Article reprinted from Pure Facts December/January 2005
Note: There is some confusion between fructose, glucose, corn syrup, and high fructose corn syrup (HFCS).
We are reviewing the research on the subject and will print a clarification as soon as possible. - 2/20/08
Although it is not eliminated on the Feingold Program, some members find that corn syrup is a major offender. The problem is usually not caused by an allergy to corn but is believed to be a reaction to the chemicals used in processing the corn, especially sulfur.Home
Actually, sulfur is an essential element and is found in every cell of plants and animals, but not everyone is able to process some of the sulfur-based chemicals. Some autistic children seem to have a particular problem processing sulfite. It is believed that they lack the enzymes needed to add oxygen to the sulfite, making a sulfate, which can then be excreted.
Sulfite is used in many foods. It is not only added to wines, but has long been used on grapes to prevent mildew disease.
Sulfur preservatives have made life very difficult for many people, but some have fought back. Rick Williams believes that his suffering was triggered by what he calls the "Brimstone Demons," -- the various forms of sulfur preservatives. Rick offers a free on-line book called Headaches, Asthma, Fries and a Cola
Sulfites and sulfur dioxide may be found in: dried fruit, gelatin, candy, beer, processed potatoes, shrimp and other seafood, shredded coconut, guacamole, plus lemon juice and other fruit juices. They are also present in caramel coloring which is widely used in sauces, cola beverages, and dark breads.
Corn as a sweetener
More than a billion bushels of corn are used each year to produce corn starch and corn syrup. Turning corn kernels into a sweet syrup involves a lot of chemical processes, beginning with two days of soaking in a solution of hot water and sulfur dioxide. Then the components are separated into corn oil, protein and the familiar white powder we call corn starch, which may contain up to 50 parts per million of sulfur dioxide.
"Golden raisins" are just raisins that are treated with sulfur to give them their pale color.
Rick Williams explains that starches are composed of "strings" of molecules, and the shorter the strings, the sweeter the product will be. Various chemicals are used to break these strings of molecules into shorter pieces, producing slightly sweet starches like maltodextrin and polydextrose. The very short strings, which are much sweeter, are corn syrup. Sulfur is still present in the sweeteners, although it is found in smaller amounts than in the cornstarch. High fructose corn syrup, which is sweeter than regular corn syrup, has even less sulfur left in it.
Most brands of dehydrated and frozen potatoes use sulfur to keep them from browning.
The starches that are created from corn are used for other purposes beside sweetening. They are low-cost fillers -- what the industry likes to refer to as "bulking agents" -- found in all types of foods, including sugar-reduced products.
Williams wonders if the fact that he was fed infant formula made from corn syrup and condensed milk might have set him up to be sensitive to sulfur preservatives. He notes that about half of the "allergen free" baby formulas he researched and all of the soy based formulas contain corn syrup.
Caramel coloring was once made by heating sugar until it turned deep brown. It was an important addition to beers, ales and brandy. Today caramel coloring is widely used in processed foods, with the major amount going into soft drinks. Typically, it is made by treating corn syrup with acids, alkalis and salts. Although it is not eliminated on the Feingold Program, very sensitive members might not be able to tolerate the residues from the chemicals used to create the caramel or the corn syrup.
As sweetness increased and costs declined, soft drink companies could offer larger portions and still keep profits high. Free refills encouraged Americans to increase their consumption of sodas. Between 1965 and 1996 soft drink consumption increased by 287% for teen-age boys and 224% for teen girls according to Dr. George Bray, an obesity researcher and professor of medicine at Louisiana State University.
Corn sweeteners earn $4.5 billion each year, and high fructose corn syrup represents 55% of the sweeteners used in foods and beverages in the United States.
There is a big difference between the fructose that occurs naturally in fruits and the HFCS that is used in so many processed foods, including "healthy" drinks and snacks. HFCS is sweeter and less expensive than sugar, mixes well with foods and drinks, and has many other characteristics that are beneficial for the food industry.
Glucose and fructose are metabolized differently. Glucose increases insulin (blood sugar) levels, but fructose does not. In fact, eating fructose actually lowers levels of both insulin and leptin, another hormone involved with regulating appetite. If consuming fructose means that we do not feel satisfied, this may explain some of the factors in this country's obesity epidemic.
Use of HFCS has been linked with copper deficiency, which can lead to heart disease and with magnesium deficiency, a factor in bone loss. When fructose is combined with other sugars, it reduces the body's supply of chromium, a mineral that helps to balance insulin levels. The corn industry insists, "There is no conclusive link between the increased consumption of fructose and HFCS in the United States and the obesity epidemic." The industry's defenders point to a lack of exercise as the culprit.