Alimentary self defence: how to handle an assailant who tries to mess with your blood pressure

The Art of Noshi-do, Lesson Three

This is the third Kata in the Noshi-Do series. Noshi-do is the noble art of eating properly [from “nosh” = English slang for “food,” plus “do” = Japanese for “way or path” = literally, “the way of food.”]. It teaches you how to defend yourself against muggers with street names like “Big Agra” who pounce on you  in supermarkets and other high-crime areas  and try to rob you of your health.
The various grades of Noshi-do are signified by belts of various colours,  The novice wears the McDonalds tartan belt and one then progresses through through pallid, jaundiced, grey, yellow. florid and on up to  rosy and then glowing at the most advanced levels.

by Steve Cook

In this kata we look at fructose and high fructose corn syrup, which can sneak up on you and try to floor you when you least expect it. What are the risks to your blood pressure?

Fructose is bad for your health. Period.

The Corn Refiners Association in the United States, via an ad campaign costing millions of dollars, spread the FALSE DATUM that fructose, and especially high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), is little other than a harmless snack. I’m sure this was unintentional of course.

They could not be expected to know and their researchers and scientists could not be expected to know that one of their highly profitable products is bad for people and, even if they knew, one cannot expect them to concern themselves unduly with the welfare of their fellow man when so much money is at stake.

I’m sure nobody lied but even if they had, who can blame them? The health of millions of fellow Americans and their children is hardly their concern when the wealth of dozens of Americans is at stake.

Of course, now that the cat is out of the bag and a mountain of evidence has accumulated that fructose and the dreaded high fructose corn syrup HFCS are harmful to human health, I’m sure honest policy-makers will be only too happy to amend their conduct knowing that if they do not, the rest of us will know exactly where they stand vis a vis a straight choice between our welfare and their profits.

Fructose is a form of sugar found in, among other things, sweetened soft drinks and junk food. A diet high in it evidently raises blood pressure in men. Two recent studies gave evidence that it helps raise blood pressure and another study gave strong indications that people who eat junk foods and drink sweetened soft drinks at night may gain weight faster than those who don’t.

Fructose is far from the only thing that raises blood pressure of course (for instance the shenanigans of the food industry on occasion raises mine) but if you suffer from high blood pressure or wish not to contract high blood pressure, you may want to consider not poisoning yourself with fructose or its alias HFCS.

While it is perfectly true that fructose is a sugar found in fruit, the amounts contained therein are so small that eating moderate amounts of fruit will not be a problem fructose-wise for most people. When the fruit is eaten, its fibre will to some degree moderate the release of fructose into your bloodstream, as well as moderate insulin release. Berries, especially blueberries, raspberries and cranberries are some of the healthiest fruits, rich in anti-oxidants, and they have relatively low sugar content.

However, you should know that it IS possible to intake too much fructose from fruit sources, particularly if you consume a lot of fruit juice. Fruit juice contains very little fibre and about eight full teaspoons of sugar per eight-ounce glass. This fructose is processed rapidly into fat, promoting obesity and other health problems and when consumed in liquid forms like fruit juice or soda, that metabolic effect is magnified. Our bodies were not evolved to obtain their calories via the process of drinking them – we were after all evolved as water drinkers primarily – although I do know some people I would swear were evolved as beer drinkers.

A word of caution should be inserted here: please note that if you suffer from diabetes or obesity then you definitely need to take care as regards fruit consumption and must get professional advice.

It is a fact of life that all sugar can cause health problems and fructose is actually the worst of them. Some of the negative effects of overdosing the body on sugars – with fructose the worst culprit – are diabetes, obesity, metabolic syndrome, increased LDL (bad) cholesterol levels and liver disease.

And now we can add high blood pressure to the list, a serious health concern that can cause heart disease and increase your risk of having a stroke.

One of the cheapest ways of obtaining fructose is to extract it from corn and this cheapness of production has led to it becoming more popular. (Now there’s a surprise!)

Until about thirty to forty years ago, the main source of sugar was sucrose, derived from sugar beet or sugar cane but the use of sugar extracted from corn – especially HFCS – in the diet has since exploded.

It increased one hundred-fold (!) between 1970 and 2005 and is now present in a frightening number and variety of products, especially processed foods, and it is the sweetener used in most soft drinks.

Soft drinks are now the leading source of calories in America and in countries with similarly bad dietary habits, such as Great Britain it is no doubt a commensurately similar tale of woe.

This has become so bad that nine percent of the average dietary energy intake in the United States for instance now comes from fructose – that’s equivalent to nearly one tenth of EVERY meal you eat comprising a big lump of pure sugar!

There is little wonder then that we have an epidemic of obesity and all the health problems that derive from it. The only wonder is that so little is done about it by those in government who are supposed to protect the citizenry from being sold poisons disguised as food; although to be fair the citizenry (or at least those who don’t want to be fat or unhealthy) could do much to protect itself. It could after all simply stop buying products containing fructose or stop voting for politicians who neglect the best interests of the people.

After all, if some group had placed in the water supply some chemical that caused a similar amount of harm, we would have seen it as the action of an enemy of the nation. Tobacco products containing a poison of comparable magnitude are obliged at least to carry a health warning and the freedom of tobacco manufacturers to advertise their toxic products is at least constrained. Why not the same rules where fructose and HFCS are concerned?

It is worth also mentioning briefly that obesity is not the only health problem associated with the nutrient-free pure calorie bomb known as HFCS. It also damages organs such as the liver and pancreas and leads to bone loss, anemia and the aforementioned heart problems, among others.

Enough said?

Okay so you are probably thinking (I hope) about now that you would like to avoid fructose.

Well, reflect that the average American drinks an estimated 60 gallons (sic) of soda every year, while one extra can of it per day can increase your weight by as much as 15 extra pounds in a year. You have nothing to lose except your pounds!!

Since HFCS is also present in a vast number of processed foods, you can do yourself a massive favor in one relatively easy stroke by ceasing to eat all fast foods or consume soft drinks that contain sugar. To be able to avoid fructose completely, except the very small amount ingested by eating moderate and sensible amounts of fruit, (which is ideal), you will need to switch if you can to whole foods. Go easy too on the fruit juices and start drinking lots of good old H20 or green tea.

How thoroughly you can do this depends on your determination to get well and your circumstances, but as a general rule, the more you can achieve in this direction, the more your health will benefit.

If you really must violate the sacred warrior code of noshi-do and devour processed food from time to time, just check out the label before you buy and skip anything with HFCS in it.

And don’t be fooled by the artificial sweeteners either. They are even worse for you than HFCS! So diet sodas are out too.

Fortunately, fructose does not appear to be as hard to kick as coffee or nicotine, so anyone of even average willpower should be able to manage it with only a modicum of floor pacing and carpet chewing.

Come to think of it, chewing the carpet probably does you less damage than fructose….



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About Steve Cook 2279 Articles
Director, UK Reloaded

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