High Fructose Corn Syrup (Part 2)
9 Dangers of High Fructose Corn Syrup
1. Weight Gain
There is a lot of debate over high fructose corn syrup vs sugar. Many HFSC supporters want to stay that both are equally bad, but all sweeteners are not created equal when it comes to putting on unwanted pounds. A Princeton University study found that HFCS causes more weight gain than refined sugar does.
Specifically, animal subjects with access to high fructose corn syrup put on significantly more weight than those with access to table sugar, even when overall caloric intake was equal. Furthermore, long-term consumption of high fructose corn syrup was also shown to lead to abnormal increases in body fat, especially in the abdominal region, as well as an increase in triglyceride levels. According to researchers, this study provides insight into factors contributing to the rise of obesity in America. (9)
With high fructose corn syrup found in so many foods and beverages, it’s no surprise that fructose intake has increased dramatically in recent decades. Research from 2010 published by the American Association for Cancer Research found that the fructose in HFCS promotes cancer growth, specifically pancreatic cancer.
This study actually found that cancer cells can readily metabolize fructose and induce rapid reproduction of pancreatic cancer cells. Researchers also found that fructose and glucose metabolism are very different, with fructose causing more negative health reactions than glucose. This research provides very good reason why cancer patients should not be given anything containing high fructose corn syrup and how avoiding HFCS can possibly disrupt cancer growth. (10) When it comes to cancer prevention and treatment, clearly HFCS is an ingredient that should be aggressively avoided.
3. Fatty Liver and Liver Stress
Fructose is known to stimulate fat accumulation in the liver by increasing fat synthesis yet blocking fat breakdown. In order to chemically create high fructose corn syrup, glucose and fructose, which are naturally linked together, become separated. When HFCS enters your bloodstream, the freed-up fructose travels directly into your liver and overwhelms your liver’s processing capacity. This then causes unhealthy fat production in your liver called lipogenesis. This can lead to fatty liver disease if more than 5 percent to 10 percent of the liver’s weight becomes fat. It doesn’t stop there, though. Having a fatty liver can lead to serious liver stress, liver damage, obesity, prediabetes and type 2 diabetes. (11)
One of several animal studies shows that excessive fructose consumption is associated with dyslipidemia and increased fat deposits in the liver. Dyslipidemia, or having high blood levels of cholesterol, triglycerides or both, is a major risk factor for coronary heart disease. This study concludes that the findings support limitation of excessive fructose addition in beverages in order to counteract the current epidemic of obesity and type 2 diabetes in industrialized countries like the U.S. (12)
4. Increased Cholesterol Levels
Hight fructose corn syrup intake is linked to high cholesterol levels. A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that only two weeks of moderate consumption of high fructose corn syrup caused cholesterol and triglycerides levels to rise.
The study split 85 people with generally healthy lipid profiles into four groups. The first three groups consumed drinks sweetened with either 25 percent, 17.5 percent or 10 percent high fructose corn syrup while the fourth group drank something sweetened only with aspartame. While I would never promote aspartame consumption either, the results showed that LDL or “bad” cholesterol for the aspartame group remained the same before and after the diet. However, for subjects who consumed HFCS-sweetened beverages for two weeks, the results were as follows: The 10 percent group on average went to LDL of 102 from 95, the 17.5 percent to 102 from 93 and the 25 percent group to 107 from 91. (13)
The lead author of the study, Kimber L. Stanhope, a research scientist at the University of California, Davis said, “It was a surprise that adding as little as the equivalent of a half-can of soda at breakfast, lunch and dinner was enough to produce significant increases in risk factors for cardiovascular disease. Our bodies respond to a relatively small increase in sugar, and that’s important information.” (14)
A lot of medical professionals think that fructose is better for diabetics than sugar, but every cell in the body can metabolize glucose. Fructose, on the other hand, must be metabolized by the liver. Fructose has been directly linked with diabetes, especially high fructose corn syrup, which contains a great deal of free-floating fructose. Unlike fruit, which contains fructose yet also has fiber and nutrients to positively affect fructose’s absorption by the body, high fructose corn syrup offers absolutely zero nutritional value. It’s just straight-up questionable sugar and calories, nothing else.
Recent data suggest that fructose consumption in humans leads to increased visceral fat accumulation, impairment in the regulation of fats in the blood (like cholesterol and triglycerides) and decreased insulin sensitivity. Why are these effects of fructose so concerning? All of these side effects have been associated with an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes as well as cardiovascular disease. (15)
A study published in the journal Global Health shows that countries that mix high fructose corn syrup into processed foods and drinks have higher rates of diabetes than countries that don’t use HFCS. Out of the 43 countries studied, approximately half had little or no high fructose corn syrup in their food supplies. In the other countries, the HFCS content of foods was between about one pound a year per person in Germany to about 55 pounds each year per person in the U.S. The study found that countries using HFCS had diabetes rates about 20 percent higher than HFCS-free countries. (16)
6. High Blood Pressure
Fructose intake from added sugars is associated with high blood pressure levels in humans. The goal of a 2012 study published in Metabolism was to compare the effects of soft drinks sweetened with high fructose corn syrup vs. sucrose (table sugar). In a randomized study, researchers had 40 men and women consume 24 ounces of either a HFCS- or sucrose-sweetened beverage. They then collected urine and blood samples over the next six hours to measure blood pressure, heart rate, fructose and several other metabolic biomarkers.
The researchers found that systolic blood pressure maximum levels were higher when HFCS-sweetened beverages were consumed compared to sucrose-sweetened beverages. Overall, they found that compared with sugar, high fructose corn syrup leads to greater fructose exposure to the entire body and significantly different acute metabolic effects. (17)
Research has shown that consuming 60 grams of fructose can increase systolic blood pressure in humans, but this is not seen in subjects given the same exact dose of glucose. In another study, overweight men were given 200 grams of fructose daily for two weeks, and it was observed that they maintained a significant rise in ambulatory blood pressure (blood pressure as you move around) during that time. Hypertension in response to fructose intake appears to be brought about by increased sodium absorption in the intestine, inhibition of systemic blood vessel function and stimulation of the sympathetic nervous system. Fructose-induced increases in uric acid levels in the body may likely play a part as well. Studies in experimental animals have also confirmed that fructose can increase blood pressure. (18)
7. Heart Disease
The fact that HFCS raises blood pressure is reason enough to make it extremely bad for your heart. High blood pressure is part of a cluster of dangerous health issues calledmetabolic syndrome, which increases your risk for heart disease, stroke and diabetes. Research shows that in subjects who had healthy glucose tolerance and those who had unhealthy glucose tolerance, fructose caused a general increase in both the total serum cholesterol and in the low density lipoproteins (LDL) in most of the subjects, which puts a person at risk for coronary heart disease.
According to a 15-year Harvard study, participants who took in 25 percent or more of their daily calories as sugar were more than twice as likely to die from heart disease as those whose diets included less than 10 percent added sugar. (19) This sugar intake could be from HFCS or from another source of sugar, but it’s why we need to eliminate HFCS from our diets and keep overall sugar intake, even from truly natural sources, at a healthy, low level.
8. Leaky Gut Syndrome
Leaky gut syndrome is also referred to as increased intestinal permeability. When you have this condition, the “net” in your digestive tract gets damaged, which allows proteins (like gluten), bad bacteria and undigested particles to pass into your bloodstream.
Research done at the Children’s Hospital Oakland Research Institute found that free fructose from HFCS requires more energy to be absorbed by the gut and soaks up two phosphorous molecules from ATP (our body’s energy source). This depletes the energy fuel source in our guts required to maintain the integrity of our intestinal linings. Large doses of free fructose have been shown to literally punch holes in the intestinal lining, creating a leaky gut. (20)
Once these holes in the lining exist, it’s very easy for unwanted toxins and food to enter your bloodstream. These invaders are not meant to be in the bloodstream so they trigger inflammation in the body. Inflammation is at the root of so many health problems including obesity, diabetes, cancer, heart disease, dementia and accelerated aging.
9. Increased Mercury Intake
Multiple studies have found alarming amounts of mercury in products containing high fructose corn syrup, which can contribute to dangerous mercury poisoning. We know that mercury is extremely toxic to our bodies, and it’s especially disturbing for a developing child to be exposed to mercury. Mercury has negative effects on the liver, kidneys, brain and other internal organs.
In a study published in Environmental Health, mercury was detected in almost 50 percent of samples of commercial high fructose corn syrup. Another highly concerning study by the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy found mercury in about a third of 55 popular brand name food and beverage products. These common products all had HFCS as the first or second highest labeled ingredients. Brands behind the products tested included Kraft, Quaker, Hershey’s and Smucker’s. (21)