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Sugar – Your Health vs Politics – Always Read the Ingredients Label – Part 1 of 2
So you have cravings for Sugar and Sweets and you consider Life without it pretty bland – don’t we all?
Well, relax, this is not about coercing you into giving up on those lovely chocolates and tempting pastries, but rather to make you aware of how the choice of sweetener in the product affects your health and the health of your children – and to reveal the links to the unexplained horizontal growth you may be experiencing – even though you eat so little.
We have all heard that Americans consume huge amounts of sugar, over 150 pounds per person and year. As if this wasn’t enough, a recent U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) survey was cited as adjusting the latest numbers to160 pounds of sugar a year – a 30% increase since the early 1980s. That’s the approximate equivalent of 53 heaped teaspoons of sugar per person per day! Well, these numbers appear to be inflated, in fact the April 2007 updated USDA release states the average daily sugar consumption in the US currently is “only” 30 teaspoons per person each day, not including synthetic sweeteners and honey. According to the year by year statistics, the sugar consumption actually slightly decreased in the past seven years, which was probably compensated by artificial sweeteners increase. However, even these lower numbers are staggering: each American consumes over 20% of daily food calories from refined Sugars – empty calories with no nutritional value!
Consider this: the 30 teaspoons of sugar per person per day is just straight sugar that is declared as such on food and beverage “ingredients” labels. Although a refined sugar, Alcohol is a “stealth sugar”, undeclared as such. Just a small glass of wine or one can of beer will add the equivalent of 2 teaspoons of sugar, one whiskey, gin, vodka or the like will account for 4 teaspoons of sugar! More nutrients-deprived, indigestible calories.
Are you not able to maintain your perfect weight?
Do you suffer from Allergies or Asthma?
Such are the symptoms from consuming sugars in the above quantities for many years. So always reading the “Ingredients” Labels of all Foods and Beverages before buying may significantly help you reduce the consumption of the worst of the sweeteners, those that make you sick and spawn degenerative disease, including arthritis, candida, depression and digestive disorders. You will be surprised to find sugars added to almost all beverages and processed foods, including salty snacks like chips, nuts and instant soups. In addition, you may find inspiration and motivation to surrender some products and make them yourself instead. That is compelling when you read the following list of healthy and functional sugar alternatives available, that greatly improve taste and texture of dinners and desserts with very little work and skill required.
Your guests will commend you for your creativity and ability and you can all indulge in sweet, great tasting, and wholesome temptations with impunity.
Are you at risk of Diabesity?
Well – you are not alone: in the US 10% of Healthcare costs are used just for the “Diabesity” problems. According to Center for Disease Control “CDC” stats
- Estimated total diabetes costs in the United States in 2002 (direct and indirect): were $132 billion
- 1.5 Million New Cases were diagnosed in 2005 (age 20 and older)
- The diabetes II rate in the US has tripled in 30 years: over 20 millions have it and 1/3 don’t even know it
- Total prevalence of diabetes among people aged 20 years or older, United States, 2005
- Age 20 years or older: 20.6 million, or 9.6%
- Age 60 years or older: 10.3 million, or 20.9%
An additional 54 Million have pre-diabetic conditions, the so called metabolic syndrome or insulin resistance . Obesity is the driving force of diabetes: over 90% of diabetics are overweight. But the increase in food consumption was only 300 calories and thus could not account for this phenomenon.
What explains this unprecedented growth from the seventies to today’s raging pandemic?
It should be noted that the US is not alone, a similar increase has been documented in other developed countries: in the UAE one in every four people is at risk and in the EU the current rate is at 7.5% the same as in the United States and half of these are estimated undiagnosed. In Japan 10% of 40 year olds have diabetes II, according to Health Ministry statistics Dr.Paul Zimmer, director of the International Diabetes Institute (IDI) in Victoria, Australia, predicts that diabetes “is going to be the biggest epidemic in human history that will bankrupt social security-systems.”
There is an interesting correlation of the rise in Diabesity and the rise in the consumption of Sugar substitutes, namely
HFCS (High Fructose Corn Syrup).
In the 1970s the food and beverage industry discovered a cheap alternative to cane and beet extracted sugar, by chemically modifying corn starch from glucose to fructose. As from 1976, when HFCS could be mass produced, the cost advantage to the industry were so compelling, that consumption of HFCS increased by 4,000% until the year 2000 while the use of table sugar decreased by 35% and by now, Westerners consume more HFCS than sugar, according to the Weston Price Foundation website.
Check the label on the container of your favorite soft drink, and, unless it is the Aspartame and Sucralose variety, you are likely to find HFCS or High-Fructose Corn Syrup listed as a primary ingredient after water. Since soft drink giants Coke and Pepsi switched from sugar to HFCS in 1984, the product conquered markets beyond beverages, HFCS is omnipresent in most processed foods and even health foods and sports drinks. Not only is it found in cookies, candies, and other confections, but also ubiquitous in foods where one would least expect to find sugar: soups, hot dogs, pasta sauce, ketchup, breakfast cereals, buns that cover the hamburger patties and even salad dressings,
The industry wants to hoodwink you into believing that HFCS is a natural product, after all isn’t Fructose the stuff that makes the fruits naturally sweet? Yet unlike in fruits were fructose is present with other sugars in a complex hydro-colloidal environment of fibers and active enzymes, the fructose in HFCS is an isolated derivative from genetically modified corn, processed by genetically modified enzymes – it is probably the highest processed food of all. Nevertheless, Snapple – sweetened with HFCS proclaims on their Labels: “All Natural Ingredients”.
Why does this matter? Because HFCS is addictive: the more you eat the more you want! Consumption of high amounts of sweet fruits result in a sense of fullness, when we know it’s time to stop eating, not so with isolated fructose. While glucose increases insulin release from the pancreas, fructose does not. Insulin helps to control sugar consumption by signaling the brain to indicate a sense of satiety, fructose lack of a triggering mechanism for insulin may lead to excessive caloric consumption. Also, fructose appears to convert to fat more readily than glucose because every cell in the body can metabolize glucose, while only the liver is able to metabolize fructose.
HFCS contains more fructose than sucrose and this fructose is more immediately available than fructose in fruits, because it is not bound up in sucrose. In animal studies, fructose showed disastrous effects particularly in growing animals that did not reach adulthood, had anemia, impaired collagen production, high cholesterol and heart hypertrophy (where the heart enlarges until it explodes) according to Dr Meira Field who led the USDA study on rats fed with fructose. “Since the effects of fructose are most severe in the growing organism, we need to think carefully about what kind of sweeteners we give to our children.” Of course the food industry contends that results in rats are not replicated in human, but if you don’t want to prove them wrong yourself, you may want to simply not take a chance. Originally, the fructose content of HFCS was little over 50%, but more recently the manufacturers have introduced syrup containing 90% and more fructose, yet you wouldn’t know from reading the food label. Therefore products containing HFCS should be avoided and certainly not be given to children.
As to expect, the beverage industries as well as the HFCS manufacturer oligopoly led by Archer Daniels Midland Company, have consistently denied any connection of HFCS and obesity and the FDA assumes HFCS as safe and studies unnecessary. But then the same suspects have successfully kept GMO food declaration away from the consumer arguing that genetically engineered food is the same as traditional breeding. Thus the manufacturers don’t have to conduct and disclose pre-market safety studies. It is notable however that HFCS is absent in baby formulas. Will the food industry cave in to consumer activists demanding to replace HFCS? Not likely, unless they find a cheaper alternative. Instead expect to be deceived by fantasy terms, how about: “modified corn starch” or the like? We have recently seen such cover-up tactics with MSG which morphed into “natural flavor”.
In July 2007, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition published a “Clinical study” that concludes: “There was no evidence that commercial cola beverages sweetened with either sucrose or HFCS have significantly different effects on hunger, satiety, or short-term energy intakes”. Immediately, the American Beverage Association claimed that their Industry was not to blame for the Obesity epidemic in America. Interesting detail: the “study”, was financed by the Beverage Association and the Corn Refiners Association included a mere 37 volunteers.
HFS (High Fructose Syrup)
is found on some Food labels particularly in Asian Foods and Beverages. HFS was originally developed in Japan where corn is not grown and is now made in Thailand from Cassava and in China from other starches. However the process is the same and so is the function of the product.
The functional and multi-functional engineered Sweeteners
A group non-sugar carbohydrates, manufactured, reduced-calorie, sugar-free sweeteners is now gaining momentum in the world of differentiated food and beverage producers and find their way into store shelves. You may never see the term Polyols on ingredients labels, even when several ones of the groups are present, but when a label reads “sugar alcohols” – Polyols are meant, when a label reads “sugar free” look for the listing and amounts of Polyols. Polyols or sugar alcohols are neither sugars nor alcohols. Instead, they are a group of low-digestible carbohydrates. These sweeteners taste like sugar but have several application specific advantages, including their suitability for diabetics. Polyols, are a low digestible carbohydrate which is only partially digested in the intestine. In the lower part of the intestinal tract, the non-absorbed portion is metabolized by colonic bacteria. Polyols are resistant to metabolism by oral bacteria and do not increase the acidity of the mouth after ingestion. This means that they will not lead to cavities or erode tooth enamel. The FDA has approved the use of a “does not promote tooth decay” health claim in labeling for sugar-free foods that contain polyols. So if Polyols are so great, why are they only sparingly available? Well, you guessed it: costs! Consumer awareness and resulting demand may bring the price down; it’s just a matter of time. The market for Polyols in the US is at an emerging stage with sales of $ 517 million in 2005, according to Frost & Sullivan, San Antonio, TX,
has only been commercially produced since 1990 and added to foods and beverages to provide sweetness, as well as to enhance taste and texture. In Japan Erythritol has been approved as a food in 1990 and it received GRAS (generally recognized as safe) status by the FDA in 2001, it also approved in the EU. Erythritol is a white crystalline powder that is odorless, with a clean sweet taste that is similar to sucrose. It is approximately 70% as sweet as sucrose and flows easily due to its non-hygroscopic character. Like other polyols, erythritol does not promote tooth decay and is safe for people with diabetes. However, erythritol’s caloric value of 0.2 calories per gram and high digestive tolerance distinguishes it from other polyols. It has approximately 7 to 13% the calories of other polyols and 5% the calories of sucrose. Because erythritol is rapidly absorbed in the small intestine and rapidly eliminated by the body within 24 hours, laxative side effects sometimes associated with excessive polyol consumption are unlikely when consuming erythritol containing foods.
HSH (hydrogenated starch hydrolysates),
including hydrogenated glucose syrups, maltitol syrups, and sorbitol syrups, are a family of products found in a wide variety of foods. HSH are produced by the partial hydrolysis of corn, wheat or potato starch and subsequent hydrogenation of the hydrolysate at high temperature under pressure. While some products in the HSH group have been approved in many countries including the EU and Japan, GRAS statuses is still pending, but with ADM Company as main proponent, expect HSH to appear on many ingredients labels rather soon.
has been known since 1960, it is made from Sucrose (table sugar) and it looks and feels like sugar. Isomalt enhances flavor transfer in foods. It dissolves more slowly in the mouth so that candies with isomalt have a longer lasting taste. Its sensory properties make isomalt an excellent ingredient hard candies, toffees, chewing gum, chocolates, baked goods, nutritional supplements, cough drops and throat lozenges. In Europe, Isomalt has been used since the early 1980s and is currently used in a variety of products in the US where it still awaits GRAS status – once obtained, expect Isomalt to become a household term. Isomalt absorbs very little water. Therefore, products made with it tend not to become sticky. Since the products do not absorb moisture, they have a longer shelf life. Isomalt does not promote tooth decay, has a very low blood glucose effect (low glycemic response), has an effect like dietary fiber in the gut and has only half of the caloric value of sucrose.
is known since 1920 but only used in foods for 25 years. It is a disaccharide polyol (sugar alcohol), derived from lactose, looks like sugar and tastes like sugar but has only 40% of its sweetness. Therefore don’t expect to find Lactitol as the sole sweetener on a food label; it is often present in foods in combination with chemical sweeteners Aspartame, Sucralose, etc. It is used as a sugar substitute because it has better solubility and handling in processing that reduces costs and extends shelf life. Lactitol has been shown in a clinical study to increase bowel movement frequency in the elderly.
is made by the hydrogenation of maltose whose raw ingredient is cereal starch which is converted to sugar by the process of malting. The starch may be from wheat, rice, barley or other grains, and is very similar in taste to table sugar with only 90% of its sweetness and about half of its calories. Maltose has been known and used in China since the 2nd century BC. Maltitol is approved in the EU since 1985 and many other countries and is awaiting GRAS status in the US. The sweetener will be mainly found in sugar free chocolate products. Maltitol has a prebiotic effect and some people experience unpleasant gas and bloating, when taken in high quantities as when Maltitol is used in soft drinks.
is naturally occurring in abundance, particularly in exudates from trees, and in marine algae and fresh mushrooms. It is an isomer of sorbitol and is industrially produced by the hydrogenation of specialty glucose syrups. Mannitol is a polyol mainly known for its properties to not absorb moisture. This makes it uniquely suitable as a dusting powder for chewing gum to prevent the gum from sticking to manufacturing equipment and wrappers. In chocolate flavored coatings of ice cream bars and confectionary it is an industry favorite because of its high melting point and pleasant taste with only 40% of the calories of sugar. Mannitol is a polyol that comes with regulatory warnings for limitation of daily intake for low digestible carbohydrate. This means that excessive consumption can result in a laxative effect, for two reasons. First, because the sugar alcohols are not completely absorbed, they hold on to a lot of water in the bowel. This causes diarrhea. Another consequence is that when undigested carbohydrates reach the colon they have a prebiotic effect – resulting in unpleasant gas, and bloating.
occurs naturally in a wide variety of fruits and berries. In its industrially produced form of hydrogenated glucose, it has been present in processed foods, pharma and cosmetics products for fifty years. Its unique feature is the function as moisture stabilizer in baked goods, confectionary and chocolate – read: longer shelf life! Sorbitol is about 60% as sweet as sugar and has 60% of its calories. Sorbitol comes with the same regulatory warnings as Mannitol.
is naturally occurring in fruits and vegetables and is also produced in the human body during metabolism. This polyol that has been known for over 100 years and been produced commercially from trees as sweetener for nearly fifty years. It is as sweet as table sugar with 30% less calories and a pleasant taste. Xilitols rise to fame is due to its property to reduce dental caries. Thus it is widely used in dental and oral health products, but also in pharmaceuticals and children’s nutritional supplements. While all Polyols are not acted upon by bacteria in the mouth, and therefore do NOT cause tooth decay, Xylitol actually INHIBITS oral bacteria, and is often used in sugarless mints and chewing gum for this reason.
Dextrose and Polydextrose
have similarities with Polyols, such as their sweet taste and their ability to act as sugar substitutes (70% the sweetness of sugar), but as their endings in -ose suggests, these are sugars. Dextrose is a synthetic monosaccharide derived from corn starch and is about 95% glucose. It is used as a carrier in water soluble medications, but latest studies have shown Dextrose to be an Athletes performance booster, outperforming Ribose (widely used as a body builder supplement). Dextrose contains no fructose or lactose and is available as an inexpensive dietary supplement. Polydextrose is synthesized from Dextrose with added Sorbitol and citric acid and can replace sugar and fat and is often used as bulking agent in products designed for weight or blood sugar control. It may appear on food labels as E1200. Polydextrose acts in the body like fibers with no laxative effect. It has only 25% of the calories of sugar. You can find it in Lindt and other chocolates.
The functionally targeted Sweeteners have much less sweetening potency than the chemical products such as Aspartame and Sucralose, which are cheaper and therefore readily accepted by conscious consumers in search of cheap products. But Polyols are multifunctional in that they can act as thickeners and stabilizers in addition to low- or no-calorie sugar replacer. Furthermore they can be used in products to enhance certain body functions, to target a product for environment specific use and to differentiate food products.
The scam of “Eat all the sweets you want with impunity”
Everyone by now has heard that
Aspartame (E951) NutraSweet, Equal, Spoonful –
is not good for health and since it doesn’t taste good there is little sacrifice involved, but don’t expect Monsanto to back off anytime soon! Though watch out for it’s challenger, the very high growth
Sucralose (E955) Splenda –
which is far more dangerous because its promotion is so deceptive: “healthful and natural”, so that even health gurus like Dr Andrew Weil endorse and recommend the product. However, Sucralose is a chemical substance, very different from sugar, 600 times sweeter and far from a natural product. Google finds more than 50,000 pages under “sucralose adverse effects” and many of the reports make you run for shelter. What is scary is the fact that Splenda is found in many so called health foods, health and weight loss guides and comes to you recommended by family physicians. You may find other strange terms on food label for sugar substitutes, such as
Acesulfame Potassium (E950) or ace-K Sunnet, Sweet-One –
often in combination with other sweeteners in more than 5,000 beverages and foods. It is 200 times sweeter than sugar and bears no calories. Ace-K is said to be worse than Aspartame and Sucralose in toxicity and has been cited in animal studies to be cancer causing. It has also been shown to attack the thyroid in animals. When you see such ingredients on a food label you want to stay away from that product, but such labels may be hard to find in chewing gum, instant tea and coffee mixes, gelatins, desserts and non-dairy creamers. Then there is
Neotame, NutraSweet –
a synthetic variation of Aspartame is 8,000 – 13,000 times sweeter than sugar and therefore attractive to food manufacturers as its use greatly lowers the cost of production compared to using natural sugar. The prime reason for its existence is the fact that the Aspartame patent had expired and the manufacturer – Monsanto – wanted new patent protection. The FDA approved NutraSweet in 2002 yet the products safety record is devastating: the Aspartame Toxicity web site summarizes 39 symptoms / syndromes’ caused by Aspartame including death! It is well documented that Aspartame changes DNA and the medical literature is replete with evidence of adverse effect. It is noteworthy however that the FDA “found no problems after reviewing 113 studies” – all funded by the industry, while all independently funded studies – over 100 – found serious problems. The second Ramazzini Cancer Research Institute’s study, published in June 2007 confirmed it’s earlier findings that Aspartame causes cancer in Rats. But the FDA spokesman Michael Herndon said (in an email to Reuters News Agency’s Health and Science Editor (June 25, 2007) the agency had not yet reviewed the study but was quick to add that the previous studies the FDA reviewed were sufficient for the agency and there was no need for action. .Thus, don’t underestimate the industry lobby who managed to have the American Medical Association; the American Diabetes Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Nutrition make positive statements in support of Aspartame. Yet,
Ralph G. Walton MD, Professor of Clinical Psychiatry at Northeastern Ohio University College of Medicine reported “The alarming increase in obesity, type II diabetes, and a wide variety of behavioral difficulties in our children is obviously attributable to multiple factors, but I am convinced that one powerful force in accentuating these problems is the ever increasing use of aspartame”.
Dr. H. J. Roberts, F.A.C.P., F.C.C.P., in his paper “Warning School Children at Risk”: “Aspartame induced disorders in children include headache, confusion, convulsions, irritability, depression, intellectual deterioration, antisocial behavior, rashes, asthma and unstable diabetes. Addiction to aspartame products has also become a problem.”
is a artificial sweetener 300 times sweeter than sugar. Due to the water solubility the sodium salt is most frequently used. Saccharin is high temperature and cooking and backing resistant. Saccharin high dose was charged of causing bladder cancer, this could not be confirmed. In small amount saccharin is considered to be safe. In some industrial recipes sugar is being substituted only to cut cost. Higher concentration than 5% to 8% sugar substitution = maximum 0.02% saccharine in food will present a metallic taste.
All artificial sweeteners reduce their sweetening power when a certain dose is exceeded. The combination of two sweeteners such as saccharin/acesulfame K or saccharin/cyclamate or cyclamate/aspartame increases the sweetening power. In kitchens and in industrial production saccharin/cyclamate in relation 1 to 10 is therefore frequently used.
an artificial non-caloric sweetener widely used in Europe and 55 other countries for soft drinks. Its chemical name is sodium or calcium cyclohexylsulfamate. Cyclamate is about 1/10 sweeter than saccharin and 30 times than sugar. It has no wrong taste in high concentrations. Cyclamate is heat resistant and is used in cooking and baking. Cyclamate is not digested by most of people. Cyclamate is often used in combination with other sweeteners enhancing each other so that final taste is sweeter as the sum of the individual sweeteners. 5 mg of saccharin together with 50 mg cyclamate are equivalent to 125 mg cyclamate and 12.5 mg saccharin. Cyclamate is also present in combination with aspartame, sucralose and acesulfame K.
Cyclamate was banned in the United States in 1970 following the result of a test on rats which developed bladder cancer with high dose of cyclamate in addition to saccharin. A current petition to re-approve cyclamate is before the FDA.
Expect many more products with much higher content of synthetic sweeteners on store shelves and in Restaurants soon, on July 9, 2007:
“The International Alliance of Dietary/Food Supplement Associations (IADSA) is claiming a victory in securing higher levels for nine additives used in food supplements into Codex’s draft risk analysis standards for safety.” And what are these Food Additives? Acesulfame potassium (2,000 mg/kg), Aspartame (5,500 mg/kg), Cyclamates (1,250 mg/kg), Neotame (90 mg/kg), Saccharin (1,200 mg/kg), and Sucralose (2,400 mg/kg). The IADSA manager proclaimed this to be an excellent result of their lobbying: “The adoption of these additives will help to ensure free trade in dietary supplements across the world and encourage countries to change legislation that is not in conformity with these Codex standards.” All the more reason to read all Labels very carefully into the future, the Industry is not competing for your Health but for higher profit margins!
So your synthetic sugar substitutes didn’t make you slim?
Let’s go back to basics, why do we use artificial sweeteners in the first place – isn’t it to reduce and manage weight? Well, if you are a consumer of synthetic sweeteners, you need to know that aspartame is absorbed from the intestines and passes immediately to the liver. The liver then metabolizes aspartame to its toxic components-phenylalanine, aspartic acid and methanol. This process requires a lot of energy from the liver making less energy available for fat burning and metabolism, which will result in fat storing and elevated blood sugar levels. Excess fat can build up inside the liver cells causing “fatty liver” and when this starts to occur it is extremely difficult to lose weight. When you overload the liver you will increase the tendency to gain weight easily.
There are more reasons why you might gain weight from synthetic sweeteners: they cause unstable blood sugar levels, which increases the appetite and triggers sweets cravings. Thus it is particularly toxic for those with diabetes. It sets off fluid retention giving the body a puffy and bloated appearance, so they look older and fatter than they are.
So to avoid the risks associated with HFCS and the synthetic, non-caloric sweeteners we should revert to conventional Sugar – right?
Well – read on – in Part 2 of this 2 Part Series!
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