Avoiding High Fructose Corn Syrup in Your Diet

About the Author

Abby Campbell, BSc, SFN, SSN, CPT, is a leading professional fitness and nutrition expert, researcher, and published author of One Size Does NOT Fit All Diet Plan, one of Amazon's Top Gluten-Free and Weight Loss Diets. (You may read more about Abby at the bottom of this article.)

High fructose corn syrup is born from innocence.
High fructose corn syrup is born from innocence. | Source

Why Preservatives and Additives in Food Like HFCS Are Bad For You

Preservatives and additives in food would seem reasonable, especially with pre-packaged foods that have long shelf lives. As consumers, we want to make sure we are not harming our health by eating foods that are spoiled or contaminated. Preservatives and additives can also enhance the taste of pre-packaged foods. So, how can we go wrong with them?

Unfortunately, manufacturers are now putting certain ingredients into their food products to make you not only enjoy the taste but to addict you. Why on earth would they do that? As with all business ventures, they want to keep your business for profit. Some of the most addictive ingredients they use are refined sugar, monosodium glutamate (MSG), aspartame, and high fructose corn syrup (HFCS). You may even see or hear advertisements on television or radio defending some of these products. HFCS is one of them. Let's take a brief look at how HFCS is processed, why it is dangerous and addictive to your health, as well as how you can avoid the substance in your diet.

What is High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS)?

A few decades ago, the primary sweetener used by food manufacturers was table sugar. In the 1970s, Japanese scientists discovered the conversion process of corn starch and turned it into an alternative sweetener now known as high fructose corn syrup (HFCS).1 Because imported sugar became prohibitively expensive, food manufacturers producing pre-packaged and processed foods in the United States began using HFCS as it was much cheaper (especially since most of the corn industry is subsidized by the United States government).

To produce HFCS, corn is first milled to produce corn starch. The starch from the corn is then processed into a corn syrup which is almost entirely glucose, a simple sugar. Enzymes are then added to convert some of this glucose into fructose, another form of sugar which is naturally found in fruit. This may sound healthy to some; however, the process to make HFCS is quite complex and highly processed. In fact, the enzymes to produce HFCS are derived from bacteria and fungus. The end product is genetically modified and unnatural.

High Fructose Corn Syrup Addiction

High fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is one of the most addictive and harmful substances you can put into your body. In fact, new research show that this substance is even more addictive than cocaine due to its cross-tolerance and cross-dependence between it and addictive drugs. This is due to the sweet receptors you carry on your tongues and its inability to adapt to the high consumption of HFCS. When these receptors are greatly stimulated by high intake, your brain is generated with reward signals (making you feel good) that have the potential to rescind normal self-control mechanisms. Your brain won't give your body the signal that it is satiated and it will therefore want more. This leads to addiction.7

One of the dangers of high fructose corn syrup is mercury poisoning.
One of the dangers of high fructose corn syrup is mercury poisoning. | Source

High Fructose Corn Syrup Dangers

While fructose in fruit is natural, it is also combined with a multitude of nutrients and fiber. This allows blood sugar levels to be raised naturally and provides stability to the body. However, the ratio of glucose and fructose in HFCS is much different. In fact, no digestion is required after HFCS consumption.2 With no digestion, it is rapidly absorbed by the bloodstream. The glucose spikes insulin levels while the fructose goes directly to the liver. This causes lipogenesis as well as Leaky Gut Syndrome. In addition, mercury poisoning may occur with HFCS intake.

Lipogenesis is the metabolic formation of fat, raising both triglycerides and cholesterol levels within the body.3 In turn, this causes damage to the liver called steatosis, or fatty liver disease. When the fats cannot be broken down by the liver as it is supposed to do, other diseases may form within the body such as diabetes, obesity, dyslipidemi, and hypertension.

Leaky Gut Syndrome is a condition that alters and damages the intestinal and bowel lining.4 Bodily inflammation then occurs which then contributes to other conditions: cravings, weight gain, metabolic disturbance, and diabetes. Heart disease, cancer, and dementia are also diseases that can form from a leaky gut.

Mercury Poisoning is a condition caused by mercury exposure.5 Symptoms include sensory impairment (i.e., vision, hearing, and speech), sensation disturbance, and lack of coordination. Damage to the brain, kidney, and lungs may also occur from toxicity. HFCS is processed with toxic levels of this mercury contaminant and is not regulated by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA).6

Even if HFCS didn't carry these dangers, it is still calorie dense with little nutrition value. This combination will only lead to cravings, weight gain, and health problems. Therefore, it is best to avoid HFCS.

Foods with high fructose corn syrup may include can fruits.
Foods with high fructose corn syrup may include can fruits. | Source

Other Names for High Fructose Corn Syrup

According to NPD Group, a market research firm, Americans are losing faith in pre-packaged foods at supermarkets. In fact, they report that 58 percent of Americans have some level of concern about HFCS.8 To improve the image of HFCS, the Corn Refiners Association is trying to improve its image.9 Therefore, they have petitioned the United States FDA to call it another name:

  • corn sugar

The following names are equivalent to HFCS as well10:

  • glucose/fructose (Canadian)
  • glucose/fructose syrup (European)
  • high fructose maize syrup (other countries)

Foods With High Fructose Corn Syrup

Most pre-packaged and processed foods will contain some form of additives, many of which will include HFCS. You may want to check food labels when you are shopping to make sure you are avoiding this substance:

  • Regular soft drinks
  • Fruit juices that are not 100% juice
  • Canned fruit
  • Yogurts, especially those that are flavored
  • Frozen yogurts
  • Popsicles
  • Breakfast cereals
  • Granola bars
  • Pancake syrups
  • Canned soups
  • Canned sauces (i.e., spaghetti, marinara, pasta)
  • Condiments (i.e., ketchup, barbeque sauce, etc.)

Are You Concerned with High Fructose Corn Syrup?

  • Yes
  • No
  • Unsure
See results without voting

Conclusion

By doing away with food additives, especially HCFS, you will find yourself feeling better. However, you will be doing yourself a huge favor as your body will be healthier. Other natural sweeteners are available such as Stevia, a natural herb. You won't regret it making the switch.

Tell Use What You Think

You're reading "Avoiding High Fructose Corn Syrup" by Abby Campbell. Please leave a comment and tell us what you think below. Then share the article with your family and friends. You may even share on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest (buttons to your right).

Helping those who desire it!
Helping those who desire it! | Source

About the author

Abby Campbell, BSc, SFN, SSN, CPT, is a leading professional fitness and nutrition expert, researcher, and published author. For the past 10 years, she has coached thousands of women locally and online to lose body fat and lead healthy lifestyles. Her clients have lost thousands of pounds, reclaimed health, and call her “Coach No Gimmick.” She is from Northern Virginia but now resides near Charlotte, North Carolina. Abby has been married for 20 years and has three grown daughters, one of which is autistic. She is a 19 year cancer survivor.

References

[1] High Fructose Corn Syrup. (2013, March 3). Wikipedia. Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/High_fructose_corn_syrup.

[2] Hyman, M. (Producer). Mark's Minute - High Fructose Corn Syrup is Poison: Reason #1. (2012, February). Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E57QmRxNHRc.

[3] What Is Lipogenesis? (2013). Retrieved from http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-lipogenesis.htm.

[4] McMillan, M. Defining Leaky Gut Syndrome: What Is It? (2013). Retrieved from http://www.webmd.com/digestive-disorders/features/leaky-gut-syndrome.

[5] Mercury Poisoning. (2013). Retrieved from http://www.medicinenet.com/mercury_poisoning/article.htm.

[6] Hyman, M. (Producer). Mark's Minute - High Fructose Corn Syrup is Poison: Reason #2. (2012, February). Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EtjaP65MpqM.

[7] Sievenpiper, J.S., deSouza, R.J., & Mirrahimi, A., et al. (2012, February 21). Effect of Fructose on Body Weight in Controlled Feed Trials: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Annals of Internal Medicine, 156(4), 291-304. Retrieved from http://annals.org/article.aspx?articleid=1132642.

[8] NPD Finds Most Americans Agree Foods From Supermarkets Are Safe But Percentage Is Slipping. (2009, March 30). Retrieved from https://www.npd.com/wps/portal/npd/us/news/press-releases/pr_090330/.

[9] Parker-Pope, Tara. A New Name for High-Fructose Corn Syrup. (2010, September 14). Retrieved from http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/09/14/a-new-name-for-high-fructose-corn-syrup/.

[10] High Fructose Corn Syrup. (2013, March 3). Wikipedia. Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/High_fructose_corn_syrup.

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Comments 15 comments

SaffronBlossom profile image

SaffronBlossom 3 years ago from Dallas, Texas

Awesome hub!! HFCS is actually what prompted me to eat healthier...I mainly have a raw diet during the day (fruits, nuts, etc.) and then at night eat "normal" food to limit the things like HFCS I consume. It really is scary what it does to your body, and how prevalent it is in the American diet! That and trans fat...


Abby Campbell profile image

Abby Campbell 3 years ago from Charlotte, North Carolina Author

Thanks for commenting, SaffronBlossom. I know exactly what you mean. People don't realize what crazy things these man-made additives do to the human body, and it is really scary. I'm just appalled that our government allows this junk in our food. :/


btrbell profile image

btrbell 3 years ago from Mesa, AZ

Great, informative article Abby! Up and sharing on my daughter's facebook as there are many new or soon-to-be mommies there! Thank you!


Abby Campbell profile image

Abby Campbell 3 years ago from Charlotte, North Carolina Author

Thank you, Randi. I'm sharing with my own girls as well. Have a great day.


Cantuhearmescream profile image

Cantuhearmescream 3 years ago from New York

MaximumFatLoss,

I'm so glad you addressed this epidemic. I was absolutely oblivious to how frequently it is used and how it is contained in so many foods that we eat. If you haven't read "The Omnivore's Dilemma", I strongly recommend it. It covers "corn" and all of it's secret code names and how our bodies respond to it, it is so insightful and it's an easy read.


Abby Campbell profile image

Abby Campbell 3 years ago from Charlotte, North Carolina Author

Thanks for commenting, Cantuhearmescream. I have read "The Omnivore's Dilemma," so thank you for sharing it with me. I won't touch corn at all after learning about it. Most are genetically modified and are also the most inflammatory food you can put into your body, which wreaks havoc on health. Like HFCS, I believe it is wreaking havoc on society's health. Uck!


Cantuhearmescream profile image

Cantuhearmescream 3 years ago from New York

MaximumFatLoss,

I was devastated to learn that corn was not the healthy food that I thought it was; I have always loved corn. What’s even more frustrating is finding out that it is in everything we eat and I felt relatively helpless in the attempt to avoid it. Between convenience and money, I feel subjected to eating less healthy than I would like (with the exception of my gardening months). I have to read more of your hubs so that I can find the tips to beating this problem. Thanks for addressing this as I don’t think it is as widely understood as it should be.


Abby Campbell profile image

Abby Campbell 3 years ago from Charlotte, North Carolina Author

Thank you, Cantuhearmescream. I did recently publish a hub called "How to Affordably Eat Well." Please check it out. ;) I can't wait to get my hands in some dirt this year. I wish the weather would make up its mind on what it wants to do. :-)


Cantuhearmescream profile image

Cantuhearmescream 3 years ago from New York

MaximumFatLoss,

I certainly will. I'm trying to get through some tedious things so that I can just read in peace, but I will get there. I know what you mean about the weather, I'm in Upstate New York. I had my pellet stove off most of last week and not a flake of snow. This week we had snow days and it's been cold! I can't wait for the ground to thaw.


everymom profile image

everymom 3 years ago from Massachusetts

Abby, thanks for this hub. While I knew that HFCS was pervasive, not healthy and I generally avoid it, I didn't realize the link to mercury poisoning! I've also recently banned Gatorade in our house, after hearing some flavors may have an ingredient that is also used as a flame retardant in clothing! I've come to the conclusion that the government is NOT on the consumer's side; it is definitely on the side of big business, agricultural, chemical, etc.


Abby Campbell profile image

Abby Campbell 3 years ago from Charlotte, North Carolina Author

Thank you for your comment, everymom. I'm glad to hear that you are avoiding HFCS. The more I learn about what's in our food products, the more and more I lean towards natural whole foods. With all the unhealthy additives and preservatives in food products now, it's no wonder why the population's healthy has gone awry! It's very scary! I also believe that the government is on the side of big business, especially food manufacturers and pharmaceuticals. Unfortunately, farmers have to abide by the manufacturers' regulations just to make a few pennies to live. I'm sure if they had a choice, they would declare that natural is better too. :/


Concerned 2 years ago

I feel very strongly about these preservatives and I also hate that HFCS..that's why people and children are obese...still this is tolerated in America ....see how our government feels about people..how can anyone be so nationalistic yet see how your country does not care about its people...explain it to me..


Abby Campbell profile image

Abby Campbell 2 years ago from Charlotte, North Carolina Author

Thank you for your comment, Concerned. I completely agree with you in that our national government's message is truly conflicting. It's sad and intolerable in my opinion. That is why we need to take a stand against it. Hopefully, the education about these poisons will spread and people will take a stand against them. It's the only way our government will listen... it seems. :/


KevSutton profile image

KevSutton 2 years ago from Gulf Shores, Alabama

Great article. I found this to be very true. I can remember the day I found out about the harmful effects of High Corn Fructose Syrup, I trashed every drink I had with HCFS in it immediately and I was so angry cause I am saying how something so harmful can be available everywhere legally for consumption...so a mean who really cares about your health?? We have to keep on informing the masses so keep on working it is not in vain....


Abby Campbell profile image

Abby Campbell 2 years ago from Charlotte, North Carolina Author

Thank you for your comment, Kev. I appreciate your encouragement. :-)

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