High Fructose Corn Syrup
We probably all know that this one is bad by now… what we may not know is why. High fructose corn syrup is one of the major suspects for the growing rates of obesity and diabetes that you see mainly in the US and (surprisingly) Mexico. Yes, statistics say that the US, Mexico, and the UK are the top three most obese countries in the world.
I live in Canada, and thank goodness that we’re number 11.
HFCS is frequently used in place of sugar or honey. It is in yogurt, cereal, granola bars, baked products (including bread), pop and other beverages, canned fruits, and candies of all sorts.
Now, if I take another look at that list… the first thing that comes to mind is the fact that they are all processed foods. So again, the foods that are the problems, and the ones we need to stay away from, are the processed foods – the foods that are made to our convenience.
Before I get to how high fructose corn syrup can cause weight gain, I must first explain something else – the hormone called leptin.
When you have eaten enough, your fat cells release leptin, which tells your brain that you aren’t hungry any more. If you starve yourself on a diet or other, or if you wait until you’re famished before you eat – your leptin levels go down, and your hypothalamus hasn’t sensed any leptin. Then your body tries to stimulate a nerve that runs from your abdomen to your brain, which tells you that you are hungry. You eat, and your leptin levels come back up to tell your brain that you are full.
Now I can explain how HFCS is a factor in increase of obesity.
High fructose corn syrup causes insulin resistance because it is a sugar (and is in fact metabolized faster than other sugars), and insulin resistance in turn causes leptin resistance. When you become leptin resistant, your brain does not detect the release of leptin, even though it was there, so it is continually believing that you are hungry. The result – our vagus nerves tell you that you are hungry all the time, and you continue to gain weight because you are taking in more energy than you need to use. And what happens when we eat more than you burn? We get obese.
Something interesting I discovered when I found out which countries are the most obese (per capita), was that during the rise of obesity (1985-2010), diabetes, and cancer, the amount of food additives used rose as well, along with consumption of processed foods, soft drinks and candy.