life in the basement has come and gone. we loved living underground, but are excited to practice maintaining a home. join me as i journal chapter two of our life, as we save up, look forward, and plan for a home in the city. as we seek after our great God to glorify Him daily, join in as we figure out what it means to radically pursue Him in "everyday life"

16 August 2011

high fructose corn syrup

alright so if you know me and have spent much time around me, you know my rant about high fructose corn syrup. somewhat a joke among my peers, i believe this stuff is terrible. and while i love to laugh at a good snl skit like this one:

i think there is a valid point to be made there. sure, a lot of folks would like us to believe that HFCS has no harm, and is just like sugar, but the fact is, i dont think thats the case. there has been a lot of research done on this topic, and while i don't claim to be an expert, i will summarize and regurgitate some of the into i have found.

just like the snl skit shows, high fructose corn syrup has replaced sugar in a lot of kid-friendly products, and is thought to have a correlation to the excessive levels of childhood obesity we find in our country today. researchers at Princeton have found that rats gain more weight on HCFS than regular sugar when caloric intake is the same (here) "In addition to causing significant weight gain in lab animals, long-term consumption of high-fructose corn syrup also led to abnormal increases in body fat, especially in the abdomen, and a rise in circulating blood fats called triglycerides." (same source) yikes. additionally, "The second experiment -- the first long-term study of the effects of high-fructose corn syrup consumption on obesity in lab animals -- monitored weight gain, body fat and triglyceride levels in rats with access to high-fructose corn syrup over a period of six months. Compared to animals eating only rat chow, rats on a diet rich in high-fructose corn syrup showed characteristic signs of a dangerous condition known in humans as the metabolic syndrome, including abnormal weight gain, significant increases in circulating triglycerides and augmented fat deposition, especially visceral fat around the belly. Male rats in particular ballooned in size: Animals with access to high-fructose corn syrup gained 48 percent more weight than those eating a normal diet." (same source)

and while the corn farmers would like you to believe that HFCS is just "corn sugar" (here), research shows that their proposition is a bit misleading.

there have been other concerning findings with HCFS, including mercury traces in over half the samples, as well as an abundance of reactive carbonyls, which are found in diabetics blood. also, research has shown that high consumption levels of fructose can also lead to diabetes. (all found here)

HCFS is anything but natural, and in fact, is highly processed. "High-fructose corn syrup starts out as cornstarch, which is chemically or enzymatically degraded to glucose and some short polymers of glucose. Another enzyme is then used to convert varying" (here)

and while it might be ok in small amounts, as the corn sugar supporters suggest, the truth is, its near impossible because its everywhere these day!  "The commercials claim that just like sugar, high-fructose corn syrup isn't unhealthy when consumed" in moderation. But it's hard to know exactly how much of it we're actually consuming because it shows up in so many unexpected foods. "It was in my children's vitamins!" said Elise Mackin. Because high-fructose corn syrup extends the shelf life of foods, and farm subsidies make it cheaper than sugar, it's added to a staggering range of items, including fruity yogurts, cereals, crackers, ketchup and bread — and in most foods marketed to children. So, unless you're making a concerted effort to avoid it, it's pretty difficult to consume high-fructose corn syrup in moderation."(here)

im sure at the end of the day, anything is fine in small amounts. but i think it is very much important for us to know what we are putting in our body, and to strive to keep it as natural as possible (part of the reason i stopped drinking diet cokes & other soft drinks). since around my junior year of college, i have strived to not consume high fructose corn syrup. its a sneaky little booger because it is in everything- even healthy products marketed as "natural." i am very used to flipping over the container and seeing the first or second ingredient on something being HCFS, and then sighing and putting it away. it seems like only time will tell the truth about this. heres one more good article for you to read. what are you thoughts? i'd love to hear them!

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