The Sugar and High Fructose Corn Syrup Path to Disease

Saturday, May 10, 2008
By: Byron J. Richards,
Board Certified Clinical Nutritionist

The food industry and its legion of lawyers, lobbyists, and revolving-door FDA employees have argued for close to a century that sugar is sugar, and there is little difference between fruit sugar (fructose), table sugar (sucrose), and high fructose corn syrup (which now sweetens most drinks).  Their argument is based on the idea that such sugars will simply enter cells in more or less the same way to be burned as fuel. 

This “logic” has caused our food supply to be poisoned by high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), which is no doubt a major player in the obesity and diabetes epidemic.  As many of you know, I am an outspoken critic of HFCS and think it should be banned from the food supply.

In a recent study it came as a surprise to researchers when they found that sucrose and HFCS elevated blood triglycerides1 much higher than did fructose over a 24-hour period.  This little problem throws a monkey wrench in the idea that all simple sugars are more or less the same. 

It means that the primary pathway in fat related metabolism is being disturbed by HFCS and refined sugar.  It means there is a large metabolic difference between eating a piece of fruit, drinking soda or other beverages with HFCS, or eating a cookie – even if each is the same exact number of calories.

When triglycerides stay elevated over a 24 hour period it means that leptin entry into the brain will be reduced and you will now be hungrier in general and eat more food to get a full feeling.  If you do this on a regular basis you will eventually gain weight.  Since kids and adults do this all the time, we have an obesity epidemic.

Having triglycerides elevated between meals, as a higher baseline, has also turned out to be a major predictor of heart disease risk (as it is a simple way to measure early or late stage leptin problems).  Of course, eating in harmony with leptin lowers triglycerides between meals, reduces heart disease risk, and assists weight loss.

Simple sugars, in moderation of small amounts, at the end of a meal (as in a moderate dessert) are not the end of the world.  That is especially true if the meal is not too large and it contains fiber in the form of vegetables, legumes, or whole grains – as such fiber will slow the rate at which any kind of sugar is absorbed following the meal.  If you eat a large meal that is high in processed food, lacking in fiber, and followed by a generous size sugar-laden dessert then it is of course a major problem (the standard American diet).

The consumption of sugar-sweetened snacks and HFCS beverages between meals are a fast track to damaging your metabolism.


Referenced Studies:
  1. ^ Metabolic Response to Different Simple Sugars  American Journal of Clinical Nutrition  Kimber L Stanhope, Steven C Griffen, Brandi R Bair, Michael M Swarbrick, Nancy L Keim and Peter J Havel

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