleasures for my 2 or 3 cheat meals in a given week and make sure 80-90% of my meals are comprised of whole foods and are HFCS free.
This is a realistic strategy I believe most anyone can follow with a little planning and self-discipline.
The reason HFCS is damaging the health and vitality of so many people is that most of them are uneducated on the dangers it poses. The masses have little idea of how damaging HFCS is and therefore have little reason to avoid it.
That’s precisely why I’ve written this article for you today.
If there is something that is compromising your health – or your ability to live lean, fit and healthy – you can trust that I’ll be here to expose it. Proper training and nutrition has literally transformed my life from the inside out.
I’ve made it my purpose to share my knowledge with others so they can experience the same life-changing results as well.
I realize the information I’ve presented here may be deemed controversial, but that doesn’t concern me. I’m only concerned with sharing the truth.
HFCS producers have a lot to lose from this information going mainstream and you can trust they’ll continue to do everything they can to confuse and misinform the populace. I, on the other hand, have nothing to gain financially by exposing the HFCS industry for the fraud that it is.
So help me get the message out by sharing this article on Facebook and Twitter or emailing it to your friends and family members by using the sharing buttons above the commenting section below.
It’s not an understatement to say that opening their eyes to the dangers of HFCS I’ve exposed in this article may truly save their lives.
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