Sunday, August 19, 2012

HFCS (High Fructose Corn Syrup) What it is and how it's made!

High Fructose Corn Syrup

What is HFCS? 

High Fructose Corn Syrup is a sugar derived from corn. Sounds OK right? Not really when you look at it's real composition and how it's made. First we will discuss it's composition.

High fructose corn syrup contains a chemical makeup of 55% Fructose and 45% Glucose. Regular white sugar is comprised of 50% Fructose & 50% Glucose. To look at these two ingredients, you can see that they are basically the same if that is all the information you had on it. And this is what the Corn Growers Association would like you to believe. I am sure we have all seen the ads on TV that state "whether it's corn sugar or cane sugar your body can't tell the difference"¹. But there is a huge difference in how your body processes these two. 

In white sugar, the two molecules, glucose and fructose, are tightly bound together. Your body must first digest the sugar to break the bond before it is absorbed by the body. In HFCS, these two molecules are unbound and are therefore absorbed rapidly into the body. Glucose enters the bloodstream and is processed  there by insulin. Fructose goes straight to the liver and is processed there. 

As white sugar needs to be digested, the amount of glucose entering the bloodstream and the amount of fructose entering the liver is a slower process. With HFCS, all the glucose goes immediately into the bloodstream and all the fructose goes immediately to the liver. This can cause a significant spike in insulin levels in the blood and also triggers lipogenesis (the production of fats like triglycerides and cholesterol) in the liver. This can lead to all sorts of physical problems which we will discuss a little later.

How is HFCS made?

There are a list of processes that the corn must undergo to get it from its original kernel to HFCS. The first of these processes is to soak the corn in caustic acid and /or hydrochloric acid and apply heat. It then is sent through the application of three different enzymes (a-amylase, glucoamylase & glucose isomerase) to break it down into glucose syrup and then down into fructose.

Once it is broken down into fructose, it is then combined with a glucose syrup to get it to the chemical composition of 55% fructose, 45% glucose.

Now let's take a closer look at the individual "ingredients" in each process....

Corn - Approximately 86% of the corn grown in the US is genetically modified (GMO). GMO's have been the discussion of many problems which we will look into in another post.

Caustic Acid (also known as lye, sodium hydroxide) - is a highly caustic metallic base that is used in such things as oven or drain cleaners, soaps and detergents, paper and textiles. If it comes in contact with skin or eyes, in can cause severe chemical burns.

Hydrochloric Acid - This is another Highly Caustic acid. It is commonly used in metal processing, cleaning products, fertilizers, dyes and more. This also can cause severe chemical burns.

A-Amylase (produced from Bacillus spp) - a-amylase is an enzyme produced from Bacillus spp which is a known cause of food poisoning according to the FDA. It is used in HFCS to break down the cornstarch into glucose.

Glucoamylase (produced from fungi such as aspergillus)  - is an enzyme produced from fungi such as apergillus. Aspergillus are found in most oxygen rich environments where they grow as mold.

Glucose Isomerase - is another enzyme used to turn the glucose syrup into fructose syrup. 

That is a scary list of ingredients used in the making of HFCS. GMO's, caustic substances, fungi. Sounds like something I want to eat. NOT!!!

What effects can consuming HFCS have of your body?

Well, where to start! There have been studies that have linked HFCS to obesity, diabetes, heart disease, leaky gut syndrome, fatty liver disease, and a whole host of other problems. It shuts off the leptin and insulin. Those are the things that tells our body when to stop eating. It has them same effects on the liver as consuming alcohol.  It raises cholesterol and triglycerides and can play a role in developing blood clots. And to top it all off!!! Studies have found that 50% of the foods that contain HFCS are contaminated with Mercury! Mercury is a highly toxic chemical in all forms and it comes from the process used in making the caustic soda. It can cause a host of problems neurologically, loss of kidney functions and a whole lot more. And they say that we are getting 5 times the highest recommended levels of Mercury per day!!! That is astounding!!

Of course, if you listen to the FDA (which by the way , they have given HFCS a GRAS [generally recognized as safe] Status)  and to CRA, they will tell you that there isn't any mercury in HFCS. 

I don't know about you, but I am thankful that I have had to eliminate this product from my life. It is really scary to read about the way this stuff is made and how it can effect your body!

I hope this information can help you make an informed decision about whether or not you want to continue using products that contain HFCS.


High Fructose Corn Syrup:

Caustic Soda :

Hydrochloric Acid: 

a-amylase produced from bacillus spp: 

Glucoamylase (produced from fungi such as aspergillus): 

Glucose Isomerase: 

 ¹ quote taken from a television ad produced and copyright to the Corn Refiners Association.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

From the beginning!

Let's start from the beginning of my quest. It all started many years ago (about 15) when I started suffering from excessive gas and belching. Through the years, I went to doctor after doctor to find out what was wrong. I was diagnosed with a hiatal hernia, GERD, acid reflux and on and on. They did Upper GI's, Scopes, Swallow tests and on and on. I was put on every medication they could put me on but nothing helped. Finally, at the end of last year, things really started spiraling out of control. By March of this year, I couldn't eat or drink anything with out getting so severely bloated (stomach would swell 6" beyond normal) and most of the time being doubled over in pain or spending an entire day visiting with the porcelain throne that my Doctor finally sent me to a medical university to find out what was going on. After several tests that I had never had before, I was finally diagnosed as having an issue with HFCS (High Fructose Corn Syrup). And this is where my quest began.

Once I had my diagnosis, I began looking at food labels, something I had never done before, trying to find products that didn't contain the HFCS. I was shocked at the amount of foods that contain HFCS. Cereal, ketchup, peanut butter, jelly, mayonaise, bread, pickles, dressing, ice cream and the list goes on and on!! But I really started noticing all the other ingredients listed on those food labels too! Stuff I couldn't even begin to pronounce!! So I began checking those out as well and what I have discovered should make you sickened by what they are doing to our food.

So I invite you on this journey into the realm of food additives and what exactly they are. Things like HFCS, BHT, Propylene Glycol, Castoreum, L-Cystiene, and many, many more. I will share with you both sides of the coin and let you decide for yourself whether or not you think it's good for you. But I ask you to really look at the source of the information and weigh all the pro's and con's before you make your choices.

I will also be sharing recipes to be able to make things at home so you don't have to rely on buying the pre-made stuff at the store.

I look forward to getting to know you!


Welcome to Simply Put - What's In Your Food?

Hi and welcome to Simply Put - What's In Your Food? We have begun a journey on discovering what is in our food after a battle I had with severe gastro-intestinal issues resulting from HFCS (High Fructose Corn Syrup). As a result, I began looking into other ingredients that are very common in foods that are found in the local grocery store. The more I learned, the more disgusted I got. There are many great websites and blogs out there on just what is in our food, but I would like you to join me in my quest to a healthier, happier lifestyle!

We will be covering all sorts of information on different food additives and will be sharing recipes and more along the way. So join me on this journey into a new realm of eating healthy.