igh fructose corn syrup, as of 2017, is in over six thousand products. When I was growing up, sugar was in practically everything that used a sweetener. In the 1960s, I noticed cyclamates, approved in the 1950s and banned in 1969, were becoming a leading sugar substitute for the weight conscious. My parents were in that category and used it. The next substitute was Sweet n’ Low in the pink packet.
My stepfather had a near-crippling accident that kept him bed-ridden for several months. This occurred after he was hospitalized and restricted to a highly monitored diet he took home. He lost about 100 pounds but gained it back plus more. He seriously enjoyed sugar. Cyclamates did nothing for him because he was not free to consume what he wanted even though it was 30 times sweeter than sugar. My stepfather became a Type II diabetic and died weighing 680 pounds.
A recent product that is contributing to the increase in Type II diabetes and obesity is high fructose corn syrup. When it was first developed, there was no indication as to what it would do to the human body. Now, not only what it does but how it does it is fascinating and dangerous.
High fructose corn syrup (HFCS) was invented in the 1970s when scientists discovered a way to convert corn glucose into fructose, causing it to be substantially sweeter. Simultaneously, the U.S. government began imposing tariffs on imported sugar and implementing sugar quotas on the amount of domestic sugar that could be grown. This depressed the market and forced food manufacturers to purchase high fructose corn syrup, which was, incidentally enough, cheaper than sugar and almost guaranteeing the use of HFCS in manufactured food products.
Sugar was replaced with high fructose corn sryup. The only way to know this was to read a food label. Prices for food products were not reduced to reflect the savings so no financial benefit was passed on to the consumer.
What would not be listed on a label is that nearly all of the metabolized high fructose corn syrup comes from genetically modified corn. Studies reveal genetically modified corn has side effects and health concerns. One story discussed the diseases pigs are experiencing by consuming it.
The following may be difficult to digest, no pun intended. I suggest reading it several times to understand what occurs in the body when HFCS is consumed.
Insulin and leptin are two hormones that signal the brain when the appetite is satisfied. Insulin levels rise in response to blood glucose. Insulin regulates glucose into the fat cells and that, in turn, causes the release of leptin. Both insulin and leptin levels react to glucose concentrations.
Insulin and leptin are important to energy homeostasis. They circulate in the bloodstream in proportion to the amount of fat the body carries. Insulin and leptin enter the central nervous system in proportion to the blood’s plasma levels. It is important to remember that low hormone levels increase appetite, and high levels act to reduce energy intake.
It bears repeating that insulin levels rise in response to the amount of glucose in the blood. If you consume soda made with sugar, the insulin removes the glucose and you experience a crash. However, fructose does NOT trigger insulin release or affect leptin levels because the insulin is not available to signal the release of leptin. Because fructose does not increase neither insulin nor leptin levels, it does not generate the same satiety signals as glucose. The appestat does not shut off so overeating continues and weight gain results.
Consumed HFCS elevates triglycerides, which are fat cells, in the blood stream and it is stored body fat. Elevated triglycerides harden human arteries. This and weight gain, creating body fat, or adipose tumors, are different types of inflammation that can happen slowly or quickly.
As Dr. Barry Sears, author of The Zone states, ”Classical inflammation (associated with pain and swelling) hurts; silent inflammation kills.” Obesity and diabetes are examples of silent inflammation.
I point out that Welch’s Passion Fruit, in a paper container, contains HFCS. All of Welch’s juices in paper containers contain HFCS. Welch’s juices in glass or clear plastic containers do not, at this time, contain HFCS. In addition to soft drinks, HFCS is in fruit juices.
One study has shown HFCS goes directly to the liver, releasing enzymes that instruct the body to then store fat. Another study revealed that there are people with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) and they will experience a worsening of their liver if they continue consuming ANY products with HFCS.
Two conditions result from continued consumption of HFCS: fibrosis, where the liver is scarred and “ballooning” where liver cells literally blow up, die and are not replaced. Typically, you can replace your liver every 45 days. Doctors are now seeing livers in children that look like long-term alcoholic sufferers.
It was found that this obesity problem occurs with products that one drinks, not with those that are eaten. Speculation is that more beverages are consumed, their quantity outstripping foods.
Switching to juices containing aspartame is not a solution either because that has its own problems. Leaving cargo of juices containing aspartame in sunlight changes the aspartame to a form of formaldehyde.
Aspartame is also responsible for drying the mouth and tear ducts. It is vicious cycle: you consume a beverage with aspartame to quench your thirst. You will find you are even thirstier and, again, you drink another aspartame- containing beverage to rehydrate.
Manufacturers are responsible for false labeling of products that contain high fructose corn syrup. Because the fructose does not spike blood sugar levels, they are saying it is a good product for diabetics. Nothing could be farther from the truth. This product has proven to cause heart disease because it can clog arteries, and increasing body fat puts more pressure on the heart. The same is true for agave nectar.
Agave nectar is being hailed as the ‘good for diabetics’ sweetener. Agave was and is used in Mexico. One of the many uses of this plant is as a traditional sweetener that is created by boiling the sap for several hours.
Agave syrup is a refined fructose, more concentrated than high fructose corn syrup and therefore worse. Buying this at health food stores to replace high fructose corn syrup is not an option because it is not produced using traditional methods. This sweetener was created and commercially produced in the 1990s. It is not natural just as HFSC cannot be wrung from an ear of corn.
Two agave syrup manufacturers in Mexico, Iidea and Nekutli, do not produce the product in a manner that is nutritionally acceptable for consumption. You will find these brands in health food stores. If agave nectar is picked up to replace high fructose corn syrup one will worsen one’s health.
Some solutions include, one, read the labels. Look for products that do not contain high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, fructose, or commercially produced agave nectar. Refined stevia is incomplete in nutrients that whole green stevia would contain.
Two, there are all different types of juicers on the market. They are priced for several income levels. These machines can be used to create your own special juice combinations. They can also be used to make whole fruit “syrups” for carbohydrate dishes like pancakes and other whole grain pastries.
Last but not least, eat the whole fruit. It contains fructose, or fruit sugar, but in a form that will not cause sugar spikes. The fiber contained within will pace absorption and the phytonutrients will provide the body with healthful elements.
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by Allison L. Williams Hill
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