Sing Along With Sugar

I’ve been writing about sugar and all its variations for the last few weeks now, and today is the last of the series on it.

To close out, I leave you with a video I made set to some bubblegum music – how pertinent to sugar, eh?

So get ready to sing and clap your hands, all in honor of sugar.

Do you love sugar? I hate to break the bad news to you, but sugar doesn’t love you back, no matter what the song may tell you.

Let others know about this article by posting it on Twitter! It’s easy – just click on the “tweet it” button below.

TweetIt from HubSpot

A Look at Agave Syrup

agave-nectar-7-ozLast week I discussed stevia, the natural alternative to sugar. I gave the pros and cons of it, and said there were some issues with stevia and it wasn’t all it was cracked up to be.

Because of my criticism of stevia, I have had people ask me about agave syrup, and wondering if that was any better. So I thought I would take a look at agave and tell you more about it.

As I’ve discussed throughout this series on sugar and all its variations, sugar is just flat out not good for your health.

So maybe agave, as a natural product is better for you? Let’s find out.

Agave syrup is a sweetener commercially produced in Mexico, from several species of agave plant, including Agave tequilana (also

An agave plant

An agave plant

called Blue Agave or Tequila Agave), and the Salmiana, Green, Grey, Thorny, and Rainbow varieties. Agave syrup is sweeter than honey, though less viscous.

It is a common misconception that Agaves are cacti. Agaves are closely related to the lily and amaryllis families, and are not related to cacti.

Agave syrup consists primarily of fructose and glucose, and has a very high fructose concentration.

The extremely high percentage of fructose (higher than that of high-fructose corn syrup) can be deleterious and can trigger fructose malabsorption, metabolic syndrome, hypertriglyceridemia, decreased glucose tolerance, hyperinsulinemia, and accelerated uric acid formation.

Tequila made from agave

Tequila made from agave

Agave syrup was originally used to make tequila. When agave syrup ferments, it literally turns into tequila. In Mexico, there are three major producers of agave syrup. Some of these companies have other divisions that make tequila.

Some of the agave syrup producers water down agave with corn syrup in Mexico before it is exported to the USA. Why is this done? Most likely because agave syrup is expensive, and corn syrup is cheap.

Agave syrup is a low glycemic food and as such is marketed to diabetics. The reason agave syrup is low glycemic is because of the unusually high concentration of fructose compared to the small amount of glucose in it.

Nowhere in nature does this ratio of fructose to glucose occur naturally. One of the next closest foods that contain almost this concentration of glucose to fructose is high fructose corn syrup. Even though fructose is low on the glycemic index, there are numerous problems associated with the consumption of fructose in such high concentrations as found in concentrated sweeteners.

Eating a food with a high concentration in fructose like agave syrup (and high fructose corn syrup) is hard

Beware the high fructose monster!

Beware the high fructose monster!

on the liver. Whereas glucose is metabolized by every cell in the body, fructose is metabolized primarily in the liver, and this can lead to the formation of fats in the liver.

Studies have shown changes in circulating lipids when subjects eat high-fructose diets, and triglyceride levels that rose when people consumed foods containing more fructose than glucose, such as agave syrup.

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.

So there you have it about agave syrup. I will conclude this article by saying the same thing I said when I concluded my article on stevia:

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.

Agave syrup is a natural type of sweetener, but as you read, it has its drawbacks. If you use it, as I said, go lightly.


Let others know about this article by posting it on Twitter! It’s easy – just click on the “tweet it” button below.

TweetIt from HubSpot

Should Soft Drinks Be Taxed to Help Pay for Health Care Reform?

sodaobesity1Over the last two days I’ve written articles about how bad for your health soda and Red Bull, the world’s top-selling “energy drink,” are.

Most public health advocates are in agreement on this. And some are now calling for creating a separate tax on soft drinks in order to help pay for health care reform and as a way to help promote preventative health measures.

Soft drinks are the only beverage or food that has been shown to increase the risk of obesity. And obesity, in turn, promotes heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and other expensive-to-treat diseases. All told, Americans spend about $90 billion a year in direct medical costs related to obesity, of which half is paid with Medicare and Medicaid taxpayer dollars.

Studies of soda consumption have shown that teenage boys who drink soft drinks consume an average of three 12-ounce cans and girls an average of two 12-ounce cans per day.

school-sodaStudies also show that one in 10 boys who drinks soft drinks consumes five-and-a-half 12-ounce cans a day, or about 800 calories worth. It’s not the only reason, but the increase in soda consumption since the 1970s certainly helps explain why obesity rates have tripled in teens.

Advocates have called for a federal excise tax on soft drinks of anywhere from one cent per 12-ounce can to one cent per ounce of soft drink.

The higher the tax, the advocates state, the more money it would raise and the greater incentive would there be for reduced consumption, which would in turn help to reverse the obesity problem and improve overall health, thus cutting health care costs.

It has been estimated that a tax of one cent per 12-ounce can would raise $1.5 billion per year, and reduce 215511Aconsumption by 1 percent. And a tax of one cent per ounce would raise about $16 billion a year and reduce consumption by more than 10 percent.

One article that appeared recently in the New England Journal of Medicine, written by the New York City Health Commissioner, Dr. Thomas Frieden, advocated for the one cent per ounce excise tax, and said that based on experience with tobacco taxes, a soda tax would be “highly effective” in reducing the $79 billion in annual health care costs associated with obesity and overweight across the country.

Dr. Frieden argued that an excise tax would be more effective than a traditional sales tax and provide an incentive to buy less soda. The article says that since the mid-1990s, children have been drinking more beverages containing sugar than they do milk.

“Diet-related diseases also cost society in terms of decreased work productivity, increased absenteeism, poorer school performance and reduced fitness on the part of military recruits,” he wrote.

In a recent interview in support of his article, Dr. Frieden said that the Bloomberg administration in New York City had tried to combat obesity through calorie labeling, banning trans fats and serving one percent milk in school cafeterias.

But, he said, “Soda is the big one.”

Predictably, the soda industry shot back with a defense of their products. Susan Neely, president of the American Beverage Association, issued a statement in response to the article:

“We agree that obesity is a serious and complex problem. It defies both science and common sense, however, to think singling out one product as a unique contributor to obesity will make a dent in the problem.”

Gee, what a surprise her statement is.

Other critics argue that a soda tax is regressive, because it will disproportionally hurt lower income people more than higher income folks.

That’s true as far it goes, but if soda tax revenues are used to help pay for expanded health care coverage and for prevention, lower-income Americans will enjoy the biggest share of the benefit.

So what do you think about taxing soft drinks? Feel free to leave a comment below.

Let others know about this article by posting it on Twitter! It’s easy – just click on the “tweet it” button below.
TweetIt from HubSpot

Red Bull Has Cocaine In It!

red_bull_svgI told you in yesterday’s article about the dangers of soda. Well, how about so-called “energy drinks,” and in particular, Red Bull, the best-selling energy drink in the world?

Red Bull is produced and sold by the Austrian company Red Bull GmbH. In 2006 there were three billion cans sold.

The motto for the drink is “It gives you Wings.”

What with its high sugar and caffeine content, it’s understandable that it will give you energy and “wings” – although it’s not a healthy type of energy that it gives you.

It contains 21.5 grams of sucrose, 5.25 grams of glucose, and 80 mg of caffeine. The caffeine in Red Bull is redbullequal to the amount found in an average cup of coffee, although it’s twice the amount found in a can of Coke. A sugar-free version is available, sweetened with aspartame and sucralose, instead of sucrose and glucose.

Commonly reported adverse effects due to caffeine used in the quantities present in Red Bull are insomnia, nervousness, headache, and rapid heartbeat.

The results of a study conducted in 2008 showed that the ingestion of one can of Red Bull had an immediate detrimental effect on both endothelial function, and normal blood coagulation. This temporarily raised the cardiovascular risk in these individuals to a level comparable to that of an individual with established coronary artery disease.

Based on their results, researchers involved with the study cautioned against the consumption of Red Bull in individuals under stress, in those with high blood pressure, or in anyone with established atherosclerotic disease.

There has been at least one case report of Red Bull overdose causing death in a young athlete.

But regardless of all this, because of the way it is promoted, it is the world’s leading energy drink.

But the kind of energy boost it gives is one that will ramp up your adrenal system and put your body in hyperdrive. It’s the kind of boost that puts you in High Density Lifestyle mode.

And now, on top of all that Red Bull is, it was recently discovered that Red Bull has cocaine in it.

heavy-weightMaybe that’s why it is the world’s leading energy drink!

Because of the recent findings of cocaine in Red Bull, it has been banned in at least six German states.

The cocaine was discovered by a German food safety agency in the North Rhine-Westphalia (LIGA) state, which stated they found 0.4 micrograms per liter in the drink.

While Germany’s Federal Institute for Risk Assessment and the Federal Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection both said the level did not pose a threat to public safety, it was thought more German states may join the ban.

“The institute examined Red Bull Cola in an elaborate chemical process and found traces of cocaine,” said Bernhard Kuehnle, head of the food safety department at the Federal Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection.

Officials also said that the presence of the cocaine residues violated the parameters of being classified a “food stuff.” Rather, it should be classified as a narcotic, and that classification needs a specific license.

The Red Bull company immediately issued a statement that said the problem had arisen out of its “use of a cocainedrinkdecocainised coca leaf extract in the product.”

The use of coca leaves is something that the beverage industry is understandably coy about given its links to cocaine, even if decocainised leaves are legal in most countries.

According to a story in Time magazine, Coca-Cola refused to confirm or deny whether it used either regular or decocainised coca leaves in its products.

Let others know about this article by posting it on Twitter! It’s easy – just click on the “tweet it” button below.
TweetIt from HubSpot

Too Much Soda Drinking Can Damage Your Muscles

sodaFor the last two weeks I’ve written articles telling you about the downside of sugar in all its variations – sugar, high fructose corn syrup and artificial sweeteners.

I even told you of the controversy surrounding the natural sweetener stevia.

All of these sweeteners are harmful to your health, and will hinder you in your attempt to experience healthy living and health and wellness.

And as a result, they will also deter your ability to live a Low Density Lifestyle.

I thought I would move on from talking about sugar, but because sugar is consumed in such high quantities – in the U.S. per capita sugar intake is around 175 pounds a year – I’ve decided to spend this week continuing to talk about sugar.

For the next few days, I want to talk about sugary soft drinks. After all, we are inundated with advertising soda-fountaintelling us how great our lives can be the more we consume the sugary drinks.

I figured since I don’t have the advertising budget of the soft drink companies that would allow me to run endless ads promoting my point of view, I would just have to tell you some negatives about soft drinks.

For instance, did you know drinking soda can screw up your muscles, leading to anything from mild muscle weakness to severe muscle paralysis?

This was the findings of doctors writing in a medical journal. They said soda does this because it causes blood potassium levels to drop dangerously low.

no_cokeThe author of the research paper said it appeared that hypokalaemia (low blood potassium) can be caused by excessive consumption of three of the most common ingredients in cola drinks – glucose, fructose and caffeine.

The author, Dr Moses Elisaf from the University of Ioannina in Greece wrote, “The individual role of each of these ingredients in the pathophysiology of cola-induced hypokalaemia has not been determined and may vary in different patients.

“However in most of the cases we looked at for our review, caffeine intoxication was thought to play the most important role.

“This has been borne out by case studies that focus on other products that contain high levels of caffeine but no glucose or fructose.”

Despite this, he warned that caffeine free cola products could also cause hypokalaemia because the fructose they contain can cause diarrhea.

“We believe that further studies are needed to establish how much is too much when it comes to the daily consumption of cola drinks.”

Excessive consumption of soda has already been linked with obesity, diabetes and tooth and bone problems.obese-with-soda

A spokeswoman from the British Soft Drinks Association said in response to the journal article: “The soft drinks industry is committed to encouraging responsible consumption of all its products. Nutrition labeling is included on the pack so people can make an informed choice about the products they are drinking.”

What? Did you expect them to say something different?

Like, that drinking soft drinks can cause your health to suffer and take you off the path of health and wellness?

Fat chance.

Let others know about this article by posting it on Twitter! It’s easy – just click on the “tweet it” button below.
TweetIt from HubSpot

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.

Let others know about this article by posting it on Twitter! It’s easy – just click on the “tweet it” button below.
TweetIt from HubSpot

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.”

Let others know about this article by posting it on Twitter! It’s easy – just click on the “tweet it” button below.
TweetIt from HubSpot

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.

Let others know about this article by posting it on Twitter! It’s easy – just click on the “tweet it” button below.
TweetIt from HubSpot

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.

Let others know about this article by posting it on Twitter! It’s easy – just click on the “tweet it” button below.
TweetIt from HubSpot

Next Page »