Health and Medical
The process for making the sweetener high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) out of corn was developed in the 1970s. Use of HFCS grew rapidly, from less than three million short tons in 1980 to almost 8 million short tons in 1995. During the late 1990s, use of sugar actually declined as it was eclipsed by HFCS. Today Americans consume more HFCS than sugar.
High-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is produced by processing corn starch to yield glucose, and then processing the glucose to produce a high percentage of fructose.
Sucrose is composed of glucose and fructose. When sugar is given to rats in high amounts, the rats develop multiple health problems, especially when the rats were deficient in certain nutrients, such as copper. The researchers wanted to know whether it was the fructose or the glucose moiety that was causing the problems. So they repeated their studies with two groups of rats, one given high amounts of glucose and one given high amounts of fructose.
The glucose group was unaffected but the fructose group had disastrous results. The male rats did not reach adulthood. They had anemia, high cholesterol and heart hypertrophy-that means that their hearts enlarged until they exploded.
They also had delayed testicular development. Dr. Field explains that fructose in combination with copper deficiency in the growing animal interferes with collagen production. (Copper deficiency, by the way, is widespread in America.) In a nutshell, the little bodies of the rats just fell apart. The females were not so affected, but they were unable to produce live young,
"The medical profession thinks fructose is better for diabetics than sugar," says Dr. Field, "but every cell in the body can metabolize glucose. However, all fructose must be metabolized in the liver. The livers of the rats on the high fructose diet looked like the livers of alcoholics, plugged with fat and cirrhotic." (cirrhossis of the liver)
HFCS contains more fructose than sugar and this fructose is more immediately available because it is not bound up in sucrose. Since the effects of fructose are most severe in the growing organism, we need to think carefully about what kind of sweeteners we give to our children.
Fruit juices should be strictly avoided - they are very high in fructose - but so should anything with HFCS.
Interestingly, although HFCS is used in many products aimed at children, it is not used in baby formula, even though it would probably save the manufactueres a few pennies for each can. Do the formula makers know something they aren't telling us? Pretty murky!
About the author
Weston A. Price Foundation Board Member Linda Forristal is the author of
Ode to Sucanat (1993) and Bulgarian Rhapsody (1998).
This article appeared in Wise Traditions in Food, Farming and the Healing
Arts, the quarterly magazine of the Weston A. Price Foundation, Fall 2001
Here is a list of the good sugars that will build your health.
Sweeteners to Use
Stevia * Barley, Malt, Evaporated Cane Juice, Natural Fruit Juice, Rice
Syrup, Honey, Licorice Root (small amounts), Fructooligosaccharides (FOS)
*, Amasake, Vegetable Glycerin, and Xylitol* [+ agave & tupelo honey]
*Safe for diabetics
Sweeteners to Avoid
Aspartame, Neotame, Sucralose (Splenda), Saccharin, Acesulfame-K (Sunette,
Sweet & Safe, Sweet One). Cyclamates, Refined Sugar, High Fructose
Sweeteners , and Sorbitol
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