In studies of what is called the hygiene hypothesis, researchers are concluding that organisms like the millions of bacteria, viruses and especially worms that enter the body along with “dirt” spur the development of a healthy immune system. Several continuing studies suggest that worms may help to redirect an immune system that has gone awry and resulted in autoimmune disorders, allergies and asthma.Some suggestions for those of us fortunate to live in developed countries with access to safe drinking water: avoid using antibacterial soaps or cleaning products, wash hands in plain soap & water, let kids go barefoot and play in the dirt, and have a mixture of household pets.
These studies, along with epidemiological observations, seem to explain why immune system disorders like multiple sclerosis, Type 1 diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease, asthma and allergies have risen significantly in the United States and other developed countries.
So now that we've learned why worms, dirt, and bacteria are good for you, let's talk about high-fructose corn syrup. We already know it's not exactly good for us, but two new studies have found mercury to be present in HFCS. From an article in the Washington Post, Study Finds High-Fructose Corn Syrup Contains Mercury:
Almost half of tested samples of commercial high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) contained mercury, which was also found in nearly a third of 55 popular brand-name food and beverage products where HFCS is the first- or second-highest labeled ingredient, according to two new U.S. studies.Yikes! Now there are very few foods in our house that would contain HFCS. We make almost everything from scratch, so the only culprits in the fridge would be condiments like ketchup or mustard. This makes me thankful for parents who taught me good eating and cooking habits. If taste, nutrition, or price aren't enough to convince people to make more of their own food themselves, perhaps mercury-contaminated HFCS will.
HFCS has replaced sugar as the sweetener in many beverages and foods such as breads, cereals, breakfast bars, lunch meats, yogurts, soups and condiments. On average, Americans consume about 12 teaspoons per day of HFCS, but teens and other high consumers can take in 80 percent more HFCS than average.
"Mercury is toxic in all its forms. Given how much high-fructose corn syrup is consumed by children, it could be a significant additional source of mercury never before considered. We are calling for immediate changes by industry and the [U.S. Food and Drug Administration] to help stop this avoidable mercury contamination of the food supply," said the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy's Dr. David Wallinga, a co-author of both studies.