High fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is an extremely processed, inexpensive, man-made sweetener found in many of the foods you consume. Commercially used high fructose corn syrup is made using enzymes and sometimes acids to break down corn starch into simple sugars, fructose and glucose. And while it might start with corn kernels, HFCS goes through many processes to become that super sweet syrup added to many processed foods, including soft drinks, ice cream, even yogurt and breads. It is so widely used, that the United States Department of Agriculture found that approximately 40 percent of the nutritive sweeteners consumed in the US came in the form of high fructose corn syrup.
Is it really bad for you?
High fructose corn syrup in moderation is probably just fine. The problem is moderation is seemingly impossible due to its widespread use. It is usually in processed sweet treats like cookies, where you might expect it, but HFCS is also hiding in crackers, bread, yogurt and “healthy” cereal. Since the introduction of HFCS, the obesity rate in the United States has skyrocketed. Several studies make a direct connection to high fructose corn syrup. HFCS interferes with the body’s metabolism. It slows down the secretion of leptin. Leptin is a crucial hormone that tells your body you’re full and should stop eating. HFCS fools your body into thinking it’s hungry. It’s no wonder our waistlines are expanding!
Metabolic Syndrome and Diabetes
Metabolic syndrome is defined as a group of risk factors – high blood pressure, high blood sugars, high cholesterol levels and belly fat – that increases risk of heart disease and diabetes. It is estimated by the American Heart Association that one out of six people have it. The scary thing is that most people don’t even know they have it. The only outward symptom is weight gain. Everything else would only be detectable by a medical doctor. And yet, it is to be taken very seriously. Metabolic syndrome can lead to much more serious ailments including diabetes, stroke and heart attack. Diabetes is on the rise, too. 29 million adults and children in the United States have diabetes. Seven million people are walking around undiagnosed and according to the CDC, a whopping 86 million people have prediabetes! Limiting your intake of fructose, especially high fructose corn syrup can help.
What to Do?
1. Read labels — Avoid high fructose corn syrup, especially if it’s at the top of the ingredient list. Listed there, it’s safe to assume the product is laden with it.
2. Fresh is best — Eat fewer processed and packaged foods. Sweetened grains like cookies, cakes and cereals should be avoided.
3. Shop the perimeters — Of the grocery store that is. Produce is typically on one side, meat, poultry and fish on the other. With dairy, eggs and bread on the third. The middle aisles usually contain the most processed foods likely to contain HFCS and should be avoided.
4. Skinny D — If you’re already overweight and dieting, read those labels as well. Slim Fast is full of high fructose corn syrup. Dr. Newton’s Naturals offers a better choice: Skinny D.