The Not-So-Secret Ingredient That Made America Fat and Diabetic

I worked for Men’s Health Magazine for a total of nine years during my career and it represents an outstanding experience. It wasn’t just the people that worked there, it was the mission behind the brand: health, wellness, and in many cases, the magazine featured stories that were truly thought-provoking.

Yes, they continue to have ab articles… constantly, but it sells newsstand copies so cut them a break. The fact I never procured a six-pack while I worked there is a subject for another time, and a subject you likely don’t give a sh*t about because… why would you?

I experienced a mind-blowing moment while I worked there and it relates to food.

High-fructose corn syrup is in everything. Your body has no idea what to do with it when your caloric intake goes above average. This article, and subsequent conversations I had with the editors prior to publication, still fascinate me to this day. It stems from the fact that the science behind it is so simple it is hard to believe.

If you read the article, you’ll learn that food companies became enthralled with this ingredient because it provided the punch of high-octane flavor (sugar) without the added cost or processing challenges that stem from using real-world sweeteners.

Raw high fructose corn syrup

The editor I spoke with noted that the evolution of human beings, through millennia, did not provide the means to digest high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) properly. “Over thousands of years, this food component didn’t exist in nature. So, your body doesn’t know how to process it.”

He went on to explain two unique elements when it comes to digesting this ingredient. First, consider paleo diets – foods that were digested by our ancestors in BC times. Your body knows how to process foods like regular fructose, which is sugar in fruits and vegetables. Proteins, grains and other natural foods fall within the paleo diet. High-fructose corn syrup came into use in the early 1900s.

Once your body starts digesting HGCS, it literally doesn’t know what to do with it. First, it converts these sugars into carbohydrates for fuel but the body is overwhelmed by the total amount of calories. This triggers the body to store the energy for later use.

That means… fat.

The editor went on to explain how regular sugars, which your body can identify, triggers the brain to stop eating so it doesn’t get overloaded.

He went on further to explain how your body identifies food. “When you’re digesting a large quantity of regular cane sugar, your body identifies what you’re eating. Your stomach conveys this fact to your brain and you instinctively know to stop eating or drinking it. That doesn’t happen with high fructose corn syrup.”

If you’ve ever consumed Coca-Cola that’s processed in Mexico, it’s made with real sugar. American Coke is not – the main sweetener is HFCS. If you drank two liters of both sodas, Mexican Coke would prompt the body to stop consuming, given the amount of sugar you’re digesting.

Coca-Cola produced in Mexico, and available in the U.S.

This explains why Americans gained so much weight between the 1980s and 2000s. Furthermore, when your body consumes so much natural sugar, it responds by producing leptin, a hormone associated with insulin. Consuming HGCS, rather than fructose, doesn’t trigger the same response of leptin production in one’s body.

That, in turn, explains the spike in diabetes, which relates to one’s ability to produce insulin or lack thereof.

Now that you know, as a responsible parent, why would you ever buy a soda that includes high fructose corn syrup? You can’t remove it entirely from your family’s diet, but serving your kid a large glass filled with something his/her body can’t process… why?

If you have the means to let your child drink Mexican Coke, there’s nothing wrong with doing so. It’s made with real sugar so he can digest it.

For everything else, tap the brakes.

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