Chocolate Peppermint Bark

recipe by Stephie Janel (all


1 cup Chocolate chips (dark – optional)

1/2 cup White Chocolate chips

1 Tsp Coconut Oil

1 Tsp Peppermint extract or Essential oil



  1. Line a baking sheet with waxed paper.
  2. Melt chocolate chips in top of a double boiler over simmering water, stirring frequently and scraping down the sides with a rubber spatula to avoid scorching, 3 to 5 minutes.
  3. Melt white chocolate chips in top of a separate double boiler over simmering water, stirring frequently and scraping down the sides with a rubber spatula to avoid scorching, 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in vegetable oil and peppermint extract.
  4. Pour chocolate onto lined baking sheet; spread with spatula. Drizzle white chocolate over chocolate; swirl with a fork.
  5. Refrigerate until bark is hardened, about 1 hour.

Finding Trigger Foods – Dr Mark Hyman

This weeks blog comes from Dr. Mark Hyman author of Eat Fat, Get Thin. I really enjoyed this article and decided to share it here as well. When we are looking at Trigger foods you have to be diligent in following a protocol like the one Dr. Hyman lays out to verify if the food actually triggers your body. Remember you are an individual and different foods will affect you in different ways even if other family members have the same food sensitivity.

Finding Trigger Foods, – Dr Mark Hyman

Julie, an Eat Fat, Get Thin challenge participant, is curious about transitioning off of a program and onto every day eating.  She asks, “How do I get a good read on whether certain foods are OK for me? What’s the best indicator that a food is good or not good?”

Normally, when I work with patients, I put them on an elimination diet. We get rid of specific trigger foods such as gluten, dairy, grains, sugar, alcohol and caffeine. This is a way for your body to hit the reset button on your health. After following an elimination diet for a certain period of time, you might want to add foods back in to see if you can tolerate them.

The key to determining food sensitivities (as opposed to food allergies) is that the food sensitivity might have a slow response or reaction. We’re talking about symptoms like bloating, brain fog, poor sleep, poor digestion, skin rashes – these symptoms can all be caused by food sensitivities.

When you’re adding foods back in, give yourself three to four days with each food and be sure to choose low-risk foods. For example, if you want to test out grains, test out whole grains like brown rice. If you want to test out dairy, try sheep or goat products first.

Food sensitivities might affect you immediately or it might take a few days. That’s why I recommend sticking to one food for three days, versus adding in all potential trigger foods at once. Then, give yourself one to two days before adding in another potential trigger food so you can see how your body responds to the previous addition. I know this seems like a long process, but it is truly the only way to know how individual foods are affecting you. More from Dr. Mark Hyman here

Excel Equestrian!

I’m so excited to announce this week the launch of a BRAND NEW program from LB Wellness Coaching!

As a life long equestrian and lover of all things horses, it’s been fantastic to spend the last couple of months building a program that combines my passions, Health and Horses. Today I’m proud to introduce you to Excel Equestrian Wellness Coaching. A truly unique look at your health, your riding and how you can exceed your own expectations in both.

Excel isn’t just another health program for fitness or nutrition targeted at riders.  It’s a holistic approach to your health and riding developed by a rider who understands the challenges that poor health can have on horsemanship, as well as the challenges of living and working with horses. I’ve designed the Excel program to be a truly holistic look at you. It combines my Total Transformation program plus 15 years experience as a riding instructor to bring Adult riders a program designed to create Excellence in and out of the saddle.

If you’d like to learn more about this program click here or call 512-658-1118. You can also schedule a FREE Discovery call to find out exactly what this program can do for you!

Riders are you ready to EXCEL?

Histamine Intolerance: Could It Be Causing Your Symptoms?

This week’s blog is from Dr. Aviva. When I read this article, I had a light bulb moment and wanted to share with those that follow my pages. As someone who suffered greatly from allergies growing up, much in this article makes perfect sense. It is my hope that sharing this with you will help you understand symptoms and help you dig down to your root causes.

To your health, Lydia

by Dr. Aviva

Chances are you’ve heard of antihistamines – medications used to control allergic reactions and allergy symptoms. But have you heard of histamine intolerance? I hadn’t either and learned a lot from the mother of one of my patients. Now I regularly treat patients with this problem and the improvements can be dramatic if you’re suffering with the symptoms.

A Determined Mom Paves the Way

I first learned about the impact of histamine intolerance not in medical school, but from the dedicated mother of one of my patients. Her teenaged daughter was struggling with a host of seemingly disconnected, and to her doctors somewhat bizarre, symptoms: racing heart and severe weakness and dizziness after eating, extreme low blood pressure that sometimes cause fainting, skin rashes and hives, severe abdominal pain, and debilitating anxiety. She’d been seen by a whole host of practitioners who largely dismissed her as making them up, and she was ultimately diagnosed with an anxiety disorder. When I met her she was 14 years old, weak and underweight because every food she ate seemed to make her worse. This previously high achieving student had now missed her entire first year of high school due to disability. In fact, she was so weak she was barely able to get out of bed.

Desperate to find an answer, her mother became a ‘citizen scientist,’ and when she brought her daughter in for her first appointment with me, she asked if I’d ever hear of histamine intolerance. I explained to her that I’d learned a great deal about the impact of histamine on the body as a medical student, and was familiar with mastocytosis and allergic reactions, but not histamine intolerance as a medical condition per se. But I’ve learned to learn from my patients, did my homework, and sure enough, this mom, who’d previously been told by several of her daughter’s doctors in no uncertain terms that she was too pushy (she was pretty sure she’d heard the term ‘pain in the ass’ get used about her in a doctor’s office) did in fact figure out what was going on with her daughter.

In the years since I’ve seen and treated many patients with HIT and while it’s not common in the general population, it’s often a hidden cause of symptoms that should be taken seriously and that your doctor might not know anything about. It’s especially important to consider if you’ve tried an elimination diet and it just hasn’t done the trick for you, because there are very specific dietary changes that are necessary to make.

 The Lesser-Known Food Intolerance

The term “food intolerance” refers to foods to which you are sensitive and that can therefore cause you symptoms when you eat them. Lactose intolerance is one of the most common, and gluten intolerance is another that’s been on the rise in that past decade. Food intolerances can cause myriad symptoms that often get chalked up to “normal” facts of life, like seasonal allergies, headaches, and aches and pains (none of which actually are ‘just normal’ – they are reflect deeper imbalances going on). Food intolerances can also cause more serious illness, for example, diabetes and autoimmune disease.

In fact, many foods can cause intolerance in an individual for a variety of reasons, often having to do with imbalances in the gut or over-activation of the immune system, though they are not true food allergies.

One of the lesser-known types of food intolerances is called histamine intolerance (HIT). It appears to be on the rise and can cause a range of symptoms. The good news is that most often, it is readily treatable.

Wait, What is Histamine?

Histamine is a chemical your immune system releases from a variety of cells in which it is stored, in response to a variety of allergic and toxic exposures, for example, bee stings and certain foods like peanuts in those with peanut allergies. When such an exposure happens, histamine-containing cells (mostly mast cells and basophils) dump histamine into your bloodstream leading to a rapid inflammatory reaction that causes the blood vessels to become more permeable, allowing the immune system’s white blood cells to reach the area where the ‘invasion’ has occurred. Its also activates nerves that stimulate your respiratory passages to constrict, your eyes to water, and nose to run. Because cells throughout your body including your digestive system, heart and vascular system, skin, and lungs respond to histamine as part of its protective response, the response occurs widely throughout the body and can be multi-systemic causing all of the symptoms I list in the next section. Histamine produced in the brain acts as a neurotransmitter – a chemical involved in signaling in your nervous system; in the stomach, histamine stimulates the production of gastric acid necessary for digestion.

Do You Have Histamine Intolerance?

While histamine intolerance is not a true food allergy, and thus not usually considered life threatening, the symptoms can be quite severe and have led many people to the emergency department! If you’re experiencing any of the following symptoms, it could be that you, too, have HIT. Here are the most common symptoms:

  • Abdominal cramps, diarrhea
  • Anxiety
  • Difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep
  • Dizziness, vertigo
  • Feeling too hot or frequently chilled for now reason
  • Fatigue or weakness
  • Low of high blood pressure (can be extreme in either direction)
  • Migraines or headaches
  • Hives, Itching, Eczema
  • Menstrual cramps or premenstrual headaches
  • Nasal congestion, sneezing, itchy eyes, difficulty breathing
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Puffiness, swelling
  • Racing heart, especially but not always after eating certain foods
  • Skin flushing, especially but not always after eating certain foods
  • Wine/alcohol intolerance

When you have impaired histamine breakdown, excess histamine can build up, resulting in symptoms that mimic an allergic reaction – which are many of those I’ve just listed.

What Causes Histamine Intolerance?

Histamine intolerance results from an imbalance between the amount of histamine that is released from your cells in response to certain triggers, or builds up in your body as a result of foods you eat – and your body’s ability to break it down and clear it out, which it does using two naturally occurring enzymes your body is supposed to produce – Diamine oxidase (DAO) and histamine N-methyltransferase (HNMT).

However, due to either genetics or acquired reasons, your body might not produce enough of one or the other, or both of these. HNMT is produced inside the cells and is usually more genetically influenced. DAO, however, is produced in the intestine, and is also the enzyme responsible for breakdown of ingested histamine, so if there has been intestinal damage, DAO production might be reduced. This can occur as a result of:

DAO-blocking foods including alcohol can also lead to decreased availability of DAO to break down histamine, resulting in elevated levels. Consuming high histamine foods can also cause a problem, especially if your enzyme system is impaired.

HIT is more common in people with Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD – Ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s), celiac disease, and SIBO, as well as eczema, all conditions that have been associated with intestinal inflammation.

Dysregulation in the stress response system – whether adrenal overdrive with high cortisol, or inhibited adrenal function with low cortisol – can also impair the immune system leading to increased reactivity to foods, and stress seems to worsen HIT in many individuals.

Can I Get Tested to See If I Have Histamine Intolerance?

There are currently no tests that are proven to diagnose histamine intolerance, and though blood and urine levels of histamine can be measured, because histamine levels are so naturally variable depending on time of day and also when you’ve eaten, it’s just not a reliable way to test for this problem. Similarly blood levels of DAO can be measured, but these levels don’t really correlate neatly with symptoms. Because it’s not a true allergic condition, allergy testing, including food allergy testing, is not useful.

The best way to ‘test’ for histamine intolerance is through a low histamine diet, which I describe below. A reduction in symptoms on the diet, and a return of symptoms when higher histamine foods are re-introduced, suggests that there is histamine intolerance.

It’s also important to remember that you can get checked for true allergies and other medical conditions that may lead to similar symptoms.

 Can I Treat This?

Depending on the root cause of your histamine intolerance it can be reversed (usually if there’s gut damage causing the problem), reduced dramatically (if there’s low DAO production), or reduced to a tolerable extent (genetic). Most of my patients go on to live completely normal healthy asymptomatic lives, but usually do have to pay attention to food triggers. There are 3 steps to treating histamine intolerance:

  1. Eat a low histamine diet
  2. Heal your root causes
  3. Supplement

Let’s explore these.

The Low Histamine Diet

A low histamine diet is the first line of treatment. The best approach is to remove all high histamine containing foods, as well as foods that cause the release of histamine, as well as avoiding all DAO blocking foods and whatever DAO blocking medications you can also avoid (work with your prescribing doctor to come off of medications) for 30 days. During this time keep a food journal to record how you feel (you can download a sample food journal here) both immediately and about 2-3 hours after each meal. Symptoms don’t always appear immediately, they may appear when your body accumulates histamine over the course of the day. So paying close attention throughout your day during this 1-month period is very important, but it’s not always 100% possible to identify the individual triggers for you. That said, sometimes it is. For example, I had one patient who discovered that popcorn shot her blood pressure up sky high and caused her to break out in hives.

If during this 30-day period you notice that your symptoms have disappeared or have been dramatically reduced, I highly recommend sticking with the low-histamine diet for 3 months total before trying to reintroduce foods from the lists below. If and when you do reintroduce foods you’d removed, do so slowly, adding in foods from one group at a time over 3 days each, so for example, you might add in higher histamine fruits for 3 days and record any symptoms if they arise. If they do, you are probably sensitive to those fruits, and omit them for now. Wait until the symptoms have passed before introducing the next group, for example, nuts, and again track, and so on.

Histamine intolerance varies highly amongst different people – some can’t reintroduce some of the higher histamine provoking or containing foods at all, while some can include small amounts in their diets. You have to sort of experiment with it – and ideally, work with a knowledgeable practitioner who can help guide you. And hang in there – it can feel quite restrictive and like a long road when you eliminate all of these triggers, but chances are you won’t mind as much when you’re feeling better, and if gut damage was a component of your histamine intolerance, then once your gut is healed, you may be able to resume a diet that includes a broader variety of foods. Gut healing can take weeks to up to a year so you have to be patient with the process.

High Histamine Foods to Eliminate

Aged and fermented foods, leftover meats, poultry and fish, and wine are often the biggest triggers; however, any of the foods on this list may be a problem for you, so remove them all for 30 days.

  • Alcohol: Champagne, red wine, beer, white wine
  • Aged cheeses: Parmesan, Gouda, Swiss, and cheddar
  • Grains: Wheat
  • Legumes: Chickpeas, soybeans
  • Fermented or smoked Meats/Fish: Sardine, mackerel, herring, tuna, salami
  • Fermented and pickles vegetables: Pickles, sauerkraut, kimchi, relish, soy sauce/tamari
  • Fermented milk products: Yogurt, kefir, and buttermilk
  • Fruit: Dried fruit, citrus, strawberries
  • Vegetables: Tomatoes and tomato products, spinach, avocado, and eggplant
  • Also: Cinnamon, chocolate

Histamine Liberators to Avoid

Citrus, bananas, dairy products, chocolate (sorry ladies!), papaya, pineapple, nuts, strawberries, food additives, shellfish, artificial dyes and preservatives

DAO Inhibitors to Avoid

Alcohol, black and green tea, mate

What You CAN Eat

Now if you’re wondering what you can eat, rest assured, there’s still plenty, though admittedly, this is a more restrictive food plan than many.

Low-histamine foods you can enjoy include:

  • Freshly cooked meat and poultry (fresh or frozen – no leftovers!)
  • Freshly caught or flash frozen fish
  • Eggs
  • Gluten-free grains: rice, quinoa
  • Peanut butter
  • These fruits: mango, pear, watermelon, apple, kiwi, cantaloupe, grapes
  • Most vegetables except those listed earlier
  • Dairy alternatives: coconut milk, rice milk, hemp milk, almond milk
  • Oils: olive oil, coconut oil
  • Many of the non-caffeinated herbal teas

Note that methylated B vitamins, in my clinical experience, seem to aggravate some people with histamine intolerance; if you are taking methylfolate or methyl-B12 I recommend stopping these while you are on the 30 Day Low Histamine Diet and re-introducing them as a ‘food group’ to see how you respond. If you are planning to conceive, however, it is still important to be on folate or folic acid in some form for at least 30 days prior to conception and during pregnancy.

Heal the Root Causes

4R Gut Healing: Healing the gut is central to my work with patients with histamine intolerance and is described in detail in my book, The Adrenal Thyroid Revolution, in my 28-Day Gut Reset program, and you can read about it here in this article. It is usually done in conjunction with the 30-Day Low Histamine Diet, and continued for about 3 months or longer if needed (i.e., with celiac or IBD the damage is likely high).

Tame the Stress Response: As mentioned earlier, when your stress response system is disrupted, your immune response may also be over-activated. Include simple daily stress reduction practices in your lifestyle and head over here to see if you have symptoms of adrenal imbalances that suggest this area needs more attention. My book The Adrenal Thyroid Revolution will support you in a stress response reset.


While supplements for histamine intolerance have not yet been well studied, in addition those used for gut healing, several have shown promise, and have been quiet effective in my clinical practice. These include:

  • Quercetin and Freeze Dried Stinging Nettles: this is a natural antihistamine duet, often found as a combination product, that does not block DAO and is very effective in preventing histamine reactions and calming mild to moderate reactions. Dose: A combination product that provides 250 mg quercetin or isoquercetin three times daily; quercetin should not be used in pregnancy or if you have kidney disease.
  • Vitamin B6: 50 to 100 mg a day (do not exceed 100 mg/day)
  • Buffered Ascorbic Acid: 500 mg 2 to 4 times daily
  • Probiotics and Prebiotics: A daily combination of both a probiotic and a prebiotic helps to repair the intestinal wall, however, be avoid probiotics with Lactobacillus casei, a strain that may increase histamine.
  • Direct DAO supplementation is often recommended, however, I’ve not found nearly as effective as the above combination, and therefore rarely recommend it anymore.

Living with the symptoms of histamine intolerance can be annoying in the least, debilitating when severe. I hope this article gives you yet another tool to be a Root Cause Revolutionary and start to take back your health. If you’ve found this article helpful, please LIKE and SHARE it, and make sure to leave a comment in the comments section below if you’d like to dialogue with me or other readers. To learn more about healing your gut and resetting your adrenals, get a copy of my latest book, The Adrenal Thyroid Revolution. 

With love,

Dr. Aviva

Maintz L, Novak N. Histamine and histamine intolerance. Am J Clin Nutr. 2007 May; 85(5):1185-96.

5 Reasons High Fructose Corn Syrup Will Kill You

By Dr. Mark Hyman


The current media debate about the benefits (or lack of harm) of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) in our diet misses the obvious. The average American increased their consumption of HFCS (mostly from sugar sweetened drinks and processed food) from zero to over 60 pounds per person per year.

During that time period, obesity rates have more than tripled and diabetes incidence has increased more than seven fold. Not perhaps the only cause, but a fact that cannot be ignored.

Doubt and confusion are the currency of deception, and they sow the seeds of complacency. These are used skillfully through massive print and television advertising campaigns by the Corn Refiners Association’sattempt to dispel the “myth” that HFCS is harmful and assert through the opinion of “medical and nutrition experts” that it is no different than cane sugar. It is a “natural” product that is a healthy part of our diet when used in moderation.

Except for one problem. When used in moderation it is a major cause of heart disease, obesity, cancer, dementia, liver failure, tooth decay, and more.

Why is the corn industry spending millions on misinformation campaigns to convince consumers and health care professionals of the safety of their product? Could it be that the food industry comprises 17 percent of our economy?

The Lengths the Corn Industry Will Go To

The goal of the corn industry is to call into question any claim of harm from consuming high fructose corn syrup, and to confuse and deflect by calling their product natural “corn sugar”. That’s like calling tobacco in cigarettes natural herbal medicine.

In the ad, the father tells us:

Like any parent I have questions about the food my daughter eats–-like high fructose corn syrup. So I started looking for answers from medical and nutrition experts, and what I discovered whether it’s corn sugar or cane sugar your body can’t tell the difference. Sugar is sugar. Knowing that makes me feel better about what she eats and that’s one less thing to worry about.”

Physicians are also targeted directly. I received a 12-page color glossy monograph from the Corn Refiners Association reviewing the “science” that HFCS was safe and no different than cane sugar. I assume the other 700,000 physicians in America received the same propaganda at who knows what cost.

In addition to this, I received a special “personal” letter from the Corn Refiner’s Association outlining every mention of the problems with HFCS in our diet–whether in print, blogs, books, radio, or television. They warned me of the errors of my ways and put me on “notice”. For what I am not sure. To think they are tracking this (and me) that closely gives me an Orwellian chill.

New websites like and www.cornsugar.comhelp “set us straight” about HFCS with quotes from professors of nutrition and medicine and thought leaders from Harvard and other stellar institutions.

Why is the corn industry spending millions on misinformation campaigns to convince consumers and health care professionals of the safety of their product? Could it be that the food industry comprises 17 percent of our economy?

But are these twisted sweet lies or a sweet surprise, as the Corn Refiners Association websites claim?

What the Science Says About HFCS

Let’s examine the science and insert some common sense into the conversation. These facts may indeed come as a sweet surprise. The ads suggest getting your nutrition advice from your doctor (who, unfortunately, probably knows less about nutrition than most grandmothers).

Having studied this for over a decade, and having read, interviewed, or personally talked with most of the “medical and nutrition experts” used to bolster the claim that “corn sugar” and cane sugar are essentially the same, quite a different picture emerges and the role of HFCS in promoting obesity, disease, and death across the globe becomes clear.

Last week over lunch with Dr. Bruce Ames, one of the foremost nutritional scientists in the world, and Dr. Jeffrey Bland, a nutritional biochemist, a student of Linus Pauling, and I reviewed the existing science, and Dr. Ames shared shocking new evidence from his research center on how HFCS can trigger body-wide inflammation and obesity.

Here are 5 reasons you should stay way from any product containing high fructose corn syrup and why it may kill you.  

  1. Sugar in any form causes obesity and disease when consumed in pharmacologic doses.Cane sugar and high fructose corn syrup are indeed both harmful when consumed in pharmacologic doses of 140 pounds per person per year.When one 20 ounce HFCS sweetened soda, sports drink, or tea has 17 teaspoons of sugar (and the average teenager often consumes two drinks a day) we are conducting a largely uncontrolled experiment on the human species.Our hunter gatherer ancestors consumed the equivalent of 20 teaspoons per year, not per day. In this sense, I would agree with the corn industry that sugar is sugar. Quantity matters. But there are some important differences.
  2. HFCS and cane sugar are NOT biochemically identical or processed the same way by the body. High fructose corn syrup is an industrial food product and far from “natural” or a naturally occurring substance. It is extracted from corn stalks through a process so secret that Archer Daniels Midland and Carghill would not allow the investigative journalist Michael Pollan to observe it for his book The Omnivore’s Dilemma. The sugars are extracted through a chemical enzymatic process resulting in a chemically and biologically novel compound called HFCS. Some basic biochemistry will help you understand this. Regular cane sugar (sucrose) is made of two-sugar molecules bound tightly together– glucose and fructose in equal amounts.The enzymes in your digestive tract must break down the sucrose into glucose and fructose, which are then absorbed into the body. HFCS also consists of glucose and fructose, not in a 50-50 ratio, but a 55-45 fructose to glucose ratio in an unbound form. Fructose is sweeter than glucose. And HFCS is cheaper than sugar because of the government farm bill corn subsidies. Products with HFCS are sweeter and cheaper than products made with cane sugar. This allowed for the average soda size to balloon from 8 ounces to 20 ounces with little financial costs to manufacturers but great human costs of increased obesity, diabetes, and chronic disease.Now back to biochemistry. Since there is there is no chemical bond between them, no digestion is required so they are more rapidly absorbed into your blood stream. Fructose goes right to the liver and triggers lipogenesis (the production of fats like triglycerides and cholesterol) this is why it is the major cause of liver damage in this country and causes a condition called “fatty liver” which affects 70 million people.The rapidly absorbed glucose triggers big spikes in insulin–our body’s major fat storage hormone. Both these features of HFCS lead to increased metabolic disturbances that drive increases in appetite, weight gain, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, dementia, and more.But there was one more thing I learned during lunch with Dr. Bruce Ames. Research done by his group at the Children’s Hospital Oakland Research Institute found that free fructose from HFCS requires more energy to be absorbed by the gut and soaks up two phosphorous molecules from ATP (our body’s energy source).This depletes the energy fuel source, or ATP, in our gut required to maintain the integrity of our intestinal lining. Little “tight junctions” cement each intestinal cell together preventing food and bacteria from “leaking” across the intestinal membrane and triggering an immune reaction and body wide inflammation.

    High doses of free fructose have been proven to literally punch holes in the intestinal lining allowing nasty byproducts of toxic gut bacteria and partially digested food proteins to enter your blood stream and trigger the inflammation that we know is at the root of obesity, diabetes, cancer, heart disease, dementia, and accelerated aging. Naturally occurring fructose in fruit is part of a complex of nutrients and fiber that doesn’t exhibit the same biological effects as the free high fructose doses found in “corn sugar”.

    The takeaway: Cane sugar and the industrially produced, euphemistically named “corn sugar” are not biochemically or physiologically the same.

  3. HFCS contains contaminants including mercury that are not regulated or measured by the FDA. An FDA researcher asked corn producers to ship a barrel of high fructose corn syrup in order to test for contaminants. Her repeated requests were refused until she claimed she represented a newly created soft drink company. She was then promptly shipped a big vat of HFCS that was used as part of the study that showed that HFCS often contains toxic levels of mercury because of chlor-alkali products used in its manufacturing.(i) Poisoned sugar is certainly not “natural”.When HFCS is run through a chemical analyzer or a chromatograph, strange chemical peaks show up that are not glucose or fructose. What are they? Who knows? This certainly calls into question the purity of this processed form of super sugar. The exact nature, effects, and toxicity of these funny compounds have not been fully explained, but shouldn’t we be protected from the presence of untested chemical compounds in our food supply, especially when the contaminated food product comprises up to 15-20 percent of the average American’s daily calorie intake?  
  4. Independent medical and nutrition experts DO NOT support the use of HFCS in our diet, despite the assertions of the corn industry. The corn industry’s happy looking websites and bolster their position that cane sugar and corn sugar are the same by quoting experts, or should we say misquoting … Barry M. Popkin, Ph.D., Professor, Department of Nutrition, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, has published widely on the dangers of sugar-sweetened drinks and their contribution to the obesity epidemic. In a review of HFCS in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition,(ii)he explains the mechanism by which the free fructose may contribute to obesity.He states that: “The digestion, absorption, and metabolism of fructose differ from those of glucose. Hepatic metabolism of fructose favors de novo lipogenesis (production of fat in the liver). In addition, unlike glucose, fructose does not stimulate insulin secretion or enhance leptin production. Because insulin and leptin act as key afferent signals in the regulation of food intake and body weight (to control appetite), this suggests that dietary fructose may contribute to increased energy intake and weight gain. Furthermore, calorically sweetened beverages may enhance caloric over-consumption.”He states that HFCS is absorbed more rapidly than regular sugar and that it doesn’t stimulate insulin or leptin production. This prevents you from triggering the body’s signals for being full and may lead to over-consumption of total calories. He concludes by saying that:“… the increase in consumption of HFCS has a temporal relation to the epidemic of obesity, and the overconsumption of HFCS in calorically sweetened beverages may play a role in the epidemic of obesity.”The corn industry takes his comments out of context to support their position. “All sugar you eat is the same.”True pharmacologic doses of any kind of sugar are harmful, but the biochemistry of different kinds of sugar and their respective effects on absorption, appetite, and metabolism are different, and Dr. Popkin knows that.

    David S. Ludwig, M.D., Ph.D., Associate Professor of Pediatrics, Harvard Medical School, and a personal friend, has published extensively on the dangers and the obesogenic properties of sugar-sweetened beverages.

    He was quoted as saying that “high fructose corn syrup is one of the most misunderstood products in the food industry.” When I asked him why he supported the corn industry, he told me he didn’t and that his comments were taken totally out of context.

    Misrepresenting science is one thing, misrepresenting scientists who have been at the forefront of the fight against obesity and high fructose sugar sweetened beverages is quite another.

  5. HFCS is almost always a marker of poor-quality, nutrient-poor disease-creating industrial food products or “food-like substances”. The last reason to avoid products that contain HFCS is that they are a marker for poor-quality, nutritionally-depleted, processed industrial food full of empty calories and artificial ingredients. If you find “high fructose corn syrup” on the label you can be sure it is not a whole, real, fresh food full of fiber, vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, and antioxidants. Stay away if you want to stay healthy. We still must reduce our overall consumption of sugar, but with this one simple dietary change you can radically reduce your health risks and improve your health.While debate may rage about the biochemistry and physiology of cane sugar versus corn sugar, this is in fact beside the point (despite the finer points of my scientific analysis above). The conversation has been diverted to a simple assertion that cane sugar and corn sugar are not different.

The real issues are only two.

  • We are consuming HFCS and sugar in pharmacologic quantities never before experienced in human history–140 pounds a year versus 20 teaspoons a year 10,000 years ago.
  • High fructose corn syrup is always found in very poor-quality foods that are nutritionally vacuous and filled with all sorts of other disease promoting compounds, fats, salt, chemicals, and even mercury.

These critical ideas should be the heart of the national conversation, not the meaningless confusing ads and statements by the corn industry in the media and online that attempt to assure the public that the biochemistry of real sugar and industrially produced sugar from corn are the same.

Now I’d like to hear from you …

Do you think there is an association between the introduction of HFCS in our diet and the obesity epidemic?

What reason do you think the Corn Refiners Association has for running such ads and publishing websites like those listed in this article?

What do you think of the science presented here and the general effects of HFCS on the American diet?

Please leave your thoughts by adding a comment below—but remember, we can’t offer personal medical advice online, so be sure to limit your comments to those about taking back our health!

To your good health,

Mark Hyman, MD


(i) Dufault, R., LeBlanc, B., Schnoll, R. et al. 2009. Mercury from chlor-alkali plants: Measured concentrations in food product sugar. Environ Health. 26(8):2.

(ii) Bray, G.A., Nielsen, S.J., and B.M. Popkin. 2004. Consumption of high-fructose corn syrup in beverages may play a role in the epidemic of obesity. Am J Clin Nutr. 79(4):537-43. Review.