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A Touch of Wellbeing
A Wellness Blog for Busy People

The Truth About High Fructose Corn Syrup

(Part 2 of 2)

So, we are back for the 2nd part of “The Truth About High Fructose Corn Syrup”. Today’s blog will focus on how HFCS breaks down in the body regarding nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) and HFCS’s most popular vessel - soda.

NAFLD is a disorder that occurs when an excess of fat builds up in the liver, which can lead to permanent scarring of the liver, called cirrhosis. The National Library of Medicine cites the risk factors for NAFLD as: high triglycerides, low HDL cholesterol, Type 2 diabetes, high BMI or body mass index, age, hypertension, and waist circumference.

The annual meeting of the Endocrine Society held in Atlanta Georgia, 6.2.22, revealed the following opinion as a result of numerous research studies regarding HFCS:

“Fructose is a natural sugar present in fruits, fruit juices, certain vegetables and honey. In these forms, fructose sugars can be part of a nutritious diet. However, fructose is also a component of high-fructose corn syrup, which manufacturers make from corn starch and add to unhealthy foods such as sodas and candies. High fructose foods have been associated with metabolic disorders such as obesity and diabetes, which are the two main causes of NAFLD.”

So exactly how does this breakdown occur in the body? In Medical News Today, Dr. Theodore Friedman, Ph.D. of Charles R. Drew University in Washington, D.C., sums it up this way:

“High fructose corn syrup can lead to NAFLD by several mechanisms. It can increase the amount of fat made by the liver. It can also increase inflammation in the liver and can change how the liver metabolizes glucose. It can also increase abdominal fat that can lead to NAFLD.”

We found further detail from Dr. Curtis K. Argo, Associate Professor in the Department of Medicine at the University of Virginia” who says:

“High fructose corn syrup likely sets off a number of inflammatory pathways possibly initiated by changes in the gut microbiome composition and weakening of the integrity of the gut’s intestinal barrier.”

“[This may then permit] microbes and toxins (such as endotoxins) to gain access to portal vein circulation and lead to increased fat deposition and liver inflammation via maladaptive fat droplet metabolism in hepatocytes--the chief functional liver cells--in at-risk patients. [In turn, this may then lead] to NAFLD, and possibly the more harmful version of fatty liver, nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH).”

Though this is a mouthful, the bottom line seems to be the amount of fructose vs. glucose in HFCS (refer to Part 1). I think we can agree that limiting added sugars, especially the consumption of HFCS, is a good thing.

One of our favorite beverages in America is soda which turns out to be one of the main vessels of HFCS! reveals consumption of soda has dropped to around 38.87 gallons per person in 2018 from 53 gallons in 2000, but that is still a lot! Let’s investigate soda aka soft drinks a bit further – just for fun.

The term soft drink is used distinguish it from a “hard” alcoholic drink. Guess what, soft drinks can contain alcohol. If it is less than 0.5% of the total volume it can be considered nonalcoholic. And remember Coca Cola originally contained cocaine. Ok, now the consumption is making sense! But that is another blog for another day. 😊

Sodas are usually produced by injecting carbon dioxide (CO2) under high pressure. When that pressure is removed, the CO2 is released from the solution as small bubbles. Cool huh? Soda consists of carbonated water, natural or artificial sweetener and natural or artificial flavoring. Some selections have added caffeine, colorings and preservatives.

The sweetener that is added is usually that pesky HFCS. Although sugar-free beverages first showed up in 1952, it seems like in the last few years that calorie-free carbonated beverages have burst onto the market with the more popular name of zero sugar. But regular soda still outsold diet soda by about ¾ of the total market in 2020 according to

In 1984, Coca Cola and Pepsi stopped using sugar in their sodas and changed to HFCS. Because of government tariffs and import quotas, sugar became alarmingly expensive. This change rocked the sugar industry, and “the rest is history” as they say. Little did we know what that one change would do to the health of Americans. Even though just a short distance down south in Mexico, we can get a classic Coca-Cola made with cane sugar, we don’t see HFCS being removed from the majority of soda in America anytime soon.

Until next time, enjoy a glass of the bubbly concoction, but please practice moderation. We still only recommend two 12-oz sodas per week, regular or diet.

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