hfcsce_2

I wanted to come up with a great title for this article, something catchy that really describes the gravity behind what I was going to write on this issue, while at the same time not being confrontational. But nothing came to mind. This is a severe issue, with severe consequences, requiring a severe and to the point title. On this blog, in the past, I have mostly kept my food opinions to myself. But in certain instances, I feel that reaching the most people possible with vital information is the most important thing. This is one of those cases. I do this as a way of providing information, not preaching or shoving my values down your throat. Read it. If you don’t agree, that is fine, but at least educate yourself and make food choices based on knowledge.

For years I have had a personal battle with HFCS and ridding it from my diet. Having worked in the health industry, I saw what it can do to people, physically and mentally. Consuming HFCS has been the underlying cause in many of the cases I saw from pain syndromes and digestive problems, to severe acne, and depression. I have spoken out against the consumption of HFCS to my family and friends, and it has been years since I have knowingly eaten anything that contains it. This is not a case of over-reacting, because “a little bit won’t kill you”, because in fact nothing can be further from the truth.

This stuff will kill you, eventually. But it will take its time and make you suffer along the whole way.

HFCS is one of that many ingredients on the market currently that for the past 20 years has infiltrated much of the food people eat. We live in a society of instant gratification and hurried lives, and the food companies bank on this (pun intended). They know we want something quick and fast to put on the table and in our mouths to quickly re-fuel and move on with our busy lives. They know we don’t have time to read labels. But, we are just now starting to understand the very detrimental ramifications that occur over long periods of time when people eat these convenient ingredients – and there are many others, besides HFCS that are just as bad, but I am not discussing them today.

Here is where all the problems from consuming HFCS come from. The body processes the fructose in high fructose corn syrup differently than it does old-fashioned cane or beet sugar, because it has been chemically altered by a laundry list of enzymes to give it a longer shelf life. Once this altered fructose enters the body, it alters the way metabolic-regulating hormones function, causing the liver to kick more fat out into the bloodstream. The end result is that our bodies are essentially tricked into wanting to eat more and at the same time, we are storing more fat. This causes all sorts of health problems, namely obesity and diabetes. But this really is nothing new. People have known about the link between HFCS and these diseases for years and yet we still continue to buy products that contain it. So, I guess obesity and diabetes is not too great of a concern for people to demand the end of HFCS by refusing to purchase products that contain it. So maybe this next bit of information will.

A very recent study shows that half of the tested samples of commercial high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) contains MERCURY, which was also found in nearly a third of 55 popular brand-name food and beverage products where HFCS is the first- or second-highest labeled ingredient.

“Mercury is toxic in all its forms. Given how much high-fructose corn syrup is consumed by children, it could be a significant additional source of mercury never before considered. We are calling for immediate changes by industry and the [U.S. Food and Drug Administration] to help stop this avoidable mercury contamination of the food supply,” the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy’s Dr. David Wallinga, a co-author of both studies, said in a prepared statement.

hfcs_cornie_2

HFCS is used in nearly all processed foods and many foods that are directed at children. Things like soft drinks, juice blends, yogurt, cookies, salad dressing, most condiments (ketchup, BBQ sauce, etc.) crackers and bread, even some baby formulas. Also a lot of “health foods” as a way to make the shelf life longer, the texture better and prevent it from rotting faster. That is pretty gross – basically we are eating plastic food, lots of it and loving it. Loving it so much, that we are willing to risk our health for it.

It is up to us, the consumers to change this. So please read the labels at the grocery store. Basically, HFCS is in nearly everything that comes in a package. Why is that? Well, HFCS is cheaper for the food companies to put in food than sugar, because it is easier to transport and store and cheaper to produce.

Isn’t that special?

Although the refineries that make HFCS are stating that this study on mercury in HFCS was researched based on old material and that they have been using mercury-free versions of the two re-agents mentioned in the study, how would a consumer know if the HFCS in their food or beverage was made with a mercury free re-agent or not? Are you willing to take a chance or gamble on yourself or your family’s health?

hfcs_no

We, as consumers need to start putting our money where our mouth is. We must advocate for ourselves and vote with our money because it is clear that the food industry doesn’t care about us and won’t be our advocate. They care only about profits. If the majority of people don’t buy these products then the food manufacturers will have to stop making it and we will all be better for it.

However, in the meantime, this does require us to make sacrifices – it does mean more time in the grocery store reading labels. It does mean not being able to eat certain foods or products, and it may require of us more legwork and time as we find alternate products to fill in the void or it may require us to make certain products at home ourselves. But it is a good exercise to do, because once you start reading the labels, you realize how HFCS is in the majority of packaged foods, and it is shocking and scary to realize that this is being done in order for corporations to make a larger profit at the expense of our health. Let us not even talk about the link between food companies and the prescription drug companies…

Here is another good article about HFCS

And another great resource is Michael Pollan’s book, The Omnivore’s Dilemma, which discusses the food industry’s role in HFCS taking over our food supply.