High-Fructose Corn Syrup: How Sweet It Isn't

Filed Under: General Health
Last Reviewed 07/02/2015

High-Fructose Corn Syrup: How Sweet It Isn't

Learn why HFCS is so dangerous

High-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) was developed in the early 1970s as a substitute for sugar in processed foods such as soda and candy. Nowadays, if you eat any processed food (bread, whole grain cereals, fruit juices, energy bars, spaghetti sauces, and an endless variety of snacks), it’s practically impossible to avoid it.

At one time, fructose was thought to be a healthy sugar substitute, since it is the same type of sugar found in fruits and some vegetables and doesn't seem to raise blood sugar levels or insulin secretion following ingestion. What makes this unfortunate is that the manufacturers' claims about fructose are only half-right. It's true that fructose consumed in fresh, whole fruits doesn't cause spikes in blood sugar. While the sweetness in fruits is from fructose, this sugar is present in only very small amounts and nature binds it with complex plant fibers and other nutrients and minerals. As such, fructose-containing fruits (and vegetables) help prevent cardiovascular and other health problems.

But research has revealed that when fructose is extracted from the fruit and used in processed foods, it acts just like sucrose…if not worse! When you ingest fructose, rather than staying in the bloodstream like sugar, it gets shuttled directly to your liver. In the liver, it becomes one of the building blocks of triglycerides, which are fat-storage molecules. Triglycerides are released into the bloodstream, carried by LDL cholesterol, and deposited on the walls of the arteries. 

Another adverse effect of HFCS is that it impairs your body’s ability to recognize when it is full. Fructose doesn’t stimulate an increase in insulin the way most sugars do—a side effect HFCS producers would like to market as a benefit. However, it also does not cause an increase in the compound leptin, a protein hormone that plays a key role in regulating appetite and metabolism. The problem is that increases in these substances signal the body’s central nervous system to stop eating. In addition, fructose boosts the level of another related hormone, ghrelin, which enhances the desire to eat more. In simple terms, fructose completely disrupts your body’s natural ability to tell when you’re satisfied and should stop eating—which ultimately leads to weight gain and obesity.

Consuming HFCS has another serious downside. The process of glycation involves sugar combining with various amino acids in your body to create "advanced glycation endproducts (AGEs)." AGEs accelerate the aging process, resulting in cataracts, blockages in blood vessels, kidney problems, and possibly even Alzheimer's disease. High levels of HFCS contribute to increased levels of glycation in the body.

If the general public ever understands what HFCS is doing to their bodies, manufacturers may be forced to stop using it. You can do yourself a favor today by eliminating this substance from your diet.

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DISCLAIMER: The content of DrDavidWilliams.com is offered on an informational basis only, and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the guidance of a qualified health provider before making any adjustment to a medication or treatment you are currently using, and/or starting any new medication or treatment. All recommendations are "generally informational" and not specifically applicable to any individual's medical problems, concerns and/or needs.

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