Friday, September 18, 2015

The Bitter Truth About High Fructose Corn Syrup

Sugar is sugar?  Right?  Wrong!

Too much sugar of any kind can contribute to obesity and metabolic problems, but used in moderation, traditional cane sugar is considered relatively safe.  However, over the past couple of decades, food manufacturers, who are always putting profit ahead of the health of their customers have been replacing it more and more with high fructose corn syrup, which unlike pure cane sugar, is NOT a natural product.  Fructose does not occur naturally in corn, and is only developed through intensive chemical processing.

You may have heard that the term "natural" on labels doesn't mean much, but legislators are starting to change that because products that contain HFCS (high fructose corn syrup) are no longer allowed to use the word "natural" on their labels.

Since the introduction of HFCS into the American food supply, we are on the verge of an epidemic of lifestyle-induced health issues including obesity, metabolic syndrome and heart disease.  Excess consumption of fructose from HFCS has been associated with other health issues such as elevated triglyceride levels, hypertension, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, gout, and complications of diabetes.

If you drink soda, eat packaged cakes or cookies or use sweet spreads or syrups, you are most likely consuming a very large amount of high fructose corn syrup.   It is found in a surprising array of foods where you might not expect it, like ketchup, mayonnaise, bread, crackers and the snack that's thought to be healthy, but isn't - granola bars.  "Pancake syrup" as opposed to pure maple syrup is close to 100% high fructose corn syrup.  Many "juice drinks" contain HFCS.  Buy pure juice instead.  "Table sugar" may be cut with HFCS.  Look for "pure cane sugar" and make sure your honey is pure as well.

The food industry is always looking for ways to hide information like this from consumers and use ingredients that will increase their profits.  The healthiest foods to eat are fresh fruits and vegetables, seeds and nuts.  Low fat meats, poultry, and fish can also be good choices, as can free-range eggs and minimally processed dairy products.  Locally produced and/or organic varieties are best, both for you and the planet.  If you are going to eat packaged food products, please READ LABELS!  Don't assume anything, because HFCS and other harmful ingredients are routinely added to all kinds of processed food.

You may be tempted to substitute non-caloric sweeteners for both sugar and HFCS to save calories.  It's not a bad idea, but if you do, consider stevia or inulin, which are natural alternatives to saccharine, aspartame and the other artificial options.  Better yet, learn to appreciate the natural sweetness in foods like fruits and sweet vegetables, or use a small amount of honey, maple syrup or ground dates to sweeten your food.  You future will be much sweeter.

A carefully planned program of nutritional supplements (vitamins, minerals, etc.) can help protect the body from the negative effects of consuming too much HFCS, and may be used in addition to dietary changes that limit your intake of HFCS.  Beneficial nutrients include benfotiamine, alpha-lipoic acid, carnosine, pyridoxamine, acetyl-L-carnitine, vitamin C, and fish oil.

At Wantagh Woods Chiropractic and Wellness, we help our patients to live healthier lives with nutritional, dietary and lifestyle counseling in addition to chiropractic adjustments and other means of natural pain relief.  If you are hoping to retain your vitality well into your senior years, give up HFCS and come in to see us.  You'll be glad you did.

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