I have always said that the downfall of our society – at least from a nutritional point of view – is when fast food restaurants (feeding troughs, really) instituted the “free refill” policy on soda. Unofficially, of course, you could cite the moment in time when this policy was begun and probably correlate it with the rise of obesity.
With the increase in cancer, diabetes, and other diseases that destroy the quality of life of our bodies, is it any wonder that diet would be the main cause in this? Other countries, it has been shown, do not have the same problems we have and most of it extends from the observation that they eat differently than we do here.
Everything is mixed, processed, over-flavored and designed to be cheap and non-sustainable. Why wouldn’t our bodies reflect this? After all, you are what you eat.
Let’s take a look at this problem under a microscope; let’s consider the culprit of soda and its abundance. I remember as a kid we used to drink soda every now and then but it was usually for a special occasion. Of course, the association of having a good time is what the marketing departments seized upon and now its the opposite – we are drinking soda to have a good time.
But the honeymoon is over. Do you realize what the 2nd ingredient is in, say, Coca-Cola? High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS). It’s water, then HFCS.
Studies are starting to show the adverse effects of HFCS. For example, in 2007 an article cited research that the use of HFCS may contribute to the development of diabetes in children.
In the current study, Chi-Tang Ho, Ph.D., conducted chemical tests among 11 different carbonated soft drinks containing HFCS. He found “astonishingly high” levels of reactive carbonyls in those beverages.
Carbonyls are undesirable and highly-reactive compounds associated with “unbound” fructose and glucose molecules are believed to cause tissue damage, said Ho, a professor of food science at Rutgers University in New Jersey.
By contrast, reactive carbonyls are not present in table sugar, whose fructose and glucose components are “bound” and chemically stable, the researcher noted.
Reactive carbonyls also are elevated in the blood of individuals with diabetes and linked to the complications of that disease. Based on the study data, Ho estimates that a single can of soda contains about five times the concentration of reactive carbonyls than the concentration found in the blood of an adult person with diabetes.
It would seem that a consideration, for the rest of the public which does not have diabetes, would be to avoid artificial sweetners of all kinds. I have already brought up the issue of aspartame and its dangers – not just for diabetics but for all who consume aspartame – and HFCS is just another industrial product we need to avoid. I would go as far to say that perhaps regular sugar (cane sugar) could be used by diabetics as long as its fructose and glucose components are bound. In other words, if it is natural, it should be fine for limited use.
There is another consideration: a diet deficient in certain minerals will also contribute to complications of diabetes. Read the following excerpt which discusses the misconception of HFCS as a natural and non-harmful product:
But there’s another reason to avoid HFCS. Consumers may think that because it contains fructose–which they associate with fruit, which is a natural food–that it is healthier than sugar. A team of investigators at the USDA, led by Dr. Meira Field, has discovered that this just ain’t so.
Sucrose is composed of glucose and fructose. When sugar is given to rats in high amounts, the rats develop multiple health problems, especially when the rats were deficient in certain nutrients, such as copper. The researchers wanted to know whether it was the fructose or the glucose moiety that was causing the problems. So they repeated their studies with two groups of rats, one given high amounts of glucose and one given high amounts of fructose. The glucose group was unaffected but the fructose group had disastrous results. The male rats did not reach adulthood. They had anemia, high cholesterol and heart hypertrophy–that means that their hearts enlarged until they exploded. They also had delayed testicular development. Dr. Field explains that fructose in combination with copper deficiency in the growing animal interferes with collagen production. (Copper deficiency, by the way, is widespread in America.) In a nutshell, the little bodies of the rats just fell apart. The females were not so affected, but they were unable to produce live young.
“The medical profession thinks fructose is better for diabetics than sugar,” says Dr. Field, “but every cell in the body can metabolize glucose. However, all fructose must be metabolized in the liver. The livers of the rats on the high fructose diet looked like the livers of alcoholics, plugged with fat and cirrhotic.”
HFCS contains more fructose than sugar and this fructose is more immediately available because it is not bound up in sucrose. Since the effects of fructose are most severe in the growing organism, we need to think carefully about what kind of sweeteners we give to our children. Fruit juices should be strictly avoided–they are very high in fructose–but so should anything with HFCS.
So, avoiding artificial sweetners, such as HFCS, is not merely enough if you are going to consume sugar. You need to also make sure you are getting the correct amount of certain minerals (copper) in order to properly absorb the sugars.
Fructose occurs naturally in fruits and the article is right – people assume because it contains fructose it is a natural product. This is a fallacy, however. For starters, HFCS is artificially created in a complicated process. This process takes the raw material of corn (a genetically modified product, by the way – see the documentary “King Corn“), makes it into corn starch and by way of adding several enzymes and a distillation process finally arrives at the completed product of HFCS.
Discovered by Japanese scientists back in the 1970’s, HFCS was preferred as a sweetner since the importation of sugar became more expensive. Even though the production of HFCS is laborious and expensive, the tariffs on cane sugar may it a more cost effective ingredient that benefits corn production and producers of food products like Coca Cola and Pepsi.
If you are against genetically modified foods then you need to avoid HFCS. If you are against industrial production of food and do not trust it, then you need to avoid HFCS. If you are a diabetic, or perhaps quickly on your way to becoming one, then you need to avoid HFCS. If you are obese, you need to avoid HFCS.
Pretty much everyone needs to avoid this product and the fact that it is widely available means that this poison is being sold to the world at a drastic cost. The world would be better off without it.