a skewed view of normalcy.

Okay, a more serious post today.  (I’m not in a very sarcastic mood, I guess.)

Two weekends ago, I led my 8th grade Religious Education class.  I really like the class because it’s for people of any or no faith – part of the Unitarian Universalist “congregation” – and it’s the perfect coming-of-age group to open up discussions that challenge their world views and how they perceive each other, peers, and strangers.  This last Sunday, the curriculum called for a new chapter titled “Abundance”.  The theme?  Abundance vs. Scarcity.  I get to pick lessons from the guidebook for the program (K-12) and alter them if necessary.

For this particular class, I opened with a question activity.  These questions made them consider things like the definition of material wealth, “enough”, and whether abundancy is always positive and scarcity is always negative.  They seemed pretty convinced that there is one American “dream”, that electricity is a need, and that starving people live in Africa – for the most part.  I then read them some statistics about Indian Reservations to give them a perspective on how entire populations in the US live differently than they do, and they seemed shocked that the majority of folks on the Navajo Reservation don’t have electricity, as one example.  Our last activity was a “feast”: I assigned each of them a role in the world as either one of the 1/3 starving, 1/3 underfed, or 1/3 fed enough.  1/3 had to draw empty plates and no water, `1/3 had a piece of bread and a glass of water, and 1/3 had several pieces of bread, an apple, and water.  One girl drew the 2% card and could draw anything she wanted.  We held a “feast” and shared our plates, then discussed how we would feel eating at the same table if it was Bring Your Own Meal.  I told them this is what the world’s eating looked like and asked them to realize they likely fall in the fed enough category, but also experience enough luxury to sometimes feel like the 2%.  In other words, these middle to upper class kids relative to the majority of kids in the world have so much freedom.

I wanted the kids to realize their skewed view on normalcy.  That was a large part of the exercise.  But in doing my preparation, I realized even my view was skewed.  What did I view as normal?  When you realize how skewed your view is and adjust it, doesn’t it change everything?

The fact that made me change my perspective was when I was writing down those electricity stats.  I knew those stats.  I’ve read and repeated and discussed them a thousand times, the disparages between communities.  On Indian Reservations, sometimes it’s a choice to live a more “traditional” life without those services being provided to the “public”, meaning the tribe or residents on the Reservation.  However, sometimes those conveniences just aren’t feasible.  Whether or not the Navajo Reservation, for example, would like to provide its whole community with electricity, it’s still an enormous land tract with the largest Reservation population within US boundaries.  Houses are far apart, sprawled across a rather unforgiving desert-scape.

Traditionally, people in the Diné community lived in hogans with fire and coals to heat their living spaces.  I tried imagining myself on that Reservation today.  I’ve traveled before and lived in some interesting conditions, like in Ouidah, Benin when the government would periodically pull the electric plug on a city and we’d have hours of darkness.  I’ve roamed all across India, trying to keep up with my travel blog while my Internet key kept up a shaky, hit-or-miss connection.  I’ve always felt connected while still subjecting myself to some of the conditions of the folks around me, but I’ve never lived without electricity as a permanent lifestyle.  With my career in engineering, I began to wonder how that was possible.  I imagined all the things that would be different: Maybe I’d have a trailer, but how would I heat it?  Without it burning down?  Without it being too cold for my cats?  How would I heat water to bathe and be presentable for the workplace?  To cook dinner?  How would I store food?  Where would I get my food?  What about the Internet and electricity to charge my phone?  It’s a luxury, I know, but what about someone who is trying to lead a “normal” work life and career?  What if I had an emergency?  If my car broke down?  If I didn’t have a car?

Then I kind of laughed at myself and realized, people do this every day.  The people on that Reservation don’t have those conveniences and they just live life.  Sure, expectations in a “modern” career are much different, but surely people do it.  This idea of a “traditional” life – it’s just that.  It’s how people have lived forever.  I know I’m tough and I can go without a lot, but I figured I would be the grumpiest “traditionalist”.  Mostly because a heated house, space heater, and steaming water are still not hot enough to get me into and back out of a shower.  I’m ALWAYS freezing!  That would be the hardest part for me, and I already live with my heat turned way down or not on at all.

But I realized my lesson kind of opened my own eyes and brought me full-circle on something I had already begun to realize.  I was now realizing my skewed view of normalcy, the skewed views of others (like these kids who think you need electricity to live a wholesome life),  rather than just noticing the “skewed” view those without so many things have.

I saw “skewed”, because whose view is really skewed?  Wouldn’t it be the non-traditionalist’s view that is the skewed one?

Things that initially made me consider how others view the world:

– In Cameroon, I was considered poor because I’m a healthy weight.  Overweight women were considered the healthy, rich ones capable of feeding themselves.  I had many long conversations in French while traveling West and Central Africa, explaining to my hosts that, in America, fattening food is often cheaper and the rich people tend to spend a lot of money to work out and buy “health” food to stay skinny.  They were dumbfounded and called Americans crazy.

– In Benin, a restaurant owner and my language teacher told me people in their village enjoy their lifestyles.  They said motorcycles and nice cloth are more of a luxury than anything and they do like having them, but they don’t want all the complicated things that come with the “modern American way of life”.  They don’t want the stress, the pressure to come to work on the minute, the need to be available all the time.  As they put it, they loved the relaxed, African life and wouldn’t trade it for any of our luxuries.

– In India, I watched folks sleep on the highway medians, carry water long distances, and even wrap themselves in more clothing against the hot sun in a 120-something-degree weather.  To them, it’s just the hot time of year.  They don’t have fans or air-conditioning.

– In most of these third-world kind of conditions, food was local, in-season, natural, just completely normal food.

So this brings me to my last point:

In considering all the things in our lives we do that we think are “normal” and how our view of normalcy is skewed and affects the way we perceive the world, our daily lives, and our opinions on the kinds of poverty the rest of the world is facing, you’ll see that our food and “product” habits are incredibly toxic.

Why do we import foods we don’t need?  (Why can we buy citrus in any state, all year round?  Why can someone in New England find coconuts in any large store?  Why is buying “local” the new trend when it used to be “OMG it’s IMPORTED”, like back in the old days when Chinese tea and West Indies sugar was a luxury?)

Why do we think we don’t have time for food?  (Are our lives that incorrectly prioritized that we think gardening is pleasure or a hobby?  Why has an urban lifestyle become normal when it’s not sustainable?  Why do we accept eating at a chain restaurant as being a normal habit – when we have no idea what’s in our food?)

Why are we okay with GMOs?  (Why do we let the industry feed us fruit, for example, that has been grown larger, sweeter, and sprayed a prettier color?  Why do we think it’s normal to eat food that has been made cheaper and/or artificially?)

Why are we okay with supporting certain industries?  (Why is it radical to say you don’t want to eat a certain thing or you want to buy only US-made stuff?  Why do people just turn a blind eye to industrialized food and working conditions that they support when buying certain foods?  Is it because it’s more convenient to ignore?  When we already live this life of insane convenience?)

Why do we accept chemicals in our food and products?  (Why do we accept food companies who fight labeling?  Why do we think it’s normal to use pesticides which clearly are toxic enough to kill small organism and which have been proven to accumulate in the environment and in our own bodies?  Why do we think natural remedies are the “alternative” solutions when in fact they are the origins of medicine and the purest, most ancient forms of healing?  Why do we buy lotions and use shampoos that have chemicals that absorb directly into our bloodstreams and don’t think anything of it?  Why do we think it’s normal – or even necessary – to bathe every day and dry out our skin and hair just to satisfy some social construct or modern idea of acceptable cleanliness?)

In sum, myself, my peers, and surely most of you reading this are accepting things that shouldn’t be acceptable, are living lives completely skewed and without second-guessing our concepts of normalcy.  Truly take a moment to think about these things, about the class I taught and views on “abundance vs. scarcity”.  Think about what a “normal” human life actually should be, normal meaning one without any conveniences – one that would seem incredibly “tribal” to the modern eye.  Use that as a baseline.  It really changes your perspective on EVERYTHING you do in your life.  At least it does for me!

“superfoods” and why you should ignore them.

I’m so sick of people talking about “superfoods”.  Did you know most nutritionists won’t even use that word?  It’s because it was coined by Dr. Stephen Pratt (well, there might be dispute over the first guy to pitch the sale) and doesn’t necessarily have any real science behind it.  It’s literally just a marketing ploy.  It’s like “going on the Atkin’s”, you can “go on the Pratt’s” and eat from his list of alleged “superfoods”.  (He began marketing the concept in 2004 with the publication of his book, “SuperFoods Rx: Fourteen Foods That Will Change Your Life”.

So what constitutes as a “superfood”?

According to Pratt, there are three qualifications for food to be a superfruit:
1. It has to be readily available to the public,
2. It has to contain longevity-enhancing nutrients, and
3. The health benefits have to be backed by peer-reviewed, scientific studies. (says CNN)

Oh…..so basically you just need to not eat junk.  Yeah, that’s not a diet.  That’s just survival.

Pratt claims his diet wasn’t for losing weight, but that’s what people got excited about.  Probably because someone cut out McDonald’s for a week, ate a little less junk and some more real food, and then thought Gee!  I’m losing weight!  (Except now I have to actually pay real money for food…)

Basically, superfoods are supposed to contain high densities of nutrients that prevent or even reverse the effects of aging, cardiovascular disease, Type II Diabetes, hypertension, and some cancers.  Now, I have no problem with thinking foods can reverse these sorts of things.  My problem is the marketing.  These are not “superfoods” – they are food.  Foods that do this kind of work are foods that should be part of our normal lifestyles.  They should be foods native to our area and not hard to obtain for the public.  They’re not supposed to be fancy import berries or exotic things.  They’re food.  Like, real food.  So this whole reversed marketing thing makes me frustrated.  You know, when an advertisement for McDonald’s seems normal rather than appalling and then “superfoods” become a marketed thing as some miracle solution to all your problems.

I bet McDonald’s owns some kind of “superfood” initiative.  It’s like when tanning salons advertise on their signs that they have sun damage reversal treatments included in their tanning packages.

But fine, fine, let’s just go along with it.  So, on this “superfood”, ground-breaking diet, what would you eat?

Pratt lists green tea, meats like salmon, greens like broccoli and spinach, and some kinds of berries.  Specifically, here are 20 foods: apples, avocados, beans, blueberries, broccoli, cinnamon (yeah, that’s a tree bark), dark chocolate, dried superfruits (um, okay), extra virgin olive oil, garlic, honey, kiwi, low fat yogurt, oats, onions, oranges, pomegranates, pumpkin, soy, spinach, tea, tomatoes, turkey, walnuts, and wild salmon.

The key part left out of this list is the emphasis on “organic” and “wild”.  For example, one should avoid farm-raised salmon as its fed dyes to make its meat pink the way we  expect healthy salmon to be pink in the wild.  And this dye is probably toxic and currently unregulated.

One of my problems with this list is…, if I ate locally and healthy as someone would have eaten where I live hundreds of years ago, here are the foods that would be available to me from that list: crabapples, wild legumes, wild blueberries, dried blueberries, wild garlic, wild honey, wild onions, squashes, wild greens, sumac tea, wild turkey, black walnuts, and wild salmon.  Sounds a lot simpler.  I kind of like it. It just seems illogical to me that we have to import pomegranates and olive oil and kiwis and such to eat “healthily”.  Clearly this list caters a lot to spoiled tastes.

Ah, but the kicker is…since “superfoods” became a thing, people have completely run with the idea and promoted foods that actually are not “superfoods” and which might increase your risk of things like cancer rather than reduce them.  People are suddenly consuming way too much of these FAKE superfoods and seeing negative side-effects as a result.  This article lists 7 “hipster” superfoods and the problems with them:
1. coconut water
2. almond milk
3. quinoa (whose popularity has skyrocketed prices so indigenous Andeans can no longer afford to eat their own crop)
4. goji berries
5. kale (can cause hypothyroidism when abused!)
6. juicing
7. clay (yes, people eat clay).

And, fun fact: Blueberries aren’t even nutritiously dense enough to be qualified superfoods.  But marketers would have you believe otherwise!  Business analysts don’t care about your health, remember – just about their sales and income!

the health of a zombie.

This past week bore a lot of bad news for me.  I guess something had to counter my hockey team winning Nationals?  Which I’ll never forget, despite nearly getting my lights knocked out in Game 3 and suffering the consequences of that hit the rest of the weekend.  But it was a series of health concerns that were “resolved” afterwards that brought me down.  “Resolved” because they know what’s wrong, but in quotes because the problems either can’t be resolved yet or are never going to be resolved.

I guess the saddest part about the news (despite having to put off a surgery to afford it) is that I’ve been diagnosed with Meniere’s Disease.  In reality, I should realize that my condition could be so much worse.  The problem with my hearing loss COULD be a tumor.  Instead, it’s just excess brain fluids on one side of my head.  But I can no longer enjoy music the same, hear people when they whisper, be around high pitches without getting an instant migraine, or make turns in dance class without seriously struggling to stay on my feet.  Yep, the imbalance issue is probably the hardest to overcome.  And the looming threat that my condition could worsen.  Without any way to cure it.

It’s funny how I used to use My Fitness Pal to obsessively check my vitamin levels, calorie input versus output, etc.  It felt so stressful at the time but I realize now it was a different kind of stress.  It was self-induced and it was stress I placed on myself for self-improvement.

Now it just feels like survival stress.

I can no longer indulge in cheese and not read labels.  I know I would have restricted cheese in the past by choice, read labels by choice even, but now that choice is taken away – if I want to keep my hearing levels up.  Snacking on my box of Trefoil cookies, I have to keep a constant tally on a sheet of paper every time I pull one out so I can count how many milligrams of sodium I ate and record it on my app.

Yeah, it’s not diabetes.  It’s not allergies.  It’s not a lot of things.  But after being so happy this weekend and seeing things taper off so rapidly – back into a similar funk to where I was before – it kind of makes me slump more than I’d expect.

Especially when my work hours are longer than usual.  And my apartment, which I’ve hardly seen in the last two months, is messy and full of dirty laundry that I just haven’t been around to take care of.  Or I come home and pass out.

It’s so hard to feel motivated right now.  But it’s scary when I get emotionless and zombie-like.  That happened in February.  I spaced out.  I was spaced out most of March, too.  Then, yesterday, I was the last person in the office and I just started bawling at my computer screen.  For no reason.  And again while driving.  That’s about the third time this week I started crying while driving.  It’s like I can’t find the time alone to do it anywhere else.  (And it’s kind of a dangerous, blinding habit…which requires sunglasses to hide the shame if a passerby looks over and sees loony me.)

So, boohoo, I can’t eat cheese.  Or loads of sauerkraut.  And I have a national title.  My life is sooo hard, right?

On the upswing, I bought a planner and I’m trying to crack down on myself.  It’s time to get things in order.

I’m excited for my debut with the Heather Belles, a violin piece I was asked to play with a group, and the possibility that I will begin volunteering with the Cleveland Clinic soon.  Not to mention, I’m joining a gym.  WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME?  I swore to never…

Forks over Knives.

First, I just want to say – wow, yesterday was like whiplash after I posted and then everything blew up in my face for completely isolated reasons.  But that’s irrelevant.  I guess.

I’m trying to catch up with myself here – I’ve been reading so much and not writing as much, plus work is a lot at the moment.  But I watched a documentary this past week called Forks over Knives.  It’s about how horrible animal products are for people, basically.  They made all kinds of correlations between health, age, diet, etc… and backed their claims up with things like evidence of how Asian cultures have adopted American eating habits in many regions that are now suffering in health like we are despite their notoriously clean history.

The doctors in the film were interesting characters and I was shocked to Google one and find out he is in fact living in my neighborhood in Cleveland.  Then it made sense.  I’m in a wealthy part of the city and right beside my old college, Case Western Reserve, where they have the Cleveland Clinic.  Yeah, that makes sense.

While I was researching more on the topic and contemplating finding the book to read too, I was coming across a lot of interesting words and ideas.  For example, fruitarianism.  Eating only things that fall from plants – the perfect peaceful diet.  Nuts, fruits.  Limited, though.  The reason why Apple is called Apple because Steve Jobs was practicing this diet at the time.  It is possibly more akin to our natural diets than we realize, but it results in deficiencies.  Another concept I saw is “forest gardening”, which supports the sustainable practices I was mentioning previously in my small farms rant.  It combines more practical, natural settings to grow plants like the prairie studies are researching.  And, finally, I found a phrase that I really enjoy: “environmental veganism”.

Environmental vegetarianism is the practice of vegetarianism or veganism based on the indications that animal production, particularly by intensive agriculture, is environmentally unsustainable.[1] The primary environmental concerns with animal products are pollution and the use of resources such as fossil fuels, water, and land.

I’m a fan of that.  And this documentary doesn’t stray far from that concept, although it primarily focuses on health of the human body.  But I’m glad I already practice similar eating habits to those covered in the film.  I’m glad I know my homeopathic remedies well.  I find it silly to think we’ve “rediscovered” the power of plants when, realistically, we are just reinventing a wheel that mother nature made, we used, and then we subsequently forgot.

The Little Things.

I “get through” my day after day after day i.e. life by looking forward to something. It’s so easy to be distracted by only the big things, but really it’s those little somethings that make up the journey in life. What is a trail anyway? It’s a line, and a line is endless infinitesimally small points along the way.


Yesterday, my big thing was a little something full of lots of simple smiles. I got to spend an evening cooking with someone dear to me. Jeff and I of course have fun skiing or playing volleyball like we sometimes do, but it takes a special kind of person to still go outside to build snowmen and to spend a few hours preparing a meal from scratch – and have fun doing it.

From walking to Heinen’s, to slam-dunking food into the buggy, Jeff making fun of me standing on my toes to look over shelves, wandering aisles because he’s too stubborn to ask for help, walking home in the rain, stirring frogs eggs pudding, cutting up Jeff’s first star fruit, sipping wine while making our own broth, fixing up pretty plates of roasted asparagus and improvised homemade hollandaise sauce…we had a blast. We sat down the watch The Bachelor, but we didn’t need a TV show to keep us entertained. I think we could make scrubbing dishes fun.

And that’s when I thought, how many people do that? How many people can enjoy cooking a time-consuming dinner? How many people in their late 20s would build a snowman with me in snow that won’t even compact? How many people take the time to read a silly, three-paged letter with joking references to the Hunger Games trilogy? How many people can still appreciate the little things?

Maybe we are weird, but I like it. And I’m really glad I have someone like Jeff to make being weird less lonely.

Our menu from last night included: white wine, champagne, roasted asparagus, homemade hollandaise sauce with lime, basmati rice, chicken/seitan in white wine broth with sun-dried tomatoes and seasoned artichoke hearts, arugula-basil salad with fresh mozzarella and balsamic-basil vinaigrette, frogs eggs (tapioca pudding), and a sliced star fruit.

Taken for Granted.

ImageI’ve been reading One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez.  The story focuses on an extended family and surrounding people living rather isolated and somewhat primitive in Colombia.  The patriarch of the family is transfixed with the ideas of science and invention.  In fact, he founds his own village, Macondo, on an island so he can spend his life entertaining his curiosities.  What’s particularly interesting about this man and his village, though, is the fact that the both are so isolated in only the familiar and with little contact to the outside.  For example, some gypsies bring in a large piece of ice to the village as a “demonstration” – not of science, but of magic.  The man is transfixed by this enormous diamond and pays for him and his sons to touch it.  Because he sees things in one light and one light only.

I’m still reading the book, but that was the gist of what I’ve gotten from summaries of it and what I’ve read so far.  But what really stuck out to me was that ice scenario.  I started thinking about the life that family had, isolated in one of the last regions to be explored.  In fact, Colombia is still heavily avoided, perhaps due more to violence than environmental concern such as the Amazon in Brazil.


I see ice every morning during this time of year.  There’s ice on my windows, ice hanging from my eaves, and ice on the sidewalks.  We go to the restaurant and we’re served water with ice.  We buy bags of ice for coolers to pack samples in the lab.  We have ice for injuries whenever we need it.

But, ice.

There are people in this world who have lived their whole lives without ever seeing, feeling, tasting, knowing ice.  They might know steam and not recognize it as water.  If they saw ice, they surely wouldn’t first guess water, would they?  Could they say ‘diamonds’ if they knew diamonds?  And how could you ever explain that feeling of such coldness?  So cold, it seems boiling hot if you have only ever known boiling hot.

I’m not just thinking about the materialistic things we take for granted in our daily lives, like heat and air-conditioning.  I’m not just talking about the people we take for granted in our daily lives, like friends and family.  I’m talking about the science we have come to know and how it has changed our lives as we’ve learned to manipulate it.

Medication.  Transportation.  Entertainment.  Those are some of the big ones.

But even something as simple as ice.  Phase change.  Think of how many things we have that rely on phase change: cooking, engines, pumps,…a lot of little things that make up much bigger things.  Science, knowledge….the ability to share that information – it can so easily be taken for granted.

How different would your life be if you lived in a place where no one knew ice?

The High-Fructose Corn Syrup Debate

I’ve always avoided high-fructose corn syrup.  But I’ve also always avoided sugar, period.  I was never sure if I should avoid one more than another.  Instead, I aim to choose items that are in their whole forms, like bulk nuts and other fresh ingredients that I make into something with my own hands.  However, avoiding the topic couldn’t last forever.  I decided to organize my own thoughts on the high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) debate.

What is sugar?
Before we can attack HFCS, let’s think for a minute about what sugar is and what it does to our bodies.  First of all, sugar as we know it today generally translates to beet sugar or sugarcane.  The key to the definition is that these food sugars are monosaccharides (simple carbohydrates) such as glucose and fructose.  Simple carbohydrates chemically break down quickly for sudden energy release from the split bonds.  Complex carbohydrates, on the other hand, are known to be more complicated to break down and therefore release energy more slowly but steadily.  Sucrose is a disaccharide, with one glucose linked to one fructose.  Sugars are carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen based.

Sugar in America.
Sugar has a bad association in America with diabetes, obesity, and other health problems.  We’ve been consuming sugar globally for hundreds of years and, in some cultures, for thousands of years, but the consumption rates in America have skyrocketed.  This article demonstrates the drastic increase of sugar consumption per person per year in America over the last two centuries.  Most data indicates a steep rise in American sugar consumption with the closure of the Civil War with two dramatic drops at the time of the World Wars.  Some studies have predicted that, based on the current trend line in consumption data, Americans will be consuming essentially ‘100% sugar’ by the year 2606 (based on a 95% goodness of fit and an assumed average caloric intake).  And while Americans are told they should be consuming no more than 100 to 150 calories per day of added sugar, they may not realize this includes sugar naturally found in food products.  For example, dairy products have lactose.  Fruits are actually very high in the sugar fructose.  Yet, while obesity continues to rise, it may not actually be sugar consumption that is to blame.  Studies find a more intense correlation between lifestyles and weight gain.  It is likely that sugar, high in calories and added to the vast majority of American foods, has a way of bloating one’s calorie count without much detection.  I guess the argument can be made that it’s in everything, so we eat it in place of healthier alternatives, and so we get fat.  But we don’t have to buy the sugary stuff!  We do because we crave it.  No one made you buy that candy or that dessert or even that stew that had nearly undetectable added sugar – it’s just what your tastes are accustomed to!  Because we actively partake in activities that maintain a sugary demand in our country.  Sugar doesn’t have to be a bad thing, but we have diverged from the evolved eating habits of our prehistoric ancestors.  Besides, anything is bad in excess.

What is high-fructose corn syrup?
HFCS is, chemically-speaking, essentially the same product as table sugar.  The difference is the glucose and the fructose in HFCS is unbounded, whereas it’s bonded in regular sugar.  Sugar can only be grown in the more tropical climates, thus its production is highly limited in the US and its tariffs for importing are high.  HFCS, on the other hand, is extremely cheap, very obtainable in a corn-dominated country, and highly soluble.  So what’s everyone complaining about?

Debunking accusations agains HFCS.
There are a number of studies that show HFCS is no more obesity-causing than regular sugar, but none of them deny that Americans eat too much sugar.  That’s the main source of the issue.  But people tend to blame companies for slipping HFCS (the cheap alternative to sugar) in everything to make the products taste better.  That means they sell more for less investment.  But does that mean using sugar instead would change anything?  The price.  Our tastes?  No.  Our sugar cravings?  No.  Therefore our obesity problem?  Probably not, unless some actual lifestyle changes were made.  So what other arguments are out there?  Well, there’s the one about the creation of HFCS being synthetic and artificial and therefore bad.  Well isn’t anything we make or do technically unnatural?  What is baking bread or scrambling an egg?  It’s just inducing chemical reactions.  I used to be opposed to “chemicals” until my friend pointed out that everything is a chemical.  And because the two kinds of sweeteners are chemical twins, what is the problem?  Another argument is that our brains being unable to register HFCS as sweet and therefore we consume more than we would of sugar.  In this article, a study is reviewed about the hypothalamus in the brain which detects consumption, calories, and other levels and which would be responsible for detecting sweeteners.  The study concluded that glucose and fructose do affect the brain differently, but that the boundedness or unboundedness does not have a proven affect on how they do this.  While reading this article, I couldn’t help but notice the author’s reference to carbonyls like they were some obvious health threat.  Carbonyls are a type of carbon monoxide ligand; ligands are directly connected to receptors in the body.  Some ligands are antagonists that block receptors.  Metal carbonyls are notorious for their toxicity and ability to block important oxygen bondings.  The carbonyls found in HFCS have a bad rap simply because a connection is believed to exist between the carbonyls present and diabetes.  That doesn’t necessarily mean obesity, now does it?  But what I find even more interesting (and explained extremely thoroughly in this article) is that these carbonyls and this unbounded property of HFCS doesn’t mean anything, as far as sodas are concerned.  The carbonation in soda in fact hydrolyzes up to about 90% of the bounded sugars so that they are now unbounded and, quite frankly, now identical to HFCS before you’ve even opened the can.

HFCS is overdramatized without people fully understanding the facts first.  There is also not enough conclusions about the topic, especially considering the amount of conflicting data from animal studies, etc., that currently exists.  Maybe non-carbonated products are worse in HFCS than in regular sugar, but I simply don’t know and not enough long-term data exists yet on the health effects.  I do, however, stand by the fact that we consume too much of whatever you want to call it (any combination of fructose, glucose, sucrose, lactose,…) and that Americans need to become more active.  That is the problem leading to the obesity epidemic: CALORIE CONSUMPTION >> CALORIE EXPENDITURE.