Obesity is becoming a major health issue in the United States today with statistics showing the upward trend not leveling off anytime soon. Besides the fact of Americans leading an inactive lifestyle, poor dietary choices and less exercise which are the main issues of this trend, are there other factors at play.
Research is now demonstrating that some of these factors just maybe contained in some foods which are manufactured and are consumed a lot within the American diet. Was part of it making things a lot sweeter in an adversary against good health called fructose.
Arrival of the adversary
Until the late 1950’s high fructose corn syrup did not even exist. That was until two researchers had developed an enzyme named glucose isomerase which could work on corn syrup and rearrange its molecular structure of glucose and change it into fructose. When natural corn syrup is changed into fructose the syrup becomes much sweeter. High fructose simply means the level of fructose is much higher.
In 1977, the economics had shifted and the importing of sugar had become more difficult. The tremendous cost of sugar along with its production expense had caused a surge in dietary items.
Manufactures of these items needed to cut down costs and required a more cost effective sweetener. Along came Pepsi and Coca-Cola and the start of using high fructose corn syrup. This new sweetener had been greeted by the public.
A look at the numbers
A USDA report done in 1997 had noted that in 1970 table sugar (sucrose) consumption in comparison to other sweeteners had decreased by 43% and high fructose corn syrup(HFCS) was up to56%. The world had found something sweeter than sugar and so high fructose became even more popular over a thirty year span. This was good for manufacture since it was less expensive and replaced sugar in a great number of processed foods and beverages.
Why the concern
High fructose corn syrup is produced by genetically altering the fundamental makeup of another product that being corn syrup. This means it is not a natural food item nor does our body react to it as a natural food item.
Many carbohydrates that contain sucrose, glucose and unchanged fructose make our pancreas create insulin. This then allows the sugars that are to be broken down into energy and then tells our brain we are full. High fructose corn syrup does not let the pancreas create insulin. Even though the carbohydrates we consume are digested normally, HFC goes straight to the liver. It is then regarded as a chemical and turned into fat. More concerns straight to raise within the medical community.
Mercury is discovered in HFCS
In 2009, news was released that American researchers found that HFCS which replaces most of the sugars in processed foods was tainted with mercury. Named brand food products had been tested and mercury was also discovered in them.
Dr. David Wallinga who works at the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, who was involved with both studies which discovered the mercury had stated mercury was toxic in all forms and that taking into consideration how much HFCS is consumed by children, it could be a major additional source to be considered.
The use of HFCS is commonly used and is found in breakfast cereals, yogurt, luncheon meat, breakfast bars and beverages to make these products sweeter. Estimates had shown that the average American consumes 12 teaspoons of HFCS daily and teenagers on the higher side at about 80%.
In the first study mercury was found in about nine out of twenty samples of HFCS that was tested.
Their conclusions was the food industry was ignorant to the possibility of HFCS containing mercury. Then a IATP press release had let it be known that the FDA had evidence that commercial HFSC was contaminated with mercury for a period of four years prior. Consumers had not been informed nor was industry practice changed or additional testing required.
In the second study, researchers had sent 55 popular food items out for testing. These items had HFCS as the first or second highest ingredient listed. The results had shown one-third of products had trace amounts of mercury. Those popular brands had included Quaker, Hershey’s, Kraft and Smuckers.
HFCS causing obesity
Princeton University researchers had proved that HFCS does cause obesity. Rats 3who consumed HFCS had a greater weight gain than in comparison to rats consuming table sugar, despite the fact their calorie intake was the same.
Not only did they gain weight but long term consumption had led to abnormal increases in body fat, particularly in the abdomen and a rise in triglycerides. Researchers stated this puts some light on the factors that are adding to the obesity trends in the United States.
Professor Bart Hoebel, who specializes in the neuroscience of appetite , weight and sugar addiction had commented that when rats consume HFCS at levels greatly below regular soda they become obese, every single rat. Even when rats consume a high fat diet this does not happen.
Study one had given male rats sweetened water with HFCS with a standard rat chow diet and they had gained far more weight than the male rats who had sweetened water with table sugar and standard diet. The table sugar level was the same found in some commercial soft drinks and the HFCS levels were at half of what is found in most sodas.
The second was a long term study for the effects of HFCS consumption on obesity in lab animals. It had monitored weight gain, body fat and triglyceride levels. The study term was six months. When compared to rats having consumed only rat chow, the rats who had HFCS showed standard signs of a dangerous condition which in humans is metabolic syndrome and also had abnormal weight gain, major increases in triglyceride levels and augmented fat deposition especially around the belly. Male rats ballooned up showing a gain of weight at 48% more than the rats on a normal diet.
It was noted the rats were not becoming fat but obese and included major increases in abdominal fat and triglyceride levels. In humans these risk factors are associated to high blood pressure, coronary artery disease, diabetes and cancer.
Since HFCS had arrived on the scene and in the diets of Americans the rates of obesity have escalated according to the CDC. On average, Americans consume sixty pounds of this sweetener each year.
These findings give support to the theory of HFCS found in a lot of beverages being one of the important factors in American obesity.
HFCS Impairs Memory
Georgia State University researchers discovered diets in which are high in fructose impair memory of adult rats.
A group of rats had been fed a diet of fructose which represented 60 percent of calories consumed during the day.
Rats had been placed in a pool of water to test their ability to learn where a submerged platform was to enable them to get out of the water. Two days later they were returned to the pool minus the platform to see if they could remember to swim to the platform location.
The diet of fructose did not affect their learning ability but it had affected their memory. When returned to the pool they just swam around at random in comparison to rats fed a normal diet.
Fructose is different than sugar and is almost totally processed by the liver. It produces an excessive amount of triglycerides that get into the blood stream. Triglyceride can interfere with the insulin messages in the brain, which has an important role in the brain cell survival or the brains ability to change based on new experiences.
High fructose intake has been associated to many health problems which include insulin sensitivity, diabetes type 2, obesity and cardiovascular disease.
Researchers bottom line is to obtain fructose from other sources like have an apple each day.
Association between HFCS and Diabetes Confirmed
Researchers had found proof that soft drinks which are sweetened with HFCS possibly contribute to developing diabetes.
In a laboratory study common every day carbonated beverages contained high levels of HFCS which have the possibility to activate cell and tissue damage that could cause the disease.
HFCS which as we know is found in many food products and beverages which do include diet soda along with baked goods. Food manufactures have it as the sweetener of choice for economic reasons.
There are some researchers who are advocating that HFCS could be a contributor to an increased risk of diabetes not to mention obesity.
In the study conducted chemical tests were done on eleven different carbonated soft drinks which had contained HFCS. There was immensely high levels of reactive carbonyl in the beverages. These extremely high and reactive compounds associated with limitless fructose and glucose molecules are believed to cause tissue damage. Reactive carbonyl’s are not in table sugar, their components are hampered and chemically stable according to researchers.
Reactive carbonyl’s are also heightened in the blood of persons with diabetes and are associated to complications of the disease. Researchers estimate that one single can of soda has five times the collection of reactive carbonyl’s than the concentration found in the blood of an adult person with diabetes.
Researchers also discovered that by adding tea components to drinks containing HFCS just may help decrease the levels of reactive carbonyl’s. Researchers discovered that by adding EEG, a compound found in tea, greatly reduces the levels of reactive carbonyl’s in a dose dependent method when added to carbonated soft drinks among those that were studied. In some cases the levels were decreased by fifty percent.
Researchers note that reducing or eliminating HFCS is preferable.
HFCS Increases Risk For Hypertension
Researchers have found that a diet which contains HFCS increases a persons risk for developing hypertension. Their findings advocate to reduce processed foods and beverages have HFCS levels.
Researchers had studied this issue in a large population of American adults. Researchers had examined 4,528 adults who were 18 years of age or older and had no past history of hypertension. Fructose consumption was calculated based on a questionnaire on dietary consumption of foods such as fruit juice, soft drinks, bakery products and candy had all been included.
People that had consumed more than 74 grams a day of fructose (2.5 sugar beverages a day) had an increased risk for developing hypertension. A diet which consisted of more than 74 grams each day of fructose had shown a 28%, 36% and 87% higher risk for blood pressure levels of 135/85, 1408/90 and 160/100. A normal reading is at 120/80 and below.
These findings show that high fructose consumption in the form of added sugars is greatly and solely associated with high blood pressure levels in the American population of adults who have no past history of hypertension.
Omit fast food. Fast food most of the time contains HFCS.
Read the label. HFCS can also be located in food items which are not sweet such as sliced bread and processed meat.
Know the difference between natural and organic where HFCS is concerned. Foods which are labeled natural can contain HFCS. Organic is extremely regulated and mostly foods that are labeled 100% organic can be believed to be HFCS free.
Eliminated can or bottled beverages such as soft drinks, sports drinks, ice tea and other sweetened drinks.
Check in the specialty section of your store where they carry foods for the Hebrew religion. During passover their religion forbids the consumption of corn.
Coca-Cola company does carry coke which is totally corn syrup free, it has a yellow cap on the bottle.
Totally lower your consumption. There are foods which contain enough sweeteners naturally such as fruit yogurt, regular ice cream, and even Kellogg’s Marshmallow Fruit Loops.
Purchase fresh produce instead of frozen or canned.
Medical News: mercury, diabetes, hypertension