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High Fructose Corn Syrup is Going to Kill You (Among Other Things) (started 6/8/06)

I am sick of this. I am tired of the excuses people give when I share with them the dangers of eating foods with products such as high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), sugar substitutes like saccharin, sucralose (a.k.a. Splenda), and aspartame, and, worst of all, partially hydrogenated oils. It almost angers me when, after given the facts, people choose to ignore the dangers of these substances. You are the one responsible for your lifestyle and wellbeing. You have the choice; why on earth would you choose to harm your body? Can you really con yourself into believing that these things are safe – after all, they are approved by the government? If saying it bluntly is the only way to make people listen, then here it is.

Let’s start with body chemistry 101.

The body’s chemical composition is made up of water (61.6%), protein (17%), fats (13.8%), minerals (6.1%), and carbohydrates (1.5%) (based on the weight of a 65 kg body). Collectively, these materials regulate body temperature, provide fuel for energy, building blocks for body tissues, growth and repair of these tissues, and metabolic function and protection.  

The body composition of a healthy adult male is body cell mass (55%), extracellular supporting tissue (30%), and body fat (15%).

All of the chemical processes that occur in the body are termed “metabolism.” Oxidation of food is one of the main processes in metabolism. All carbohydrates, protein and fat can be broken down and used for energy in the body. These come in the form of food. When no food is present in the body, body tissues can be broken down.

The body requires energy for performing work and maintaining basic bodily functions. BMR, basal metabolic rate, is the rate that these processes take place while the body is at rest. This rate varies between age, sex, height, weight, and activity level.

Now, what the heck are all those compounds?

“Carbohydrates are compounds containing carbon, hydrogen and oxygen in the proportions 6:12:6.” In the food we eat, carbohydrates come in the form of sugars and starches. The breakdown of these is as follows: monosaccharide, disaccharides, and polysaccharides. (Sorry, I don’t mean to bore you; I feel obligated to provide some background for the geeky science folk like myself.)

To cut things short, these sugars are categorized by chemical complexity and they each differ in the way the body processes them.

Fats come in two forms: storage fats and structural fats. Pretty self-explanatory, right? Fats are broken down by lipases and other enzymes in the pancreas, intestine, and liver, so that they can absorb into the body.

Fats are further divided into saturated and unsaturated fats (again, structural differences). Unsaturated fats include polyunsaturated fats and mono-unsaturated fats. Saturated fats come mostly from land animals, while unsaturated fats usually derive from plants.

Some fat in the body can derive from carbohydrates and proteins that are eaten.

Proteins are compounds that contain carbon, hydrogen and oxygen, as well as nitrogen and sulphur. These play a more significant role in growth and repair of body tissues.

Proteins are made up of amino acids. Different assemblages of amino acids create different proteins.

I will skip the roles of specific vitamins and minerals.

Partially Hydrogenated Oils

Let me begin by saying that many fats are in the “cis” form rather than the “trans” form. This simply means that the spatial positioning of hydrogen-carbon bonds in the fat is different. Cis bonds are shaped like this

                 \ ___/ 

While trans bonds are shaped like this


Most trans fats are formed during processing of foods. Hydrogenation gives food better flavor and longer shelf life. Most baked goods, fried foods and packaged snack foods contain partially hydrogenated oils, although some trans fats occur naturally in certain meat and milk products. These are not usually categorized the same as manufactured trans fats. Certain coronary diseases have been linked with a high intake of trans fatty acids (2.)

Right now, you’re probably saying, “Wait! I thought saturated fats were supposed to be bad for you.” This is true. Saturated fats increase the levels of LDL (low-density lipoprotein), or “bad cholesterol,” in your blood. This puts you at risk for coronary disease. Additionally, saturated fats decrease the levels of HDL (high-density lipoprotein), the “good cholesterol,” in your blood (2).

The problem with trans fats is that the LDL/HDL ratio increase is doubled to that of saturated fat (2)

Trans fats are also processed differently by the liver. Metabolism of trans fats interferes with production of Delta 6 desaturase, an enzyme for converting fatty acids to other materials essential for cell function (2).

There’s a multitude of other effects on the body due to partially hydrogenated oils. Cascading effects may include “headaches, joint pain including back pain and arthritis, skin problems, premenstrual syndrome, and menstrual cramps” due to imbalances of certain hormones.

            “ ‘When you eat normal cis fats, the body metabolizes half of them in 18 days. When you eat trans fats the body requires 51 days to metabolize half of them. This means that half of the trans fats you eat today will still be inhibiting essential enzyme systems in your body 51 days from now’ ” (3).

Speaking from personal experience: when I eliminated these substances from my diet, I felt much better. Can you imagine how much better your body functions and feels? You can’t imagine it until you actually do it.

How do you determine if trans fats are present in foods? You have to read the label. Look for “shortening,” “partially hydrogenated vegetable oil,” or “hydrogenated vegetable oil” (2). New guidelines have since been made, requiring trans fat content to be on nutrition labels. But the only way to be sure of the foods you’re eating is to read the label.

I also want to warn you of what I consider misleading advertising.

One day, I was reading a box of Kellogg’s Smart Start Healthy Heart cereal. It claims to promote a healthy heart by lowering blood pressure and cholesterol. Sounds good, right? The only problem is that it contains partially hydrogenated oil.

I yelled at Kellogg’s. I sent them an email, asking how could they possibly call their cereal “Smart Start Healthy Heart,” when it contains partially hydrogenated oil, the very substance that is bad for your heart. In addition to increasing that LDL/HDL ratio, it interferes with hormones (Prostoglandins 1 and 3) that counteract high blood pressure, blood clotting and HDL production (3).

Their response was the following:

“In order to meet the claim HEALTHY, the product must meet the following
criteria: (as regulated by the FDA). These are the same criteria to carry
the American Heart Association seal:”

They list a bunch of criteria. I will skip to this part:

“A Heart Healthy diet is one that is low in total fat, saturated fat,
cholesterol and sodium. It also is high in potassium and soluble fiber.
Smart Start Healthy Heart can help lower blood pressure (low sodium, good
source of potassium) and reduce cholesterol (no cholesterol, oat bran to
reduce cholesterol).

The oat cluster contains a small amount of partially hydrogenated oil,
however the partially hydrogenated oil contributes an insignificant amount
of trans fat.”

While “the US National Academy of Sciences recommended in 2002 that dietary intake of trans fatty acids should be totally eliminated” (2).

So . . . who should we believe? The guidelines of the FDA that companies hide behind, or our scientists?

True, the amount of partially hydrogenated oil in the cereal may be minute. But knowing what these substances can do to you, why would you want to have it at all?

There is simply too much to delve into. I will add more of this article, bit by bit. This is just too important of a subject to skim through.

I encourage you to look up more articles on your own! I have just chosen a select few to write from.

1. “Human Nutrition in the Developing World.”


2. “Trans Fat,” Wikipedia.


3. “The Dangers of Hydrogenated or Partially Hydrogenated Oils.”




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