6 Reasons Why High-Fructose Corn Syrup Is Bad for You
Here are 6 reasons why consuming large amounts of high-fructose corn syrup is bad for your health.
1. Adds an Unnatural Amount of Fructose to Your Diet
The fructose in HFCS can cause health issues if eaten in excessive amounts.
Most starchy carbs, such as rice, are broken down into glucose — the basic form of carbs. However, table sugar and HFCS comprise around 50% glucose and 50% fructose (5).
Glucose is easily transported and utilized by every cell in your body. It's also the predominant fuel source for high-intensity exercise and various processes.
In contrast, the fructose from high fructose corn syrup or table sugar needs to be converted into glucose, glycogen (stored carbs), or fat by the liver before it can be used as fuel.
Like regular table sugar, HFCS is a rich source of fructose. In the past few decades, the intake of fructose and HFCS has increased significantly.
Before table sugar and HFCS became affordable and widely available, people's diets contained only small amounts of fructose from natural sources, such as fruits and vegetables (6Trusted Source).
The adverse effects listed below are mostly caused by excess fructose, although they apply to both high-fructose corn syrup (55% fructose) and plain table sugar (50% fructose).
HFCS and sugar contain fructose and glucose. Your body metabolizes fructose differently than glucose, and consuming too much fructose can lead to health problems.
2. Increases Your Risk of Fatty Liver Disease
High intake of fructose leads to increased liver fat.
One study in men and women with excess weight showed that drinking sucrose-sweetened soda for 6 months significantly increased liver fat, compared to drinking milk, diet soda, or water (10Trusted Source).
Other research has also found that fructose can increase liver fat to a greater extent than equal amounts of glucose (11Trusted Source).
It's important to note that the detrimental effects of fructose in added sugar, including HFCS, should not be equated with the fructose in fruit. It's difficult to consume excessive amounts of fructose from whole fruits, which are healthy and safe in sensible amounts.
High-fructose corn syrup can contribute to increased liver fat. This is because of its high fructose content, which is metabolized differently than other carbs.
3. Increases Your Risk of Obesity and Weight Gain
One study had healthy adults drink beverages containing either glucose or fructose.
When comparing the two groups, the fructose drink did not stimulate regions of the brain that control appetite to the same extent as the glucose drink (14Trusted Source).
Fructose also promotes visceral fat accumulation. Visceral fat surrounds your organs and is the most harmful type of body fat. It's linked to health issues like diabetes and heart disease (8Trusted Source, 15Trusted Source).
Moreover, the availability of HFCS and sugar has also increased average daily calorie intake, a key factor in weight gain. Research suggests people now consume over 500 calories per day from sugar, on average, which may be 300% more than 50 years ago (16Trusted Source, 17Trusted Source, 18).
Research continues to highlight the role of high-fructose corn syrup and fructose in obesity. It can also add visceral fat, a harmful type of fat that surrounds your organs.
4. Excessive Intake is Linked to Diabetes
In healthy people, insulin increases in response to the consumption of carbs, transporting them out of the bloodstream and into cells.
However, regularly consuming excess fructose can make your body resistant to insulin's effects (19Trusted Source).
This decreases your body's ability to control blood sugar levels. Over the long term, both insulin and blood sugar levels increase.
In addition to diabetes, HFCS may play a role in metabolic syndrome, which has been linked to many diseases, including heart disease and certain cancers (20Trusted Source).
Excessive intake of high-fructose corn syrup can lead to insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome, which are both key contributors to type 2 diabetes and many other serious diseases.
5. Can Increase the Risk of Other Serious Diseases
Many serious diseases have been linked to the overconsumption of fructose.
HFCS and sugar have been shown to drive inflammation, which is associated with an increased risk of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.
In addition to inflammation, excess fructose may increase harmful substances called advanced glycation end products (AGEs), which may harm your cells (21Trusted Source, 22Trusted Source, 23Trusted Source).
Considering all of the health issues and diseases linked to the excessive intake of HFCS and sugar, it may come as no surprise that studies are starting to link them to an increased risk of heart disease and reduced life expectancy (3Trusted Source, 26Trusted Source).
Excessive HFCS intake is linked to an increased risk of numerous diseases, including heart disease.
6. Contains No Essential Nutrients
Like other added sugars, high fructose corn syrup is "empty" calories.
While it contains plenty of calories, it offers no essential nutrients.
Thus, eating HFCS will decrease the total nutrient content of your diet, as the more HFCS you consume, the less room you have for nutrient-dense foods.
The Bottom Line
Over the past few decades, high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) has become affordable and widely available.
Experts now attribute its excessive intake to many serious health issues, including obesity, insulin resistance, and metabolic syndrome, among others.
Avoiding high-fructose corn syrup — and added sugar in general — may be one of the most effective ways to improve your health and lower your risk of disease.
Reposted with permission from our media associate Healthline.
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By Kristen Fischer
It's going to be back-to-school time soon, but will children go into the classrooms?
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) thinks so, but only as long as safety measures are in place.
Keeping Schools Safe<p>What will safer schools look like?</p><p>In a <a href="https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/2766822" target="_blank">JAMA article</a> published last month, <a href="https://www.jhsph.edu/faculty/directory/profile/1781/joshua-m-sharfstein" target="_blank">Dr. Joshua Sharfstein</a>, a pediatrician and professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, outlined suggestions — many of which are similar to AAP's.</p><p>Remote learning protocols must stay in place, especially as some schools stagger home and in-building learning. If another shutdown needs to occur, children will rely on distance learning completely, so it must be easy to switch to, he said.</p><p>He suggested giving parents a daily checklist to document their child's health. Kids should be screened quickly on arrival and be given hygiene supplies. Maintenance staff should use appropriate PPE and have regular cleaning schedules. A notification system should be in place if a case is identified, Sharfstein recommended.</p><p><a href="https://www.albany.edu/rockefeller/faculty/erika-martin" target="_blank">Erika Martin</a>, PhD, an associate professor of public administration and policy at University at Albany, said nutrition assistance and health services should be included. She called for tutoring programs with virtual options as well as technology access.</p>
Supporting Staff<p>Teachers and staff will be affected by safeguarding measures, noted <a href="https://directory.sph.umn.edu/bio/sph-a-z/rachel-widome" target="_blank">Rachel Widome</a>, PhD, an associate professor of epidemiology and community health at University of Minnesota.</p><p>"In order for all of the in-school precautions to work well, we'll be asking a lot of teachers and staff," Widome told Healthline. In addition to their usual workload, they'll now be asked to monitor mask-wearing, ensure children are keeping distance, and be aware of any symptoms.</p><p>Along with Sharfstein, Widome called for an increase in financial support. More employees will likely be required so teachers and staff members can keep up with the added demands.</p>
Should Kids Go Back?<p>While these guidelines may help get some schools to reopen, many people don't think children should go back to school over fears they could contract the disease and spread it to other vulnerable family members like grandparents, infant siblings, or their parents.</p><p>In a <a href="https://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/early/2020/07/08/peds.2020-004879" target="_blank">Pediatrics</a> commentary, <a href="https://www.md.com/doctor/william-raszka-md" target="_blank">Dr. William V. Raszka, Jr.</a>, an infectious disease specialist at The University of Vermont Medical Center, argued that schools should open because school-aged children are far less important drivers of COVID-19 than adults.</p><p>But he says the risk and benefit is not equal among all students ages 5 to 18.</p><p>"Elementary schools are arguably higher priority for face-to-face schooling, since younger children are at lower risk for infection and transmission, and since parental supervision of younger children's distance learning may be particularly challenging," added Sorensen, who penned a <a href="https://jamanetwork.com/channels/health-forum/fullarticle/2767411" target="_blank">June article in JAMA</a> with reopening tips. "That means middle and high schools are more likely to emphasize distance learning."</p><p>Specific student populations, such as special education students and students with disabilities, would also benefit greatly from more time spent in face-to-face environments, Sorensen said.</p>
What Parents Can Do<p>Parents should ask for and receive frequent updates from schools about plans for the fall. They should also be informed about plans if and when COVID infections are identified, Sharfstein said.</p><p>"I'd like to see parents investing now, during the summer, in doing things that can slow and stop the spread of the virus in their communities," Widome said.</p><p>"Now is a good time for kids to practice wearing masks and get used to them as they may be wearing them for longer stretches if school starts up in person," Widome suggested.</p><p>She recommends parents try different mask designs and materials to see what children are more comfortable wearing.</p><p>"If you are using cloth face coverings, it's good to have extras on hand," Widome added.</p><p>Parents should model healthy behavior at home and while out in public — another thing that could affect how well children adapt to reopening practices, Sorensen said.</p><p>"Children may want to know more about face coverings," added <a href="https://www.linkedin.com/in/leescott/" target="_blank">Lee Scott</a>, chairwoman of the Educational Advisory Board at <a href="https://www.goddardschool.com/" target="_blank">The Goddard School</a>. "Dramatic play, such as creating or wearing a face covering, may help some children adjust to this concept." Schools can also show children photos of what faculty members look like in their masks so the students are familiar with that appearance.</p><p>Johns Hopkins University recently released its eSchool+ Initiative, a slew of resources surrounding education during the pandemic. These include a <a href="https://equityschoolplus.jhu.edu/reopening-checklist/" target="_blank">checklist for administrators</a>, report on <a href="https://equityschoolplus.jhu.edu/ethics-of-reopening/" target="_blank">ethical considerations</a>, and a tracker of <a href="https://equityschoolplus.jhu.edu/reopening-policy-tracker/" target="_blank">state and local reopening plans</a>.</p>
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