What’s wrong with corn? Part II

I made a shocking discovery. I looked at the labels on many items in my refrigerator and found high fructose corn syrup lurking in many of the bottles. That just goes to show you that even the aware can be caught unaware. That’s how pervasive it is. The first ingredient in my kid’s favorite bbq sauce is HFCS. As I was about to throw it away, my son said, “Don’t throw it away! What’s wrong with HFCS?”  This is the gist of what I said:

THE ISSUE:

HFCS is made with genetically modified corn. Genetically modified foods are mainly plants created to produce or absorb pesticides. The side effects of pesticides on health can take months or years to discover. Pesticides increase endocrine diseases, increase malfunction and reproductive problems, increase inflammation disorders and problems with livers and kidneys, two major organs involved with detoxification, increase cancers and increase neurological diseases like we have seen in farmers. 99.9 per cent of edible GMOs are designed to contain toxic pesticides whose effect on the human body and the environment are not known. These plants are also antibiotic resistant, and antibiotic resistance is something that we are finding out is not a good thing.

One of the first scientists to warn us about the possible dangers of GMOs is Gilles-Eric Seralini. In an interview he talks about not only what he thinks is a major health crisis, but also the effects on agriculture, the environment and world hunger of GMOs.  European countries like Seralini’s France, are trying to restrict the entrance of GMO seed into their country and European consumers are trying to get foods labeled if they contain GMOs. The European Parliament ratified a bio-safety protocol regulating international trade in genetically modified food, which lets countries ban imports of a genetically modified product if they feel there is not enough scientific evidence the product is safe and requires exporters to label shipments containing genetically altered commodities such as corn or cotton. The Irish government has made policy to declare Ireland a GMO free zone. The US is opposed to any labeling or bans. This shows a fundamental difference between American and European consumers and governments. We tend to put a lot of trust in our regulatory agencies to protect us, while Europeans do not. Europeans have a closer relationship with their food and where it comes from than the average American who buys most of their food in a grocery store. In many parts of Europe, a larger measure of food is produced by small, local growers using traditional methods, as opposed to American agriculture in which smaller farmers have been bought out by larger agri-businesses.

Even the developers of GMOs have stated some dangers. The process of gene insertion can cause many unintended effects including the alteration of the number of proteins and other mutations to the genome.  Monsanto (developer of GMO seed) has revealed that some of the foreign genetic material that was added into the corn seed Mon 863, was mutated during the insertion process.  There have been very few studies that adequately research these effects on humans.

Ninety percent of the money Americans spend on food goes to prepackaged and processed foods.  Corn is in almost all of these types of foods, so if you fall into this category, you are probably consuming a lot of corn & HFCS. Here is a list of foods that contain corn products including HFCS.

HFCS has many adverse health effects once consumed besides the GMO issue. Here are just a few:

  1. HFCS is the number one source of calories in the US
  2. Studies show that too much fructose consumption induces leptin resistance which can lead to weight gain
  3. Studies show that those that consume more fructose than glucose have more evidence of insulin resistance and other risk factors for heart disease and diabetes.
  4. Another study shows that HFCS increases your triglyceride levels (chemical form of fat) and your LDL (bad) cholesterol.
  5. Free fructose is not digested in the intestines and goes straight to the liver and is converted into glycogen and metabolizes into triglycerides and adipose (fat) tissue. Fructose is not used by muscles to replace their stores of glycogen (a good reason for athletes not to consume fructose to replenish muscle glycogen).
  6. Fructose increases blood pressure according to another study
  7. Consumption of HFCS can lead to liver and kidney damage. Metabolism of HFCS in the liver can lead to nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. NAFLD in turn leads to hepatic insulin resistance and type II diabetes.

New articles about the effects of fructose and HFCS on the body and our health are being released more and more frequently. The pro-HFCS organizations such as corn growers associations and lobbyists are having a hard time counter-acting these studies and an even more difficult time coming up with studies that prove GMO corn and HFCS are harmless. I recently came across a flier published by the Kentucky Corn Grower’s Association in which it tried to provide “talking points” against the recent documentary Food, Inc. I invite you to go to their website and check it out. It is filled with inaccuracies, including the one that says all sugar is digested by the body in the same way. I was also intrigued that they don’t even promote HFCS on their “Corn Products Guide” page. I bring this up to alert you to the fact that you will be bombarded by conflicting health information. YOU MUST determine the source of the information and who is benefiting from disseminating the information, especially when it is questionable, not referenced, false or inaccurate.  It often becomes very clear what information has been manipulated to benefit an organization or company. It is logical that KCGA would spend money on supporting HFCS and ethanol as they see it as promoting their interests, despite the consequences to the consumer.

Your health is not the first priority of most companies or organizations. Actually, I would go as far to say that they really don’t care at all, because they are not in business to care about whether you are obese or fit or have diabetes or heart disease. Even the companies that provide our food, our nutritional products and our pharmaceuticals leave it up to you to decide if what they produce and sell is fit to be consumed.  Savvy business practices mean profit and growth. The FDA and USDA aren’t even completely protecting you.

WHAT YOU CAN DO:

If you took my challenge in my last post, you’ve probably discovered that many of the items in you cupboard contain HFCS. It’s probably a very good idea that you try to eliminate as much as you can, especially if you are trying to loose weight. You will be able to find many of your favorite items without HFCS. Start with something you consume a lot of, maybe salad dressings or ketchup. Don’t worry about upsetting the family, just choose one item and eliminate them slowly. One widely available product is Heinz Organic Ketchup which is HFCS free. Here’s a list of some HFCS-free foods that you can start using now!

For more information, refer to Seeds of Deception or read Monsanto’s rebuttal to Food, Inc. which is playing in select theaters in the US and Canada and available at Netflix.

For an excellent podcast interview of filmmaker Ian Cheney, (co-creator of “King Corn“) by Monte Ladner, M.D. go to his webpage FitnessROCKS.org.

If you find this information valuable, please consider making a donation. With your help, I can keep providing research and information on health and wellness topics. THANK YOU!

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