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Diet, Health, Fitness, Lifestyle & Wellness

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Dementia Linked To Beverage Consumed By 50% Of People Every Day

Half of North Americans use a drink linked to dementia on any given day.

Both sugary and artificially sweetened ‘diet’ drinks are linked to dementia by two new studies.

People who drink sugary beverages tend to have poorer memories, smaller brains and a smaller hippocampus (an area vital for learning and memory).

Diet sodas, though, don’t seem much safer.

A follow-up study found that people who drink diet sodas are three times more likely to develop dementia and stroke, compared to those who drink none.

Both studies show associations, so it doesn’t prove cause and effect.

Professor Sudha Seshadri, who led the research, said:

“These studies are not the be-all and end-all, but it’s strong data and a very strong suggestion.
It looks like there is not very much of an upside to having sugary drinks, and substituting the sugar with artificial sweeteners doesn’t seem to help.
Maybe good old-fashioned water is something we need to get used to.”

Excess sugar intake has long been linked to obesity, diabetes  and heart disease.

Its effect on the brain is more of an unknown (although what are the chances it’s going to be good for us?!)

More surprising is the link between diet sodas and dementia.

The researchers suggest it could be down to the artificial sweeteners used.

Sugar is toxic to the brain

This is certainly not the first study to link sugar intake with dementia.

A recent study linked excess sugar intake with Alzheimer’s disease.

It suggested that too much glucose (sugar) in the diet damages a vital enzyme which helps fight the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease.

High blood sugar levels have also been linked to memory problems.

The researchers in this study think that sugar could have a ‘toxic’ effect on the brain.

The studies were published in the journals Stroke and Alzheimer’s & Dementia (Pase et al., 2017; Pase et al., 2017).

source: PsyBlog

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A Scary New Reason to Avoid Splenda


Sure, the idea of getting your sugar fix without the calories always seems enticing, but new research suggests that Splenda—an artificial sweetener recently considered safe—may contribute to serious health problems like cancer.

The study, published in the International Journal of Occupational and Environmental Health, found that mice fed sucralose daily throughout their lives developed leukemia and other blood cancers. In response to the findings, the Center for Science in the Public Interest—a nutrition watchdog group that assesses the safety of food additives—has now formally recommended that consumers avoid the sweetener. That’s a big deal, considering that until 2013, they’d rated the additive as “safe.”

Though the lab behind the study has been criticized in the past, the CSPI says this new evidence is especially powerful because it was funded without special interests in mind. “For most food additives, the safety studies are conducted by the manufacturers who have financial incentives,” says Lisa Lefferts, MSPH, senior scientist at the CSPI. (Here’s why industry funding in nutrition studies is such a huge problem.)


Granted, the doses of sucralose used in the study were equivalent to someone drinking at least 10 cans of diet soda per day—tough for anyone to do, but not totally out of the realm of possibility if you’re consuming artificial sweeteners from multiple food and drink sources. “And even if you consume less, that doesn’t mean there’s no problem,” Lefferts says. “When something causes cancer at high doses, it generally causes cancer at lower doses, the risk is just smaller.”

But even if you discount this new mouse study, you’ll still find plenty of reasons to skip out on sucralose. A growing body of research shows that artificial sweeteners may actually cause weight gain, not weight loss. One study found drinking diet soda was linked to increased belly fat; in another, each daily can was associated with a 41% jump in obesity risk. Sucralose has even been shown to mess with your blood sugar and insulin levels, causing spikes and dips that could lead to cravings later on.

The bottom line: the scientists at the CSPI firmly believe you should steer clear of sucralose. But that doesn’t mean you should start shoveling spoonfuls of regular table sugar, either. 

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Artificial sweeteners linked to obesity epidemic, scientists say

Drinking diet soda could cause weight gain, research suggests

CBC News  Sep 17, 2014 

Artificial sweeteners may set the stage for diabetes in some people by hampering how their bodies handle sugar, scientists say.

Artificial sweeteners may exacerbate, rather than prevent, metabolic disorders such as Type 2 diabetes, a study suggests.

Calorie-free artificial sweeteners are often chosen by dieters in part because they are thought not to raise blood sugar levels.

In Wednesday’s issue of the journal Nature, researchers report that artificial sweeteners increase the blood sugar levels in both mice and humans by interfering with microbes in the gut. Increased blood sugar levels are an early indicator of Type 2 diabetes and metabolic disease.

The increase in consumption of artificial sweeteners coincides with the obesity and diabetes epidemics, Eran Segal of the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel, and his co-authors said.

“Our findings suggest that non-caloric artificial sweeteners may have directly contributed to enhancing the exact epidemic that they themselves were intended to fight.”

Artificial Sweeteners

Link to gut bacteria

The study included a series of experiments.

Mice whose drinking water was supplemented with artificial sweetener developed glucose intolerance compared with mice drinking water alone, or water with just sugar in it. The effect occurred both in mice fed normal chow and those on a high-fat diet.

When antibiotics were used to kill off gut bacteria, the artificial sweetener effect on glucose intolerance in mice fed either diet was restored to normal.

Taken together, the data indicate that artificial sweeteners “may contribute to, rather than alleviate, obesity-related metabolic conditions, by altering the composition and function of bacterial populations in the gut,” Cathryn Nagler and Taylor Feehley of the pathology department at the University of Chicago said in a journal commentary.

In the human part of the research, gut bacteria were analyzed from 381 non-diabetics averaging age 43 who were participating in an ongoing nutrition study.  They found differences in the gut bacteria among those who consumed artificial sweeteners compared with those who did not.

Artificial sweetener consumers showed “markers” for diabetes, such as raised blood sugar levels and glucose intolerance.

More research needed

In the final portion of the study, seven human volunteers who didn’t normally consume artificial sweeteners added it to their diets for seven days. After four days, blood glucose levels rose and the makeup of their gut bacteria changed in half of the participants, just as in the mice experiment.

To confirm the findings, the researchers also transferred feces from people who consume artificial sweeteners into mice that were bred to have sterile intestines and never consumed it before. The mice who had saccharin became glucose intolerant, which suggests that the artificial sweetener caused the unhealthy effect.

It could be that artificial sweeteners lead to an expansion of bacterial species that extract energy from food that often gets stored as fat, contributing to obesity, Nagler said. It’s also possible the sweeteners could suppress the growth of other bacteria that seem to stave off insulin resistance, she said.

The commentators suggested studies to identify specific bacterial populations that promote resistance to weight gain or improve glucose tolerance could be useful as treatments.

Other experts who were not involved in the research called the findings intriguing, but noted that the human findings in particular were very preliminary in terms of considering changes to nutrition recommendations.

“This research raises caution that [non-caloric artificial sweeteners] may not represent the ‘innocent magic bullet’ they were intended to be to help with the obesity and diabetes epidemics, but it does not yet provide sufficient evidence to alter public health and clinical practice,” said Nita Forouhi, program leader at the Medical Research Council’s epidemiology unit at Cambridge University.

With files from Reuters
source: www.cbc.ca


5 Steps to Quitting Artificial Sweeteners

September 26, 2013     By Cynthia Sass, MPH, RD

Yet another new study supports what I’ve seen in my private practice for years – artificial sweeteners actually increase cravings. Scientists say that faux sugars activate the brain’s pleasure center, without satisfying it, which triggers an increased desire for sweets. That’s probably why statistically, people who drink diet beverages aren’t slimmer–one report found that two-can-a-day diet drinkers had a 54.5% chance of becoming overweight or obese, compared to 32.8% for those who drank the same amount of regular soda.

While I’m certainly not recommending drinking regular soda, I do believe that kicking the diet habit is essential for sustainable weight control and optimal health. I’ve had numerous clients who worried they’d never be able to give up the artificial stuff, or that doing so would lead to weight gain, but the outcome is always the same–fewer cravings for sweets, a heightened ability to tune into hunger and fullness cues, and far more effortless weight loss. If you’re ready to give fake sugars the old heave-ho, put these five steps into action.

Go cold turkey (and be sure to uncover hidden sources!)
In addition to diet drinks and those little colored packets, artificial sweeteners may be lurking in foods you don’t suspect, including gum, yogurt, flavored water, protein shakes, and powders, even cereal. To scope them out, read every ingredient list carefully. Generic names include aspartame, sucralose, acesulfame potassium, or Ace K, and saccharin. While stevia is marketed as natural, I recommend avoiding this additive as well. In my experience, its intense sweetness (100 times sweeter than sugar) may also drive a desire for sweets, and groups like Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) raise important concerns about its safety.

Start a cravings journal
In addition to tracking what and how much they eat, I ask my clients to record their hunger/fullness ratings before and after meals, as well as any observations related to cravings, whether physical or emotional. Their post-artificial sweetener observations can be pretty darn remarkable. I’ve had clients who were self-proclaimed artificial sweetener addicts suddenly lose their sweet tooths. One was shocked when she had no desire to sneak a spoonful of her son’s pudding. Another was struck by the realization that when she stopped doctoring up her a.m. coffee with fake sugar, she no longer felt like nibbling all morning on office treats.


Satisfy sweet cravings with fruit
Research indicates that fruit can indeed satisfy a sweet tooth, and it’s a far better option than a calorie-free sweetener for several reasons. First, the naturally occurring sugar in fresh fruit is bundled with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, fiber, and fluid, key nutrients that nourish your body and support your overall health. The sugar in fruit is also non-concentrated–one cup of grapes (about the size of a tennis ball) contains about 15 grams of sugar, a few grams less than the amount in just a tablespoon of honey. Finally, studies show that regular fruit eaters weigh less, even more so than veggie eaters, probably because fruit tends to displace sweets (e.g. reaching for an apple instead of a cookie), whereas veggies tend to be add-ons. Fruit is fantastic by itself, but you can also get creative with it. Add a little mashed in-season fruit to your ice water, toss fruit on the grill or bake it in the oven, warm fruit on the stovetop, seasoned with spices like cinnamon, cloves, or ginger, or sauté your favorite fruits in a little extra virgin coconut oil. If there are varieties you haven’t yet tried, like dragon fruit or carambola (aka starfruit), give them a whirl. There’s a bounty of nature’s candy to discover.

Use “sweet” spices
While not technically sweet themselves, spices like ginger, cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, and nutmeg enhance natural sweetness, and can take the place of some or all of the sugar in various dishes. I relish sprinkling cinnamon and nutmeg, or a spice blend (pumpkin pie spice, apple pie spice) into my morning cup of coffee, and many of my clients find that adding these aromatic, satisfying seasonings to foods like hot or cold whole-grain cereal, natural nut butter, nonfat organic Greek yogurt, and baked sweet potato, allows them to forgo sweeteners all together. Bonus: they’re potent sources of antioxidants, which are cell bodyguards that protect against premature aging and disease ; one teaspoon of cinnamon packs as much antioxidant power as a half cup of blueberries.

Enjoy real sugar sparingly
According to the American Heart Association (AHA), the daily target for added sugar (e.g. the sugar you add to coffee or the sugar added by manufacturers to sweetened yogurt, baked goods, etc.) should be no more than 6 level teaspoons for women, and 9 for men–that’s for both food and beverages combined. If you’re eating clean, and avoiding processed foods that often contain hidden added sugar (such as salad dressing, canned soup, and tomato sauce), you can afford to build small, sweet splurges into your overall healthy diet. For example, a half cup of coconut milk ice cream contains about 10 grams of sugar, a two inch brownie about 12 grams, and two tasting squares of 75% dark chocolate about 4 grams, roughly a teaspoon worth (every 4 grams of added sugar equals a teaspoon). In my experience, avoiding artificial sweeteners tends to curb sweet cravings overall, but when they do strike, indulging in a small amount of the real thing is the best way to satisfy your fix, and move on. My mantra: keep calm and eat real food.

Cynthia Sass is a registered dietitian with master’s degrees in both nutrition science and public health. Frequently seen on national TV, she’s Health’s contributing nutrition editor, and privately counsels clients in New York, Los Angeles, and long distance. Cynthia is currently the sports nutrition consultant to the New York Rangers NHL team and the Tampa Bay Rays MLB team, and is board certified as a specialist in sports dietetics. Her latest New York Times best seller is S.A.S.S! Yourself Slim: Conquer Cravings, Drop Pounds and Lose Inches. Connect with Cynthia on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

source: health.com

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Sweet deception: The real truth behind artifical sweeteners

by: Nanditha     Monday, July 22, 2013 

(NaturalNews) The news on artificial sweeteners isn’t sweet. Artificial sweeteners are notorious for making you gain weight and become unhealthy. That’s right. If you think about that for a second, it defies all logic, yet it is the bitter and ironic truth.

Artificial sugar is far from the low calorie, “healthy” option it is touted to be by the manufacturing companies and those hand-in-glove with them. The chemical name for Splenda is “sucralose”, chosen deliberately for how much like “sucrose” it sounds. Only, it isn’t sucrose, but tricholosucrose, meaning that it is has chlorine in it. So calorie counting dieters beware, you might be doing your body more harm than good in the long run.

Artificial sweeteners mess with your metabolism

The scoop on artificial sweeteners is that they slow down the body’s metabolism and put you at the risk of metabolic disorders and consequent weight gain. The idea that obesity could very well have it’s roots in a diet of low calorie sweets and soft drinks, as ludicrous as it sounds, could be entirely true. According to a scientific study done in the United States in 2008 on a sample of 18,000 people consuming one or more artificially sweetened, “diet” drinks per day increased their risk of acquiring metabolic disorders by 30 to 40 percent. This might give us an inkling as to why obesity is on the rise, for instance.

Aspartame: The deadliest of them all

Another artificial sweetener Aspartame is known for causing a range of health problems and worrying symptoms from seizures to brain tumors. The controversy runs that the FDA has approved Aspartame as “safe”, yet it is one of the most dangerous additive to be forced upon the public by deceitful means. Only 90 different symptoms have been documented as a result of Aspartame consumption and these include anxiety attacks, slurred speech, fatigue, depression, migraine, tinnitus, vertigo, heart palpitations, nausea and muscle spasms. Epilepsy, brain tumors and chronic fatigue have not been ruled out either as chronic symptoms of long-term exposure to Aspartame.

Aspartame is combination of chemicals, namely aspartic acid (an amino acid with excitatory effects on brain cells), methanol and phenylalanine and scientists are placing it at the higher end of the range of what is considered toxic.

Aspartame acts as neurotransmitter with the singular goal of causing neural damage. There is evidence to show that it can damage more than three quarters of the brain cells of a particular part of the brain before any signs of clinical illness of chronic symptoms are noticed. And then, presumably, it will be too late. One of the most common complaints of people suffering from excessive exposure to Aspartame is memory loss, and most ironically, the original manufacturer of Aspartame, GD Searle, tried to find a drug that could “combat memory loss caused by excitatory amino acid damage”.

And as if all this is not enough, a neuroscientist from the University of Washington and an authority on excitotoxins warned Searle that Aspartame, when tested on mice, created holes in their brains. Add to everything else we have read the following: people suffering from phenylketonuria, a genetic disorder, are incapable of metabolizing phenylalanine. They end up with levels of phenylalanine concentration in the brain considered dangerous to the point of being lethal.

The question we are left with (and unfortunately it is for us, the consumers, to work out the answer to) is this: do labeling laws leave us enough room to steer clear of artificial sweeteners altogether or is it just plain rhetoric?


About the author:
Nanditha Prasad Ram is a consumer and health journalist and a practicing holistic therapist whose mission it is to inform, educate, empower and transform. 
Her blog is available at http://www.bindumandalayoga.blogspot.in

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Artificial Sweeteners in Milk?

By Heather White, Executive Director at Environmental Working Group, a national environmental health and consumer advocacy organization 64       Sun 03/31/2013

Milk is milk – but it won’t be if the conventional dairy industry gets its way. 

Four years ago, the International Dairy Foods Association and National Milk Producers Federation, which lobby on behalf of the industry, petitioned the Food and Drug Administration to change the official definition – the so-called “standard of identity” – of milk. And not just milk. In all, the industry wants to change the definition of 18 dairy products, including yogurt, sour cream and half and half, to allow it to add artificial sweeteners – without including any prominent label for consumers. Read the proposed petition. 

The FDA announced in February that it is seeking public comment on the proposal, and that has sparked a national uproar over what’s allowed in our food.

The industry already adds a lot of sweet stuff to its flavored milk and other products. But if they add artificial sweeteners such as aspartame to replace the added sugar, they have to add a label on the front that includes a qualifier such as “reduced calorie” or “low calorie.” They can’t call the artificially sweetened product “milk” without one.

Industry marketers don’t want to have to put the label on the front of the package that signals that the dairy product could contain these controversial sweeteners.

Their stated reasoning? To fight childhood obesity. The industry argues that if it could get the okay to add artificial sweeteners into milk without a label on the front, kids would choose more milk drinks.

The conventional dairy industry doesn’t want the “reduced calorie” label on the front of the package, arguing that it distracts parents from milk’s nutritional value and turns kids off from buying flavored milk. The industry wants to change FDA regulations so that these controversial sweeteners would be listed only on the ingredients panel on the back of the carton, with no highly visible labeling such as “low calorie” on the front.

These clear front-of-package labels are important to parents because artificial sweeteners in kids’ drinks are a hot button issue for many families. If the milk industry gets its way, it will be harder for parents to know what they are giving to their kids. It’s true that we want kids to drink less sugary drinks, but we don’t want them to have more processed, unnatural ingredients in their diets. Surely there are better ways to get young people to make healthier choices without allowing the industry to get away with this sneaky legal gimmick to change the official definition of milk.

Although aspartame has been deemed safe after an independent review by FDA, it remains controversial. Questions of cancer or neurological problems have swirled around it for decades. Some pregnant women are advised to avoid it. And since some other non-nutritive sweeteners such as sucralose actually taste sweeter than sugar, some health professionals worry that adding it to milk drinks could lead kids to have stronger cravings for sweet products.

The controversy has highlighted the larger problem that consumers are largely in the dark when it comes to additives in food. Although FDA considers most of the sweeteners that would be added to milk to be “generally recognized as safe,” or GRAS, and some of these sweeteners have been independently reviewed, FDA’s overall framework for regulating the safety of food additives needs serious improvement.

The shocking truth is that the FDA has never independently reviewed the safety of the vast majority of the nearly 10,000 chemicals – both natural and synthetic – that can legally be added to food or packaging to enhance flavor and appearance, create certain food texture, or delay spoilage. About a third of the 10,000 have been reviewed by an industry-funded panel; most of the rest have been “self-affirmed” as safe by manufacturers. The reality is that most consumers are flying blind when it comes to what’s in processed foods. We need real changes to the law on how we regulate food additives, not on how we legally define milk.

No matter your position on the use of artificial sweeteners in foods and drinks marketed to children, we can all agree that consumers need more information about the food we eat, not less.

Call the FDA at (240) 402-2371 and tell it not to grant this industry request. The deadline for public comments is May 21, 2013. Make your voice heard by joining the petition to keep hidden artificial sweeteners out of dairy products.

Here are some tips for busy parents from the Environmental Working Group:

  • Read the label. Always read ingredient labels and avoid products that have too many chemicals you’ve never heard of, or a really, really long list. Go simple when you can.
  • Go organic. Organic milk is not produced with pesticides or added hormones. Artificial sweeteners like aspartame are not allowed.
  • Plain is best. Skip the flavored milk, if possible, or allow it only as a special treat. Some flavored milks can contain as much sugar as half a dozen cookies.
  • Go for plain or unsweetened yogurts and cottage cheeses. Skip flavored, “light” and “lite” yogurts. They are often loaded with sugar, artificial sweeteners and additives. Instead, add fresh fruit to your plain yogurt or cottage cheese. 
  • Lactose intolerant? Dairy isn’t the only good source of calcium – try calcium-rich foods such as dark leafy greens, broccoli, beans or tofu. Unsweetened, fortified organic soymilk, coconut, almond, hemp and flax milk can also be good choices. Talk to your doctor about trying lactase enzymes. Be sure to read labels to make sure you’re getting good nutrition for your family. And, stay away from products with added sugars.