Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The Threats of High Fructose Corn Syrup

Watch this video. It's a speech called, "Sugar: The Bitter Truth." The speaker is UCSF professor Robert Lustig. If you need a reason to avoid high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), this video will provide it. Lustig presents a stunning case for HFCS taking the leading role in causing hypertension, elevated triglycerides, type II diabetes, fatty liver, insulin resistance, and liver failure, among other diseases.

Lustig's main points are below:
  • Fructose does not stimulate leptin, which is the hormone that communicates to our brain that we are full. This means you could drink more than enough Coca-Cola without any idea that you are satiated.
  • Carbohydrate intake increases the production of small, dense LDLs (A.K.A. "bad cholesterol"), which are the LDLs that become stuck in the sides of the arteries (in case you are unaware, LDLs are not always bad. They have necessary functions in the body and are not a risk to become attached to artery walls when they are larger and buoyant. To get an accurate measure of your health in regards to cholesterol, look at your HDLs, triglycerides, and c-reactive protein). This is certainly not new news, but it can never be repeated enough.
  • Ethanol (alcohol) can only be broken down by the liver. According to Lustig's biochemistry equation, 92 calories from a 12 oz. beer are left for the liver to metabolize. Fructose is also unable to be metabolized anywhere else. Lustig showed through another diagram that 90 calories from a 12 oz. soda is left for the liver. "Fructose is ethanol without the buzz," according to Lustig. However, despite its strong resemblance to alcohol, the USDA continues to give fructose "GRAS" status (Generally Regarded As Safe). By the way, when your liver is done metabolizing ethanol and fructose, it sends the end products straight to fat if the effects on your liver weren't enough.
The following is a list of foods and drinks where fructose and its variations may be found:
  • Juice
  • Soda
  • Cereal
  • Bread (including many whole grain versions)
  • Sports Drinks (Gatorade, Powerade, etc.)
  • Candy
  • Breakfast Bars
  • Ketchup
  • Yogurt
  • Cough Medicine (you would think the point of medicine is to help us!)
  • Ice Cream
  • Jelly
  • Crackers
  • Other Condiments
The list above is certainly not saying every version of each food has some variation of fructose. To avoid those fructose versions, I suggest shopping at a market known for producing better quality foods, such as a Trader Joe's. Many of their store-brand products are made with healthier alternatives.

Overall, I don't agree with all of Lustig's points and some may be exaggerated, but nonetheless, HFCS is not a part of a healthful diet.

No comments: