Knock Out a Top Cause of Diabetic Complications

30 Mar

If you have diabetes, what I’m about to tell you in this blog post could prevent you from having a premature heart attack, save your eyesight, kidneys, legs, and nerves—even save your life. Diabetes has a devastating effect on virtually every system in the body, which sets the stage for a variety of diabetic complications. But, as I will explain, this devastation is largely preventable.

Knock Out a Top Cause of Diabetic Complications

Nutrient Losses Cause Diabetic Complications

Diabetes is a nutritional wasting disease. The elevated blood sugar levels that characterize diabetes cause excessive urination. In fact, diabetes mellitus is taken from two Greek words meaning “to pass through” and “honey,” referring to excessive glucose-laden urination.

High blood sugar levels, which are caused by either lack of insulin or insulin resistance (type 1 or type 2 diabetes, respectively), overwhelm the kidneys’ capacity to reabsorb glucose as well as all water-soluble nutrients. Elevated blood sugar levels essentially act like an osmotic diuretic, washing out virtually everything.

Every time blood sugar rises and urination increases, patients with diabetes lose water, magnesium, zinc, B12, B6, folic acid, and many other nutrients. Although water is replaced by drinking, nothing is done to replenish the water-soluble nutrients that are also swept out.

Replacing Lost Vitamins and Minerals Is Critical

As a result of these continual nutritional losses, diabetes is our number one cause of blindness, amputation, and kidney failure, and it dramatically increases the risk of both heart attack and stroke. I believe that if you were to give a healthy person an osmotic diuretic every day without replacing nutrients, they would develop these (and other) diabetic complications. Let’s examine some of the nutrient losses and their consequences.

  • Magnesium. Excessive urination washes out magnesium. Low magnesium levels are present in 25 percent of people with diabetes, and even those with levels considered to be “high” for diabetics don’t reach the average levels of the non-diabetic population.

As magnesium levels decrease, glucose control deteriorates because magnesium is essential to normal carbohydrate metabolism. Low levels are associated with diabetic retinopathy, and diabetics with the lowest magnesium levels have the greatest risk of going blind. Low magnesium is also associated with high blood pressure and vasospasm (constriction of blood vessels) as well as cardiovascular disease. Magnesium is involved in glucose transfer across cell membranes and improves insulin sensitivity and glucose control. It also helps decrease oxidative stress.

  • Zinc. Zinc is another water-soluble nutrient that is flushed from the body, and as a result, many diabetics have low zinc levels. This deficiency may impair the immune system, particularly T-cell function, which could lead to more infections and non-healing ulcers. Zinc deficiency also can cause hair loss as well as diarrhea, which triggers further nutrient losses.
  • B vitamins. B6, B12, and folic acid are water-soluble and therefore vulnerable to loss via excessive urination caused by diabetes. This leads to increased homocysteine levels and dramatically increased risk of cardiovascular disease.

Low levels of B6 can cause glucose intolerance, depression, cracked lips, and dry skin. A B12 deficiency may have no obvious symptoms at first, but over time it can produce mental disturbances, anemia, and impaired nerve function. A lack of folic acid may bring on depression, forgetfulness, insomnia, irritability, and fatigue.

  • Antioxidants. People with both type 1 and type 2 diabetes are routinely low in virtually all of the water-soluble antioxidants, and those with type 2 diabetes are often low in fat-soluble vitamins A and E. At the same time, high blood sugar causes severe oxidative stress, which consumes whatever antioxidants are available. If antioxidants are not liberally replaced, then free radical damage is accelerated.

The Most Common Diabetic Complications

Vitamin C is a water-soluble antioxidant and vulnerable to urinary losses as well as poor cellular uptake. Blood cell levels of vitamin C are often substantially decreased in people with diabetes. As you probably know, severe vitamin C deficiency causes scurvy, which leads to bleeding gums, bruising, and poor wound healing. Furthermore, lack of vitamin C is linked with susceptibility to infection.

Folks, I don’t believe there is a single essential micro-nutrient that is not either wasted or used up in patients with diabetes. Not one. And the consequences of this fact are obvious.

The diabetic condition demands that these nutrients be replenished—and in large supply—to prevent the devastation that comes from nutritional deficiencies and ultimately leads to diabetic complications.

Glucose Control Won’t Solve the Problem

It’s also important to realize that glucose control won’t solve the problem. Here’s why. Although good glucose control reduces urinary losses of micro-nutrients as well as the other stresses of the diabetic condition, it does not eliminate them, because even under good control there are regular periods of high blood sugar. This point is missed entirely by virtually every conventional physician.

However, intervening with aggressive therapies to correct the numerous nutritional losses—even after diabetic complications have already occurred—can often mitigate these complications and prevent future occurrences.

Help Yourself to Better Health

At Dr. Whitaker’s clinic, they routinely prescribe high doses of water- and fat-soluble vitamins and minerals to virtually all of their patients. However, for their patients with diabetes, they bump up those amounts by at least 50 percent to compensate for nutritional deficiencies and protect against diabetic complications.

If you have diabetes, it is imperative that you do the same and replenish these vital nutrients. If you are seeing a conventional doctor, ask this question: “Doctor, I understand that diabetes causes losses of many micro-nutrients in the urine. Would it be wise for me to be on a nutrient supplement regimen to counteract those losses?”

If your doctor says it’s not needed or gives you some garbage about lack of science or some other nonsense, run—don’t walk—to a physician with a different attitude toward nutritional supplementation. You will save yourself a whole lot of needless suffering.

Now it’s your turn: Have you used any other natural therapies to prevent or treat diabetic complications?

Dr. Whitaker

Against the Grain

27 Mar

“Cereal Fibers’ May Help You Live Longer”

“The secret to a long and healthy life?
Eating CEREAL: Diet high in grains reduces the risk of cancer, heart disease and diabetes”

Robert Redfern states very clearly that eating grains and cereals (including wholegrain) are a prime cause of disease and are to be avoided as much as possible and replaced by vegetables, seeds and legumes in the diet.

Of course Robert Redfern had to read the study (http://www.biomedcentral.com/1741-7015/13/59) to find out if there was anything new he should know and if he needed to change his recommendations. What he found was not a scientific study but a review of people’s eating habits, through a questionnaire, asking how much whole grains they had eaten compared to processed grains. Important variables such as exercise and other diet choices were not considered. It is clearly a study to prove wholegrain is better for your health than processed grain and all of the references are selected to support this.

It is almost impossible to draw any serious conclusions from asking people to self-report on how much they have eaten a certain ‘healthier’ food. There could be a natural bias to report a better choice.

Those accurately reporting eating wholegrain as a healthier choice would almost certainly have been exercising more and eating more vegetables as part of their healthier choices. These other healthier choices were not taken into account.

The more vegetables eaten the healthier you stay and the amount consumed should have been reported and factored as part of the studies and the results.

Another factor in health is socioeconomic status. It is a fact that middle class people live longer and healthier than the working class and the poor. There is no mention of this in the study.

Out of 367,000+ people in the study there was no mention of vegetarians or 7th Day Advent or other groups that follow specific diets that can influence the outcome.

The amount of meat eaten is a big factor as eating meat alongside grains and cereals is shown in studies to be a major factor in disease. This was shown in a large study in China, which explained why slim people in China were getting the same rate of Diabetes Type 2 as people in the USA, where obesity is blamed as the main factor. It was found that eating meat and rice in the same dish caused a large elevation in blood sugar levels as well as the well-documented glycation damage that takes place to the arteries and organs. By not identifying the amount of combined meat and grain dishes, an important health risk was excluded.

In conclusion:

Whether the methodology was deliberately fixed or it was just badly designed isn’t clear but I believe not too much notice can be taken of this study.

I am in no doubt that an increase in fiber (fibre) in the diet is good for health but I disagree it should come from grains and cereals. The references this study selected failed to mention that fiber (fibre) from grains and cereals may be bad for your health. You can read more here: http://gut.bmj.com/content/48/5/587.full

the reputation of grains has taken a hit in recent years due to the ...

Below is the previous article from Robert Redfern. earlier articles on why grains and cereals are bad for you then see:

Can you stop all grains and cereals? It’s tough (Robert Redfern can vouch but there are over 100 studies showing it will help you to get and stay healthy).

Anyone with an interest in natural health and well being will be aware that white rice, bread and pasta should be avoided as they are not part of a healthy lifestyle. These grains are nothing but sugar and can lead to unstable blood sugar levels. However, replacing them with whole grains and cereals will not help. The fact is that we need to avoid all grains as they are associated with numerous health complications and diseases. Let’s take a look at the top reasons why we should eliminate these foods right away.

THEY HAVE A HIGH GLYCAEMIC INDEX

According to Dictionary.com the glycaemic index is a system that ranks foods by the speeds at which their carbohydrates are converted into glucose in the body; or to put it more simply, a measure of the effects of foods on blood sugar levels. All grains rank highly on the index, meaning that they raise blood sugar quickly as opposed to a slow, sustained release of sugar. High blood sugar levels are linked to a multitude of chronic diseases.

THEY CONTAIN MYCOTOXINS

Mycotoxins are poisonous substances produced by fungi which grow in yeast and mold. These toxins are linked to numerous diseases.

THEY CAN CAUSE INFLAMMATION

A proper essential fatty acid ratio is imperative to good health. Grains contain an improper balance of omegas-3s to omega-6s, leading to inflammation. This inflammation is further exacerbated by the unhealthy spreads we put on our grains. The sugars also contribute to damage through a process called glycation. These all damage the walls of our arteries and joints.

THEY CAN BE ACID-FORMING

Our body is naturally alkaline and to remain this way we require the majority of our foods to be alkaline-forming. Grains are acid-forming which can lead to calcium loss in the urine and an increased risk of osteoporosis. When our body becomes too acidic, acidosis sets in, bringing with it many health concerns.

THEY FEED THE UNFRIENDLY BACTERIA IN THE GUT

An overabundance of sugar from consuming grains feeds the unfriendly bacteria in our intestinal tract. In the proper amounts these bacteria are necessary; however, in abundance they create illness.

THEY HAVE A LOW FIBER CONTENT

Fruits contain twice as much fiber as grains, while non-starchy vegetables contain eight times more fiber.

THEY ARE A POOR SOURCE OF VITAMINS

Grains do not contain vitamin C or B12 and contain only trace amounts of folate and biotin, another B vitamin. Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant and low levels of B12 and folate lead to increased levels of the amino acid homocysteine, increasing the risk of heart disease.

THEY INHIBIT THE ABSORPTION OF VITAMINS AND MINERALS

Pyridoxine glucosides, found in grains, block the absorption of B vitamins grain in the intestines, including B6, which
is also related to increased levels of homocysteine. Vitamin D metabolism is also inhibited by the consumption of grains, reducing calcium absorption. Phytates, which are antioxidant compounds found in whole grains, chemically bond the iron, zinc, copper and calcium within grains, blocking their absorption during the digestion process.

Provide No Calcium

Grains contain no calcium and form an insoluble complex with calcium. Along with grain’s high levels of phosphorus this leads to a low calcium/phosphorus ratio. High levels of phosphorus speed up bone loss. Anti-nutrients are chemicals that prevent absorption of minerals and nutrients, damage the gastrointestinal tract and affect immune system function.

Inhibit Vitamin Absorption

Pyridoxine glucosides block the absorption of B vitamins in the intestines, including B6, which is also related to increased levels of homocysteine. Vitamin D metabolism is inhibited by the consumption of grains, reducing calcium absorption.

Inhibit Mineral Absorption

Phytates chemically bond the iron, zinc, copper and calcium within grains, blocking their absorption during the digestion process.

THEY CONTAIN ENZYME INHIBITORS

Enzyme inhibitors suppress the enzymes you need to digest food, compromising digestion and placing stress on the pancreas.

THEY CONTAIN GLUTINOUS PROTEINS

Glutinous proteins are found in grains and are responsible for food allergies, intolerances and sensitivities.

THEY CAN EXACERBATE CELIAC DISEASE

Celiac disease is a genetic autoimmune disease affecting the small intestine. It may be triggered by eating too many grains early in life or a traumatic event creating stress in the body. Coeliac disease causes great distress to the immune system and can only be managed by completely avoiding gluten.

THEY CONTAIN LECTINS

Lectins are proteins in grains which are indigestible. Instead of being absorbed, these proteins attach to cells
in the intestines, increasing intestinal permeability and allowing partially undigested food proteins and undesirable bacteria to enter the bloodstream. This is a condition known as leaky gut syndrome. A leaky gut confuses the immune system, causing it to attack the body’s own tissues.

Eliminating grains and replacing them with low sugar fruits and non-starchy vegetables will lead to better health. Nutritious, healthy and gluten-free alternatives to grains include quinoa, amaranth and buckwheat. Get creative with these new foods and they will open up a whole new world of flavors and good nutrition.

Studies Continue to Prove: Nuts, in Moderation, Are Really Good For ...

What if gluten was a problem for almost everyone? What if sugar is inherent in high amounts in almost every modern diet (all grains and cereals, corn, bread, pastry, biscuits, breakfast cereals rice, potatoes, parsnips and pasta)?

What if these foods are the main cause of diseases such as lung disease? What if my super formulations are successful for lung diseases when these foods are avoided?

It is not a fade diet to stop eating all grains and cereals, corn, bread, pastry, biscuits, breakfast cereals rice, potatoes, parsnips and pasta. It is not a fade diet to stop eating all meat that comes from animals fed on grains and cereals and corn, or fish that are farmed and fed on grains, cereals or corn, on genetically manufactured plants (GM or GMO), whose genes are altered and mixed with those of insects or other living organisms. Real science shows these foods (so-called) are the cause of diseases.

... gluten free. The latest food fad – or could going gluten free really

It is a lifestyle change, something to do now and forever. Not just for a few weeks.

Robert Redfern

 

 

 

How Your Emotions Can Secretly Age You

26 Mar

 

“You look well rested, have you been on vacation? What a beautiful smile! You look happy, excited, tired, sad….”

 When we’re told we look good, it’s almost always in relation to an emotion, and there are good reasons as to why that’s the case. In general, most happy people look and feel younger than those who are chronically stressed, angry or sad. Of course, no one lives in only one emotional space and fortunately many of us are able to balance a range of emotions. However, your “go-to” emotion, as often seen in your “go-to” facial expression can be aging you beyond your years. Understanding what that is can impact not only how you look, but also how you feel.

Studies show that emotions and facial expressions are intimately related and what many of my patients tell me is just “being expressive” could be aging them more than they know. The good news is there is a lot you can do about it, and the best news is that the rejuvenating effects can be nearly instant.

Start with a simple lesson in facial anatomy: Many of the muscles of the face are connected to the skin in order to help make expressions to eat, talk, open and close your eyes, and to express your emotions. Making an expression can sometimes create an emotion as real as if you had the emotion before making the expression. This means that if you do something as simple as change your expression you might be able to affect your emotion. Try it now: Smile. Don’t you feel just a little bit happier? Now frown. Don’t you feel a little mad or less happy?

People fight against the idea that looking better makes you feel better, as if it’s all vanity to want to look your best. Our skin and our appearance serve important emotional purposes for us. Most of the times it’s appropriate but sometimes you can get carried away with your expressions to the point where those emotions can secretly be aging your skin and you may being to develop unnecessary lines and wrinkles to show for it.

If you hold in feelings instead of expressing them, you may be prone to grinding your teeth and clenching your jaw. This may lead to growth of those jaw muscles (some of the same muscles you use for chewing) and that can make your face more square and bottom-heavy, which may make you look older. We naturally lose volume in the mid-face so the combination of that loss plus the heavier lower face is very aging.

Or, do you frown or furrow your brows when you’re “thinking” or as your first facial expression when someone talks to you? This can end up making a permanent crease between your eyes, starting as young as when you’re in your late 20s and usually getting deeper over time. This is my favorite area for corrective treatment with an injectable treatment because it can soften those lines and gently remind you to relax every time you try to make that expression but feel the resistance against it. Studies show that treatment in this area makes people identify less with negative emotions, potentially making them happier overall. Some studies have suggested that injecting Botox in that same area may work as a treatment for depression.

One more thought: Are you a “drama queen?” Do you rub your eyes in disbelief, squint when things are not clear, cry over even the slightest of sad movies? You may be more likely to have under-eye circles and crow’s feet or smile lines. Just being aware of your “emotional type” can help you soften the exaggeration of expression that’s aging you without affecting your personality or joy, quite the contrary, it could enhance your happiness and keep you looking your youngest, most beautiful best.

The most important place to start is by recognizing your emotional trend and consciously working to smile more, frown less. This is a simple step to start with, but more powerful than any cosmetic treatment you can do. The most beautiful thing you can wear is a smile!

Dr. Doris Day

10 Tips to Avoid Allergens

24 Mar

 

Like clockwork, spring comes every year and with it, tons of allergens. From sneezing to hives, allergic reactions can cause a lot of discomfort for the 50 million Americans who suffer from indoor and outdoor allergies. Luckily, there are ways to reduce exposure to allergens that may cause reactions. Follow this action plan and enjoy the season safely!

Stay Inside During the Morning

If possible, avoid outdoor activities in the morning when the pollen count is highest. Higher levels of pollen can also be found on warm, dry and windy days – so be prepared!

Take Care of Your Bedding

Washing your bedding in hot water every 7 to 14 days can help ease allergy symptoms.

Cover Your Furniture

Plastic covers for pillows and mattresses help keep dust and other allergens from landing on your pillow and bed sheets. Find more on our Allergy Season Survival Tips.

Downsize

The more you have in your bed, the more places that allergens can hide. Removing extra items, like throw pillows and extra blankets, can help.

Rinse Wisely

Taking a shower at the end of the day can help wash off allergens that may cling to your body and hair. If your allergies interrupt a good night’s sleep, try changing your clothing before entering your bedroom to reduce pollen from being brought into your bed.

Rinse Wisely

 

Eliminate Dust

Try cleaning your house frequently to help reduce exposure to dust. This spring, take it to the next level with All-Natural Cleaning Tips.

Avoid Open Windows

During heavy pollen days, keep windows closed to help prevent pollen from entering your home. Before stepping indoors, rid your jacket of pollen with a lint brush or a good shake. Once inside, strip down and put the rest of your clothes in the hamper. That way, you’ll prevent any allergy triggers from following you home. Learn to prevent other allergy triggers here.

Clean the Air

Keeping air ducts clean and replacing filters regularly can help reduce dust in your home. When driving, keep windows closed and set the air conditioner on “re-circulate” to keep out pollen.

Exercise Indoors

On high pollen count days, consider exercising indoors. Luckily, indoor exercise is fast, easy and just as beneficial as exercising outdoors, especially with the right kind of workout for your body. For fun indoor options, try:
Barre3 Workout Series
Pop Pilates Workout One-Sheet
No Excuse Workout Series

 

Exercise Indoors

 

Keep Your Pet at an Allergy-Safe Distance

If you are allergic to dog or cat dander, consider making your bedroom a “pet free zone” to limit exposure to allergens. If you’re looking to make sure you and your pet are happy and healthy, research what you can do to help you both. Find out how you can minimize the health risks of pet ownership.

 

Keep Your Pet at an Allergy-Safe Distance

Dr. Oz

How to Boost Circulation

20 Mar

How to Boost Circulation

 

Sixty thousand miles: Incredible as it seems, that’s the estimated length of all your arteries, veins, and capillaries if they were laid out end to end. This vast network of blood vessels is quite literally the lifeblood of the human body, so it’s easy to see why improved circulation is an important health goal.

Your circulatory system delivers nutrients, water, and oxygen to every part of your body. It takes antibodies and other immune cells to areas of infection, carries heat from inner organs out to the skin, and transports waste products to the kidneys for elimination from the body. When your circulation is impaired, all of these functions may be compromised. Fortunately, there are several safe, effective ways to boost circulation naturally.

Boost Circulation Naturally With Supplements

Let’s first discuss how to improve circulation with supplements. There are two primary targets to consider for improved circulation: enhancing the viscosity of the blood and boosting the health of the blood vessels.

Enhance and Support Blood Viscosity

When it comes to improving and supporting normal blood viscosity, there are a few supplements Dr. Whitaker recommends Seanol (a seaweed extract) and nattokinase (an enzyme present in natto, a Japanese fermented food) both play a role in this aspect of improved circulation. These unique compounds help normalize fibrinogen and other clotting factors in the blood, which results in better overall circulation. The suggested dose is 300 mg of Seanol and 100 mg (2,000 fibrinolytic units) of nattokinase per day.

The essential fatty acids in fish oil and other omega-3 supplements improve circulation by reducing the tendency of the platelets to stick together and impair blood flow. Fish oil’s anti-inflammatory and cardio protective effects also contribute to improved circulation. Aim for 2,000–5,000 mg per day of a high quality fish oil. The herb Ginkgo biloba also has a slight blood-thinning effect and is well known for its ability to boost circulation. The recommended dose is 120 mg daily.

Promote Healthy Blood Vessels

Improved circulation also depends on healthy, responsive arteries that enable blood to flow freely. Nitric oxide (NO) is a powerful vasodilator that signals the smooth muscles of the arteries to relax and dilate, making it a key regulator of blood flow. It also inhibits the aggregation of platelets and enhances the health of the endothelium and the entire cardiovascular system.

Although the amino acid supplements L-arginine and L-citrulline are best known for increasing NO, recent research reveals that Pycnogenol (derived from pine bark), amla (an Ayurvedic herb), and quercetin (a bioflavonoid in onions and apples) also stimulate NO production and improve circulation. The suggested daily doses are 2 g of L-arginine three times a day on an empty stomach, 3–6 g of L-citrulline in divided doses, 50–100 mg of Pycnogenol, 500 mg of amla, and 200 mg of quercetin.

All of these supplements that boost circulation naturally can be found online and in some health food stores. NOTE: If you are taking Coumadin or other blood thinning medications or have a bleeding disorder, talk to your doctor before using any supplements that improve circulation.

Therapies That Boost Circulation

Seriously impaired blood flow may call for more intensive interventions, and  Dr. Whitaker utilizes two therapies to boost circulation: EDTA chelation and EECP.

Though best known for removing lead and other toxic heavy metals, a course of intravenous (IV) EDTA chelation is an extremely effective way to improve circulation. EDTA is a synthetic amino acid that forms a tight chemical bond with lead and other minerals and carries them out of the body in the urine. EDTA chelation has been the number one FDA-approved therapy for lead poisoning since 1948. After World War II, sailors suffering with lead toxicity acquired while painting battleships and docks with lead-based paint were treated with EDTA chelation, and their results were remarkable. Not only did these men have the expected restoration of memory, energy, vision, and hearing, but those who also had heart disease unexpectedly experienced improved circulation and less angina pain.

That’s how the broad benefits of chelation were serendipitously discovered. Dr. Whitaker has been using EDTA chelation in his clinic for about 25 years, and he has seen it eliminate angina, improve exercise tolerance, lower blood pressure, boost circulation, and save limbs on the verge of amputation. Although Dr. Whitaker most often recommend IV chelation for patients with heart disease or circulation problems, he believes it provides benefits for most everyone over age 50 especially if you’re looking to improve circulation. EDTA chelation is administered in a doctor’s office via a 90-minute IV infusion once or twice a week for a total of 25 to 30 treatments. To find a doctor in your area who administers this treatment, visit acam.org or call 1-888-439-6891 FREE.

The primary therapy used to boost circulation, especially for those patients with coronary artery disease and heart failure, is enhanced external counter pulsation (EECP). EECP is done in a doctor’s office for an hour once or twice a day. You lie on a special bed and inflatable cuffs similar to blood pressure cuffs are strapped around your upper thighs, lower thighs, and calves. An EKG monitors your heartbeat, and when it’s “resting” between beats, the cuffs inflate and push blood up toward the heart; before the next beat, the cuffs rapidly deflate. You simply lie there, listening to music, watching a movie, or relaxing while the cuffs squeeze and release, squeeze and release.

The “external pumping” takes a load off the heart and helps improve circulation by pushing blood up from the legs to the coronary arteries and blood vessels throughout the body. This has multiple positive effects on the endothelial cells lining the vessel walls, which dramatically improves vascular function. It stimulates the release of nitric oxide, dilates the arteries, and makes them more responsive. It boosts levels of circulating progenitor cells, which help repair damaged tissues. It even reduces inflammation. To look for a facility in your area that offers EECP, call 1-800-455-EECP FREE or visit vasomedical.com.

Now it’s your turn:  I hope you find these suggestions on how to improve circulation beneficial. If you have other supplements or therapies you’ve tried that have improved circulation for you, please feel free to share them in the comments below.

Dr. Whitaker

Can Vitamin D Help With Cancer?

18 Mar

Before, to be diagnosed with the big C seemed to be an implied death sentence. Patients even go through a stage of self-denial. Who can blame them? Conventional medicine paints a rather bleak future for cancer patients and the remedy it offers does nothing to improve their quality of life, nausea and falling hair not to mention.

However, the recent breakthroughs in science have allowed a peek into the true nature of cancer, allowing researchers to consider the concept of nutritional care. They are now faced with the idea that preventing and maybe even reversing cancer may not necessarily involve the development of expensive drugs but something already available in nature: food and sunshine! (http://www.naturalnews.com/034286_cancer_prevention_nutrition.html)

Just the facts
If something so powerful is actually available for everyone, why wouldn’t someone take advantage of it?

The recent discovery that the body, with the help of vitamin D, possesses the capacity to fight many chronic illnesses has spurred the interest of many researchers – especially on the possibilities the sunshine vitamin can offer with regard to the prevention and reversal of diseases like cancer. A brief rundown of some facts, revealed by recent studies, can give us a perspective on how vitamin D can help.

1. Vitamin D slashes cancer risk by 77 percent.

A study was conducted involving 1, 179 healthy Nebraskan women who were divided into a control group and a placebo group. In the four years the study was conducted, the group who was receiving vitamin D and calcium supplements revealed a 60 percent decrease in cancers as compared to the placebo group. (http://www.naturalnews.com/021892.html)

2. Vitamin D can prevent cancer.

According to the National Cancer Institute, 80 percent of cancer cases can be prevented. Having a healthy and balanced diet can prevent cancer. An example would be a diet that is low in refined sugar and processed meat and high in fruits, leafy vegetables and vitamin D from dietary sources or the sun. Studies have shown that a diet high in animal products and dairy that contain hormones and saturated fat cause breast cancer. (http://www.naturalnews.com/027334_cancer_diet_breast.html)

3. Sunshine offers powerful healing.

In a study conducted by the French in 2011 on 60,000 post menopausal women, it was discovered that women with increased levels of vitamin D obtained through diet and supplement reduced their risk of breast cancer. These vitamin D levels received a great boost when these women were exposed to actual sunshine. (http://www.naturalnews.com/034286_cancer_prevention_nutrition.html)

Which leads us to suspect that…

4. There are private interests involved.

The medical establishment’s dismissive take on vitamin D and its effects on cancer cannot seriously be taken in the light of new research supporting the effect of vitamin D on cancer. One cannot help but be suspicious of this rather cold shoulder treatment, especially when non-profit organizations that supposedly support the active search for a cure have financial ties with pharmaceutical companies, mammography equipment companies and other organizations that profit from cancer. Moreover, research on vitamin D is a threat to the cancer industry because it shows a way of dealing with cancer for free. (http://www.naturalnews.com/021892.html)

5. Chemotherapy does not work.

One of the current remedies offered by conventional medicine when dealing with cancer is chemotherapy. Let it be said once and for all: chemotherapy does not have any positive effect on cancer. There is no scientific evidence that supports such fact. It shrinks tumors, but it doesn’t initiate the healing that needs to take place to reverse cancer and to stay cancer free. What’s more, its side effects are well documented – effects that worsen the patient’s condition instead of improving it. (http://www.naturalnews.com/024536_cancer_women_breast.html)

6. The recommended daily allowance of vitamin D does not provide cancer prevention benefits.

The revised recommended daily intake provided for vitamin D (600 IU for children and adults until 70 years old and 800 IU for adults above 70) has been criticized as below the required levels that provide anti-cancer effects. According to Dr. Cedric Garland, recent studies have shown that daily intakes of vitamin D by adults along the range of 4,000 – 8,000 IU is necessary to maintain the vitamin D blood levels needed to reduce the risk of several diseases including cancer. (http://www.naturalnews.com/031577_vitamin_D_scientific_research.html)

7. Exposure to the sun does not necessarily cause skin cancer.

A study conducted by researchers from Leeds University in 2009 found that increased levels of vitamin D were linked to improved skin cancer survival odds. Since most people are vitamin D deficient, it has left them vulnerable to a host of other diseases including cancer. The advantages of getting enough sun exposure far outweigh the disadvantages that are now being questioned by breakthrough science. (http://www.naturalnews.com/032533_sun_exposure_skin_cancer.html)

8. Cancer can be inherited.

The idea that cancer runs in families is a popular theme in the medical establishment. However, tons of research has now shown that cancer can be avoided through the maintenance of increased vitamin D levels in the blood. If a direct ancestor had cancer, chances are they were exposed to cancer causing agents like cigarette smoke, skin care products or chemical solvents. By identifying and avoiding these agents, you have lowered your chances of getting cancer. (http://www.naturalnews.com/024536_cancer_women_breast.html)

9. Watch what you eat.

Our nutrition actually determines our health. Recent findings have shown that the prevention and treatment of cancer may not necessarily be solved by an expensive drug but something that has always been available to us – good food. According to a new study by researchers from the Harvard School of Public health, men who eat fish five times a week run a 40 percent lower risk of developing colorectal cancer, , and fish is an excellent source of vitamin D. (http://www.naturalnews.com/021136_fish_protein_colorectal_cancer.html)

We are now at a point in time when we can choose our healing process. Having the courage to avail of other methods than what is offered by conventional medicine may spell the difference between a better quality of life and a difficult and questionable recovery. Cancer prevention is now a matter of choice. We can avoid it or we can invite it. It’s all up to us.

Natural News

Modern medicine has a “code of silence” when it comes to preventing and treating cancer. The FDA is more concerned with protecting the cancer industry’s profits than really saving lives.  Often, they try to muzzle doctors, who use cutting-edge strategies every day to cure cancer.

Dr. Sears has spent his entire career breaking the cancer code of silence. And in more than 20 years of practice, I’ve discovered that the most powerful cancer fighter is not a drug at all.  It’s vitamin D.

The studies prove what I’ve seen in my own patients:

  • A recent study found low vitamin D significantly increases overall cancer risk.1
  • Anticancer Research reports that the more vitamin D you make from sunshine, the lower your risk of dying from 15 different kinds of cancer.2
  • A study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found vitamin D can lower the chance you’ll get cancer by 77%.3

Unfortunately, an astounding three out of four Americans don’t get enough vitamin D.4

Part of the problem is we don’t get enough sun. Your body makes vitamin D when your skin is exposed to sunlight. But sunscreens block the UV rays that produce vitamin D.

You can get some vitamin D from food. The best sources are salmon, mackerel, tuna, and sardines. One serving a day of those foods will get you between 200 and 360 IUs of vitamin D.  But that’s not enough.

I recommend that everyone get a minimum of 2,000 IUs a day. And if you’ve been tested and your level is low, make sure you’re getting between 5,000 and 10,000 IU a day from a combination of sunshine, food, and supplements.

And make sure you’re taking the right supplement. Vitamin D3 is the bioactive form.

Vitamin D is just one way to beat cancer.  There are hundreds of scientifically proven treatments that really work. But if your doctor keeps the code of silence, you’ll never hear about them.

That’s why I want you to know about a brand new mini-series called “The Quest for The Cures Continues.” In it, 28 doctors, 11 scientists and nine survivors share the TRUTH about cancer.

Dr. Sears

Herbal Supplement Safety

16 Mar

Herbal Supplement Safety and Effectiveness

As you’ve probably heard, in the past several weeks, New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman has taken actions that he claims are necessary to ensure herbal supplement safety and effectiveness and to protect folks who buy and use these products.

First, he demanded that four major retailers stop selling specific herbal supplement products, including ginseng, Ginkgo biloba, Echinacea, and St. John’s wort, because they supposedly contained little or none of the herbs stated on the product labels and/or had fillers that “could be harmful.” Despite several organizations within the nutritional supplement industry, botanical scientists, and even the FDA rightfully discounting the DNA barcode testing method used in Schneiderman’s analysis, he pressed on. He contacted the manufacturers of the products, insisting they provide detailed ingredient and quality control information for every herbal supplement they sell in New York state. Finally, just this week he announced the formation of a coalition of state attorneys general from Connecticut, Indiana, and Puerto Rico that will “further investigate the business practices of the herbal supplement industry.”

In my opinion, Schneiderman is overstepping his bounds and sticking his nose where it doesn’t belong. The FDA already oversees the nutritional supplement industry and requires that nutritional supplement manufacturers follow good manufacturing practices, which include using appropriate and valid test methods to ensure products meet specifications related to ingredient identity, purity, strength, and composition. Yet in typical fashion, his actions have set off a media frenzy with headlines blaring “Nutritional Supplements Are Dangerous.”

Unsubstantiated and inappropriate as Schneiderman’s attack is, as I’ve been saying for years, not all supplements are created equal. That’s why I’d like to take this opportunity to reiterate what I recommend to ensure you’re buying and taking the best herbal supplements.

Steps for Ensuring the Best Herbal Supplements

In my decades of using, prescribing, and formulating nutritional supplements—including herbal supplements—these are the primary guidelines I’ve followed to make sure the products I take and recommend are safe and effective. I strongly encourage you to follow suit, if you aren’t doing so already.

Step One: Buy From Reputable Nutritional Supplement Companies

There are thousands of manufacturers and retailers in the nutritional supplement marketplace. So your first step in selecting the best herbal supplements is determining which companies are reliable and which aren’t. Solid manufacturers and retailers formulate nutritional supplements based on scientific research, use the best raw materials, and pay independent labs to verify that their products meet label claims and are free of contaminants. Here are a few other specific points to consider when deciding where to purchase herbal supplements.

  1. Make sure the product is backed by reliable testing methods. Although most experts agree that the DNA barcode test is not valid for purified herbal extracts since processing often damages or removes DNA from the final product, there are test methods that can and should be used to verify the herb’s identity and the beneficial phytochemicals intended to be in the product. These tests also ensure potency and consistency from one batch to the next since phytonutrient levels can vary depending on soil conditions where the herb is grown and how it is harvested and processed. At a minimum, a reputable nutritional supplement manufacturer should be able to tell you if a product has been tested for potency and impurities such as heavy metals, adulterants, and microbes. (If the companies called out by Schneiderman are indeed following FDA requirements, this information should be obvious.)
  2. Buy herbal supplement products that come in plastic bottles or dark glass. Herbal extracts contain sensitive natural constituents. These types of packaging will protect them from exposure to light and air and help maintain their quality and effectiveness.
  3. Price should be considered. Obviously, we’d all like to find the best price available and save money, but keep in mind that price has some bearing on quality. Manufacturers of discount nutritional supplement products have to lower their costs somewhere, and they may do so by using inadequate dosages, improper or subpar ingredients, or other cost-cutting measures.

Step Two: Don’t Forget Your Responsibility in Herbal Supplement Safety

While supplement manufacturers and retailers play a critical role in ensuring herbal supplement safety, part of the responsibility also lies with the consumer. Most important, to ensure supplement safety and effectiveness, you need to store and take herbal supplements as directed. Also be aware that some herbs should not be used by individuals with specific medical conditions or drug regimens.

The bottom line: To ensure the best possible outcomes, do your homework before you purchase and start using herbal supplements.

Now it’s your turn: Are there any other steps you take with regard to herbal supplement safety and effectiveness?

Dr Whitaker

The Anger Detox Plan

13 Mar

When plans go awry, it’s easy to lose our cool. We have so many balls in the air that when we drop just one, it feels like we’ve lost control. For many of us, the anxiety that comes along with change or lack of control manifests itself in anger.

Make a List of Your Anger Triggers

Make a list of all your anger triggers for one week. Once you do this, you can plan for the worst-case scenario. It doesn’t mean everything will go perfectly, but it’s about minimizing the chance for anger. This plan starts with preventing the anger before it hits.

For example, if you get road rage every time you drive down a certain road, change your route. If one of your kids always seems to spill his juice in the morning, put a mat down. If your husband always misplaces his keys, which then makes the family late to work/school, set everything out the night before.

How to Deal in the Midst of Anger

This is all about finding perspective. You’re putting your body under a lot of physical and emotional stress when you get angry and a lot of the time it isn’t worth it. When you are red-in-the-face angry that your husband left out another pair of dirty socks, you need to stop and ask yourself, “Will this matter in five years?” If your husband had an affair, that would be a different story. You have to learn how to pick and choose your battles.

Do a cost-benefit analysis. Will your temper just serve to alienate the person? If so, can you table it until you are calmer?

 

Coping After the Outburst

Just like you’d feel after binging on a family-size bag of chips, when you binge on anger, remorse is often quick to follow. There are two things that we need to do to move forward:

1. If your anger has boiled over, the most important thing is to own up to what you’ve done — apologize! But just because you overreacted doesn’t mean your opinion is no longer valid. It’s important once you calm down to find an effective way to communicate.

2. Limit yourself to “I” statements such as, “I am upset because I felt disrespected.” When you use “I” instead of “you,” you’re avoiding being overly critical or trying to place blame, which can be an easy way for things to escalate again.

Cleanse Your Anger

There are always going to be inconsiderate people. There are going to be moments motherhood is the worst job on the planet and your husband is the dumbest man on the planet; it’s ridiculous to expect different. When these moments pop up, it’s time for a cleanse. An anger cleanse is all about prepping your body to be better equipped to handle stress in ways other than anger. This starts with self-care — especially sleep! We all know we’re more likely to snap when we are tired. Make sure to also factor an hour a week in for some personal time. This is a time where I want you to do something for just you. Read a book, get your nails done and let your husband watch your kids for this hour. Remember that it’s hard to find compassion to give to others when you aren’t giving any to yourself.

Dr. Sue Varma, MD

Zen is a way of being and a state of mind. This state of calm involves dropping illusion and seeing things without distortion created by your own thoughts. Here, Andy Puddicombe, a Zen master, teaches you how to harness your Zen every day in five minutes or less to gain peace of mind

Practice Medi-TEA-tion

Find Zen in your morning by drinking a glass of holy basil tea when you wake up. This tea can help reduce the production of cortisol, which is a stress hormone. Feeling the heat travel throughout your body is a serene feeling in itself and can help you stay present. Prepare your tea the night before by putting out your cup and tea bag on the counter so all you have to do when you wake up is add water.

 

Help de-clutter your mental space by pondering a koan. A koan is a spiritual puzzle used by Zen masters to help their students concentrate during meditations. Sit comfortably, close your eyes and ask yourself, “What’s in an empty mind?” Think about the question rather than searching for an answer. This is a question that can’t be answered intellectually, and because of that, your thoughts will go away and you’ll be able to stay in the moment. Float in the moment of the question, and do this for five minutes each day.

Eat Mindfully

Allow yourself to pause and be conscious of enjoyable activities like eating rather than allowing stress to overcome joy. For example, take a piece of carob and focus on the plant that it came from and its journey to your hand. Take time to really look at it and appreciate the shape and the texture. Taste it, don’t chew it. Let it dissolve in your mouth to enjoy the moment, rather than rushing through it.

Meditate With Music

Using music during daily meditation can help take the affirmations to a deeper mental level. Some research even suggests that music can help release endorphins in the brain.

Use Chinese Harmony Balls

These balls act as a quick de-stressor by targeting acupressure points that boost the release of healthy energy while soothing and calming your nerves at the same time.

Practice a Deep Breath Detox

Get energized in 30 seconds by sitting down and picking up your feet as you hang on to a desk. Inhale and swivel to the right, exhale and swivel to the left. Doing this for 15 to 20 breaths can loosen the muscles in your back and stimulate your kidneys, while bolstering your energy levels.

All of these will help with anger management. When you ask for forgiveness include yourself in that forgiveness.

The Sleep Plan for the Middle of the NIght

11 Mar

With bright screens and late-night distractions on the rise, it’s no wonder that many Americans struggle to get good-quality sleep. Many lie awake in their bed hours after hitting the sack silently wishing they would just fall asleep, while others awaken in the middle of the night and can’t get their eyes to close again. If you frequently find yourself in either of these situations, try this sleep action plan to get back in bed in the middle of the night.

Trouble Falling Asleep

Many women struggle to fall asleep at night because they carry stress and anxiety about their many responsibilities to bed with them. Worries about your marriage, job, aging parents or children can leave your mind racing at night and keep you from being able to relax enough to fall asleep.

Trouble Going Back to Sleep

As women age, their hormones change and can affect the quality of sleep many women get. Women going through menopause also often experience bothersome hot flashes that can wake them up at night feeling particularly uncomfortable. Often, though, trouble falling back asleep once you wake up has to do with what you do to get back to sleep.

 

What Not to Do

Many people get out of bed and turn to their TV or computer for entertainment. This is often the worst thing to do. The bright, blue-toned light of the screen tells your body to wake up and starts to shift your body clock for daytime. Many shows on TV are stimulating and do more to get your brain racing than to calm it for bed. Even if you find a calming show, the commercial breaks with their loud noise, bright colors and rapid scene changes will get you nicely revved.

Start in Bed

When you first wake up, stay in bed and focus on your breathing. Your brain is still close to sleep and can be coaxed to fall back in with the right activity. Use the 4-7-8 technique: Place the tip of your tongue behind your upper teeth. Quietly inhale through your nose to a mental count of four. Hold your breath for the count of seven. Finally, release your breath over the count of eight while making a whooshing sound. Do this four times. If you’re not asleep, try it once more for 15 minutes total before switching strategies.

Don’t Stay in Bed

Once you’ve tried to fall asleep for 15 minutes in bed, it’s time to get out. That’s because staying in bed for more than 15 minutes while you’re awake starts to send your brain the message that your bed isn’t just a place to sleep. That can hinder your efforts to fall asleep during future nights. After 15 minutes of trying to sleep, it’s time to get up until your body feels ready for bed again. Once you start to feel sleepy, go back to your bed.

Try ASMR

This is the one exception to the no-computer rule, and it will work only if you stay away from other distractions while on the computer. ASMR stands for autonomous sensory meridian response. It’s a technique that uses pleasing sounds to lull your body back to sleep. There are thousands of videos available, and they really do work to make you sleepy.

 

Heading Back to Bed

Once you’ve started to feel sleepy, grab an extra pillow and head back to bed. Take that extra pillow and put it under your knees. Doing so relieves lower back pressure and allows tense muscles to relax. In turn, this helps your whole body to relax and calm itself, which is essential to falling asleep.

Set a Sleep Schedule

Be Consistent and Don’t Stress

If you have regular trouble with waking up at night, try to use the same pattern to go back to sleep. Using similar techniques each time helps to cue your brain that it’s time to rest again. Hearing that familiar ASMR soundtrack or starting to count your breaths puts your brain in the right context and reminds it that you should really be asleep right now. Finally, don’t stress out about being awake since that can prevent you from falling back asleep. Trust that following the right steps will get you to the morning fully rested.

Dr. Oz

 

 

Sugar VS Alternative Sweeteners

9 Mar

 

The United States is the world’s largest consumer of sugar, and the nation’s top nutrition panel recently recommended that Americans cut down on consuming the sweet stuff. So our panelists tested five alternative sweeteners–stevia, sucralose, tagatose, yacón powder and xylitol–to see how they compare with sugar.

Too much sugar can be detrimental to health — rotting teeth, building fat, damaging blood vessels and stressing out the system that regulates blood sugar. Some people turn to artificial sweeteners, but those are under increasing suspicion of creating such metabolic problems as diabetes and obesity. Natural alternatives to sugar sweeteners exist, but even they have pitfalls if consumed in excess.

 

  • Sugar vs. Sweeteners

    It’s no secret — large quantities of sugar can harm the body in many ways, from causing inflammation to increasing the chance of developing obesity and coronary heart disease, which is why the American Heart Association recommends that the average American (AHA) limit their intake of added sugar to 5 teaspoons for women and 9 teaspoons for men. But the artificial stuff isn’t necessarily better for you.

    For starters, many of the sugar substitutes found in diet foods and beverages are jam-packed with chemicals, which can put a strain on your immune system. “When we ingest these chemicals, our bodies need to work extra hard to metabolize them, leaving less resources to detoxify our bodies from the many chemicals we get exposed to in the environment,” says Dr. Jeffrey Morrison, physician and nutrition adviser for Equinox.

 

It starts with the tongue: At the first bite of a dessert, our taste buds send a jolt of the splendid news to the brain, which responds by releasing a pleasure-causing neurotransmitter called dopamine, a cozy chemical reward for scoring what our brain senses as high-caloric food.

A boon of extra calories can benefit people who occasionally encounter sweet foods. For example, when our paleolithic ancestors happened upon ripe autumn fruits, ingestion of the simple sugar fructose stimulated their appetites, encouraging them to eat more and more. This was a boon for both vegetation and people: Gorging on grapes would lead to greater seed dispersal for the plants, and the eaters’ seasonal flood of fructose into human bodies was converted by their livers into fat, stored energy that would help them survive the winter.

But take that metabolism and plug it into a modern, relatively sedentary culture with constant access to heavily advertised sweeteners, and all sorts of troubles emerge: tooth decay, diabetes, obesity, gout, fatty liver disease and damage to the kidneys and the circulatory system.

Clever chemists have attempted to circumvent those problems by formulating artificial sweeteners, which promise pleasure without peril. More than 15 percent of Americans consume artificial sweeteners in thousands of products, according to the Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine.

 

  •  

    The Not-So-Sweet Side of Sweeteners

    It seems like a miraculous wish come true in a tiny, colorful packet. You can still enjoy your coffee nice and sweet without any calories. But over the years, valid arguments have formed stating artificial sweeteners can actually aid in weight gain. “Artificial sweeteners stimulate our body to produce the weight gain hormone insulin, which causes the body to store calories as fat,” says Morrison. And even though in a statement released by the AHA in July 2012 claimed that non-nutritive sweeteners did have the potential to help people reach and maintain their goal weights, they also stated that the evidence was limited and therefore inconclusive.

    But when it comes to the sweet stuff, which are the worst offenders? Read on for your guide to the best and worst sweeteners.

 

But the use of artificial sweeteners seems to coincide with a climb in obesity rates, notes Susan Swithers, a behavioral neuroscientist at Purdue University in Indiana, who studies how experience with foods affects food intake.

Artificial sweeteners might “break a basic type of learned relationship between sweet tastes and the arrival of calories and sugars in the digestive system,” Swithers says. “People who routinely use artificial sweeteners show responses that are dramatically different from those who do not.”

Aspartame

Sold under names like NutraSweet® and Equal®, aspartame is one of the more controversial and studied sweeteners on the market. In fact, “by 1994, 75 percent of all non-drug complaints to the FDA were in response to aspartame,” says Cynthia Pasquella, clinical nutritionist and holistic practitioner. Those gripes ranged from vomiting and headaches, to abdominal pain and even cancer.

The Scoop: Aspartame has zero calories and is often used for baking, it contains a broth of unfamiliar ingredients, such as phenylalanine, aspartic acid, and methanol. “The methanol from aspartame breaks down in the body to become formaldehyde, which is then converted into formic acid,” says Pasquella. “This can lead to metabolic acidosis, a condition where there is too much acid in the body and leads to disease.” Even though aspartame’s link to health problems has been highly studied, there’s very little evidence to keep it off shelves. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has set the accepted daily intake (ADI) at 50 mg/kg of body weight, which equals about 20 cans of aspartame-sweetened beverages for a 140-pound woman.

Sucralose

Known as Splenda (and also marketed as Sukrana, SucraPlus, Candys, and Nevella), sucralose was initially developed in the 1970s by scientists who were trying to create an insecticide. Splenda is often touted as the most natural sweetener because it comes from sugar, but during the production process, some of its molecules are replaced with chlorine atoms.

The Scoop: On the upside, sucralose has no effect on immediate or long-term blood glucose levels. “Splenda passes through the body with minimal absorption, and although it is 600 times sweeter than sugar, it has no effect on blood sugar,” says Keri Glassman, author of the Slim Calm Sexy Diet and expert nutrition contributor for Equinox. Even so, skeptics have been concerned that the chlorine in sucralose could still be absorbed by the body in small amounts. In 1998, the FDA completed over 100 clinical studies and found that the sweetener had no carcinogenic effects or risk associated. Ten years later though, Duke University completed a 12-week study — funded by the sugar industry — administering Splenda to rats and found that it suppressed good bacteria and reduced fecal micro flora in the intestines. “The findings (while they were in animals) are significant because Splenda reduced the probiotics, which play a key role in maintaining a healthy digestive system,” says Ashley Koff, registered dietitian and FITNESS advisory board member. The ADI is currently set at 5 mg/kg of body weight, meaning a 140-pound female could easily have 30 packets of Splenda per day, which seems like a lot.

Saccharin

Most commonly known as Sweet ‘N Low, saccharin is one of the oldest low-calorie sugar substitutes available. It’s an FDA-approved option that’s been widely tested, yielding a slew of conflicting reports.

The Scoop: Saccharin was first categorized as a carcinogen in the ’70s, when research linked it to bladder cancer in lab rats. However, the ban was lifted in the late 2000s when later studies proved that rats have a different makeup to their urine than humans do. Even so, pregnant women are typically advised to use saccharin sparingly.

With respect to weight-loss benefits, saccharin has zero calories and doesn’t raise blood glucose levels, but nutritionists believe the sweetener can be linked to weight gain. “Usually when one eats a sweet food, the body expects calories to accompany that food, but when the body does not get those calories, its looks for them elsewhere,” says Glassman. “So for every calorie that you think you save by choosing an artificial sweetener, you are likely to gain by eating more calories in the end.” The ADI for saccharin is 5 mg/kg of body which is the equivalent of a 140-pound woman consuming 9 to 12 packets of the sweetener.

Flips a switch

People who ingest simple table sugar get a boost of glucose in their blood, which flips a switch of satiety that curbs the appetite. The brain learns this, and the satiety signals start to show up even before the sugar is absorbed.

Noncaloric sweeteners, however, appear to mislead us into what scientists term a “metabolic derangement,” which prevents satiety signals from developing. “More food has to be eaten to feel as satisfied,” Swithers says, “even when real sugar is eaten.”

 

  •  

    Agave Nectar

    Used as an alternative to sugar, honey, and even syrup, agave nectar is produced from — you guessed it — the agave plant, but much of what’s available in supermarkets has been overprocessed or chemically refined. It’s 1.5 times sweeter than sugar, so you can use less. Don’t be surprised to find it in health food bars, ketchup, and some desserts.

    The Scoop: “Agave nectar has a low glycemic index, which means this form of sugar is absorbed more slowly by the body so it causes a relatively lower spike in blood sugar and less of a sugar rush than other forms of sugar,” says Glassman. However, agave is starch-based, so it’s not that different from high-fructose corn syrup, which can have adverse health effects and increase triglyceride levels. Different agave manufacturers use varying amounts of refined fructose, one of the primary sugar components of agave, which is similar to high-fructose corn syrup and can sometimes be more concentrated.

    Even though the agave plant contains inulin — a healthful, insoluble, sweet fiber — the agave nectar doesn’t have very much inulin left over after processing. “One of the effects of agave nectar is that is can cause a condition of fatty liver, where sugar molecules accumulate in the liver, causing swelling and liver damage,” says Morrison.

    “Agave can actually have amazing health benefits, but many brands of agave on the market are chemically refined,” says Cynthia Pasquella. She recommends raw, organic, and unheated agave because it is said to have anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and immune-boosting abilities if consumed in moderation. There is no accepted daily intake because it is sugar, and there is no ADI for natural sweeteners.

     

    Stevia

    Fans of this South American herb prefer it to regular table sugar because of the no-calorie appeal. It’s available in both powdered and liquid form and nutritionists note that it’s chemical- and toxin-free.

    The Scoop: In 2008, the FDA declared stevia as “generally regarded as safe,” which means they can be used as a sugar substitute. Studies have shown that stevia can lower insulin levels, making it a favored option for diabetics, though some are still worried about the brands of sweeteners that use stevia. “While stevia is regarded as safe, we don’t know about all of the blends sold in supermarkets,” says Koff.” The Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA) has assigned it an ADI of 4 mg/kg (or or 12 mg/kg body weight for steviol glycoside) which means that a 150-pound person could consume around 30 packets.

 

When our unconscious calorie switch becomes confused by noncaloric sweeteners, we must rely on conscious effort, such as reading food labels, to curb our intake.

“But we know people have a difficult time with that,” Swithers says. “Noncaloric sweeteners can also produce cognitive distortions, like making people overeat because they think what they’re doing is healthy.”

Indeed, several large-scale studies correlate the use of artificial sweeteners with weight gain. A University of Texas study found that people who consumed two or more diet sodas per day over a period of almost 10 years had waist circumference increases five times greater than those who followed a different beverage path — a group that included people who drank sugar-sweetened sodas, although regular soda use was relatively infrequent.

But James O. Hill, director of the University of Colorado’s Anschutz Health and Wellness Center, takes issue with the methodology of that study. “The links sometimes found between low-calorie sweeteners (LCS) and obesity in epidemiology may be explained by the fact that it is those with obesity who are more likely to choose LCS,” Hill wrote in an e-mail: “Epidemiological studies cannot determine cause and effect.”

With funding from the American Beverage Association, a trade group for makers of soft drinks, Hill spearheaded a study of 308 overweight and obese diet-drink consumers who were placed in a behavioral weight-loss program.Half of those were told to change their behavior and switch to water. Those who drank diet beverages lost an average of 13 pounds in 12 weeks, compared with the nine pounds lost by those who drank only water.

“LCSs seem to be doing exactly what they were designed to do,” Hill wrote in an editorial in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition: “helping reduce total energy intake while providing the sweet taste we value.”

Swithers is highly critical of Hill’s study. One of several issues that she has with the research: Hill’s water-drinking group was allowed to continue using artificial sweeteners in foods. “That study is unfortunately so fundamentally flawed that it’s impossible to draw any conclusions from it other than that people can lose weight over the course of three months, which we already know,” she said.

On another front of uneasiness with artificial sweeteners, a recent study published in the journal Nature found that three synthetic sweeteners — saccharin (Sweet’n Low), sucralose (Splenda) and aspartame (Equal) — upset the balance of intestinal flora, causing glucose intolerance in mice and in some humans tested.
Stomach upset

“Studies in rodents cannot necessarily be extrapolated to humans,” Hill says. “Also, virtually everything affects the intestinal flora.”

Nevertheless, some people attempt to sidestep potential problems with artificial sweeteners by turning to natural alternatives, but even those can cause trouble. For example, sugar alcohols, which are sweet, low-calorie chemicals naturally found in fruits, can produce bloating or laxative effects if used in large doses.

“It doesn’t really matter whether things are ‘natural’ or fully synthesized in the lab,” Swithers says, “they will be problematic. Foods and beverages that are sweetened, regardless of the type of sweetener, should be thought of as occasional treats, not as things that are consumed on a daily basis, much less at every meal.”

“No one actually needs to eat sweeteners of any kind,” says Swithers, who avoids consuming artificial sweeteners and closely monitors her sugar intake. “They can be pleasant, but given the current environment of overweight, obesity and all of the attendant chronic diseases, it’s hard to argue that any benefits outweigh the risks over the long term.”

Patterson Clark

Rebecca Brown

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