Category Archives: sweeteners


Reduce The Juice

How to Keep Your Family Hydrated and Healthy

Do your little ones drink juice often? If so, you might want to reconsider.

Especially if there’s added sugar, flavors and dyes. But even if it’s 100% real fruit juice.

While juice may come from fruit, most commercial brands are processed under extreme conditions and striped of all nutritional benefits. Including vitamin C because it is extremely sensitive to heat and light. Thus, unless it’s freshly squeezed, the vitamin C is most likely partially or even fully degraded by the time it hits your lips.

Essentially, all you’re left with is liquid sugar. And a lot of it!

The American Heart Association recommends young children consume between 12 to 16 grams of added sugar per day. Which equates to 3 to 4 teaspoons.

Do you know how much sugar one juice box contains?

It varies by brand, but generally they contain between 10 and 20 grams of sugar (2.5 to 5 teaspoons). That means just one juice box could put your child over the recommended limit of added sugar.

Now think about how much juice your child drinks a day.

Maybe 2 to 3 cups per day? If so, this adds 5 to 10 teaspoons of sugar daily from juice alone.

Sugar Cubes

Potential Risks of Too Much Juice

According to the United States Department of Agriculture, sugar sweetened beverages (i.e., fruit juice, soda, sport drinks) account for 36% of the added sugar Americans consume.

Experimental studies show sugar sweetened beverages (SSBs) lead to weight gain because they contribute a significant amount of calories. And people don’t eat less to compensate because SSBs aren’t satiating or provide lasting energy.

There’s no fiber, fat or protein present to slow the progression from liquid sugar to blood sugar. Which can lead to inflammation, insulin resistance and increase the risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

High fructose consumption (a naturally occurring sugar in fruit) has also been shown to burden the liver and increase belly fat.

Thus, now is a great time to break your family’s juice habit (or never start one).

Healthier Ways to Hydrate Your Family

Fruit Infused Water

The best source of daily hydration will always be water. And filtered tap water is ideal.

But if transitioning to plain water overnight is a hard sell, you can start by mixing juice with water. And gradually start adding more water.

To keep things interesting, here are a few other delicious options:

  • Fruit infused water: They’re easy and fun to make. My family’s favorite combinations are strawberry lemon and watermelon mint. Simply add fruit and herbs to water and let sit in the fridge for at least 4 hours.
  • Herbal tea: my son loves peppermint and ginger
  • Sparkling water
  • Coconut water

When purchasing teas, flavored sparkling water and coconut water, don’t forget to check the ingredients for added sugar or other negative ingredients.

To stay hydrated on the road and avoid the temptation to just buy a juice, bring your own containers with healthy beverage choices with you. Skip the plastic bottles in order to avoid issues with BPA (to learn more watch my interview with Lara Adler, The Environmental Toxins Nerd). Glass or stainless steel containers are your best bet. My personal favorite is Glasstic, a shatterproof plastic cylinder around a glass center cylinder. Easy to take apart and wash in the dishwasher, the company claims these are the last water bottle you’ll ever need. I bought three over a year ago and they’re still going strong. Get 10% off with this link.

To Sum It Up…

Parents ask me all the time how to create a healthier lifestyle for their family. Cutting out juice is the perfect place to start. It’s a simple change. But one that will significantly reduce the amount of sugar your little ones consume as well as foster healthier habits for years to come.

References
– “Abundance of fructose not good for the liver, heart.Harvard Health Publications (web log), September 2011. Accessed January 2017.
   http://www.health.harvard.edu/heart-health/abundance-of-fructose-not-good-for-the-liver-heart.
– Hu, Frank B., and Vasanti S. Malik. “Sugar-sweetened beverages and risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes: Epidemiologic evidence.Physiology & Behavior
   100, no. 1 (2010): 47-54. doi:10.1016/j.physbeh.2010.01.036.
– Johnston, Carol S., and D.l Bowling. “Stability of Ascorbic Acid in Commercially Available Orange Juices.Journal of the American Dietetic Association
   102, no. 4 (2002): 525-29. doi:10.1016/s0002-8223(02)90119-7.
– Malik, Vasanti S., and Frank B. Hu. “Sweeteners and Risk of Obesity and Type 2 Diabetes: The Role of Sugar-Sweetened Beverages.Current Diabetes
   Reports
12, no. 2 (2012): 195-203. doi:10.1007/s11892-012-0259-6.
– “Sugar-Sweetened Beverages and Weight Gain in 2- to 5-Year-Old Children.Pediatrics 132, no. 3 (2013). doi:10.1542/peds.2013-0570d.
sugar health war

The War On Sugar

As consumers start to pay attention to sugar consumption and more organizations and communities begin to tax excess sugar, industry giants are trying to fight back. The most recent effort is Coca-Cola’s funding of a study that claims lack of exercise and excessive screen time is to blame for the obesity crisis.  The study further states ‘more work need[s] to be done’ when looking at the influence of diet on obesity. 

The sugar misdirection

While exercise is definitely important and needs to be part of a healthy life, this study is very deceptive. It seeks to shift attention away from diet and from what’s in our food (added sugars are astronomically high in our diet at this point). It redirects the issue in a way that absolutely infuriates me.

Corporate interest is in making money. They do that by spending tens of millions of dollars to figure out how to make a product that is addictive and nearly irresistible. Then they spend even more money to figure out the psychology behind how you buy and to entice you to purchase their product. The outrageous part is when they then claim they have no impact on your health; it’s completely up to you to make the choice not to consume their product. When they take it one step further by funding studies that support the sale of their products and influence reported results that distance them from any responsibility for the impact on health? That’s unconscionable.

While I agree it is a personal responsibility to watch what you eat, I maintain that it’s very overwhelming for the consumer who is surrounded by this sort of corporate deception and manipulation.  In the case of this most recent study, leaked emails reveal that, despite stated claims to the contrary, Coca-Cola contributed funding to the study and had a big hand in helping to design it. 

It’s happened before

This is not the first time corporate funding has co-opted research. Last year Coca-Cola and Pepsi were found to have funded a controversial study that claimed diet drinks were better than water for weight loss. But it doesn’t stop there. Coca-Cola clearly and openly funds many major health organizations such as The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, The American Cancer Society, and The American Academy of Pediatrics. When they fund the research these organizations do there is bound to be some sort of a bias in their favor. If, as it appears in this recent case, they have a hand in designing the study as well as funding it, that makes the results even more questionable.

There is a war on. When it comes to your health and the information you need to make informed, educated decisions you can’t rely on headlines. The news media is looking for soundbytes. They’re relying on our inattentive, 3-second-goldfish-mind, to just run news blurbs past us and then move on to the next thing. 

We have to go deeper than the headline news ticker. You need to know who funded the study, who designed it, was there any potential for influence for corporate gain, and is it solid science. This is not the first time this has happened in the war on sugar. It’s not even the first time that there’s been an all-out assault on convincing consumers that an ingredient which is bad for them is actually not so bad.  I’d like to take you on a small journey to the past; looking at a different ingredient war.

What’s wrong with HFCS

At this point we know that High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) is bad for us. It’s damaging to our liver, contributes to obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. 

Invented in the 1970’s it was approved for use in food by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1983. It was seen as a safe sweetener and began to find it’s way into a wide variety of foodstuffs, juices, desserts, baked goods, and more. HFCS as an ingredient sometimes appeared in on the front of the label.

Over the decades evidence began to show up revealing that HFCS was not as benign as we had been lead to believe. As more consumers began to stop consuming HFCS the Corn Refiners Association began to push back. They started an ad campaign, “What’s wrong with High Fructose Corn Syrup.” You know those commercials. Someone offers another person a popsicle and the person it’s being offered to says, “No thank you, that has high fructose corn syrup in it.” The person offering it says, “So? What’s wrong with that?” The other person then stands there looking stupid as if they have nothing to say. Unfortunately we now know that there is a lot wrong with HFCS and it should not be part of our diet. But they put it in everything. And even with consumer backlash HFCS is still being used. It’s in sweet things like jams and applesauce. It’s in savory things like condiments. It even appears in some commercial vitamins.

When the ad campaign was not as effective as they hoped the Corn Refiners Association pushed to have the name changed to Corn Sugar. Their thinking was that this would seem more benign that HFCS and be more acceptable to consumers. As I wrote in The Pantry Principle, that effort failed and they were forced to keep the name High Fructose Corn Syrup. HFCS is still the occasional subject of articles that claim it’s not any worse for you than sugar. But now the ads have all but disappeared. The front of package labels say No HFCS in bold letters. 

Fighting back

It took over 40 years to get to where we are now with HFCS. There’s no telling how long it will take with sugar.

I promise you it’s a war; one that the manufacturers will defend as vigorously and as long as they can. Sugar taxes and clear labeling cuts into their profit margins. That’s enough to make them misdirect and engage in morally questionable practices like funding misleading study results.

Don’t be fooled by the headlines. You can make a change for yourself and choose health. Read the labels. Be aware of how much sugar you’re consuming and where that sugar comes from. The more you learn about the different types of sugar and it’s effect on the body the more you will be able to look past the manufacturer manipulation and misdirection. And the more you will be able to eat well to be well.

Related Links
Channel 4 dispatches: Secrets of Coca-Cola
Coca-Cola Funds Scientists Who Shift Blame for Obesity Away From Bad Diets
Coca-Cola ‘spends millions on research to prove that fizzy drinks don’t make you fat’
Consumption of high fructose corn syrup in beverages may play a role in obesity
The role of high fructose corn syrup in metabolic syndrome and hypertension
High-fructose corn syrup-55 consumption alters hepatic lipid metabolism and promotes triglyceride accumulation

 

Top 10 Ingredients To Avoid

I’m often asked which ingredients we should avoid in our food.  There really isn’t a simple answer for that.  I could say all of the fake ones, but that leaves you to decide which ones are fake.  And truthfully some of them aren’t “fake”, meaning they’re not entirely from chemicals.  They’re just highly modified.  Either because they’ve been through some sort of a chemical process to invert, alter, or manipulate their chemical structure to change them significantly from their original form. 

An overview of Splenda (TM)

A perfect example of manipulation is Splenda.  It started out as sugar (which some could argue is highly processed, stripped of all minerals and therefore not a great choice to begin with).  In processing it becomes modified by the addition of sucralose which is made by replacing three hydrogen-oxygen atoms and inserting three chlorine atoms in their place. Because it contains less than 5 calories per serving it’s labeled as having no calories.  (A single packet, weighing 1 gram, actually provides 3.36 calories — a miniscule amount, however this is still misleading labeling).

Unfortunately Splenda (TM) is far from the harmless non-nutritive sweetener that it’s advertised to be.  It has been shown to alter intestinal pH and reduces intestinal microflora.  We need a balanced pH for good health.  We also require beneficial levels of bacteria to help support good digestive health.

According to one report published in the Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health, Part B, there seems to be some evidence that Splenda (TM) may not be as biologically inert as advertised.  It also appears that exposure to high temperatures can cause it to break down into a toxic substance.

Ingredient Overview

While I frequently write about what ingredients are, where they appear, and other information you need to be aware of in the newsletter, I also recognize that it’s helpful to have a “cheat sheet” of sorts to give you an overview and help you break it down a little bit further.  So I’ve created the infographic below.  These are my top ten “baddies” and the ones that you really want to watch out for.  Print it out, write it down, whatever you need to do to be able to bring this information with you to the grocery store. 

top-10-ingredients-to-avoid

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you’re looking for more in-depth information about ingredients your best resource is The Pantry Principle:  how to read the label and understand what’s really in your food. 

For regular, weekly updates on what’s going on in the world of food manufacturing and processing be sure to check out my newsletter, Food News You Can Use.

 

 

Hormel’s Vital Cuisine — Ingredient Review

Food niches

Food producers like to target niche markets where they believe they can capitalize on the desire of the consumer in that group to eat according to their needs.  Categories may include diet or weight loss products, items aimed at athletes, or those who follow a particular dietary protocol such as Atkins, South Beach, Gluten Free, etc.  

The latest target niche is cancer.  Hormel Foods, in partnership with the Cancer Nutrition Consortium, has developed a line of Ready To Eat (RTE) foods aimed at those undergoing cancer treatment.  Often people in this situation experience a wide range of issues when it comes to their food.  These can include lack of appetite or a change in tastes and eating sensations.  Coupled with a lack of energy, plus the physiological changes of treatment this often leads many people undergoing cancer treatment to be undernourished.  They frequently do better with nutrient dense, higher protein meals.

What’s in the box?

Unfortunately the choices developed by Hormel Foods do not represent the best options for nutrition as many of the ingredients are less than desirable.  Some are even known to cause cancer.  This is a rather upsetting thought when one considers that the item is aimed at those going through treatment for cancer who are presumably have a weaker immune system.  Below is a slideshow highlighting examples from the Vital Cuisine line.

 

I find it astounding and rather appalling that a company would put ingredients known to cause cancer into a food product designed for those going through this very condition.  

What to eat?

As mentioned above, the best food choices for those who are undergoing treatment for cancer are real, nourishing, nutrient dense foods. I always encourage people to read the label.  When dealing with a health-care crisis this becomes even more important.  While it may be overwhelming to learn how to understand the body’s nutritional needs when dealing with cancer, there are resources out there.  A couple of my favorite books are:

Screenshot 2016-05-09 18.35.54

The Cancer Fighting Kitchen: Nourishing, Big-Flavor Recipes for Cancer Treatment and Recovery by Rebecca Katz

 

 

 

Screenshot 2016-05-09 18.52.18 The Whole Food Guide for Breast Cancer Survivors: A Nutritional Approach for Preventing Recurrance by Edward Bauman and Helayne Waldman

 

 

 

The idea of niche marketing for specific health conditions is quite probably a new category of foods.  Who knows, we may find ourselves seeing foods designed to support those with arthritis, gout, or ulcerative colitis on the shelf next. As always it is important to look past the hype and the labeling.  Be informed, read the label, and eat well.

Sickly-sweet Additives

You’ve likely never heard of Senomyx, a biotech flavor engineering company that works with many major corporations from Kraft Foods and Nestle to Coca-Cola and PepsiCo.  This flavoring manufacturer has stated in filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission: [quote]The goals of our high potency sweetener program are to allow for the reduction of calories in packaged foods and beverages and to enable our collaborators to use product labeling referencing ‘natural flavors.’[/quote]

In line with this objective, Senomyx announced in August that its new additive “Sweetmyx S617” will soon be added to PepsiCo’s Manzanita Sol and Mug Root Beer soft drinks in the United States.  This artificial ingredient will allow food and beverage companies to reduce the calorie and sugar content of their products by amplifying the sweetness of sugar and other sweeteners.

Sweetness is arguably one of the most significant tastes we experience and crave in modern culture as we are seemingly bombarded with it – sugar is added to 74% of packaged foods!  Added sugar can sneak its way into your diet even when avoiding desserts like cookies and ice cream as it is found in many savory items like crackers, bread, salsa and pasta sauce.

The Power of Sweet

When we eat, the taste receptor cells on our tongues relay information to the brain signaling the specific type of flavor.  Sweetness from sugar is particularly powerful and has been found to stimulate brain pathways similar to the way an opioid would. In fact, in a well-known study, rats addicted to cocaine chose sugar over the drug when given the choice because the stimulating “high” from sugar is more pleasurable.

The startling reality is that many people are actually addicted to the sensation of sweetness and food manufacturers are taking advantage of this.  A typical 12-ounce can of regular soda can contain as many as 46.2 grams of added sugar, far exceeding the American Heart Association’s recommendations for sugar in an entire day.  One leading brand of yogurt contains 29 grams of sugar per serving and a breakfast bar made with “real fruit” and “whole grains” lists 15 grams of sugar per serving!

Many processed foods with “healthy” marketing jargon contain a shocking amount of added sugar, as we can see in this slideshow.

Corporations have been incredibly successful adding more and more sugar to processed foods so that we keep coming back for more.

However, in light of the obesity epidemic in this country, there has been some push back to reduce sugar content of processed foods.  Processed items with labels touting less sugar or lack of high fructose corn syrup are likely to be picked up by busy moms who want healthier convenient options for their kids.  Unsurprisingly, food manufacturers are working to meet this demand with manipulation instead of simply creating healthier formulations.  They’re seeking the best ways to reduce sugar without sacrificing the intensely sweet flavors that have us hooked and coming back for more.

In theory, a product that reduces calories and added sugar sounds like a great advancement for health.  Senomyx’s new additive Sweetmyx S617 is expected to reduce calories in the two newly formulated soft drinks by 25 percent, but at what cost?

Where To Look for Sweetmyx S617 on the Label

These flavor “enhancers” are not considered actual ingredients and are not required to be listed on packaging as anything other than artificial flavors.”  Frighteningly, Senomyx’s aim is to take these additives one step further and have them labeled as “natural flavors.”  Much like MSG, these flavor enhancers operate on a neurological level to produce this heightened sweet sensation, essentially tricking the brain into thinking foods are sweeter than they actually are.  This sounds like anything but natural!

The most troubling aspect of these new additives is that limited testing has been done to prove they are safe for consumption.  The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) has determined through public records requests that the FDA does not have detailed safety information on these flavor enhancers and the limited analysis the Flavor and Extract Manufacturers Association has done does not meet FDA standards.  Many recommended tests are missing, including cancer studies, reproductive studies and screens to test how ingredients affect the nervous system.  Susan Schiffman, a sweetener expert and professor at North Carolina State University has said that [quote]To put anything into the food supply with this little testing is astounding.[/quote]

How can you avoid added sugar and corporate flavor manipulation?

You won’t find Sweetmyx S617 listed on any product’s label. As the FDA is comfortable deeming Senomyx’s flavor enhancers as Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS), avoid all processed foods that list “artificial flavors” among the ingredients where possible, to opt out of these untested additives.  In addition, reference Appendix One of Mira’s book The Pantry Principle for a comprehensive list of the many different names sugar can be found under and which ones to avoid.

Glucerna – Is It A Healthy Choice?

Meal supplement beverages, such as glucerna, are frequently promoted by doctors for a variety of reasons.  In some cases it may be due to concerns about the amount of protein a patient needs, or if they are a “picky eater” and not getting enough nutrients.  An increasing number of these products are aimed at diabetics, purporting to help them control blood sugar levels.  Sadly these products come with a massive ingredient list and are not as healthy as the manufacturer would have you believe.

What’s in the can?

Glucerna - ingredient breakdown

I’ve chosen Glucerna because it’s one of the more popular products aimed at people with diabetes.  It claims to “Help Minimize Blood Sugar Spikes”, has 190 calories, and provides 10 grams of protein.  Just because something has a lot of protein does not mean that it’s helpful for managing blood sugar.  You need to read the label to see what’s really in that can.

INGREDIENTS:  Water, Corn Maltodextrin, Milk Protein Concentrate,       Fructose, Glycerol, Short-Chain Fructooligosaccharides, Cocoa Powder       (Processed with Alkali), Soy Protein Isolate, High Oleic Safflower Oil.            Less than 2% of the Following: Canola Oil, Soy Oil, Cellulose Gel, Potassium Citrate, Magnesium Phosphate, Salt, Choline Chloride,  Ascorbic Acid, Calcium Carbonate, Calcium Phosphate, Sodium Citrate,      Cellulose Gum, Potassium Phosphate, Natural & Artificial Flavor, Potassium Chloride, Monoglycerides, Soy Lecithin, Liquid Sucralose, Potassium Hydroxide, Magnesium Chloride, Carrageenan, Turmeric Concentrate, Acesulfame Potassium, Ferrous Sulfate, Zinc Sulfate, dl-Alpha-Tocopheryl Acetate, Niacinamide, Manganese Sulfate, Calcium Pantothenate, FD&C Red #3, Cupric Sulfate, Vitamin A Palmitate, Folic Acid, Thiamine Chloride Hydrochloride, Riboflavin, Chromium Chloride, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Biotin, Sodium Molybdate, Potassium Iodide, Sodium Selenate, Phylloquinone, Cyanocobalamin, and Vitamin D3.

That’s  quite a mouthful.  Literally.  So now let’s break down that long list  so you can really understand what you’re getting.

Glucerna ingredients

Sugars

This product delivers 6 grams of sugar per serving.  That’s a lot of  sugar in my book, especially for a beverage that’s supposed to balance blood sugar.   The very first thing that stands out for me on the ingredient list is that the first ingredient is water, meaning that most of this product is water.  

When we go through the list of ingredients we see that it has several different sources of sugar and sweeteners.  To have all of this in a product clearly aimed at people trying to better manage their blood sugar levels does not make sense.

  • Corn Maltodextrin: The corn is most likely genetically modified meaning that this has GMOs in it.  I do not advocate consuming GMOs and recommend avoiding them as much as possible.
  • Fructose: This is probably from either sugar cane, sugar beets or corn.  While I don’t know which one it is I will point out that the sugar beets and corn are most likely to be from GMO sources.  Excess consumption of fructose has also been shown to have a negative impact on the liver.  
  • Glycerol: This is a sugar alcohol which can be synthesized or made from either plant (soy, i.e., GMO soy) or animal (tallow) sources
  • Sucralose: An artificial sweetener which can cause a host of negative health issues including migraines, dizziness, digestive disturbances, and allergic type reactions.
  • Acesulfame Potassium: Another form of artificial sweetener.  Unfortunately studies appear to show that consuming a lot of artificial sweeteners may be linked to weight gain.

Other negative ingredients

  • Artificial flavor:  Made from “proprietary chemical formulations” the actual ingredients are not required to be listed on the label as long as they are considered GRAS.  However, many artificial flavor formulations have been shown to cause nausea, fatigue, dizziness, headaches, chest pain and more.
  • FD&C Red #3: Made from petrochemicals, this artificial dye can have a very negative impact on brain chemistry.  Studies have positively linked inattentive type behaviors, anxiety, and aggression with consumption of artificial food colors.
  • GMO ingredients:  In addition to the probable GMOs found in the sugars listed above, this product also has Soy Protein Isolate, Canola Oil, Soy Oil, and Soy Lecithin.  Soy and canola are two of the most highly genetically modified crops currently out there and should be avoided.
  • Milk Protein Concentrate: Sometimes listed as MPC, this highly processed ultra-filtered product is highly likely to come from cows that have been treated with artificial hormones and antibiotics.  These artificial hormones have been linked to overall immune system issues, metabolic syndrome, and even diabetes.  Overconsumption of antibiotics through animal products have been linked with antibiotic resistant diseases.
  • Carrageenan: is made from red seaweed and is often highly problematic for those who have digestive issues.

Many of the other additives are most probably synthesized versions of the vitamins that they represent, not the forms found in nature which are more readily absorbed by the system.

Overall this is not a product that I would suggest for anyone.  There are too many negative ingredients and I do not believe it’s a product that delivers any sort of health benefit.

Update  

When I posted this on my Facebook page it generated a number of comments asking what would be a good alternative.  If you’re looking for a protein drink there are powders that have a reasonable protein content, far less sugar, and few to no dubious ingredients.   I encourage you to read the label and understand what’s in the can before you make a choice.  The object is to choose one that has no negative ingredients.

An even better choice than a beverage would be the addition of real foods that are nutritionally dense and provide balanced protein without junky ingredients.  One of my favorites is soaked raw nuts or grass fed bison jerky.  My friend and colleague Trudy Scott is a huge fan of tinned sardines.  There are plenty of other options out there if you read the label.

 

Obesity Starts In The Past

This Rewind The Future public service ad from Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta shows the consequences of a lifetime of unhealthy choices and it’s impact on obesity. Rewinding from a 32 year old man having a heart attack back through moments in his life that collectively brought him to that point.

The ad is a, hopefully, sobering look at how your food DOES matter.  We’re often taught “a calorie is a calorie, just eat less and exercise more.”  To that I would like to point out the vast difference between 100 calories of broccoli and 100 calories of french fries.  Our bodies are amazing but they still need the correct fuel to run properly.  Borrowing a metaphor from Liz Lipski, “We fuel our bodies the way we fuel our cars.  Stop.  Gas.  Go.”  I’d like to point out that at least we give our cars the fuel they need.  If you put water in your gas tank your car isn’t going to make it very far.  Unfortunately that’s what we wind up doing with our bodies; sugar is not a healthy fuel choice, excessive and overwhelming amounts of unhealthy fats, chemicals, sodium, all add up to have a negative impact on health.  I frequently say, and I strongly believe, you need to eat well to be well.

I do like this ad and I hope it shocks people and then gets them to make a change.  I’d also like to point out the following:

1. It is never too late to make a change.  Every thing that you do for health is one thing more than you were doing the day before.  And it all adds up.  Rather than giving up in defeat (“oh I’m already fat/sick/diabetic/ill”)  resolve to love your body and your life by committing to make a change.

2. Food producers are large part of the problem, they create foods which are high fat, high sugar, highly addictive and then spend tens of millions of dollars marketing them.  And we are surrounded by it every day in almost every setting.  It’s extremely challenging to make changes when you are immersed in an environment that’s calculated to encourage you to eat poorly.

3.  Part of #2 above but so important that I’m going to give it it’s own number is the fact that manufacturers overload our food and deliberately seek out that perfect balance to make us desire them.  And then claim that it is not in any way their fault.  It’s us, we should have better control.  While I’m not saying that we do not have individual responsibility I feel strongly that they need to acknowledge their role in what’s happening.  Shoving excess sugar, fat, and chemicals into our food because they know it makes it seem to taste better is upsetting.  Refusing to accept that this is a part of the issue is just plain wrong.

4. Family habits are…well…a habit. Set healthy ones for your family.  It’s not easy but it’s worth it to make that focus on healthy eating, exercise, and wellness.

5. The biggest challenge, in my opinion, is that it takes so very long for these health issues to show up, in some cases decades.  That makes it difficult to stay focused sometimes.  We don’t see the effects immediately after eating a particular food.  It’s after years of eating that way that our body finally begins to show the results.

One eye-opening movie that looks at some of this is Fed Up.  A documentary to examines sugar in our food supply.  Below is a trailer from the movie followed by a video of a 10 day no sugar challenge.


Sugar Overload

Here we are at the end of January.  If you’re one of those people who made a New Year’s resolution, or goal, to “lose weight” or “give up sweets”  chances are high that you’re either struggling right now or you’ve given up completely.

As I’ve talked about before, this is in part a matter of making absolute statements. But a significant part of reaching your health and weight goals is to understand where sugar is coming from.  Especially fructose as excess fructose consumption can put a strain on your liver.

Sadly sugar is highly prevalent in our diet.  We are predisposed to want it from a biological perspective.  Manufacturers capitalize on this by including it in many foods.  Additionally food producers will often break up the sugar in processed foods using a variety of types of sugar, especially fructose.  As you know, the more of a particular ingredient that is in a food the higher on the label it needs to appear.  By using different kinds of sugar they can make it look like there is less in the product.  You can learn more about this in Chapter Five of The Pantry Principle.  There’s also an appendix that lists all of the different types of sugars so you can learn properly identify them.

In addition to reading the label we need to learn where sugar hides in our diet.   We often don’t realize how much is contained in everyday foods, even something simple like unsweetened apple juice.  The infographic below highlights sugar content in common foods.  Learning to be aware if where sugars appear in your diet will help you make healthier choices so you can eat well to be well.

fructose overload infographic

Discover the fructose content of common foods, beverages, sauces, and even sugar substitutes in our infographic “Fructose Overload.” Use the embed code to share it on your website or visit our infographic page for the high-res version.

<img src="http://media.mercola.com/assets/images/infographic/fructose-overload-infographic.jpg" alt="fructose overload infographic" border="0" style="max-width:100%; min-width:300px; margin: 0 auto 20px auto; display:block;"><p style="max-width:800px; min-width:300px; margin:0 auto; text-align:center;">Discover the fructose content of common foods, beverages, sauces, and even sugar substitutes in our infographic "<a href="http://www.mercola.com/infographics/fructose-overload.htm">Fructose Overload</a>." Visit our infographic page for the high-res version.</p>

Gummy Bears Give You Diarrhea

Screen shot 2013-12-13 at 10.52.36 AMA friend of mine recently shared a link to a product she saw on Amazon; sugar free gummy bears.  For those who like gummy bears this might seem like a great idea.  I’m here to tell you that it’s not.  Gummy bears are normally not a great choice to begin with.  Loads of sugar, glucose syrup, wax, starch, artificial flavoring, artificial colors, citric acid, and some form of gelatin.  Obviously, as I’ve said, this is not a great choice.

This particular package of sugar free gummy bears?  They’re even worse.  It starts with the fact this it comes in a five pound bag.  That is just far to much junk food to consume, much less have around the house.  If the sheer quantity is not enough to dissuade you how about the fact that smack dab in the middle of the page is this statement, “This product is a sugarless/sugarfree item with ingredients that can cause intestinal distress if eaten in excess.”  Followed, further down the page, by this statement, “Safety Warning:  Consumption of some sugar-free candies may cause stomach discomfort and/or a laxative effect. Individual tolerance will vary. If this is the first time you’ve tried these candies, we recommend beginning with one-fourth of a serving size or less. Made with Lycasin, a sugar alcohol. As with other sugar alcohols, people sensitive to this substance may experience upset stomachs.” Somehow none of that sounds tempting.

So what is this sugarless/sugarfree ingredient you ask?  It’s one you probably haven’t heard of before called lycasin.  A hydrogenated glucose syrup, also known as hydrolyzed starch (remember hydrolyzed is code for free glutamic acid and therefore a form of MSG).  Derived from maltitol, a disaccharide made from corn (and probably genetically modified corn at that), it is known to cause bloating, flatulence, intestinal disturbance, and more.  Online research revealed that according to a study done by the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition a mere 15-20 of these gummy bears produced a significant laxative effect.  And the more you ate the worse it was.

The reviews for this product are an unfortunate mix of horror and humor.  One review claimed that this would be a much more delicious way to prep for a colonoscopy.  Another claimed that after eating these they were “praying for a fart.”

I’m sure you don’t need me to tell you this, but my advice?  Don’t Eat That!!!

 

Manuka Honey Health Benefits

Long used by people as a source of sweetener, honey is added to foods and beverages, but can also be used for medical purposes. As a sweetener it is primarily composed of fructose and glucose. While mild and health supporting, honey does present a health hazard to children under one year of age due to the potential for naturally occurring botulism spores.  For this reason children under one year of age should not be given honey.

There are various kinds of honey available, all made from different nectar sources. These different types of honey have a number of properties which can help treat a range of health problems. A few types include avocado, clover, fireweed, buckwheat, blueberry, alfalfa, eucalyptus, but there are many more. Honey also comes in a number of different forms, crystalized, raw, on the comb, creamed, and dry among them.

Honey is produced in all over the globe; in United states alone there are over 300 different kinds. When it comes to taste, darker honey has a stronger taste while the lighter honey is milder in flavor.

When it comes to health benefits, Manuka honey is at the top of the list. It is produced mainly in New Zealand where the bees feed off of the Manuka plant (which is native to New Zealand). What sets Manuka honey apart from other varieties is it’s anti-bacterial properties.

Normally used to treat minor burns and wounds, it can also be used for a wide variety of health issues. Not only does it have extraordinary antibacterial properties, it also boasts great antiviral, antioxidant, and antimicrobial properties as well.  There is even emerging evidence that manuka honey may fight MRSA and possibly prevent antibiotic resistant bacteria.

Below is a list of common ailments helped by the use of manuka honey?

Hair Problems: Many people believe it can prevent common hair problems like split ends, hair loss, hair thinning, dry scalp, and more. simply mix a tablespoon of the honey, a tablespoon of mayo, and an egg together and then apply it directly to your hair.

This will also help moisturize your hair in the process to help give your hair a good shine. Make sure you massage the mixture into your head and leave it there for at least 10 minutes before rinsing out.

Stomach Problems: Manuka honey is thought to help calm your stomach for certain issues such as indigestion, stomach ulcers, and acid reflux. Suggested usage is to eat 1 to 2 tablespoons of the honey thirty minutes prior to consuming a meal. The beneficial properties of the Manuka will quickly go to work to calm your stomach.

Colds and Coughs: The antibacterial properties can coat your throat and stop the coughing. Some suggest that is may also fight off bacteria. Suggested usage is 1 tablespoon of raw Manuka honey to help fight a cold when you feel it coming on.

Gum Disease: Another antibacterial use for Manuka is it’s use as a mouthwash to help eliminate bacteria responsible for gum disease, bad breath, and tooth decay.

Cuts & Burns: Manuka honey is also used for treating minor cuts, scrapes, and burns. Once the wound is cleaned thoroughly apply the honey directly to it and make sure you cover the surrounding area of the cut as well.

Found in most health food stores, more grocery stores are beginning to stock it as well. To make sure you are getting 100% raw Manuka honey with all its health benefits you have to check the UMF of the brand. If you notice a brand of Manuka honey doesn’t have the certified UMF trademark on it don’t buy it.

 

John Maddox writes articles for a variety of sites. He also runs the website How To Get Rid Of Cellulite promoting natural ways to get rid of cellulite.

photo: Fir0002/Flagstaffotos