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You Did It!! We ARE Winning the War on Fructose!!

The back-to-back announcements that PepsiCo (PEP) is no longer going to use high fructose corn syrup in Gatorade along with the results of a scathing new study from researchers at Princeton make it official -- allies of the controversial sweetener have lost the war.

The study reported that rats that ate HFCS gained significantly more weight than those that ate table sugar, even when their overall caloric intake was the same. For years, the Corn Refiners Association, a trade group consisting of companies like Cargill and ADM (ADM), has been hammering away at the bad press gushing out about high fructose corn syrup. In ads, in the press and online, they argue that the sweetener is a perfectly natural product and that it is no worse for you than other forms of sugar.

Of course, the Corn Refiners Association is not going to go down easily.  Currently, they appear to be pretending the problem simply doesn’t exist.  On their Web site, “SweetSurprise.com”, they are still trumpeting an episode of the CBS Evening News with Katie Couric that ran a report basically parroting the industry line -- “high fructose corn syrup is just sugar with an image problem.”

However, a Princeton research team has again demonstrated that all sweeteners are NOT equal when it comes to weight gain -- rats with access to high-fructose corn syrup gained significantly more weight than those with access to table sugar, even when their overall caloric intake was the same.

In addition to causing significant weight gain in lab animals, long-term consumption of high-fructose corn syrup also led to abnormal increases in body fat, especially in the abdomen, and a rise in circulating blood fats called triglycerides.

High-fructose corn syrup and sucrose are both compounds that contain the simple sugars fructose and glucose, but there at least two clear differences between them. First, sucrose is composed of equal amounts of the two simple sugars -- it is 50 percent fructose and 50 percent glucose.  Typical high-fructose corn syrup features a slightly imbalanced ratio, containing 55 percent fructose and 42 percent glucose, with larger sugar molecules called higher saccharides making up the remaining 3 percent.

Second, the fructose molecules in high-fructose corn syrup are free and unbound, ready for absorption and utilization. Every fructose molecule in sucrose that comes from cane sugar or beet sugar is bound to a corresponding glucose molecule and must go through an extra metabolic step before it can be utilized.

Yet another recent study has linked HFCS to liver disease.

Intakes of sugar-sweetened beverages may increase levels of uric acid, a compound linked to decreased kidney function, and a cross-sectional analysis of data from almost 16,000 people found that the risk of chronic kidney disease increased by over 150 percent in those who more than one soda per day and had high levels of uric acid.

The metabolization of fructose leads to increased production of uric acid, a compound linked to kidney disease when detected in high levels.