sweetAnother Sweet Disaster
If you are what you eat, Americans are fast turning into corn. You can hardly eat any packaged food product today without eating something made from corn. Did you realize the sweetness that you taste in most food and drinks comes from corn?
Take a look in your pantry, your cupboards, or your refrigerator. Pull a few products off the shelf – say, a loaf of bread, a bottle of ketchup, or a can of soda. On the ingredients label for any one of these products, I’m pretty sure you’ll find high fructose corn syrup.
What you won’t find on the label is that this artificially produced sweetener has been associated with all of the following:

  • Heart disease
  • Obesity
  • Diabetes
  • Cirrhosis of the liver
  • Osteoporosis
  • Weakened immune system
  • Cholesterol imbalance
  • Anemia
  • Mineral deficiency

Today I’ll explain the prevalence of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), its lethal effect on your health  and, most importantly, how you can avoid it.

This sickly sweet substance is everywhere. HFCS became the food industry’s most popular sweetener in the 80s and 90s, largely because it’s cheap to produce, transport, and store. (Americas got a lot more corn farms than sugar-cane fields.) It’s also sweeter and blends more readily into most foods than cane-based sugar.
So, to the delight of US agribusiness, manufacturers started throwing it into just about anything that could use a little sweetness, including bacon, beer (that’s right  beer), cereal, iced tea, you name it. You’ll even find HFCS in so-called health bars.
Problem is, your body can’t really tolerate the stuff in high quantities.
Why? Most starches (that is, most carbohydrates) break down into glucose, a form of sugar that every single cell in your body can directly metabolize. Fructose, on the other hand, needs to be converted into usable sugar by the liver.
Naturally occurring fructose comes from fruit that’s why it’s called fructose. It’s stored in the fiber of the fruit, so your body absorbs it 40 percent more slowly than glucose. No problem.
But if you isolate fructose and dump it into the body in concentrated form, its a major liver overload. In fact, animals fed a high-fructose diet in laboratory studies had livers that looked a lot like those of hardcore, aging alcoholics  inflamed and shot through with dead cells and scar tissue (the condition known as cirrhosis).
What’s more, fructose interferes with a key enzyme in the body that delivers copper to your vital organs. Copper deficiency has a destructive cascading effect across a range of organ systems, including the liver, heart, testes, and pancreas. Naturally, this results in a host of serious illnesses, including heart disease, obesity, diabetes, anemia, weakened immunity, and osteoporosis.
The problem is even worse for children, since their organs are still developing. And, HFCS is particularly abundant in drinks aimed at kids. In a recent study, researchers isolated compounds found in abundance in carbonated soft drinks – called reactive carbonyls that diabetics also have in high concentrations in their bloodstreams. These are the same compounds that cause the cell and tissue damage associated with diabetes and its complications.
They reported that a single can of soda contains 5 times the amount of reactive carbonyls found in a diabetic’s bloodstream.3 The culprit? High fructose corn syrup. No wonder diabetes is rampant in this country  and occurring at an unprecedented rate in children.
Fortunately, it’s not all that hard to avoid HFCS, despite its widespread use. Here’s all you need to do:
1.    Check the ingredients label. It really is everywhere.
2.    Avoid low-fat and/or processed foods. Go for natural, whole foods instead.
3.    Replace soda and other sweetened beverages with filtered water, milk, freshly squeezed natural juices and drinks.
A final note: the same study found that a compound in tea seems to offset the effect of reactive carbonyls. In fact, it can cut the amount of reactive carbonyls in half when added to soft drinks. So consider making a nice, refreshing pitcher of real iced tea when you’re home.
1 Fields, M, Proceedings of the Society of Experimental Biology and Medicine, 175(1984):530-537.
2 Fallon, Sally and Mary Enig, Nourishing Traditions, Washington DC: New Trends Publishing, 2001, p. 23.
3 Ho et al, AGFD 232, paper presented at symposium: Food Bioactives and Nutraceuticals: Production, Chemistry, Analysis and Health Effects: Health Effects, American Chemical Society, in Boston on 8/23/07.
Republished with permission from
Al Sears, MD (http://www.alsearsmd.com/content/)
12794 Forest Hill Blvd., Suite 16
Wellington, FL 33414
September 18, 2007