Posted by Linda Bonvie
December 12, 2013
The “harmful consequences” of high fructose corn syrup consumption, it seems, are becoming ever more apparent to researchers from across the globe. But not to worry – an “antidote” might already exist!
I kid you not. You’ll find it referred to in a study recently published by Turkish researchers – an alleged remedy for one of the most damaging side-effects of HFCS, vascular insulin resistance.
Not only that, but across the Asian continent in China, researchers have just published a study showing how betaine, a substance found in greens and shellfish and also extracted from sugar beets to make dietary supplements, just might mitigate yet another ill effect of high fructose consumption.
But first to Turkey, where scientists from two universities set out to see if resveratrol – a plant compound high in antioxidants found in the skin of red grapes – when taken in supplement form, could offset the harmful effects of feeding rats a solution of 10 and 20 percent HFCS added to their drinking water.
At the end of the 12-week study, the Turkish rats that consumed the HFCS-spiked water had increased triglycerides and VLDL (very low density lipoprotein) – which are conditions associated with heart disease – as well as higher total cholesterol, insulin and glucose. Interestingly, the rats did not become obese on their HFCS diet, which caused the researchers to conclude that “metabolic syndrome” can develop without obesity, similar to that observed in their previous study. (Metabolic syndrome is a group of high-risk conditions that can lead to heart disease, stroke and diabetes).
The study, titled “Resveratrol prevents high-fructose corn syrup-induced vascular insulin resistance and dysfunction in rats,” published in Food and Chemical Toxicology, concluded that those harmful effects of HFCS consumption might be mitigated by resveratrol. Possibly adding resveratrol to “HFCS-sweetened foodstuff may be a promising strategy for the prevention of the unhealthy situation,” according to the researchers.
Those of us not taking resveratrol should hold the soda, however, as the study also concludes that “HFCS intake may directly result in the onset of type-2 diabetes.”
Meanwhile, over in China, just-published research in The Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry examined another one of the devastating conditions that can result from metabolic syndrome – chronic kidney disease. The study found that rats taking betaine supplements (typically derived from sugar beets), had significant improvement in this fructose-induced condition.
Certainly the idea that HFCS and high fructose consumption can cause a wide variety of diseases and conditions is not new. And aside from all of the ill effects from metabolic syndrome and obesity, a Canadian researcher who specializes in addiction presented findings this year showing that rats self-dosing on HFCS show the same pattern of behavior as rats on cocaine, leading him to state that “HFCS has effects that are beyond the sweetness in the mouth” – that is, “effects on the brain.”
And just recently Dr. Mark Hyman, best-selling author and chairman of the Institute for Functional Medicine, claimed that HFCS “is driving most of the epidemic of heart disease, cancers, dementia and…diabetes.”
Add to that comments from popular author and pioneer in integrative medicine, Andrew Weil, M.D., who maintained that HFCS is “…one of the single worst things you can give to people that have this genetic constitution that predispose them to insulin resistance…”
So where does that leave us? Should we be popping resveratrol and betaine pills and going about our merry way consuming foods and beverages that contain HFCS (many of which would be perfectly healthy products otherwise)?
It does seem amusing, even bizarre, that scientists would be hard at work finding an “antidote” to an additive that could be totally eliminated from the food supply without concerns about shortages or inconvenience to the consumer. After all, we did perfectly fine before the 1970s when HFCS slowly started creeping into our foods and beverages. There were sodas, bread, ketchup, yogurt, salad dressings, buns, sauces, soups, teas – all the same food and drink as we have today – except for the fact they contained no HFCS.
So by all means, eat your greens, shellfish, grapes, and even enjoy that occasional glass of wine so you can get all the benefits that resveratrol and betaine have to offer. But that shouldn’t be an excuse to go on ingesting a laboratory sweetener for which an increasing number of “harmful consequences” continue to be disclosed.