A recent study published in the journal Clinical Epigenetics reveals that high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS), which is a highly-processed chemical sweetener used in many processed foods and beverages, has been identified as a major factor in the rise of autism in the United States.
The rise of autism spectrum disorders in the United States has been staggering.
“The number of children ages 6 to 21 in the United States receiving special education services under the autism disability category increased 91% between 2005 to 2010 while the number of children receiving special education services overall declined by 5%.” – Dufault et al. Clinical Epigenetics, 2012
The ingestion of heavy metals, such as mercury (Hg), into the body is having a profound effect on the neurodevelopment of children. HFCS is not only exposing children’s bodies to mercury, but it is also responsible for inhibiting the elimination of toxins and heavy metals due to how it depletes the body of the natural mineral zinc.
“…the HFCS characteristics most likely contributing to autism include the zinc depleting effect that comes from consuming HFCS and certain food colors found in processed foods, and the additional Hg exposure that may occur from the low Hg concentrations sometimes found in HFCS as a result of the manufacturing process [4,17].” – Dufault et al. Clinical Epigenetics, 2012
FIGURE 1. The consumption of HFCS has increased substantially in the US over the 1980’s and 90’s.
The study concludes:
“Consumption of HFCS may lead to mineral imbalances, including Zn [Zinc], Ca [Calcium] and P [Phosphorus] loss and Cu [Copper] gain and is a potential source of inorganic mercury exposure. These mineral imbalances create multiple pathways for oxidative stress in the brain from exposure to OP [organophosphate] pesticides and heavy metals, such as Pb [Lead] or Hg [Mercury].” – Dufault et al. Clinical Epigenetics, 2012
As health authorities and the FDA continue to pay little attention to ingredients such as HFCS, it is up to us to educate ourselves, other parents and our children. The importance of eating organic, pesticide-free fruits and vegetables, as well as whole foods rich in vitamins, minerals and nutrients such as Omega-3 Fatty acids, while eliminating processed foods from our diets, has never been more clear as public health epidemics skyrocket.
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About the Author
Anna Hunt is writer, yoga instructor, mother of three, and lover of healthy food. She’s the founder of Awareness Junkie, an online community paving the way for better health and personal transformation. She’s also the co-editor at Waking Times, where she writes about optimal health and wellness. Anna spent 6 years in Costa Rica as a teacher of Hatha and therapeutic yoga. She now teaches at Asheville Yoga Center and is pursuing her Yoga Therapy certification. During her free time, you’ll find her on the mat or in the kitchen, creating new kid-friendly superfood recipes.
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