I’ve finally found evidence that my instincts surrounding what I consume have a scientific basis! I always preferred to “spend” my calorie intake on actual food. It just seemed not nearly as enjoyable to drink my calories, so I’ve had a long standing relationship with water. Yes, water! And now I am so grateful.
Obesity is such a rampant disease in our country that I feel I must share a little bit of what I’ve discovered over the years. This disease is responsible for the vast majority of our health care needs because it leads to so many other diseases. And that’s not counting the emotional and mental health problems that obesity leads to!
Once upon a time I would have said the single biggest thing you can do for your health is to quit smoking – or not start! And while that is still true, it’s interesting that we now have ways to ingest nicotine that really doesn’t do much harm to you. That’s a great thing! If you’re interested in seeing a short video on this topic click here.
High Fructose Corn Syrup – Quit Now!
Now I think the single biggest thing you can do for your health is to quit high fructose corn syrup (HFCS)! That may be a bit dramatic but maybe not. We all know that too much sugar is not good for us. (At least I think we all know that!) But there’s something about HFCS that makes it particularly insidious.
Not only is the sugar bad for us, but HFCS actually interferes with the things that help us control our appetite. It interferes with our metabolism. It inhibits the triggers that tell us we’re full. So we just want to eat more. And more. For reasons unknown HFCS in drinks is especially harmful for determining what we eat. In other words, when HFCS is consumed in food, there is more of an ability for the body to self regulate and eat less to compensate for the increased calories that have been eaten. But when HFCS is consumed in liquid form, there is no counter balance that triggers us to eat less to make up for the calorie intake from the drink. So when we drink soda, energy drinks, HFCS sweetened juice or yogurt drinks, we end up consuming a lot more calories than we need.
This is really simple way of describing the situation. If you want to read more technical information you can find an article in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition here. It isn’t mentioned here, but others have discovered that HFCS is as addictive as cocaine. The combination of overriding the messages that tell your brain that you have had enough to eat, and the addictive nature of HFCS, means that consuming HFCS is literally forcing your brain to have you eat more than you should. The why may be controversial but several studies provide evidence that there is a difference between regular sugar and HFCS. Here is one.
Now whether making sure we don’t consume HFCS is really the single biggest factor determining our health, that may be an exaggeration. We all know we need to keep moving and using our bodies. We all know we need to eat healthy foods, the less processed the better. And we know there is an emotional component to health. Yes, we have sweet foods for celebrations. It might be counter productive over all to insist that we eat no added sugars. My mother used to say “If you quit smoking you may not live longer, but it sure will feel like it.” It’s hard to have the humor come across in writing. This same woman did, in fact, quit smoking for her grandchildren. Unfortunately not early enough to avoid lung cancer. But I digress.
I don’t want to make anyone feel guilty about eating the occasional (even daily) sweet treat. I do want to help you make wise choices and understand the potential consequences of your choices.