How Much Sugar Do You Eat?

I’ve been talking about sugar and all its variations for the last two weeks, and pointing out that sugar, high fructose corn syrup, and artificial sweeteners are not good for health.

I’ve even pointed out that there are questions about stevia, the natural herbal sugar.

So now the question is: how much sugar do you eat?

I’m going to show it in pictures. In the following pictures, each sugar cube shown is 4 grams. The cubes are stacked, and the more sugar, the bigger the stack.

If, for example, the picture shows 10 sugar cubes, that means that eating that food is equal to eating 10 cubes of sugar.

A 12 oz. cup of McDonald's Oreo McFlurry

A 12 oz. cup of McDonald's Oreo McFlurry contains 73 grams of sugar and 550 calories, of which 292 calories are from sugar

A medium size (21 oz.) helping of McDonalds Chocolate Shake

A medium size (21 oz.) helping of McDonalds Chocolate Shake contains 111 grams of sugar and 770 calories, of which 444 calories are from sugar

Starbucks Mocha Frappuccino, 16 oz. size with whipped cream contains 47 grams of sugar and 380 total calories, of which 188 are sugar

Starbucks Mocha Frappuccino, 16 oz. size with whipped cream contains 47 grams of sugar and 380 calories, of which 188 calories are from sugar

One 2.6 oz. bag of Skittles has 47 grams of sugar and contains 250 total calories, of which 188 calories are from sugar

One 2.6 oz. bag of Skittles has 47 grams of sugar and contains 250 total calories, of which 188 calories are from sugar

Ben and Jerry's Cherry Garcia: one 1/2 cup serving has 21 grams of sugar and contains 240 calories, of which 84 calories are from sugar. A pint of Ben and Jerry's has 84 grams of sugar and contains 960 calories, of which 336 calories are from sugar

Ben and Jerry's Cherry Garcia: one 1/2 cup serving has 21 grams of sugar and contains 240 calories, of which 84 calories are from sugar. A pint of Ben and Jerry's has 84 grams of sugar and contains 960 calories, of which 336 calories are from sugar.

1 regular size cup of TCBY Frozen Yogurt, French Vanilla has 40 grams of sugar and contains 275 calories, of which 160 calories are from sugar.

1 regular size cup of TCBY Frozen Yogurt, French Vanilla has 40 grams of sugar and contains 275 calories, of which 160 calories are from sugar.

An 8 oz. cup of Arizona Lemon Ice Tea has 24 grams of sugar and contains 90 calories, of which 90 calories are from sugar. An entire 24 oz. can has 72 grams of sugar and contains 240 calories, of which 240 calories are from sugar.

An 8 oz. cup of Arizona Lemon Ice Tea has 24 grams of sugar and contains 90 calories, of which 90 calories are from sugar. An entire 24 oz. can has 72 grams of sugar and contains 240 calories, of which 240 calories are from sugar.

A 12 oz can of Coca-cola has 39 grams of sugar and contains 140 calories, of which 140 calories are from sugar. A 20 oz. bottle has 65 grams of sugar and contains 240 calories, of which 240 calories are from sugar. A 1 liter (33.8 oz.) bottle has 108 grams of sugar and contains 400 calories, of which 400 are from sugar.

A 12 oz can of Coca-cola has 39 grams of sugar and contains 140 calories, of which 140 calories are from sugar. A 20 oz. bottle has 65 grams of sugar and contains 240 calories, of which 240 calories are from sugar. A 1 liter (33.8 oz.) bottle has 108 grams of sugar and contains 400 calories, of which 400 are from sugar.

An 8 oz. cup of Sobe Mango Melon has 29 grams of sugar and contains 120 calories, of which 116 calories are from sugar. A 20 oz. bottle has 70 grams of sugar and contains 280 calories, of which 280 calories are from sugar.

An 8 oz. cup of Sobe Mango Melon has 29 grams of sugar and contains 120 calories, of which 116 calories are from sugar. A 20 oz. bottle has 70 grams of sugar and contains 280 calories, of which 280 calories are from sugar.

1 Cinnabon Cinnamon Roll has 55 grams of sugar and contains 813 calories, of which 220 are from sugar.

1 Cinnabon Cinnamon Roll has 55 grams of sugar and contains 813 calories, of which 220 are from sugar.

An 8 oz. serving of Snapple Lemon Iced Tea has 23 grams of sugar and contains 100 calories, of which 92 calories are from sugar. A 16 oz. bottle has 46 grams of sugar and contains 200 calories, of which 184 are from sugar.

An 8 oz. serving of Snapple Lemon Iced Tea has 23 grams of sugar and contains 100 calories, of which 92 calories are from sugar. A 16 oz. bottle has 46 grams of sugar and contains 200 calories, of which 184 are from sugar.

1 Clif Bar has 21 grams of sugar and 250 calories, of which 84 calories are from sugar

1 Clif Bar has 21 grams of sugar and 250 calories, of which 84 calories are from sugar


A Look at Stevia

stevia

The stevia plant

I’ve been discussing sugar in all its variations – sugar, high fructose corn syrup, and all the artificial sweeteners – and I’ve been saying all along that all of these are detrimental to health.

Eating sugar and all the sugar substitutes will not allow you to experience healthy living and live a life of health and wellness. In other words, eating a sugary diet won’t allow you to live a Low Density Lifestyle.

People have asked me though, what about stevia?  Stevia comes from a plant, so isn’t eating stevia a healthy alternative?

So I thought I would take a look at stevia and see.

Stevia (STEE-vee-uh) is a South American shrub whose leaves have been used for centuries by native peoples in Paraguay and Brazil to sweeten their yerba mate and other stimulant beverages.

Stevioside, the main ingredient in stevia (the two terms are often used interchangeably), is virtually calorie-free and hundreds of times sweeter than table sugar. Because of this, it appeals to many people as a natural alternative to artificial sweeteners.

While Japanese manufacturers have used stevia since the early 1970s to sweeten pickles and other foods,

A stevia drink sold in Japan

A stevia drink sold in Japan

the FDA has turned down three industry requests to use stevia in foods in the U.S.

That’s why you don’t see stevia on supermarket shelves next to the Sweet and Low or Equal. But you can buy it in health food stores as a dietary supplement. The FDA has little control over supplements.

It does seem rather ironic that the FDA has approved the artificial sweeteners, even when the evidence is sketchy at best, as is the case with acesulfame K and neotame, while they have refused to approve stevia.

It would make you wonder if Monsanto, makers of Nutrasweet (aspartame) and neotame, and McNeill Nutritionals, maker of Splenda (sucralose), have an in with the FDA. If you are wondering that, you wouldn’t be the first.

But regardless of the FDA’s slant, there are some questions about stevia.

When the FDA first turned stevia down in 1994, they said, “we don’t have enough data to conclude that the use in food would be safe.”

And the U.S. isn’t alone in turning it down. Canada doesn’t allow food companies to add stevia to their products. Nor does the European Union.

Stevioside, made in China

Stevioside, made in China

Last year, the scientific panel that reviews the safety of food ingredients for the EU concluded that stevioside is “not acceptable” as a sweetener because of unresolved concerns about its toxicity. In 1998, a United Nations expert panel came to essentially the same conclusion.

To stevia’s boosters, there’s no debate. The herb has been consumed without apparent harm in different parts of the world for many years, they argue. No reports of any adverse reactions have surfaced after 30 years of use in Japan, for instance.

“But the Japanese don’t consume large amounts of stevia,” notes Douglas Kinghorn, professor of pharmacognosy (the study of drugs from plants) at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

“In the U.S., we like to go to extremes,” adds toxicologist Ryan Huxtable of the University of Arizona in Tucson. “So a significant number of people here might consume much greater amounts.”

Here’s what troubles toxicologists:

Reproductive problems. Stevioside “seems to affect the male reproductive organ system,” European scientists concluded last year. When male rats were fed high doses of stevioside for 22 months, sperm production was reduced, the weight of seminal vesicles (which produce seminal fluid) declined, and there was an increase in cell proliferation in their testicles, which could cause infertility or other problems.

And when female hamsters were fed large amounts of a derivative of stevioside called steviol, they had fewer and smaller offspring.  Would small amounts of stevia also cause reproductive problems? No one knows.

Cancer. In the laboratory, steviol can be converted into a mutagenic compound, which may promote

Mutating cells can lead to cancer

Mutating cells can lead to cancer

cancer by causing mutations in the cells’ genetic material (DNA). “We don’t know if the conversion of stevioside to steviol to a mutagen happens in humans,” says Huxtable. “It’s probably a minor issue, but it clearly needs to be resolved.”

Energy metabolism. Very large amounts of stevioside can interfere with the absorption of carbohydrates in animals and disrupt the conversion of food into energy within cells. “This may be of particular concern for children,” says Huxtable.

The bottom line: If you use stevia sparingly (once or twice a day in a cup of tea, for example), it isn’t a great threat to you.

But if stevia were marketed widely and used in diet sodas, it would be consumed by millions of people. And that might pose a public health threat.

And in December 2008, the FDA agreed that rebaudioside A, an extract from the leaves of the stevia plant, is safe to add to food and drinks, opening the door for stevia to be consumed by millions of people, and in the process, possibly posing a public health threat.

Two of the biggest backers of stevia-based sweeteners, Cargill and Whole Earth Sweetener Company, truvia_cup_smearlier this year began rolling out packets of stevia-based sweeteners, called Truvia and PureVia respectively.

The extract is in the companies’ drinks, too. Among the new stevia products marketed as naturally sweetened are Sprite Green from Coca-Cola and Trop50, from the PepsiCo subsidiary Tropicana. It’s essentially half water and half orange juice doctored with stevia.sprite_green

To underline their natural claims, stevia products come packaged in green. Manufacturers are blending stevia with other sweeteners to achieve a flavor closer to sugar’s. That dovetails with another trend: mixing different sweeteners, including good old sugar.

The makers of Splenda, which holds more than 60 percent of the retail market, have just introduced Sun Crystals, a mix of sugar and stevia that has five calories per serving. Sugar has 15 calories per teaspoon.

Stevia is being added to some soft drinks that also contain aspartame. And aspartame is being tamed with other, newer and less well-known artificial sweeteners. One is the potent neotame, which is as much as 13,000 times as sweet as sugar and came on the market in 2002.

Another is acesulfame potassium, called Ace K. It’s considered a blending sweetener that helps improve the flavor of other low-calorie sweeteners. It was first used in soft drinks in 1998, but its biggest success is its marriage with aspartame in Coke Zero.

So is stevia something that is good for you? It depends on the source of stevia and how much you use. It appears if you are to use it, it’s best to buy stevia in its unadulterated form, as opposed to one of the blended hybrid forms, and to use it sparingly.

The truth about sugar is that the best types of sugar are the natural occurring sugars that are in whole foods. These are complex carbohydrates: whole grains, fresh vegetables and fruits, and legumes.

Any other form of sugar is much harder for the body to process and metabolize, so if you are to use sugar, you want to use as natural a source as possible, and to use it lightly.

Lightly is also the way to live if you want to live a Low Density Lifestyle, which is the lifestyle of healthy living and of health and wellness.

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And So Now, Guess Who Is Being Hyped as “The Natural” Choice?

sugar-adI’ve been writing articles for the last week about sugar, and how detrimental it is to your health.

I started off by telling you about the downside of sugar, and then how toxic high fructose corn syrup is. From there, I discussed artificial sweeteners, telling you about the dangers of all five of the artificial sweeteners that have been approved by the FDA: saccharine, aspartame, sucralose, acesulfame K, and neotame.

And so, where does that leave us? Well, believe it or not, the good old sugar industry sees an opening. They realize that if they portray themselves as the natural option, they can convince people that they are the healthy choice.

Why, what a public service they are providing! They are advising people to get away from using the poisonous artificial sweeteners, and instead return back to the fold by sticking with the real thing.

From the tomato sauce on a Pizza Hut pie called “The Natural,” to the just-released soda Pepsi Natural, sugar-in-the-rawsome of the biggest players in the American food business have started, in the last few months, replacing high-fructose corn syrup with old-fashioned sugar, and promoting the fact that by doing that, they are giving people a healthy choice.

Blamed for hyperactivity in children and studied as an addictive substance, sugar has had its share of image problems. But the widespread criticism of high-fructose corn syrup — the first lady, Michelle Obama, has said she will not give her children products made with it — has made sugar look good by comparison.

Most scientists do not share the perception. Though research is still under way, many nutrition and obesity experts say sugar and high-fructose corn syrup are equally bad in excess. But, as is often the case with competing food claims, the battle is as much about marketing as it is about science.

But with sugar newly ascendant, the makers of corn syrup are fighting back. Last fall, the Corn Refiners Association mounted a multimillion-dollar defense, making sure that an advertisement linking to the association’s Web site pops up when someone types “sugar” or “high-fructose corn syrup” into some search engines.

high-fructose-corn-syrup-hfcs-coca-cola-cokeIn one television advertisement, a mother pours fruit punch into a cup while another scolds her because the punch contains high-fructose corn syrup. When pressed to explain why it is so bad, the complaining mother is portrayed as a speechless fool.

Audrae Erickson, president of the Corn Refiners Association, said consumers were being duped.

“When they discover they are being misled into thinking these new products are healthier, that’s the interesting angle,” Ms. Erickson said in an interview.

Meanwhile, the American Medical Association says that when it comes to obesity, there is no difference between the syrup and sugar.

Dr. Robert H. Lustig, a pediatric endocrinologist at the University of California, San Francisco Children’s Hospital, said: “The argument about which is better for you, sucrose or HFCS, is garbage. Both are equally bad for your health.”

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A Look at Artificial Sweeteners, Part 5

neotame1There are 5 artificial sweeteners, and I’ve told you about 4 of them in the last few articles. Those 4 are: saccharine, aspartame, sucralose, and acesulfame K.

Each of these has the potential to adversely affect your health.

Today I’ll tell you about the last of the 5 artificial sweeteners. This one is called Neotame.

Neotame is the new kid on the block. Approved in 2002 by the FDA,  it is a new version of aspartame, and is manufactured by Monsanto, who manufactures Nutrasweet, a version of aspartame.

With all the bad publicity Nutrasweet/aspartame has gotten, Monsanto’s hope with Neotame is that a new version of aspartame can help Monsanto maintain market share in the artificial sweetener business.

Neotame is chemically related to aspartame and is much sweeter than aspartame, with a potency of approximately 7,000 to 13,000 times sweeter than sucrose (table sugar).

It is 30 times sweeter than aspartame, so only a tiny amount is needed. Since the FDA does not require

A drink sweetened with neotame and acesulfame K

A drink sweetened with neotame and acesulfame K

labels to include ingredients that comprise less than one percent of the product, neotame can be used in foods without having to be listed on the label.

It can also be camouflaged under “natural flavors,” so when you see that phrase listed on the label, you may want to give serious consideration to whether you want to buy that product.

Neotame entered the market much more discreetly than the other nonnutritive sweeteners. While the Web site for neotame claims that there are over 100 scientific studies to support its safety, they are not readily available to the public, as there have not been any legitimate, independent, long-term human studies on neotame.

Critics say neotame is even more toxic than aspartame. Neotame has a similar structure to aspartame — except that, from its structure, it appears to be even more toxic than aspartame. This potential increase in toxicity will make up for the fact that less will be used in diet drinks.

Like aspartame, some of the concerns include gradual neurotoxic and immunotoxic damage from the combination of the formaldehyde metabolite (which is toxic at extremely low doses) and the excitotoxic amino acid.

Given all of the suffering being caused by Monsanto’s aspartame, the prudent course would be to start out with the assumption that it may cause toxic damage or cancer from long-term exposure and conduct many thorough, long-term, and independent human studies to see the effects.

monsantoThe studies on the safety of Neotame are sketchy at best. Consumer groups have called for independent research (not studies funded by the manufacturer) to evaluate its effects. They allege that Monsanto’s studies on humans lasted only one day.

They accuse Monsanto of hiring a close business partner to conduct studies on the sweetener. The critics also say that it was discovered the researchers were hiding reaction-causing chemicals in the drinks given to control groups.

The non-profit group, Truth in Labeling, gained access to some of the neotame studies. They write, “At the time of our review of Monsanto’s application, three human studies on the safety of neotame were presented. The studies had few subjects, all of whom were employees of the company. Some of the subjects reported headaches after ingesting neotame, but the researchers concluded that the headaches were not related to neotame ingestion. Not mentioned in the studies was the fact that migraine headache is, by far, the most commonly reported adverse reaction to aspartame in the files of the FDA.”

H.J. Roberts, MD, who has studied the effects of aspartame for many years, writes: “The fundamental issue is that neotame, a synthetic variation of aspartame, requires extensive evaluation before the FDA should accept a superficial opinion about its purported safety based largely on limited short-term data involving potentially flawed protocols that were almost totally funded by corporate contracts.”

Even Monsanto’s own pre-approval studies of neotame revealed adverse reactions. Unfortunately, Monsanto only conducted a few one-day studies in humans rather than encouraging independent researchers to obtain NIH funding to conduct long-term human studies on the effects of neotame.

And so, that concludes the information not only about Neotame, but artificial sweeteners in general. I hope by reading all these articles that you realize that all of these artificial sweeteners are very dangerous to your health.

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A Look at Artificial Sweeteners, Part 4

sweetener2The theme of the past week’s articles has been sugar. I’ve told you about the downside of sugar in general, and then I discussed how toxic high fructose corn syrup is.

The last few days I’ve shone the spotlight on artificial sweeteners, first talking about saccharine, then aspartame, and then sucralose.

Sugar is bad enough for you, but as you may have garnered from the articles on artificial sweeteners, the fake stuff is even worse.

I’m not done talking about the artificial sweeteners, though, because there’s two more. Remember, overall there are five artificial sweeteners that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration have approved, and so far I have covered three of them.

Today I will discuss Acesulfame K.

Acesulfame K, sold commercially as Sunette or Sweet One, was approved by the FDA in 1988 as a sugar substitute in packet or tablet form, in chewing gum, dry mixes for beverages, instant coffee and tea, gelatin desserts, puddings and nondairy creamers. The manufacturer has asked the FDA to approve acesulfame K for soft drinks and baked goods, and the FDA is currently studying it.

Most people are not even aware that this is a nonnutritive sweetener being used in their food and beverages. It is listed in the ingredients on the food label as acesulfame K, acesulfame potassium, Ace-K, or Sunett. It is 200 times sweeter than sucrose (table sugar) and is often used as a flavor-enhancer or to preserve the sweetness of sweet foods.

In carbonated drinks, it is almost always used in conjunction with another sweetener, such as aspartame

Low calorie Root Beer sweetened with acesulfame K and Splenda

Low calorie Root Beer sweetened with acesulfame K and Splenda

or sucralose. It is also used as a sweetener in pharmaceutical products, especially chewable and liquid medications, where it can make the active ingredients more palatable.

Like saccharin, it has a slightly bitter aftertaste, especially at high concentrations. Kraft Foods has patented the use of sodium ferulate to mask acesulfame’s aftertaste.

Compared to aspartame and saccharin, acesulfame K is even worse. The additive is inadequately tested, as the FDA based its approval on tests of acesulfame K that fell short of the FDA’s own standards. But even those tests indicate that the additive causes cancer in animals, which means it may increase cancer risk in humans.

Acesulfame K breaks down into Acetoacetamide, which has been shown to affect the thyroid in rats, rabbits, and dogs. Administration of 1% and 5% acetoacetamide in the diet for three months caused benign thyroid tumors in rats. The rapid appearance of tumors raises serious questions about the chemical’s carcinogenic potency.

Coca-cola  Zero, sweetened with both acesulfame K and aspartame

Coca-cola Zero, sweetened with both acesulfame K and aspartame

Acesulfame K does contain the carcinogen methylene chloride. Long-term exposure to methylene chloride can cause headaches, depression, nausea, mental confusion, liver effects, kidney effects, visual disturbances, and cancer in humans. There has been a great deal of opposition to the use of acesulfame K without further testing, but at this time, the FDA has not required that these tests be done.

Dr. Sidney Wolfe, Director of the Public Citizen Health Research Group, and a former member of the NCI Carcinogenicity Clearinghouse has said about acesulfame K:

“It is clear that questions arising in earlier — extremely inadequate — studies about the additive’s cancer-causing properties have not been resolved…. Given the likelihood that millions of Americans would be exposed to acesulfame were the additive to be approved for beverage use, the questions about its carcinogenicity must be resolved before a scientifically supportable regulatory decision can be made.”

So there you have it about another one of the artificial sweeteners. But there’s still one more to discuss, and I’ll be back tomorrow with a look at the last of the five FDA approved artificial sweeteners.

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A Look at Artificial Sweeteners, Part 3

artificial-sweeteners-121For the last two articles I’ve told you about the downside of artificial sweeteners, and specifically saccharine and aspartame. I’ve been saying how these are not conducive to health or to healthy living.

These are two of the five FDA approved artificial sweeteners, or as they are also known, nonnutritive sweeteners. All five of these artificial sweeteners are popular and have serious health concerns.

Today I want to tell you about another of the five. This one is Sucralose.

Sucralose is the newest nonnutritive sweetener on the market. It is most well known for its claim to be made from sugar. It is as sold as Splenda and is 600 times sweeter than sucrose (table sugar). It provides essentially no calories and is not fully absorbed. In 1998 it was approved for limited use, and in 1999 it was given approval for use as a general-purpose sweetener. It is currently found in over 4,500 products, including foods that are cooked or baked.

Splenda has replaced aspartame as the #1 artificial sweetener in foods and beverages. Aspartame has beensplenda forced out by increasing public awareness that it is both a neurotoxin and an underlying cause of chronic illness worldwide.

A lot of the controversy surrounding sucralose stems from the fact that it was discovered while trying to create a new insecticide. The claim that it is made from sugar is a misconception about the final product.

Sucralose is made when sugar is treated with trityl chloride, acetic anhydride, hydrogen chlorine, thionyl chloride, and methanol in the presence of dimethylformamide, 4-methylmorpholine, toluene, methyl isobutyl ketone, acetic acid, benzyltriethlyammonium chloride, and sodium methoxide, making it unlike anything found in nature. The Splenda Web site even states that “although sucralose has a structure like sugar and a sugar-like taste, it is not natural.” The product Splenda is also not actually calorie-free.

Sucralose does have calories, but because it is 600 times sweeter than sugar, very small amounts are needed to achieve the desired sweetness. The first two ingredients in Splenda are dextrose and maltodextrin, which are used to increase bulk and are carbohydrates that are not free of calories. One cup of Splenda contains 96 calories and 32 grams of carbohydrates, which is substantial for people with diabetes but unnoticed due to the label claiming that it’s a no calorie sweetener.

The name sucralose is another misleading factor. The suffix -ose is used to name sugars, not additives. Sucralose sounds very close to sucrose, table sugar, and can be confusing for consumers. A more accurate name for the structure of sucralose was proposed. The name would have been trichlorogalactosucrose, but the FDA did not believe that it was necessary to use this so sucralose was allowed.

lg_dc_with_splenda_canThe presence of chlorine is thought to be the most dangerous component of sucralose, as chlorine is a carcinogen. Splenda/sucralose is simply chlorinated sugar, which is a chlorocarbon. Common chlorocarbons include carbon tetrachloride, trichlorethelene and methylene chloride, all deadly. Chlorine is a highly excitable, ferocious atomic element employed as a biocide in bleach, disinfectants, insecticide, poison gas and hydrochloric acid.

Symptoms associated with sucralose are gastrointestinal problems (bloating, gas, diarrhea, nausea), skin irritations (rash, hives, redness, itching, swelling), wheezing, cough, runny nose, chest pains, palpitations, anxiety, anger, moods swings, depression, and itchy eyes.

In test animals Splenda produced swollen livers, as do all chlorocarbon poisons, and also calcified the kidneys of test animals in toxicity studies. The brain and nervous system are highly subject to metabolic toxicities and solvency damages by these chemicals.

Their high solvency attacks the human nervous system and many other body systems including genetics splenda-11and the immune function. Thus, chlorocarbon poisoning can cause cancer, birth defects, and immune system destruction. These are well known effects of Dioxin and PCBs which are known deadly chlorocarbons.

Sucralose has also been found to shrink thymus glands (the biological seat of immunity).

So there you have it about Sucrolose and its brand name Splenda. If you want to experience healthy living and live a Low Density Lifestyle, then by all means stay away from Sucralose.

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A Look at Artificial Sweeteners, Part 2

In yesterday’s article I gave you an overview of artificial sweeteners, saying that there were five approved aspartameartificial sweeteners. They are saccharin, aspartame, acesulfame potassium, sucralose, and neotame.

Each of these has some serious health concerns, and I will discuss each of these sweeteners at length.

Using artificial sweeteners can impact your health negatively, and is a big impediment to living a Low Density Lifestyle because of how it will adversely affect your health.

In yesterday’s article, I discussed saccharine.  Today I will discuss aspartame.

Aspartame was discovered in 1965 and approved by the FDA in 1981 for dry uses in tabletop sweeteners, chewing gum, cold breakfast cereals, gelatins, and puddings. It was able to be included in carbonated beverages in 1983. In 1996, the FDA approved its use as a “general purpose sweetener,” and it can now be found in more than 6,000 foods.

equalAspartame is also known as Nutrasweet, Equal, and Sugar Twin. It does provide calories, but because it is 160 to 220 times sweeter than sucrose, very small amounts are needed for sweetening so the caloric intake is negligible.

The amount of aspartame in some common foods is:

  • 12 oz. diet soda—up to 225 mg of aspartame
  • 8 oz. drink from powder—100 mg of aspartame
  • 8 oz. yogurt—80 mg of aspartame
  • 4 oz. gelatin dessert—80 mg of aspartame
  • ¾ cup of sweetened cereal—32 mg of aspartame
  • 1 packet of Equal—22 mg of aspartame
  • 1 tablet of Equal—19 mg of aspartame

Aspartame has been approved for use in over 100 countries and is one of the most controversial nonnutritive sweeteners, as it has been linked to many illnesses. Here is a list of some of them:

Aspartame disease: H.J. Roberts, MD, coined the term “aspartame disease” in a book filled with over aspdisease1,000 pages of information about the negative health consequences of ingesting aspartame. Dr. Roberts reports that by 1998, aspartame products were the cause of 80% of complaints to the FDA about food additives. Some of these symptoms include headache, dizziness, change in mood, vomiting or nausea, abdominal pain and cramps, change in vision, diarrhea, seizures/convulsions, memory loss, and fatigue. Along with these symptoms, links to aspartame are made for fibromyalgia symptoms, spasms, shooting pains, numbness in your legs, cramps, tinnitus, joint pain, unexplainable depression, anxiety attacks, slurred speech, blurred vision, multiple sclerosis, systemic lupus, and various cancers.

Headaches: One study confirmed that individuals with self-reported headaches after the ingestion of aspartame were susceptible to headaches due to aspartame. Three randomized double-blind, placebo-controlled studies with more than 200 adult migraine sufferers showed that headaches were more frequent and more severe in the aspartame-treated group.

Depression: In a study of the effect of aspartame on 40 patients with depression, the study was cut short due to the severity of reactions within the first 13 patients tested. The outcome showed that individuals with mood disorders were particularly sensitive to aspartame and recommended that it be avoided by them.

Cancer: In an initial study, 12 rats out of 320 developed malignant brain tumors after receiving aspartame in an FDA trial. There have been other studies to support this finding.

Increased hunger: A study done with 14 dieters comparing the effects of aspartame-sweetened and sucrose-sweetened soft drinks on food intake and appetite ratings found that substituting diet drinks for sucrose-sweetened ones did not reduce total calorie intake and may even have resulted in a higher intake on subsequent days.

In another study of 42 males given aspartame in diet lemonade versus sucrose-sweetened lemonade, there was no increase in hunger ratings or food intake with the diet group. Weight loss results from consuming fewer calories than your body needs. When you replace a caloric beverage with a noncaloric beverage, you will be saving calories and could lose weight if it is enough calories to put you in a negative balance. For aspartame to increase weight, there would have to be something else going on.

So there you have it about aspartame. I hope by now you will make sure you never eat it in any form. If you do, you have the potential to do serious harm to your health.

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A Look at Artificial Sweeteners, Part 1

artificial_sweetenerI told you about how high fructose corn syrup is toxic to your health in yesterday’s article.  But there’s a whole other category of sweeteners besides things like corn syrup.  And that category is the realm of artificial sweeteners.

If sugar in its “natural” state (though it’s hard to think of something like high fructose corn syrup, and many other sugar products, as something in their “natural” state) is detrimental to your health, then artificial sweeteners are even worse.

A diet laden with artifical sweeteners will cause all kinds of health problems, and will definitely not allow you to experience healthy living nor live a balanced life of health and wellness.

And it sure won’t let you live a Low Density Lifestyle.

So let’s take a look at the world of artificial sweeteners, or as they are also called, nonnutritive sweeteners.

Since the 1950s, when nonnutritive sweeteners came into existence, they have been seen as a weight-loss sweetener1wonder that allowed people to have their sweets without the calories and cavities. Nonnutritive sweeteners are also referred to as intense sweeteners, alternative sweeteners, very low-calorie sweeteners, and artificial sweeteners.

In the 1970’s, the wonder of artificial sweeteners switched to concern when it was discovered that artificial sweeteners had a link to cancer.

The five FDA-approved nonnutritive sweeteners are saccharin, aspartame, acesulfame potassium, sucralose, and neotame. nwaz_01_img0028Each of these is regulated as a food additive. In regulating them, the FDA set an Acceptable Daily Intake (ADI) for each additive. The ADI is the amount of food additive that can be consumed daily over a lifetime without appreciable health risk to a person on the basis of all the known facts at the time of the evaluation.

Let’s take a look at the first artificial sweetener on the list: Saccharin.

Saccharin has been around for over 100 years and claims to be the best researched sweetener. Saccharin issweet-and-low also known as Sweet and Low, Sweet Twin, Sweet’N Low, and Necta Sweet. It does not contain any calories, does not raise blood sugar levels and is 200 to 700 times sweeter than sucrose (table sugar).

Saccharin is used in tabletop sweeteners, baked goods, jams, chewing gum, canned fruit, candy, dessert toppings, and salad dressings. It also is useful in cosmetic products, vitamins, and pharmaceuticals.

In 1977, research showed bladder tumors in male rats with the ingestion of saccharin. The FDA proposed a ban on saccharin, but Congress intervened and allowed saccharin to remain in dailyexpress_cancer_sweetener1the food supply as long as the label carried this warning: “Use of this product may be hazardous to your health. This product contains saccharin which has been determined to cause cancer in laboratory animals.”

But in 2000, the National Toxicology Program (NTP) of the National Institutes of Health concluded that saccharin should be removed from the list of potential carcinogens, and the warning was removed from saccharin-containing products.

But the safety concerns of consuming products with saccharin remain even with the removal of the warning. In response to the National Toxicology Program (NTP) removing saccharin from the list of potential carcinogens, the Center for the Science in Public Interest (CSPI) wrote a report, which said in part:

“It would be highly imprudent for the NTP to delist saccharin. Doing so would give the public a false sense of security, remove any incentive for further testing, and result in greater exposure to this probable carcinogen in tens of millions of people, including children (indeed, fetuses). If saccharin is even a weak carcinogen, this unnecessary additive would pose an intolerable risk to the public.

“Thus, we urge the NTP on the basis of currently available data to conclude that saccharin is reasonably asparnewanticipated to be a human carcinogen, because there is sufficient evidence of carcinogenicity in animals (multiple sites in rats and mice) and limited or sufficient evidence of carcinogenicity in humans (bladder cancer) and not to delist saccharin, at least until a great deal of further research is conducted.”

Another claim made against saccharin is the possibility of allergic reactions. The reaction would be in response to it belonging to a class of compounds known as sulfonamides which can cause allergic reactions in individuals who cannot tolerate sulfa drugs. Reactions can include headaches, breathing difficulties, skin eruptions, and diarrhea. It’s also believed that the saccharin found in some baby formulas can cause irritability and muscle dysfunction.

So consuming saccharin products such as Sweet and Low is something that is not conducive to healthy living and can be very detrimental to your health.

Tomorrow I’ll continue with this discussion on artificial sweeteners, so don’t forget to tune in tomorrow.

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High Fructose Corn Syrup is Toxic to Your Health

powderedsugar2In yesterday’s article, I told you how eating sugar in any of its variations is not good for you nor conducive to healthy living or experiencing health and wellness.

In other words, eating sugar does not promote a Low Density Lifestyle, and will contribute to a High Density Lifestyle.

One of the forms of sugar that I discussed in yesterday’s article that is especially bad for  you is high fructose corn syrup.

I discussed how high fructose corn syrup, which is found in so many products, is metabolized in the liver and increases the creation of fats that circulate in the bloodstream, which can then lead to fatty liver disease, cirrhosis of the liver, obesity, diabetes and heart disease.

The reason the use of high fructose corn syrup has proliferated in nearly all processed foods you find in the grocery store is two fold: because it was thought to be a cheap alternative to sugar, and because it gave farmers something to do with all the corn that was being grown. Instead of corn yields being decreased, the high fructose corn syrup industry lobbied hard to get it into our stomachs.

To compound the health problems that high fructose corn syrup cause, it has been discovered that many cornsyrupfoods sweetened with high fructose corn syrup contain mercury, left as a residue in the production of caustic soda, a key ingredient in high fructose corn syrup. And worst of all, the FDA and the industry have known about this potential toxin and has continued serving it up since at least 2005.

Where does this mercury go? Once high fructose corn syrup is eaten, the mercury embeds in the tissues of the body.

Before now, the greatest threat for mercury exposure mercury-warningwas through fish, followed by mercury amalgam in dentistry and through vaccines, as it is sometimes used as a preservative. But a recent study estimates that exposure via high fructose corn syrup could be up to 50 times that of mercury amalgam exposure in children age 3-19, the age group that is the largest consumers of high fructose corn syrup.

Those with high exposure show signs of sensory impairment, sensation loss and lack of coordination. Just by choosing your food from the boxes and bottles in the center aisles of the grocery store, you could be exposing yourself to high levels of mercury, and in the process, poisoning yourself.

A recent study tested products directly from the supermarket. One in three tested positive for mercury prods_togethresidue. These included products like Smucker’s Strawberry Jelly, Hunt’s Tomato Ketchup, Hershey’s Chocolate Syrup, Nutra Grain Strawberry Cereal Bars, Pop-Tarts Frosted Blueberry and Coca-Cola Classic – and this list of foods only scratches the surface of all the foods that are toxic due to their mercury residues.

So here’s the story: if you want to experience healthy living and be on the road to health and wellness and living a Low Density Lifestyle, then stay far, far away from high fructose corn syrup.

Read the labels carefully of all packaged foods you buy, and you will discover how many of them contain high fructose corn syrup.

In yesterday’s article I said Americans eat 170 pounds of sugar a year. High fructose corn syrup, being in so many foods, is a good part of the reason for that 170 pounds a year.

And just think how much of that 170 pounds a year might be dumping mercury in your body. It boggles the mind just to conceive of that.

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The Sweet Life is Not So Sweet

A Sugar Cube

A Sugar Cube

Most people eat way too much sugar in their diet, and this is not a good thing. It can lead to health problems, and serious health problems at that.

Eating a whole foods oriented diet along with good health practices and healthy living are important components of living a Low Density Lifestyle, but eating lots of sugar does not constitute good health and nutrition practices, and will definitely derail you from experiencing good health and wellness.

In fact, if you eat a lot of sugar, you’ll end up living a High Density Lifestyle.

Over the next few articles, I want to talk to you about sugar and enlighten you on the subject. This may help you take inventory on how much sugar you are eating, and may help you start to cut down on it. This will help you stay on the path of health and wellness and healthy living practices in general.

On average, Americans eat 170 pounds of sugar a year. The rest of the world may not be too far behind that statistic.

The current recommendation is a maximum intake of eight teaspoons of sugars a day, which can be met by vitamin-waterone 12-ounce can of regular soda or a 20-ounce bottle of VitaminWater.  That means you are at or over the limit before you’ve eaten a single cookie or container of fruit-flavored yogurt, or even some commercial tomato soups or salad dressings with added sugars.

Dr. George Bray, a specialist in obesity and metabolism at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center of Louisiana State University, has calculated that “the current epidemic of obesity could be explained by the consumption of an extra 20-ounce soft drink each day,” on top of the eight teaspoons of sugar a day that most people are easily meeting.

Among the most recent substances to have a finger pointed at it is high-fructose corn syrup, which has a lot of inherent problems.

But Michael Jacobson, director of the consumer advocacy group Center for Science in the Public Interest, says that consumers should not think they are doing themselves a favor by turning to products with “real” sugar instead.

fat-land“If the food industry got rid of all the high-fructose corn syrup and replaced it with sugar, we’d have the same problems we have now with obesity, diabetes, and heart disease,” he has said. “It’s an urban myth that high-fructose corn syrup has a special toxicity.”

Neither ordinary sugar — sucrose — nor high-fructose corn syrup contains any nutrients other than sweet calories, and both are added in prodigious amounts to beverages and many foods that offer few if any nutrients to compensate for their caloric input.

“What consumers need to do is cut down on both,” Jacobson has said. “Sugary foods either add calories or replace other, more nutritious foods.”

But there are still unresolved health concerns about high-fructose corn syrup.

High-fructose corn syrup is made by converting the starch in corn to a substance that is about 90 percent fructose, a sugar that is sweeter than the sugar that fuels the body cells, called glucose, and processed differently by the body. The fructose from corn is then mixed with corn syrup, essentially pure glucose, to produce one of two mixtures called high-fructose corn syrup: 55 percent fructose and 45 percent glucose, which is used to sweeten soft drinks, and 42 percent fructose and 58 percent glucose, which is used in products like breads, jams and yogurt.

Neither substance is radically different from ordinary sugar, which is 50 percent fructose and 50 percent glucose. The main difference is that in high-fructose corn syrup, the two sugar molecules are chemically separated, and in sucrose they are linked.

Whether fructose comes from high-fructose corn syrup or sucrose, it is really not part of our natural diet. Fruit contains only tiny amounts of it. We’ve gone from a few grams of it a day to tablespoons of it.

Fructose in the amounts now in the American diet are far from benign. As the amounts consumed no-high-fructose-corn-syrupincrease, you begin to see effects that are not seen when it is consumed in smaller amounts.

Fructose is metabolized primarily in the liver, which favors the formation of fats. Studies have shown changes in circulating lipids when subjects eat high-fructose diets, and triglyceride levels that rose when people consumed mixtures containing more fructose than glucose.

Another study found that fructose consumption raised blood levels of uric acid, which can foster “metabolic syndrome,” a condition of insulin resistance and abdominal obesity associated with heart disease and diabetes.

And a study by Chi-Tang Ho, professor of food science at Rutgers University, found “astonishingly high” levels of substances called reactive carbonyls in 11 carbonated soft drinks. These molecules, which form when fructose and glucose are unbound, are believed to cause tissue damage. They are elevated in the blood of people with diabetes and linked to complications of the disease. Dr. Ho estimated that a can of soda has five times the concentration of reactive carbonyls found in the blood of an adult with diabetes.

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