Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Just Say No to HFCS

If my students leave my class with one consistent piece of information not related to the study of English, it is to avoid consuming products that contain high fructose corn syrup. The issue is digression, or you might say a "rant," that occurs early in the year in my class as students come walking in with a soda, or worse, a Powerade (I wonder why they need an energy drink after a grueling walk from across the hall). I roundly (and good-naturedly) chastise them for putting such a toxic product into their body, everyone laughs and argues a bit, and then we move. The issue, however, never completely dies, as it comes up when we analyze an op-ed piece about it or we do a rhetorical deconstruction of the movie Super-size Me or when we have a class debate and write a synthesis essay about whether there should be a ban on endorsement contracts between soda companies and schools. Reasonably, it is an issue for which kids have interest and opinion.

I stopped using products with HFCS about six years ago, and the more I read, the more I am inclined to stick with my boycott and urge others to do the same. Simply by cutting it out of my diet, I lost fifteen pounds. Dr. Mehmet Oz and Dr. Michael Roizen - Oprah's health gurus and authors of You: the Owners Manual - advise patients to end or at least radically limit consumption of the sweetener that, these days, seems to be in just about everything. One of the biggest problems is that it inhibits the body's/mind's ability to discern when it was full. That is why people can consume a 64 oz. Big Gulp. Realistically, the body is not meant to consume that much liquid, especially one made of sugar. Additionally, there is much research to note the connection between the rise of HFCS in foods and the rise in America's weight problem.

There is no doubt that we can all do a few small things to be a bit healthier. If you're looking for one small change, I recommend saying goodbye to HFCS.

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