I have mentioned several times on this website as well as my own, that my green living journey began with a better nutrition journey. In my mind now, these two go hand in hand. You simply cannot live a green lifestyle and put bad foods into your body. Once you become conscientious about what you do to the environment, you also begin to be conscientious about what goes in your own personal environment – the body. You start to read more about foods, read labels, cook with fresher ingredients and shop smarter. However, just because something is labeled “natural” does not mean chemically it is good for you.
Several commercial “green” campaigns have become very deceptive. It seems that advertisers for companies know we will make our decisions to buy their products based on emotion, morality and their assumption that we are ignorant to the true facts. And for the most part, many of us are ignorant until we are educated. It’s impossible to know what’s true based upon what we see on T.V. To purchase something because the commercial was cool or presented an idea that seemed logical is ignorant.
I am taking aim, in this article, at the Corn Refiner’s Association. They have sent out a commercial that not only makes conscientious mothers look like idiots, but actually PROMOTES the use of products containing high fructose corn syrup. The reason? High Fructose Corn Syrup is “natural” and therefore, the conscientious mother is stupid for not wanting her kids to drink the fruity HFCS sweetened beverage the other mom is serving. It’s a very deceptive ad. It’s a dangerous ad campaign.
Here are the facts:
- HFCS is made with natural ingredients – corn! But chemically, this man-made processed sweetener performs differently in the human body. There are many names for the different sugars, one being fructose. Two others are sucrose and dextrose. Sucrose is white table sugar. Of the three sugars I’ve just mentioned, fructose behaves quite differently in the human body. Sucrose and dextrose are broken down in our bodies way before they even reach the liver. Fructose arrives at the liver nearly completely unbroken down. Fructose is then used to help produce triglycerides which carry cholesterol throughout the body. An increase in blood cholesterol can cause heart disease and can collect in the arteries to form blockages.
- High fructose corn syrup is sweeter than table sugar and cheaper to produce which brings down the cost of the foods we consume. Well sure! But the difference between sucrose and fructose is that sucrose, when consumed in large quantities causes the brain to shut down appetite when it senses satiety. Satiety is another word for feeling full. The brain does not recognize fructose satiety and therefore humans keep consuming foods that contain HFCS without feeling full and knowing when to stop. This causes the obesity epidemic in our country and many people have never learned moderation and self control. The satiety mechanism in our brain is a natural response to eating too much. When our brains do not teach us to stop eating because it doesn’t know it should…well, you get the idea.
- HFCS has the same number of calories as table sugar. Our bodies tend to store fat rather than burn it when we eat foods that contain HFCS. Caloric number or not, it’s how the body breaks the sugars down, stores it and uses it. It has been shown in studies that our metabolism “tends toward fat storage when consuming high levels of fructose.” Ever wonder why you have such a hard time getting rid of the fat on certain parts of your body? It could be the food you eat. HFCS is in so many foods, it’s hard to tell sometimes. It’s in bread, cereals, crackers, fast foods, pastas, sodas, ketchup and get this…energy bars! It’s even in some of those so called 100 calorie packs certain food companies are selling to dieters.
- HFCS extends the shelf life of foods manufactured and sold in stores. It enhances flavor. That may be. And honestly, I can understand why manufacturers would like their products to have longer shelf lives. Better profits. But when it comes down to it…do you really want to put something in your body that’s been sitting on a shelf for a long time? We all have tried to get away from foods that have preservatives in them because they simply aren’t healthy. This is just another preservative under a pretty name: natural. And let’s talk about flavor enhancing shall we? I have found that in my organic, fresh, all natural lifestyle, foods that are the closest they can be from the earth to my table actually taste better than food that has been processed, sat on a shelf for a long time and been flavor enhanced. Have our taste buds gotten so desensitized that we need HFCS to enhance flavor so it can be once again enjoyed?
- And let’s not forget the environmental impact of HFCS. The increased demand for corn based products is taking it’s toll on our earth. Corn is usually not a crop that’s rotated, which means that more pesticides and fertilizers are needed to keep producing corn year after year. Manufacturing HFCS is energy intensive. Nothing organic and natural about that folks.
It’s important to acknowledge here that moderation is key in anything you eat. You don’t have to go home and throw out everything in your cupboards that contain HFCS. But you need to practice moderation, self control and healthy eating. Eat fresher foods. Reach for less packaged and processed foods from the store. Learn to make some foods from scratch. READ LABELS! There are products on the market that do not contain HFCS! Be smart! Don’t be lulled into believing that just because it’s labeled “all natural” or “natural” that it’s good for you. Don’t be duped into thinking that just because the FDA approves it, it must be ok. You have to have an understanding of what these foods can do to your body on a molecular level.
Not sure how to figure that out? Check things out for yourself online. Google or use any other search engine to read up on the good and bad sides of certain ingredients. Go to the library! There are so many ways to educate yourself about the foods you put in your body. I mean seriously….cigarettes are made with some “natural” ingredients (tobacco for one) and we all know what they can do to our bodies!
Come visit Beth at her blog Coming Up for Air where she’s constantly getting mad at commercials, but mostly she organic gardens, grows her urban homestead and is canning up a storm!
This is an original 5 MInutes for Going Green post