High fructose corn syrup is bad for you. Let’s unpack this controversial topic, so you can understand what high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is and why it is harmful.
Put in simple terms, HFCS is a combination of glucose (the sugar found in blood) and fructose (fruit sugar) that is sweeter than sucrose (table sugar) and also less expensive to manufacture. (Read Marion Nestle’s guide for details on the chemical makeup of these sugars.) The increased use of HFCS in the Standard American Diet over the past few decades has correlated with the increase in diabetes and obesity.
Nutritional scientists such as Dr. Bruce Ames have proven that high fructose corn syrup is more readily absorbed into the blood stream than table sugar. The glucose causes insulin spikes—which in turn causes weight gain—and the fructose adversely affects the liver by prompting the production of triglycerides and cholesterol. In addition, HFCS makes glycated end products that are pro-inflammatory to brain neurons. This, in turn, leads to Alzheimer’s Disease.
If this isn’t enough to have you boycott it completely, other research suggests that HFCS contains traces of mercury and other contaminants, not to mention the fact that it comes from GMO corn, which carries bacteriotoxic genes, can cause dysbiosis of the gut because it imbalances healthy intestinal microbes.
The corn industry, backed by government subsidies that do little to support sustainable farming and the general health of the population, disputes HFCS’ negative effects in their alarmingly Orwellian, propagandist websites. They claim that high fructose corn syrup is the same as any other sugar, and your body can’t tell the difference. Obviously, this is absolutely untrue. The corn industry has even gone so far as to attempt to get high fructose corn syrup renamed “corn sugar” on food packaging. Though FDA struck this down, the Corn Refiners Association has threatened to call HFCS “corn sugar” anyway. Their eagerness to rename it reinforces the idea they have something to hide.
How can you stay away from high fructose corn syrup? Read labels on food packaging, to begin. HFCS lurks in condiments, cereals, crackers, and other packaged foods. It’s important to remember that consuming sugar, no matter what type of sugar it is, negatively impacts your health. Soft drinks should be completely avoided, and sugary foods should not be a regular part of your diet. Preferred sweets include natural treats like fresh, whole, organic fruit.
How do you satisfy your sweet tooth without high fructose corn syrup? Share your favorite natural treats in the comments section below.