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Getting Rid of Eczema: Eliminate High Fructose Corn Syrup

Posted Aug 10 2009 3:26pm 2 Comments

Anyone that knows me personally and has talked to me lately has heard me talk about eliminating high fructose corn syrup from our diet. Once they pick their jaw up of the floor, I tell them how this has actually helped clear up Tyler's eczema. They usually stop looking at me like I am crazy and are open to hearing how easy it was.

Then, when I tell them how much less we eat now and how I've lost weight with the change, they are usually all ears!!

If you know how to read a food label (and I'm guessing you do!), this step to eliminating is eczema is very doable. It will not happen overnight, however. Its a big undertaking. It took me a while to find suitable alternatives for some of our food. But I have now and we are all much healthier!!

What is High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS)?

According to everydiet.com HFCS is:

Derived from cornstarch, usually a combination of 55 percent fructose and 45 percent sucrose. Treated with an enzyme that converts glucose to fructose, which results in a sweeter product. Used in soft drinks, baked goods, jelly, syrups, fruits and desserts.

Huh? A chemical process to create sugar? What about...I don't know...sugar cane? Well, that's more expensive to harvest so many, many companies have found a way to give us sweetness that's cheap. Most candy, soft drinks (including many juices), baked goods, condiments, cereal and many other things have resorted to this as a sweetener.

Why Is This Bad?

I'm no doctor, nutritionist or chemist. I just have a few theories I have developed from lots and lots of research. Since it has helped Tyler's eczema, I'm pretty sure I'm onto something here!

We all know sugar of any kind isn't good for you, right? It adds nothing nutritionally. But some say HFCS goes a step further. It actually takes nutrients out of your body! That is a BIG problem in my eyes when you are dealing with eczema.

After all, eczema is an abnormal function of the immune system. It is attacking things unnecessarily. The result of this is the visible rash we see. So, if HFCS is taking nutrients out of the body and the body is already in overdrive fighting eczema, now its fighting with with a lack of nutrients (the very thing it needs to fight!) . This starts a vicious cycle of chronic eczema.

Worth noting is the fact that cutting HFCS out of your diet means you eat and drink less sugar. This, plain and simple, this makes you healthier. That is a great thing, particularly when it comes to eczema.

There are a TON of other health problems that are linked to consuming HFCS that I won't list because I'm trying to write a post and not a book! I encourage you to do your own research and make an informed decision if this is safe for someone with eczema or anyone else in your family. (You can start here.)

Elimination or Reduction?

So, is a complete elimination necessary? First, let me say this is not like managing a nut allergy. Avoiding any trace of it is not necessary. Really, any step you can take to reduce it is a positive one. Avoiding things that have it as one of the fist 3 or 4 ingredients is one thing you can do.

For our family, I simply do not buy it anymore. This means no pop, candy, boxed cereal, salad dressing to name a few. If, however Tyler is away from home and presented with something that is safe for his nut allergy and everyone else is eating it but it has HFCS, I do allow him to eat it in small doses. (I think trying to give him as much of a "normal" social upbringing is important). I just get him back on track when we get home.

So What Do We Eat?

I admit when I discovered this helped Tyler's eczema and we would be adopting this diet change, I felt overwhelmed. EVERYTHING seemed to have it!!

Here is a glimpse of how we manage:

Soft Drinks: We just don't do them! I don't like artificial sweeteners so those are not an option either! My kids drink organic skim milk, 100% juice and water. That's it!

Candy: We just eat don't much of it. Its one of Tyler's splurges on rare occasions. Hershey's candy bars are safe on both fronts so he does occasionally get a couple squares of that without any HFCS fears.

Boxed Cereal: We do eat Cheerios since they are whole grain and don't have HFCS. (They are one of the very few cereals that don't.) I also make whole grain muffins and breakfast breads from scratch (blueberry muffins, banana bread, etc), oatmeal, plain yogurt (with raw honey or stevia added), scrambled eggs, fruit, homemade whole wheat toast, etc to avoid HFCS boxed cereal.

Condiments: Ketchup was one HFCS that stressed me out. But I tried an organic ketchup and it tasted the same. Then I discovered Meijer stores in the Midwest carry a natural brand that specifically states no HFCS; for BBQ sauce, I use this recipe to make my own (it's super easy and keeps well); for salad dressing I look up a suitable recipe to try on allrecipes.com. So far we've thought they are great!

Breads: We do still eat store bought on occasion because my husband is having a hard time giving up store bought white bread. But, I make whole wheat bread from scratch for the boys and myself for sandwiches and toast. I know homemade bread is not ideal for every family but its working for us right now. Its not a big deal once you make a few loaves and get the hang of it.) Plus, it saves money!

If you have a larger food budget than us, you can buy things listed as "organic" and know you are safe. If you like something, check out Amazon.

Has This Worked?

In a word, "YES!" I admit, at first, I wondered if Tyler outgrew the eczema when I started making all of the changes we will discuss in this series. But, when he starts eating too much of something with HFCS away from home, guess what comes back? Yep! Eczema! Its happened too many times for me to consider it a coincidence.

In Conclusion

During my research I could not find anything that talked about the HFCS connection and eczema. But I have witnessed the benefits first-hand. Maybe I am one of the first ones to write on this topic? I don't know. But it needs to said for those dealing with eczema so they can at least try this elimination to see if it helps their eczema.

The whole issue of HFCS being bad for you is highly controversial. Remember: You are reading my opinion and my experiences. Nothing more, nothing less. Take it for what it's worth. If you don't agree with it, that is fine. I don't want this to be a debated post, rather one that helps you make informed decisions about your child's eczema and your family's health as a whole.
********

Here are some sources I used for preparing this that I encourage you to read for your own study:

World Evolved, "The Plague of High Fructose Corn Syrup in Processed Foods", Medicine Net. Much of this I have just learned through reserach in the last few months. I can't really cite "my brain" as a source, can I?

Please, please do your own research so you understand this topic much more in-depth. Here is a list of google links on the dangers of HFCS.


picture courtesy of flickr
Comments (2)
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I know this was posted two months ago but hope to begin a discussion. We have known for about 7 years or so that our now 12 year old son has problems with corn syrup.  Mostly we know that it affects his behavior, mood, and ability to focus. We have homeschooled up until this year (hubby unemployed for quite some time, I need to go to work while he builds a new business) and although I met with the cafeteria people at the school and he wasn't getting corn syrup, there is corn oil, corn starch, etc. in the foods.  After 12 days, he was so out of it - he couldn't do basic math computations!  Also, eczema broke out under his eye and on his arms which I thought in the past was due to exposure to cats/dogs which he is highly allergic to.  So now I'm wondering if there is more to his sensitivity than the HFCS/CS - I'm wondering if it's all refined corn products or perhaps a sensitivity to other additives and preservatives in the foods which he just hasn't had very much of as we've been whole foods as much as possible since we realized his sensitivities and just wanted the whole family to be healthier. Perhaps the "enzymes" they use in the processing (which I read somewhere are sulfite-based) of HFCS is used in all the refining processes.  Grasping for answers here - yes we could and should just go completely whole foods and all be healthier - but life sometimes calls for convenience.  Your thoughts?
I stumbled across this blog in search for some answers. I'm a grown adult suffering with painful, chronic itching eczema. And I can't take it any longer. I am willing to give up anything and everything my body reacts to, starting with soda. I have a severe sweet tooth and I'm noticing more now than ever before that my flare ups are severe within 15-30mins of drinking soda and/or eating processed sweets. I'm not a doctor or a scientists, I don't care what anyone else says, for some crazy reason HFCS is triggering an undesirable reaction within my body!
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