High Fructose Corn Syrup and Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease

What Most Americans Don't Know That Can Damage Their Health

First off, let me clearly state that I am neither a nutritionist nor a physician. Any changes you make to your diet should be monitored by your healthcare professionals. Recently, I started to change up my diet by including many juices from green leafy vegetables, fruits, etc (ie superfoods) and trying to eliminate pork and beef from my diet. In doing so, I increased my intake of nuts (especially peanuts) and beans. I have a propensity to over-indulge in peanuts when I eat them, and perhaps to my detriment.

About a week ago I became very sick. I had excruciating pains in my right side right below my rib cage which forced me to seek medical attention. At first the doctor thought perhaps gall bladder, but she sent me for a CT Scan and blood work to get a better picture. The culprit was too much fat in my liver. Consequently, I discovered that 30% off all Americans suffer from Non-Alchoholic Fatty Liver Disease. 90% of that 30% will never have a sympton or get extremely ill like I did, but the simple fact remains that Americans are getting fatter and sicker and high-fructose corn syrup and other careless dietary choices may be playing a significant role.

"Health concerns have been raised about HFCS, which allege contribution to obesity, cardiovascular disease, diabetes,[37] and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.[38] Critics of the extensive use of HFCS in food sweetening argue that the highly processed substance is more harmful to humans than regular sugar, contributing to weight gain by affecting normal appetite functions".[39]

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/High_fructose_corn_syrup

Micrograph of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). Masson's trichrome & Verhoeff stain. Author Nephron
Micrograph of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). Masson's trichrome & Verhoeff stain. Author Nephron

A Day at Lunch with the Fat Family Five

Yesterday I was enjoying a non-high-fructose corn syrup containing drink at a local fast food establishment when a family of obese adults arrived with a few small children. Now, I consider myself to be fat, but compared to them I was really a light-weight. The mother must have tipped the scale at least at 350 lbs if not more and a height of about 5'6". The father was not much better. The young children were skinny and I watched what they all ate. Mom had a Triple Wh****r with extra cheese, large french fries, a giant soda (which was refilled multiple times) and ice cream for dessert. Dad had the same, but a "diet" soda one size smaller. The kids all had burgers and fries and drinks too, but on a slightly smaller scale. They all had ice cream for dessert too!!!

I couldn't help but to think to myself, that these young children are being set a very bad example of how to eat and maintain one's health. I thought, "Why does someone eat and entire meal of fatty, fat, fat food with a "diet" soda?" I see it nearly every weekend, as sit writing my blogs while I wait for my wife to get done working (since I am the family chauffeur). I wonder how these people can eat like that and not feel sick all the time. I wonder how they can let people watch them eat like that and not be so embarrassed that it just drives them to change their lifestyle and eating habits?

Should Food Manufacturers Share the Burden of Health Care Costs?

Do You Think Food Manufacturer's Should be Responsible for Rising Health Care Costs Caused by Obesity?

  • Yes-Because They are Intentionally Modifying Foods Just to Save a Buck
  • No-It Is Everyone's Own Choice What They Eat
See results without voting

What is the Responsibility of Food Manufacturers

It's no secret that the tobacco industry has paid out millions of dollars in lawsuits as a consequence of putting additives in cigarettes to make them more addictive, which has resulted in increased cases of lung cancer and other cancers related to the respiratory system. Many say that it is the responsibility of each individual whether or not they chose to smoke. But what about the food industry? Are they not equally guilty of changing our foods with the intended purpose of making us eat more in order to feel full? And how does high-fructose corn syrup play into the picture?

Americans have been misguided into thinking that high-fructose corn syrup is a healthier sweetener than natural sugar. But is it? The switch to high-fructose corn syrup has absolutely nothing to do with health, it is all about money!!!

"Due to US-imposed tariffs,[5][citation needed] in the United States sugar prices are two to three times higher than in the rest of the world,[6] which makes HFCS significantly cheaper," Source http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/High-fructose_corn_syrup

I don't know what that says to you, but to me it says that the food industry knows exactly what they are doing, they know they are making America fat and sick, and they are doing it intentionally to fatten their own coffers. That makes a very sad statement to me about how Americans are supposed to take care of each other. We can't blame Sadaam Hussein or Osama Bin Laden or Al-Queda for this. The only ones we can blame are our own food producers. Of course other countries use high-fructose corn syrup in some of their food products too, but I HOPE you are not buying foreign food products if you are an American unless you have a good cultural reason to.

"Prior to the development of the worldwide sugar industry, dietary fructose was limited to only a few items. Milk, meats, and most vegetables, the staples of many early diets, have no fructose, and only 5–10% fructose by weight is found in fruits such as grapes, apples, and blueberries. Molasses and common dried fruits have a content of less than 10% fructose sugar. From 1970 to 2000 there was a 25% increase in added sugars"[22]

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/High_fructose_corn_syrup


D-Fructose_vs._D-Glucose_Structural_Formula
D-Fructose_vs._D-Glucose_Structural_Formula

Summing Up the Facts So Far

  1. What you eat affects your health.
  2. Sucrose is table sugar.
  3. 1 Sucrose molecule is one glucose and one fructose molecule bound together.
  4. Fructose and Glucose are not the same.
  5. Glucose is your body's fuel, Fructose is your body's less desired fuel.(ie back-up fuel in the absence of glucose.).
  6. The food industry wants you to eat more.
  7. High Fructose Corn Syrup is part of what makes you want to eat more.
  8. The high incidence of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease may be linked to saturated fats and High-Fructose Corn Syrup.
  9. The food industry is motivated by money and High-Fructose Corn Syrup helps them save money (boat loads of it!!!!)
  10. You can change your lifestyle if you want to.
  11. The food industry isn't going to pay your medical expenses if they make you sick due to excessive use of High-Fructose Corn Syrup.

Let's Read the Nutrition Label

It isn't that difficult to read the nutrition label when you go food shopping and it can make a big difference in your overall health. Stay away from foods that have a high percentage of fat, stay away from products that use high-fructose corn syrup as a sweetener, stay away from foods that have excessive amounts of sodium.

Start learning how to eat foods that are healthier. Start learning how to make things that aren't to exciting taste better. Learn how to get protein from other sources besides red meat, but do it in a healthy manner (ie don't eat a pound of peanuts all by yourself in one sitting like I did.)

Gradually add unfamiliar, healthier foods into your diet like avocados. There is even a great video on YouTube on how to cut, pit, and peel an avocado perfectly.


How to Cut, Pit, and Peel an Avocado

Avocado Recipes

Avocado, Oh My Lovely Avocado

Avocados are much more versatile than one might think. They can do more than just be used in the making of Guacamole dip. Also, they contain lots of healthy stuff and even though they contain more fat than many other fruits and vegetables, they contain the healthier version of fat (ie unsaturated fat.)

Most people who don't have a chemistry or biology background don't really know what the difference is between saturated fat, mono-unsaturated fat, and poly-unsaturated fat. I will attempt to try to give an explanation that can be more easily understood by the non-scientific average Joe (or Jane).

Saturated Fat:

All things that are living or were once living are called "organic matter." ALL organic matter contains carbon and hydrogen. Fats contain carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen. The carbon atoms are all bonded to each other (ie they share electrons). They can either be shared by one pair of electrons, two pairs of electrons, or three pairs of electrons. Every carbon atom has a total of 4 free electrons that can be used for bonding, so if two carbon atoms are bonded by three pairs of electrons, that's a total of 6 our of the total of 8 that are available to bond two carbon atoms together. That means that in the pair of carbon atoms there is still one free electron on each atom. Hydrogen atoms have one free electron, so if a hydrogen atom bonds to each one of those carbon atoms, you will have C2H2. These is more commonly known as ethyne (also knonw as acetylene). Let's now say that the two carbon atoms are only being bonded by one free electron on each one. Now, each of the carbon atoms has two more free electons, which means they can bind to something else that has one free electron. Let's suppose that they bind to two more hydrogen atoms. Now, we have ethane, C2H6 (a gas). Now, let's suppose one of those hydrogen atoms is replaced with an alcohol molecule -OH, which actually has 5 free electrons, but our carbon atom only has one free electron, it will only use one to bond to the oxygen atom in the alcohol group, now we have ethanol (a liquid), also known as wood-alcohol.

Now, to make it simple, a saturated fat is a long chain of carbon atoms bonded to each other by two pairs of electrons each, each carbon has one hydrogen bonded to it except the two on the ends. At one end the carbon atom as two free electrons, so it binds to two hydrogen atoms, at the other end, instead of two hydrogen atoms, you will find one alcohol molecule bound to it and the next carbon in will have one oxygen atom bonded with two of the free electrons on the oxygen and two of the free electrons on the carbon. This combination of the carbon, oxygen, and alcohol makes what is known as a fatty acid, in this case a saturated fatty acid.

An unsaturated fat (the healthier breed) would be replacing some or all of the hydrogen atoms that are bound to some or all the carbon atoms. A mono-unsaturated fat would mean that one of the carbon-carbon pairs has lost their two hydrogen atoms, and a 2nd pair of electrons between the two carbon atoms have been bound together. You may have heard the term "partially dehydrogenated" which means the same thing as "unsaturated." In a poly-unsaturated fat as many as all of the hydrogen atoms are removed from their carbon atoms and all of the carbon atoms are bonded by two pairs of electrons (which means every pair of carbon atoms is sharing all 4 of it's free electrons with another carbon atom, except for the one end carbon that is bound to an oxygen and alcohol.

One of the reason that unsaturated fats are healthier is because the body uses more energy to break two pairs of electron bonds between carbons than it does to break one pair of electron bonds between carbons. Fat is stored energy that the body can use in the absence of glucose, so in order for it be used the body first has to break the fat down (energy consumption) to make glucose. A process called "lipolysis"

"Lipolysis can be defined as the process in the body of breaking down stored triglycerides (or triglycerides in the blood for food we've just eaten), into two main components, glycerol and fatty acids." Source: http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/fat_metabolism_process.htm

Once the body has glucose to use for fuel, the reaction that occurs is similar to the combustion reaction that occurs in an internal combustion engine. A carbohydrate (C6H12O6) + 6O2+yields 6CO2 + 6H2O. In other words a glucose molecule in the presence of oxygen breaks down to carbon dioxide and water. Similarly, in a combustion engine (breakdown of Octane) 2C8H18 + 25O2 yields 18H2O + 16CO2 (source: http://antoine.frostburg.edu/chem/senese/101/reactions/faq/equation-octane-combustion.shtml

Ethyne Molecule (Carbon=red, Hydrogen=blue, each line = 1 pair of electrons bonded to each other)
Ethyne Molecule (Carbon=red, Hydrogen=blue, each line = 1 pair of electrons bonded to each other)
Sucrose Molecule a di-saccharide consisting of glucose and fructose mono-saccharides bonded together.
Sucrose Molecule a di-saccharide consisting of glucose and fructose mono-saccharides bonded together.
Two-dimensional representation of the saturated fatty acid myristic acid.  Each kink=1 Carbon atom.  At the left end, the carbon atom is bonded to 3 hydrogen atoms.  Each carbon to the right, except for the last one, is bonded to two hydrogen atoms.
Two-dimensional representation of the saturated fatty acid myristic acid. Each kink=1 Carbon atom. At the left end, the carbon atom is bonded to 3 hydrogen atoms. Each carbon to the right, except for the last one, is bonded to two hydrogen atoms.

There's More to the Story

In order to be fair, there are many who argue that high-fructose corn syrup sweeteners have nothing to do with America's obesity problem. Not surprisingly, many of the published research articles published by these people are funded by corn growing concerns. These articles all make the claim that there is no difference in the way that the human body metabolizes sucrose and high-fructose corn syrup; however, that is far from the truth.. See http://sweetsurprise.com/hfcs-myths-and-facts?utm_source=google&utm_medium=cpc&utm_term=mercury%2520in%2520high%2520fructose%2520corn%2520syrup&utm_campaign=Mobile%2520Mercury%2520Myth brought to you by the Corn Refiners Association (what a surprise!!!)

High-fructose corn syrup (ie HFCS) is most commonly found in a ratio that is 55% fructose to 45% glucose; which some "scientific professionals" would like you to believe is essentially the same as the 50-50 ratio of fructose and glucose one finds in the sucrose molecule. They seem to be ignoring the essential fact that in HFCS, the glucose and fructose molecules are not bound to each other as they are in sucrose. One might think that this is trivial and irrelevant; however, to think that would be very, very wrong. In the case of HFCS

"there is no chemical bond between them (glucose and fructose), no digestion is required so they are more rapidly absorbed into your blood stream. Fructose goes right to the liver and triggers lipogenesis (the production of fats like triglycerides and cholesterol) this is why it is the major cause of liver damage in this country and causes a condition called “fatty liver” which affects 70 million people.

The rapidly absorbed glucose triggers big spikes in insulin–our body’s major fat storage hormone. Both these features of HFCS lead to increased metabolic disturbances that drive increases in appetite, weight gain, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, dementia, and more." Source: http://drhyman.com/blog/2011/05/13/5-reasons-high-fructose-corn-syrup-will-kill-you/#close

In addition to the fallacy that the body uses sucrose and HFCS in the same manner, one must also consider that the increasingly sedentary lifestyle of Americans is also contributing to the fattening of Americans. The days are gone when dad was doing strenuous jobs such as working in the steel mill or working on the farm and mom was at home taking care of the house and the kids. Now mom and dad are both sitting on their butts all day working in an office and then they come home and sit on their butts some more while they watch their 80" wide screen TV and consuming more foods containing high-fructose corn syrup while they are doing it.

Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease is no laughing matter. It can lead to serious health problems in some people including cirrohsis of the liver and liver cancer. I have personally witnessed the devastating effects of liver cancer, and it is not something you ever want to happen to you or any of your loved ones.

You can make choices today to improve your life and your health. Don't wait for a painful wake-up call like I did. Whether HFCS is the true culprit in America's increasing obesity is still up for debate, but in the interest of safety it is always wisest to live your life as if HFCS is the worst-case scenario. I'd like to compare it to working with hydrofluoric acid. If you get ANYTHING wet on you while working with it, ASSUME it's HF and take the appropriate measures including medical help.

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6 comments

CraftytotheCore profile image

CraftytotheCore 3 years ago

This is a fascinating article! Just recently I have stopped eating a lot of different foods. Gluten is one of them. But, a few months back in the spring, I had to have gallbladder surgery. My liver enzymes were also high. The doctors said I could have a fatty liver. I asked how that could have happened. They said I must drink too much! LOL, um nope, almost none at all!

Since, I have been looking at every label for anything I eat.

I can't eat soy either, which is in a lot of things too.

My friend's daughter was diagnosed as allergic to corn syrup a few years ago. I've also read that people with sensitivities to gluten and dairy, also have a problem with corn syrup.


pocono foothills profile image

pocono foothills 3 years ago from Easton, Pennsylvania Author

Hi CraftytotheCore. Thanks for your comment. Some of these sensitivities may be genetic too. I had never even heard of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease until I got sick. But, now watching what I eat and trying to stay away from anything containing high fructose corn syrup seems to be helping.


Efficient Admin profile image

Efficient Admin 3 years ago from Charlotte, NC

Very interesting and useful article. It has been said that the food manufacturers purposely put addictive chemicals in food to make you crave them, hence buy their product. I think potato chips and other snack foods can be addictive because of this. I know a thing or two about overcoming a tobacco addiction -- it was a very difficult addiction to overcome and there is no telling what chemicals are in tobacco.

It seems hard to avoid the HFCS unless you prepare a lot of your food at home. Voted up and across.


pocono foothills profile image

pocono foothills 3 years ago from Easton, Pennsylvania Author

@Efficient Admin-I also struggled with tobacco. I tried to quit a few times, but started again, then I just made up my mind I was going to do it, and I set a particular day on which I was going to stop. The day before that day, I smoked 5 packs of cigarettes, and I have never had a cigarette again since that. It's now been over 30 years. I agree that food manufacturers intentionally lace their food with things that will make us want to eat more. But, like many lobbists, the food industry has tons of money.


Efficient Admin profile image

Efficient Admin 3 years ago from Charlotte, NC

Wow 5 packs in one day! I bet you were really sick of them by then LOL. You may be onto something for those that want to quit. Congratulations on never smoking again. I always tell nonsmokers don't take it for granted that they don't smoke. Yikes in hindsight now I think it is such a nasty habit and I am glad to be rid of it.


pocono foothills profile image

pocono foothills 3 years ago from Easton, Pennsylvania Author

My mouth tasted like an ashtry for a week no matter how many times I brushed my teeth and used mouthwash. Now, I can't even stand the smell of cigarettes if someone around me is smoking.

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