By: Clifford Sonnie, M.D., M.P.H.
I was watching TV a couple days ago and came across a commercial that I just could not believe. It was a man and a woman picnicking and the woman offers a delicious looking dessert to the man. He graciously declines saying that it has high fructose corn syrup which is bad for you. She then says that it can’t be bad, it is made from wholesome corn and besides it won’t hurt you as long as you don’t eat too much. Reminds me of a biblical story that I just can’t put my finger on, but I digress. Anyway, you’ve probably already figured out what I am going to talk about. High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS). And for that matter, just assume that I am talking about any kind of processed sugar including table sugar.
Now for a bit of science. Sugar is vital in energy production, cell to cell communication and in the repair and building of cells. In nature it exists in three main forms, glucose, fructose and galactose. I want to talk about the first two, because galactose is mainly found in milk products and forms lactose. It is important, but the other two account for greater than 90% of all sugars consumed. Glucose and fructose exist naturally in things such as beets, sugar cane, maple sugar, honey and corn. The body also makes them as well. There are advantages and disadvantages with either but just remember that too much of either one is not good for you but both are vital for your body to operate efficiently.
Now, if that was the extent of it, this would be one boring article. The problem is that this isn’t the end. Industry has found a way to artificially manufacture each one of these sugars and to make them in different combinations and ratios. The purpose is to extend shelf life and to make it so sweet that you cannot live without it. To me, that sounds like perpetuating an addiction, but who am I to make that accusation. Additionally, the sources in which these sugars are found are of themselves genetically modified and as such stripped of all God given nutrients. I have yet to see corn that has not been modified in some way to produce a greater yield. Anyway, it is the synthetic sources that are to blame for many of the problems caused by sugars.
For years sucrose (table sugar) was the king of the hill. It was a manufactured sugar made from glucose and fructose and tasted sweeter than either one alone. Then along comes import taxes on sugar and the continuation of a long-abused tax relief on corn and suddenly corn is the major source of sugar. Namely HFCS! To make matters worse it was sweeter still and much cheaper to produce.
Naturally occurring glucose in excess will spur insulin production and is the cause of diabetes and obesity. Fructose does not spur insulin production and is used by many diabetics. Instead it is processed in the liver and in excess has been linked with a condition called fatty liver. This is the same condition that is found with many alcoholic livers and can lead to cirrhosis. Now enter the fact that none of these sugars found in any food today is from nature. They are man made. Thus, take those conditions I just mentioned, quadruple them and suddenly the incidence of diabetes, obesity and the like are skyrocketing. In addition, these “sugars” have been proven to be a cause of anemia, enlarged hearts, delayed testicular development, infertility in women, increased appetite and defective connective tissue and muscle development. A quick word on appetite. This type of fructose inhibits something called leptin. It is a substance that is made in all of us and curbs appetite. Another article for another time. So, this so-called safe stuff affects your bones, muscles, heart, liver energy level and reproductive systems. Cute! At least it tastes good.
What does this all mean? Bottom line, stay away from High Fructose Corn Syrup. Period! You want sweet with no calories? Try Stevia. This is a natural herb that is just as sweet as any sugar. Better yet try honey. Get the pure unpasteurized type so that is not devoid of all its nutrients. Pasteurization! Yet another topic for another time. Suffice it to say I don’t buy it and the fallacy that it protects us from contaminated food is horse hockey. Anyone ever hear of common sense? Oh well, again I digress. Sugar cane is also good. It’s hard to find and it’s expensive. Remember the import taxes? Lastly how about good old fashion fruit? Better than a bottle of pop or a candy bar. Just remember, always more vegetables than fruit. Oh yeah, does anyone know that corn is not a vegetable. It’s a very starchy, calorie laden, nutrient poor grain, yet we’ve been told it’s good for us. I assume just like fluoride treatments, but again I must stop myself from straying off topic.
Eat smart, eat in moderation, eat it the way God put it on this earth. We can’t improve on perfection. As always, I ask that you always talk to your family MD or DO or come see us to talk about all that stuff that is called “good for you”. Remember, the smart health care consumer is informed and aware.
Clifford Sonnie, M.D., M.P.H. is a physician at the Balance of Life Clinic