The Natural Way

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Like you I see the commercial on television that boastfully claims that high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is natural and that it comes from good old down to earth corn.

In fact I see the know-it-all mom pushing a big pitcher of juice sweetened with HFCS on not only her kids but also the newly converted mother's kids, too. Why would anyone want, or need, to add a super sweetener to a good fruit juice?

Corn syrup is different than HFCS. Corn syrup branded KaroŽ syrup is an old standby used in baking and candy making. It has the same sweetness level as regular sugar. Corn syrup isn't much different than using any other syrup you find on the grocer's shelf. It's OK.

The rest of the story

There is a lot more to the story. Technically and legally HFCS is classified as naturally sourced. But it is manufactured through different enzyme reactions that are not found in nature. This process makes it just less than 1-1/2 times sweeter than regular sugar in many of the formulations.

This is one of the problems with HFCS, people tend to want sweeter and sweeter foods. This is likely to be a contributing factor in the huge increase in obesity and diabetes. But there are other problems that may be surfacing, too.

I did a PubMed search on HFCS and found published credible university studies that linked HFCS with liver disease when the diet included dietary fats called trans-fats.

You may remember the newspaper story a few weeks ago that reported serious liver disease in children as young as six or seven years old. Liver transplants were predicted for the kids by the time they reached young adulthood. Are these linked?

Trans-fats + HFCS = ?

While most food these days is trans-fat free I did an informal search in my home food cabinet and at the local grocery store. I looked at the ingredient list required by law to find trans-fat in everyday foods.

Meat, eggs, veggies and good oils like olive oil are all free of trans-fats. In fact, I found no trans-fats in my foods at my home.

I did find them at the grocery in dairy case biscuits, orange Danish, cinnamon rolls and flakey rolls. I found them in frozen hushpuppies and onion rings, too.

Bottom line, the trans-fats are still found in everyday food and often in the foods kids love. Have your child wash down onion rings or a cinnamon roll with a regular soda pop and there you have it, the combination the researchers found that could cause serious liver disease.

Know what you eat

Read the ingredients list on all your foods. In my household we buy no foods with HFCS and avoid trans-fats.

If you suspect liver disease or diabetes see your healthcare professional. Natural supplements such as NAC, Milk Thistle and SAMe can all be beneficial for fatty liver disease and cinnulin (from cinnamon) can be good for balancing sugar levels.

Unlike the mom in the TV commercial, please don't give in to peer pressure or to pressure from your own children who want HFCS sweetened foods or drinks.

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