Dump the Most Evil Sweetener of All

Tue, 03/06/2012 - 13:43

In the late seventies, less than 15 percent of Americans were obese. Thirty years later, 32 percent of us are obese. What happened between then and now? First, the idea became popular that fat was evil and "low fat" diets were best. Whenever possible, fat was removed from processed foods and replaced with sugars and other carbs. At the same time, high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) got really cheap and became food manufacturers' go-to sweetener.

Since the days of the low-fat diet craze, we've learned not only that fat doesn't make you fat but that refined carbohydrates like sugar and HFCS do. Oops! A lot of damage has been done, but we can work with our hormones to teach our bodies to react to food the way they did before we overwhelmed our insulin response systems.

A good place to start is to get rid of HFCS. This evil sweetener is incredibly damaging to your metabolism, and it's everywhere. Researchers at Tufts University report that Americans consume more calories from soda and other sweet drinks (which invariably contain tons of HFCS) than from any other source.

You may have seen a commercial run by the Corn Refiners Association that tries to convince you that people who think HFCS is bad for you are paranoid; it suggests that most people can't even say why HFCS is bad for you. Well, here's your answer (tell your friends!): HFCS boosts your fat-storing hormones and makes you fat. Glucose (what table sugar is turned into in your body) is metabolized by all your cells, but fructose (the "F" in HFCS) must be metabolized in the liver. Because of this, HFCS somehow tricks the body into not releasing insulin and leptin, two essential hormones that are usually released after you eat. Without insulin, your body can't use those HFCS calories for energy, and without leptin, your body doesn't know it's full. Plus, unlike table sugar, HFCS doesn't stop levels of ghrelin, your hunger hormone, from rising. If you eat or drink HFCS, you'll actually continue to consume more calories, even 24 hours later, than you would had you just eaten plain table sugar. HFCS also increases triglycerides (a type of blood lipid), which prevent leptin from signaling the brain to stop eating.

I have zero tolerance for HFCS. For me, it's a code word for poison, so toss it!