Wednesday, March 2, 2011

HFCS: Hype Worthy?

I want to apologize for taking so long to get this very important information out to you. We have been battling the crud here at the Plutt’s Viral Villa and are finally on the mend. The other obstacle is how to present this material in an unbiased, informative manner without it being as boring as Bio Chemistry 101. I will do my best!
With all the negative press surrounding High Fructose Corn Syrup and companies taking advantage of this to market the use of cane sugar or Agave Nectar as healthier alternatives, a closer look at the concerns around sweeteners in general is in order. The primary issue surrounding HFCS is that Fructose, itself, has no nutritional value and produces many detrimental effects on our bodies. I will summarize what Dr Robert H. Lustig, M.D. a UCSF Endocrinologist has to say on this subject in this fascinating video next ( But for starters, let’s look at a comparison of some commonly used sweeteners and their fructose/glucose content.
                                                                 Percent Fructose                  Percent Glucose
                High Fructose Corn Syrup                   55                                            45
                Cane or Table Sugar                            50                                            50
                Honey( Avg)                                        52                                            41
                Agave Nectar                                      70+                                         <25
Source: The Paleo diet,
To understand the issues with Fructose , you have to understand the differences between the types of sugars and their effect on the body. All sugars are not created equal. According to Dr. Mercola, M.D. Glucose is the basic fuel for living organisms, from bacteria to humans, and is the primary energy source for your brain. It is a product of photosynthesis and is found in rice, corn and other grains, and bread and pasta.
Once you take in glucose from a meal -- like, say, from two slices of bread -- 80 percent of it is used by all of the organs of your body -- every single cell. The remaining 20 percent goes to your liver to be metabolized and stored.
The following is what happens to that 20 percent, once it reaches your liver:
·         Whatever glucose your body doesn’t need immediately gets converted into glycogen for storage in the liver. Glycogen is your body’s non-toxic short-term energy storage package, where it can be easily converted to energy when you need it. Your liver has no limit to how much glycogen it can store without detrimental effects. (That is what athletes take advantage of when they “carbo-load.”)
·         Insulin is released by your pancreas in response to the rise in blood glucose (i.e., blood sugar), which helps the glucose get into your cells. Without insulin, your cells would not be able to process the glucose and therefore would have no energy for movement, growth, repair, or other functions. Insulin is key to unlocking the door of the cell to allow the glucose to be transferred from the bloodstream into the cell.
·         When you consume 120 calories of glucose, less than one calorie contributes to adverse metabolic outcomes.
This is all very normal, and it’s how you were designed to operate.” While your body requires glucose to run properly, you should get glucose through your healthy diet and not from consuming additional sugars!
On the other hand with Fructose, 100 percent goes directly to the liver, overloading it and causing the following adverse reactions:
·          Phosphate depletion in the liver
·          Formation of excess uric acid that blocks the body’s use of nitric oxide, the natural blood pressure regulator, leading to hypertension. Excess level of uric acid can cause gout.
·          Fructose stimulates the production of triglycerides and causes a marked increase of small density LDL cholesterol and the accumulation of fat.
·          Fructose causes insulin resistance which signals the pancreas to pump out more insulin in response to the high concentration of sugar in the bloodstream. This can progress to Type II Diabetes.
·          Fructose interferes with the satiety signals in the brain telling you to stop eating, promoting cycles of overeating.
·          Fructose is metabolized the same as ethanol and can cause fatty liver disease.

·          When you consume 120 calories of fructose, 40 calories contribute to adverse metabolic outcomes.
Sucrose commonly known as table sugar is a 50:50 combination of glucose and fructose and is found naturally in sugar cane, sugar beets, sugar maple sap, dates and honey. Click here for a table of Fruits and sugars to find out which sugars you are consuming.
High Fructose Corn syrup is typically a combination of 55% fructose and 45% glucose. Wait a minute? Isn’t that just about the same as table sugar? Honestly, yes and no. While the ratio of glucose to fructose would make it appear to be similar, HFCS has some additional issues associated with it.
First of all, because of the federal corn subsidies started with the Nixon administration, corn sugar is much cheaper than regular sugar. Consequently, manufacturers use it everything! Seriously, just look at the ingredient list of your favorite foods and you are likely to find “Corn Sugar” or HFCS in it. Sometimes in things you would not expect! Canned soups, Children’s Tylenol, Cough Syrup, bread etc.
Second, High Fructose Corn Syrup is made from genetically modified corn. GMO crops have not been proven safe for human consumption and many countries including most of Europe, Australia, and Canada have banned GMO crops. There are a number of suspected health issues from eating GMO foods which include immune disorders, food allergies and even cancer. I will cover this subject more in depth in a future blog. In the meantime you can learn more by going to , and watch the video “Future of Food” at
As bad publicity has followed HFCS, many manufacturers have deftly switched to “Pure Cane” sugar or have marketed their products as having no HFCS. While that may be a step in the right direction, please be careful, they still have virtually as much Fructose and they may be made with GMO sugar beets!  Wouldn’t some Truth in labeling laws be handy right now?
Go to  for more information.
The bottom line here is, we as a nation are eating way too much sugar of any variety. We need to curb our collective sweet tooth, limit our sugar consumption and be more aware of what we are putting into our bodies. While sugar may be sweet and makes things taste good, it is not so sweet on our bodies and causes inflammation which results in a cascade of serious health problems including insulin resistance, diabetes, fatty liver, heart disease and cancer. We cannot rely on the FDA or food manufacturers to protect us. We have to demand to know what is in our food and take the responsibility for making smart choices for ourselves, our families and for our country. If we continue to keep our heads in the sand, the cost of health care will spiral out of control and will cripple us for generations to come. It will also devastate families as they deal with the ramifications of illness caused by poor diet and corporate greed.
Next blog: Hidden sugars: glycemic load and the low fat farce.