July 28, 2014

High Fructose Corn Syrup – A Double Risk

High Fructose Corn Syrup - A Double RiskHigh fructose corn syrup is something you probably eat on a daily basis, without even realizing it. Did you realize, however, that consuming high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is actually consuming a GMO (genetically modified) food? While HFCS is not considered a GMO, it is made from GMO corn. Not only that, but HFCS in and of itself poses very serious health risks.

How High Fructose Corn Syrup Is Made

High fructose corn syrup is not a naturally occurring ingredient in corn. To create this sweetener, the raw material, cornstarch, must first be changed into glucose. The glucose is then changed into fructose. The entire process requires the manufacturer to add three separate enzymes to the food.

But that’s not all. Once the fructose is created, a liquid chromatography step is required. This changes the product to 90 percent fructose. Then, the mixture is re-mixed to create a final concentration of 55 percent fructose. This is the final product – high fructose corn syrup – and there is nothing natural about it at all.

The Popularity of HFCS

Why is high fructose corn syrup so popular? When it was first introduced in the 1970s, it quickly became a favorite among food processors to use in place of traditional glucose or sugar. It become especially popular when sugar quotas and tariffs were imposed in the United States in 1977. Food producers needed a new source of sugar, and high fructose corn syrup, which could be produced locally through American-grown corn, was ideal. Soon, it became the preferred sweetener among food and beverage manufacturers.

Today, sugar tariffs are not a concern, but HFCS is still being used, and in high percentages. The higher sugar content of the corn syrup makes it an ideal substitute for sugar. It is inexpensive, keeps foods moist and can easily be transported. It can also be grown entirely in the United States, reducing a reliance on international sources.

The Health Risks

When the human body consumes high fructose corn syrup, it is broken down primarily in the liver, not in the gastrointestinal tract. Because of this, HFCS does not stimulate insulin secretion. This means that blood sugar levels can increase or drop rapidly when someone eats HFCS.

This absorption also has another negative effect on the body. Insulin levels are directly related to blood sugar, but they also control leptin. Leptin is the hormone responsible for telling the body when it is full. It sends the signal to the brain to stop the “hunger” message and creates the feeling of satisfaction from the food. If insulin and leptin levels are not being stimulated by the food that you eat, your body is not going to get the signal to stop eating. In response, you may eat more than you need.

In other words, when you consume HFCS, not only is your blood sugar effected more negatively than with regular sugar and other foods, but you may be tempted to overeat because the “I’m full” signal will not get to your brain. Thus, the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition and similar scientific research groups believe that high fructose corn syrup may actually have a role in the growing problems of obesity in this country.

The Dangers of GMO

Not only is HFCS unnatural and absorbed by the body in a way that skips insulin and leptin release, but it is also created using GMO corn. Almost all corn that is mass produced in the United States is GMO corn, and this is the same corn used to create HFCS. Any time you consume a generically modified food, you are not promoting proper health, so this is an added danger of HFCS.

Genetically modified foods have been altered on a genetic level to provide some sort of perceived benefit. In the case of corn, the genetic modifications are designed to increase yields and also sweetness. This is beneficial when creating HFCS, because it makes the sweetener sweeter.

But, genetically altering the food creates a serious health risk. Researchers have found that GMOs increase risks for cancer, food allergies, immune system disorders and skin conditions. The body simply does not know how to react to the modified genes in the food, and thus reacts in a negative, potentially harmful way. In other words, consuming GMO food is the same as consuming a major toxin.

While all HFCS may not be from GMO corn, labeling is not yet required, so there is no way to know whether one product is from GMO corn or not. Because of this, as well as the blood sugar and obesity risk of the modified corn syrup, it is best to avoid foods with this ingredient altogether.

High Fructose Corn Syrup - A Double RiskWhat to Do

High fructose corn syrup is obviously not a healthy choice for Americans to eat. Yet, it is very difficult to avoid, because most processed food contains it. So what can you do?

First, learn to read all food labels. If it has HFCS, especially as one of the first ingredients, avoid that food. Switch from processed foods to fresh, non-GMO foods. When you go grocery shopping, shop the perimeter, which typically features the fresh fruits and vegetables, dairy products and bakery items, and avoid the middle aisles, which likely include the processed foods.

By avoiding high fructose corn syrup, you can avoid not only the blood sugar crashes that come from this food, but also the risks that come from eating GMOs. If more people stop eating HFCS, then food manufacturers will be forced to start using more natural ingredients in their products, and we will all be much healthier.

[Click here to find out more about High Fructose Corn Syrup]

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