Nowadays, media talk about the benefits, or at least the lack of harm, of consuming HFSC (high fructose corn syrup) in our everyday diet.
The annual HFCS intake of an average American increased from zero to more than 60 pounds per person, mostly from processed foods, and sugar sweetened beverages.
The diabetes rates during that period increased more than seven times, and the obesity more than three times. This is not the only cause, but it certainly can’t be ignored.
However, the immense print and television advertising Corn Refiners Association’ campaigns try to banish the “myth” that high fructose corn syrup is harmful, and to convince the population that it’s the same as cane sugar, by involving “medical and nutrition experts”.
According to them HFCS is a “natural” product and when used in moderate amounts, it’s a healthy part of everyone’s diet.
The Lengths the Corn Industry Will Go To
The corn industry’s purpose is to call into question every statement of harm from HFCS consuming, and to further confuse by referring to their product as a natural “corn sugar”. It’ll be the same as referring to the cigarettes’ tobacco as a natural herbal medicine.
In the commercial, the father explains his worries about his daughter HFCS’s intake, which is why he consulted nutrition and medical experts.
He says they’ve explained that the body can’t distinguish corn sugar from cane sugar, meaning they have same effects in our body.
Doctors throughout America are as well directly targeted. They are receiving a 12 page monograph from the Corn Refiners Association, explaining that high fructose corn syrup is completely safe and nothing different than cane sugar.
Marc Human MD, explains that besides these monograph, he got a personal letter form the same Association, where he is warned and “noticed” for each of his mentioning of the HFCS problems in our diet. He explains he was shocked they are “warning” and tracking him closely.
Some recent websites like www.cornsugar.com, and www.sweetsurprise.com help the truth about HFCS come into light, by quoting professors of medicine and nutrition and prominent leaders from Harvard and other institutions.
But why does the corn industry spend millions on campaigns using misinformation in order to convince health care professionals and consumers of their product’s safety?
Are these twisted lies or maybe a sweet surprise as claimed by the Corn Refiners Association?
The Science about HFCS
We’ll analyze the science’s point of view and you might find the following facts as a sweet surprise.
What the ads recommend is getting a nutrition advice from a doctor (most grandmothers probably know more about nutrition that your doctor).
Mark Hyman has studied this topic more than a decade, and have interviewed, read, or personally talked with the majority of “nutrition and medical experts” who want to strengthen the claim that there’s no difference between corn sugar and cane sugar.
But what he discovered is quite in contrast, and the role of high fructose corn syrup in promoting disease, obesity, and death on a global level finally becomes clear.
Mark Hyman together with one of the foremost nutritional scientists in the world, Dr. Bruce Ames, and the nutritional biochemist Dr. Jeffrey Bland, have analyzed the existing science, and Dr. Bruce shared horrific new evidence discovered from his research, of the way high fructose corn syrup can cause obesity and inflammation in our body.
The following five reasons should deter you from consuming any product with HFCS in its content, as well as will explain why HFCS may kill you.
1.When sugar (in any from) is consumed in pharmacological doses, it can cause disease and obesity. Both, HFCS and cane sugar are dangerous when their annual intake per person is the pharmacological dose of 140 pounds.
One 20 oz soda sweetened with HFCS, tea, or sports drink contains 17 teaspoons of sugar, but the average modern teenager usually drinks 2 beverages a day, so people are practically conducting harmful and uncontrolled experiment on themselves.
Our ancestors have consumed about 20 teaspoons of sugar annually, and not daily. With this in mind, corn industry might have right, sugar is sugar, since quantity is important. However, there are several crucial differences.
2. Cane sugar and high fructose corn syrup are neither biochemically identical, nor equally processed by our body. HFCS doesn’t appear as a natural substance so it’s absolutely not “natural”. The process of its extraction from corn stalks is very secret.
When Michael Pollan, a journalist, wanted to observe this extraction process for the purpose of his book The Omnivore’s Dilemma, he was not allowed by Archer Daniels Midland and Carghill.
The extraction of sugar goes through a chemical enzymatic process, whose final outcome is a biologically and chemically new compound named high fructose corn syrup.
Normal sucrose (cane sugar) is constructed by 2 tightly bounded sugar molecules in equal amounts, glucose and fructose. Our digestive tract’s enzymes must decompose the cane sugar into fructose and glucose, and as such to be absorbed in our body.
High fructose corn syrup is also made of glucose and fructose but not in equal amounts. Their fructose to glucose ratio is 55-45 in an unbound form. Products with high fructose corn syrup are sweeter than cane sugar products, since fructose is sweeter than glucose.
Moreover, HFCS products are also cheaper due to the government farm bill corn subsidies. This made the normal soda size to go from 8oz to 20oz without any great financial cost for manufacturers, but immense cost for people getting chronic diseases, diabetes, and obesity.
Let’s return to biochemistry. As they aren’t chemically connected there’s no need of digestion, which causes faster absorption in the bloodstream. The quickly absorbed fructose heads directly to the liver and causes lipogenesis, fats production such as cholesterol and triglycerides.
This is the reason why HFCS is the biggest cause of liver damage in the U.S and leads to “fatty liver”- a condition which affects about 70 million people. Glucose causes increasing in insulin- the biggest fat storage hormone in our body.
These HFCS features result in increased metabolic disturbances which cause increased appetite, gaining weight, heart disease, diabetes, dementia, cancer, etc.
However, Mark Hyman learned something more from the meeting with Dr. Ames. His group made a research at the Children’s Hospital Oakland Research Institute, where it was discovered that the free fructose from high fructose corn syrup needs more energy in order to be absorbed by the gut, so it takes up by absorption 2 phosphorus molecules from the energy source of our body (ATP).
This uses up the supplies of energy in ATP in our gut, our energy fuel source that’s needed for the integrity maintenance of the intestinal lining. Each intestinal cell is cemented by little “tight junctions” which prevent leaking of food and bacteria across the intestinal membrane, resulting in immune reaction and inflammation in our body.
It was proven that high doses of free fructose make holes in the intestinal lining, permitting enter of harmful byproducts of toxic bacteria from the gut and partly digested food proteins in our blood stream, and causing inflammation known as the root for diabetes, obesity, heart disease, cancer, accelerated aging, and dementia.
Fructose in fruit occurs naturally and it’s including part of a complex of fiber and nutrients which don’t possess the same biological effects as the high doses of free fructose in “corn sugar”.
The bottom line is that the industrially produced “corn sugar” and the cane sugar aren’t psychologically and biochemically the same.
3. High fructose corn syrup includes contaminants such as mercury which aren’t measured or regulated by FDA.
One FDA researcher was repeatedly refused from the corn producers to ship a HFCS barrel in order to test for contaminants. When she said she’s part of a new soft drink company, the corn producers shipped a big vat of High fructose corn syrup in an instant.
This sample was used in a study which proved that there are toxic levels of mercury often find in HFCS, as a result of the usage of chlor-alkali products in the manufacturing process.
So poisoned product can’t be natural. Chemical analysis of HFCS show that there are strange chemical peaks which aren’t fructose or glucose. So what are these compounds?
This definitely indicates impurities in this processed form of sugar. The effects, nature, and toxicity of these strange compounds are neither explained nor tested, so shouldn’t people be protected of such contaminated food products, especially those which compromise up to 15-20% of the daily calorie intake of an average American?
4. Regardless of the corn industry assertions, some independent nutrition and medical experts don’t support the use of high fructose corn syrup in our diet.
The publishing of professor, Department of Nutrition, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Barry M. Popkin, Ph.D, focuses on the harms caused by sugar-sweetened drinks, as well as their contribution to obesity.
He explains the process by which free fructose can lead to obesity in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
He starts by saying that the fructose’s digestion, absorption, and metabolism is different than that of glucose. Fructose’s hepatic metabolism favors the fat production in the liver (lipogenesis), and it neither increases the leptin production nor stimulates secretion of insulin, unlike glucose.
Since leptin and insulin function as main afferent signals in the appetite and body weight regulation, the dietary fructose can lead to increased intake of energy and gaining weight.
Dr. Popkin concludes that increased high fructose corn syrup consumption has a temporal relation to the obesity outbreak, and the HFCS over-consumption in calorically sweetened drinks can contribute in this outbreak of obesity.
Although the corn industry continues to state that all sugar we eat is the same, Dr. Popkin knows that different types of sugar have different effects on the appetite, absorption, and metabolism.
Associate Professor of Pediatrics, Harvard Medical School, David S. Ludwig, M.D., Ph.D, has published widely on the harms of sugar-sweetened drinks and their incline to obesity.
He stated that his comment on supporting the HFSC was taken completely out of context by the corn industry, as is the case of many other misrepresenting scientists who are concerned with HFCS and obesity problems.
5. High fructose corn syrup almost always indicates an industrial food product with poor quality and poor nutrients which causes many diseases.
So the last but not the least reason why to avoid products which have high fructose corn syrup in their content, is because of their poor nutritious quality full of artificial ingredients and empty calories.
When you see a HFCS on labels you’ll know that that product is not a whole truly fresh food rich in vitamins, minerals, fiber, antioxidants, and phytonutrients. Avoid these products if you want to stay healthy!
Although people must lower their overall sugar intake, this change will significantly improve our health and will lower our health risks. The bottom line once again is that corn sugar and cane sugar are not the same.
There are just 2 real issues:
The pharmacologic doses of HFCS and sugar that we consume have never before been tested in the history of humans- 140 pounds annually today vs. 20 teaspoons annually 10,000 ago.
HFCS is always sustained in very low-quality products that are nutrition depleted and filled with various compounds which promote diseases, such as chemicals, fats, mercury and salt.
These important facts should be the main topic of the national conversation, as oppose to the false and confusing statements and ads by the corn industry, whose purpose is to assert the nation that the biochemistry of industrially produced sugar and real sugar are the same.
More about Marc Hyman
Hyman is a practicing family physician, a globally recognized speaker, leader, advocate and educator in his field. He’s #1 New York Times bestselling author nine times, and Cleveland Clinic Center for Functional Medicine director.
Marc’s been frequent contributor on various shows such as the Today Show, The Dr. Oz Show, CBS This Morning, The View, CNN, and the Katie Couric show.