In 1966, almost every product on the market was sweetened with sugar. Since that time, however, products sweetened with high fructose corn syrup have skyrocketed, and so has incidents of obesity, high blood pressure and Type II diabetes. While other factors contribute to obesity (a more sedentary lifestyle, diets rich in prepared foods, diets that lack adequate fruits and vegetables, etc.), high fructose corn syrup is a health culprit that you should consider eradicating from your diet as much as possible, if only to reduce your risk of the following 5 health concerns to which high fructose corn syrup contributes.
1. Weight Gain
Because high fructose corn syrup is not digested by the body in the same way that sugar is, it causes a cascade of effects inside the body that contributes significantly to weight gain. In fact, the body treats high fructose corn syrup more like fat than like sugar, which can be converted to energy and used quickly. Sugar causes the body to increase its production of insulin and leptin. Insulin helps the body use the sugar as energy and leptin helps the body feel full. High fructose corn syrup does neither, so you end up consuming far more than you would have if the product was sweetened with sugar.
2. Cholesterol Levels
Although the damage is more significant for men than for women, high fructose corn syrup is processed differently by the liver as well, causing the body to have elevated levels of triglycerides. High levels of triglycerides are associated with high cholesterol and heart disease.
3. Bone Density
Because the consumption of high fructose corn syrup can also sap magnesium levels, bone density is also a concern as well as an acceleration of bone loss in younger women.
4. Liver Damage
Sugar is made of glucose, but high fructose corn syrup is made of a fructose/glucose mix. Glucose by itself can be metabolized by any cell in the body, making it a basic energy source, but high fructose corn syrup can only be metabolized by the liver. In studies with lab rats, the rats who consumed high fructose corn syrup instead of sugar had livers that were worse than those usually found in chronic alcohol abusers, with the liver being riddled with fat and cirrhosis.
5. Increased Insulin Resistance
In nearly every study concerning high fructose corn syrup, increased resistance to insulin occurred at alarming rates. When the body’s resistance to insulin increases, it means the body’s glucose receptors no longer function as well because of oversaturation from high carb diets, little exercise, and in many cases, high fructose corn syrup. Chronic insulin resistance will lead to Type II diabetes, increased belly fat and metabolic syndrome.
What Can You Do for Your Health?
Reducing the amount of high fructose corn syrup you consume is critical. Start reading labels. Choose to eat unprocessed foods like fruits, vegetables, nuts and whole grains. Make sure you exercise regularly. Exercise can help your glucose receptors work more efficiently and prevent some of the devastating affects of insulin resistance. You do not have to change everything at once; start with small steps and add new ones as you can that have the ability to become life habits.