With the temperatures soaring into the 90s in much of the country, it’s hard to fathom enjoying the sickly-sweet smell of “pumpkin spice” right now.
But that’s exactly what assaulted my nose when I popped into my favorite coffee shop earlier this week for a to-go cup.
After briefly checking the calendar and confirming it was indeed still August, I ordered my regular plain iced coffee with a dash of full-fat cream.
But I have a confession. Honestly, I’m a bit embarrassed to admit it. I was briefly tempted to order some.
Because, let’s face it, there’s a reason that food manufacturers dump “pumpkin spice” flavor into everything these days. It’s enticing regardless of the season.
But don’t let yourself get drawn in. Because what’s hidden inside that flavoring is bad news.
And it’s an excellent reason to keep your guard up as Big Food rolls out the seasonal flavors to lure in your taste buds over the coming months.
The hidden threat in your favorite treats
Here’s the truth.
Regardless of whether it’s the pumpkin spice, chestnut cream, or peppermint-everything that’s tempting you over the next few months, they ALL have something in common. And that is the not-so-secret ingredient that makes them so darn irresistible, ISN’T the scent.
It’s the SUGAR. And more specifically, the high FRUCTOSE corn syrup.
Now I get it. You’re likely thinking you need yet another lecture on the dangers of sugar like you need… well… another hole in the head. But trust me, you’re going to want to stick around for this one.
Because new research has revealed that fructose has been hiding a disturbing secret. One that sounds a lot like it was ripped right from the pages of some sci-fi magazine.
This fruit-derived sugar appears to be literally ALTERING the cells in the digestive tract causing it to suck up far more nutrients than are needed.
The inside of your small intestine is lined with zillions of tiny finger-like extensions called villi. The villi’s job is to expand the surface area of your gut so your body can absorb more valuable nutrients as they pass through your digestive tract.
But the new animal study finds that a bizarre change happens when villi are exposed to a lot of fructose which is the main sweetener in high-fructose corn syrup and half of what makes up table sugar.
The villi grow… a LOT. And this isn’t a good thing.
How fructose is making us fat and sick
In the study, when mice were put on a high-fructose diet (similar to the typical Western diet), their villi became supersized, growing 25-40 percent longer than those of mice that weren’t given the sweetener.
That, in turn, led to far more nutrient absorption. And, well, you can probably guess exactly where there is going. The mice packed on the pounds, and their body fat ballooned. After all, those nutrients had to go somewhere.
But wait, it gets worse. The high fructose diet trigged the buildup of a metabolite of fructose called fructose-1-phosphate. That’s devastating because studies have found fructose-1-phosphate can help cancer cells increase and tumors to form and grow.
Plus, don’t forget, other research hints that certain cancers may prefer to munch on sugar for fuel.
So if your own favorite coffee shop is already going pumpkin crazy… or you find yourself tempted by any other seasonal sweets and treats… take a deep breath and let that feeling pass. But don’t stop there.
Become a label reader and look for all those hidden sources of fructose and sugar in your diet and ditch them. You’ll be shocked where you’ll uncover the stuff.
Processed foods from salad dressings to soups often contain some high fructose corn syrup. And it’s no mere coincidence that as fructose consumption has shot up, so have the rates of obesity and cancer.
In fact, other research has tied HFCS to greater weight gain and abnormal increases in body fat. You can catch up on that disturbing research right here in this classic Healthier Talk.