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Artificial Sweeteners

Imagine you are at your coffee house with a great cup of freshly brewed coffee. You find yourself in front of the condiment bar faced with a wide assortment of sugars and sweeteners. Which one to choose? Artificial-sweetenerWith the best intentions, you reach for the artificial sweeteners; I mean you are watching your sugar intake right? Although you may not be spiking your blood sugar, you may be creating additional obstacles on your path to health and wellness. Let’s explore the $10.5 billion industry of artificial sweeteners and how they compare to table sugar.

Aritificial Sweeteners vs. Sugar

According to studies conducted by the Harvard School of Public Health, “Artificial sweeteners may affect the body’s ability to gauge how many calories are being consumed.” One study found that those who drank artificially sweetened beverages had a 47% higher increase in BMI (body mass index) than those that drank regular sugar beverages.

weight_scaleAdditionally, recent studies have shown how sugar and artificial sweeteners affect the brain in very different ways. Our brain responds to sweetness with signals to consume more calories, in addition to increasing your craving for more sugar. However, when we consume artificial sweeteners, it provides a sweet taste without any calories and our brain continues to signal for more. This leads to increased cravings for more sweet foods and drinks, which adds up to additional “nutrient-less” foods – empty calories.

The University of California – San Diego conducted MRI scans on the brain activity of volunteers after sipping sugar-water and artificially sweetened-water. What they found is that sugar activates particular regions in the brain associated with “food reward,” or that feeling of satisfaction. However, artificial sweeteners did not trigger the same “reward” response in the brain. The University concluded that “sugar signals a positive feeling of reward, while artificial sweeteners may not be an effective way to manage cravings for sweets.”brain-activity-2

Here is a quick breakdown of some artificial sweeteners and their taste comparison to sugar:

Sucrose: (table sugar)

Calories: 16 per teaspoon

*Should make up no more than 5-10% of your diet

*Provides energy

*No nutritional value

Agave:

Calories: 20 per teaspoon

*tastes sweeter than honey, in theory, can use less

*contains more fructose than table sugar, which is less likely to spike your blood sugar than sucrose

*more likely to reduce your metabolism and increase insulin sensitivity

*same calories as honey (per teaspoon), but with very little antioxidants

Aspartame: (Equal, Nutrasweet)

Calories: 0

*180 times sweeter than table sugar

*Approved by FDA in 1981

*is constantly being evaluated for possible links to weight gain and cancer; no evidence to support claims

Stevia: (Truvia, Pure Via)

Calories: 0

*300 times sweeter than table sugar

*the FDA has allowed companies to use an isolated chemical from stevia as food additive, calling the chemical “generally recognized as safe.”

*in large amounts, may cause low blood pressure, which would be of concern to some taking blood pressure medications

Saccharin: (Sweet ‘N Low)

Calories: 0

*300 times sweeter than table sugar

*Studies in early 1970’s revealed a link between saccharin and bladder cancer in lab rats, mandating a warning label in 1981

*Later studies showed that the link between saccharin and bladder cancer may only occur in rats, thus being removed from the U.S. National Toxicology Program’s Report on Carcinogens in 2000 (effectively removing any warning labels.)

Sucralose: (Splenda)

Calories: 0

*600 times sweeter than table sugar

*Received approval by FDA in 1998

*one study was published showing its negative impact on the immune system – this study was later dismissed as follow-up studies did not find a correlation

i_can_i_will_quoteThe important thing to remember is that natural and unprocessed is always better when it comes to your foods and moderation, moderation, moderation! You must be your biggest cheerleader for your health and wellness goals, and the rest will fall into place.

 

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Supplementation and Oral Health

floss-and-toothbrushOur dental and oral health is important to us, that’s why it’s important to take care of your mouth and teeth as you would the rest of your body. For many of us, we maintain our regular dental appointments, brush two to three times daily, and even floss now and then. However; we often neglect to realize that our oral and dental health begins with what we put in our bodies.

Doctors recommend that for good dental health, it’s important to eat a variety of foods; ensuring to avoid those containing sugars and starches. donuts_and_muffinsFoods with higher sugars and starches produce more acids in the mouth, and the longer they stay in the mouth, the more they damage the teeth. In addition to eating properly, it’s important to ensure we are providing our gums and teeth with the proper nutrients; this can be achieved with good, clean supplements.

Here is a list of natural ingredients and supplements to support your overall dental and oral health:

  • Coenzyme Q10 promotes gum healing and cell growth.
  • Lysine combats canker sores
  • Vitamin C with Bioflavonoids promotes healing, especially of bleeding gums.
  • Calcium and Magnesium help prevent bone loss around the gums.
  • Vitamins A and E are needed for healing gum tissue.
  • Grape Seed Extract is a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory.
  • Zinc plus Copper enhances immune function.
  • Aloe Vera Gel eases inflamed gums and soothes the tissues when applied directly to the affected area.
  • Chamomile Tea is soothing to gum tissues.
  • Green Tea is helpful in decay prevention and decreases plaque
  • Clove Oil is good for temporary relief of tooth and gum pain.
  • Echinacea keeps inflammation down and enhances immune function.

Are all supplements safe and effective?

supplementsSadly, not all supplements are safe and effective. Therefore, be knowledgeable when choosing supplements as many on the market contain contaminants, extra additives (like sugar), and may not contain the actual nutritional content that the label claims. Manufacturers are not required to test their products for safety and effectiveness. According to WebMD, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does regulate dietary supplements; however, it treats them like foods rather than medications. Unlike drug manufacturers, the makers of supplements don’t have to show their products are safe or effective before selling them on the market. That is why it is important to do your research and only take good, clean supplements that are backed by scientific proof. Any reputable company will conduct regular testing on their products to ensure the efficacy and safety of its products. If you are unsure where to start, check out the products my friends and family use and see for yourself.usana_productheader