Natural ingredients cost more, go bad quicker and are rich in calories. Hence, they are no longer an economically viable and appealing choice for today’s consumers.
The fact that natural ingredients are the healthier choice is a secondary consideration. People are more concerned with the amount of money they have left after shopping for foods than the negative repercussions they might have on their health.
Most of us do not even bother to scrutinize the labels of the products we buy to see what exactly we are consuming.
High fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is an artificial sweetener that has fast replaced natural sugar. It is made by milling corn into cornstarch, and then processing the cornstarch to get glucose syrup.
HFCS is popular with food manufacturers because it is cheaper and easier to use than natural sugar. It blends well with all kinds of foods, is just as sweet as regular sugar, does not spoil fast and is less costly than other sweeteners owing to government subsidies for corn.
It is found in some of the most popularly consumed foods and drinks, such as soda and soft drinks, candy, sugary cereal, jam, jelly, ketchup, flavored yogurt, salad dressing and ice cream.
The fact that HFCS might be bad for your health is something you’ve probably heard many times, only to forget about it and do nothing to curb your consumption.
You might have simply taken the conversation too lightly thinking, “It can’t be that bad, everyone consumes it!”
Turns out, it might just be that bad.
Here are a few reasons consuming high fructose corn syrup can be dangerous to your health.
1. Weight Gain
Uncurbed weight gain and obesity is a window to a host of fatal diseases and a leading cause of death. About 68.6 percent of adults and 31.8 percent of children in the United States were either overweight or obese between 2011 and 2012.
Regular consumption of HFCS causes weight gain because it is not metabolized by the body like regular sugar.
Fructose converts to fat in the body more quickly than regular sugar and inhibits the production of leptin, the satiety-inducing hormone, according to a 2004 study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
Since most sodas contain fructose, it would be wise to limit or stop drinking them yourself, and introduce your children to a soda-free, healthy lifestyle from the start.
Inflammation in the body is one of the major underlying factors involved in the progression of diseases like diabetes, dementia, heart disease, cancer and rapid aging.
A 2005 study conducted at the Children’s Hospital Oakland Research Institute discovered that HFCS from processed foods is harder for the intestine to absorb, forcing it to use extra energy called liver adenosine triphosphate (ATP) stored by the intestine for other important processes.
The intestine typically uses this energy to strengthen the intestinal lining and bind the cells tightly together to prevent harmful bacteria and semi-digested food from leaking out, entering the bloodstream and causing inflammation.
Increased dietary fructose consumption decreases the levels of ATP in the body, according to a 2012 study published in Hepatology. The researchers also linked increased fructose consumption to elevated uric acid levels.
When the intestine has to use extra energy to absorb HFCS, the energy required to bind the intestinal cells falls short, causing a torrent of harmful substances to leak out and triggering inflammation throughout the body, making it vulnerable to dangerous diseases.
3. Causes Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease
Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease is an unhealthy buildup of fat in the liver.
Consumption of dietary fructose may cause the onset and subsequent development of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, according to a 2011 study published in Trends in Endocrinology and Metabolism.
Since HFCS is not digested by your body the way normal sugar is, the bloodstream quickly absorbs it. Thereafter, it travels to the liver and triggers lipogenesis, a process that produces liver fat. This triggers nonalcoholic fatty acid.
While nonalcoholic fatty liver disease in itself is not especially harmful (it may trigger inflammation and liver scarring in some people), it increases your risk of other harmful conditions like obesity, high cholesterol and triglyceride levels, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), diabetes, and thyroid problems.
4. Increases Risk of Gout
Uric acid is produced during digestion, and too much of it in the body can be harmful. A healthy individual’s system produces a moderate amount of uric acid, which is eliminated by the body.
However, regular consumption of dietary fructose can cause excess uric acid production and lead to gout, an extremely painful type of arthritis commonly occurring in the foot.
Out of 46,393 men whose beverage consumption pattern was assessed for 12 years, 755 were diagnosed with gout and reported an unhealthy excess consumption of fructose-rich soda through the years, according to a 2008 study published in the British Medicine Journal.
Similarly, women who drank soda regularly over a period of 22 years reported elevated uric acid levels in the body and the consequent development of gout, according to a 2010 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
5. Contributes to Kidney Stones
Kidney stones are small, hard deposits that usually form when the minerals in the urine begin to stick together.
While kidney stones are usually small and can be passed out of the body through urine, some grow considerably large and block the ureter, resulting in extreme pain. Associated symptoms may include painful urination, blood in the urine, nausea, vomiting and fever.
Consumption of fructose has been linked to the development of kidney stones.
Out of 45,984 men whose fructose consumption pattern was studied for 48 years, 4,902 cases of kidney stones were found to be positively associated with high fructose intake, according to a 2008 study published in Kidney International.
Patients who did not develop kidney stones but consumed high amounts of fructose were found to be at a greater risk of developing kidney stones in the future than those who did not.
Excessive fructose consumption may increase the production of calcium, oxalate and uric acid, all of which combine to create kidney stones, the study further notes.
6. Causes Type 2 Diabetes
Type 2 is the most common type of diabetes, with 90 percent of all diabetes’ patients suffering from this variety of the disease.
When you eat food, your body produces glucose used by cells for energy. Insulin, a hormone produced by the body, transfers the glucose to the cells.
In Type 2 diabetes, the body produces insulin but the cells are unable to receive glucose from the insulin properly. The body responds by creating more insulin, ultimately giving up. This raises your blood sugar to dangerous levels.
People diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes reported regularly consuming dietary fructose and sugary drinks, according to a 2007 study published in the Journal of Nutrition.
This increased blood sugar in Type 2 diabetes can damage your kidneys, rot your teeth, impair your vision and lead to heart disease and stroke.