High fructose corn syrup – you may have heard of it, you may not. It’s in a lot processed foods and it’s well up there on the list of Hompes Method bad foods to be avoided at all costs.
It’s called “glucose-fructose syrup” in Europe and is used as a sweetener in items such as:
- Most carbonated beverages and other sweetened drinks
- Baked goods
- Canned fruits
- Jams and jellies
- Salad dressings
- Dairy products including yogurt and ice cream
Unfortunately, food labels such as soups or dry mixes that just state “flavorings” may also contain HFCS. These general references to “flavorings” or “assorted seasonings,” or similar groups of ingredients, make it virtually impossible for you to know whether the product actually contains HFCS.
Industrial scale production of high fructose corn syrup on a wide scale began in the 1970s and by 1997 approximately 55% of all sugar consumption (in the US) came in the form of this highly processed sweetener.
“Until the 1970s, most of the sugar we ate came from sucrose, which was derived from sugar beets or sugar cane.
High-fructose corn syrup was invented by a pair of researchers named Marshall and Kooi, in 1957. Until that time, people had operated with the understanding – the correct one, in fact – that there is no fructose in corn syrup. Corn syrup contains another sugar molecule, considerably less sweet than fructose, called glucose.
These two researchers developed an enzyme called glucose isomerase in their laboratory that astonishingly could rearrange the molecular structure of the glucose in corn syrup, and convert it into fructose. The more glucose in the corn syrup that the enzyme converted to fructose, the sweeter the syrup became.
Using high-fructose corn syrup instead of regular corn syrup meant that a standard recipe requiring a fixed amount of corn syrup could afford to use far less corn syrup, without sacrificing any sweetness.”
Sounds great, but what are the health consequences of consuming HFCS? Well, consuming small amounts here or there likely won’t cause too many problems, but it’s the volumes in which people are consuming HFCS that’s the problem.
“Americans’ consumption of fructose increased 26 percent from 1970 to 1997 and continued to increase until 2002, it declined the next year. ?According to the USDA Yearbook, there was a drop from 44.7 pounds of consumption per year per person of HFCS in 2002, to 43.4 pounds in 2003.”
Think about this for a moment: 44 pounds in weight of HFCS per year is an incredible amount of processed sugar! What’s more, this is an average amount per person – for every person who contains no of very little HFCS, there’s a person consuming double the average amount (which would be approx. 90lbs per year!)
HFCS and Your Cardiovascular System
Research strongly suggests that the highly processed fructose in high fructose corn syrup contributes far more to obesity and insulin resistance syndrome than simple table sugar.
In animal studies, fructose consumption has been shown to produce:
- Insulin resistance
- Impaired glucose tolerance
- High insulin levels
- High triglycerides
- High blood pressure
When these metabolic markers all elevate, you’re moving towards something called “metabolic syndrome”, a condition characterized by disorders of lipoprotein metabolism (high cholesterol and triglycerides), hypertension (high blood pressure), and hyperglycemia (abnormally high concentrations of glucose in the blood).
Metabolic syndrome increases your risk for virtually all the major diseases, including heart disease and cancer.
Consuming HFCS also contributes to:
- Fat deposits in your liver (fatty liver)
- The buildup of dangerous lipoproteins, part of cholesterol deposits, in your blood vessel walls.
- Plaque buildup and a narrowing of your blood vessels, which increase your susceptibility to both strokes and heart attacks.
HFCS And Your Immune System
The immune system is one of the key systems in Hompes Method’s Olympic Ring Health Analogy and with good reason because problems in your immune system can affect your entire body.
Immune disorders s have increased in recent years. The likes of asthma, hay fever, eczema, food allergies, lupus, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis and many other autoimmune conditions have increased dramatically.
In research studies, fructose has been found to inhibit the action of white blood cells, one of the key elements of your immune capability.
Studies have shown that eating or drinking 100 grams (8TBSP) of processed sugar, the equivalent of one typical can of soda, can reduce the ability of your white blood cells to kill germs by 40%.
HFCS May Contain Potent Toxins
HFCS has now been found to contain mercury. In January 2009, the Journal Environmental Health reported that mercury had been found in nearly half of the commercial HFCS samples tested.
“The Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy then did its own batch of tests and found mercury in nearly one-third of 55 popular brand-name food and beverages. That included products by Quaker, Hershey’s, Kraft, and Smucker’s.”
In its own right, mercury is a potent neurotoxin and can cause symptoms in the Seven Areas of Health.
It is also connected with numerous serious diseases, including autism, heart disease, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, and Alzheimer’s.
HFCS Is Genetically Modified
If you’re consuming HFCS in the US, you’ll find that most of it is made from genetically modified corn. According to the literature, it’s now believed that around 90% corn in the US is genetically modified.
The health effects of consuming large quantities of genetically modified food isn’t yet known because adequate studies simply haven’t been done.
Animal studies seem to suggest that GM foods cause significant problems, which I’ve written about in more detail in a specific article on the subject here.
Don’t Worry About Fruit!
The controversy and negative health impact of HCFS has led people to incorrectly assume whole, fresh foods that contain fructose are also “bad”.
This isn’t the case. In fact, it may not be the fructose in HFCS that’s the problem. According to Dr. Ray Peat, PhD, an expert in nutrition and endocrinology:
“Much of the current concern about the dangers of fructose is focused on the cornstarch-derived high fructose corn syrup, HFCS. Many studies (on its effects) assume that its composition is nearly all fructose and glucose. However, Wahjudi, et al. (2010) analyzed samples of it before and after hydrolyzing it in acid, to break down other carbohydrates present in it. They found that the carbohydrate (starch) content was several times higher than the listed values. They stated:
“The underestimation of carbohydrate content in beverages may be a contributing factor in the development of obesity in children, and it’s especially interesting that so much of it is present in the form of starch-like material.”
What Peat is saying here is that a) HFCS contains a lot more starch than people think and that associated health problems might be due the high starch content (lots of glucose molecules stuck together, not fructose).
Irrespective of the actual chemical make-up of HFCS, it’s prudent to go out of your way to avoid it and to get your sugars from natural sources such as root vegetables, fruits, honey and some gluten-free grains.
Perfection in Nutrition – How To Avoid HFCS
Without doubt, the best way to avoid HFCS, as well as most of the other Hompes Method Bad foods, is to buy fresh produce and prepare it at home.
This is exactly what we coach you to do, on a step-by-step basis, in The Hompes Method programmes.