17 Apr
2017

I you have not yet, I suggest you read my blog on phytic acid to understand why these foods are worth your consideration.

If the preparation of soaking, and the potential necessity of drying of these foods sounds too overwhelming, there are foods to be bought that will fit what you need!

Sprouted Rice

Its open because we eat it!

While it sounds foreign, it tastes very similar to un-sprouted rice.  My favorite brand, Lundberg, has filled the need for this product with four varieties of rice: Brown Basmati, Tri-Color Blend, Short Brown and Red.  For a little spice and flavor, they have also created four sprouted rice blends: Chili Verde, Korean BBQ, Thai Red Curry and Vegetable Fried Rice

Find all of these varieties at Lucky Vitamin!

 

Soaked and Dried Nuts

With the recent craze in eating all raw foods, it may be hard for you to believe that soaking a drying nuts is not a big no-no.  I can understand your angst, but consider it rooted in incomplete information.  Soaking results in the inactivation of phytic acid, the drying is to make them more edible.  Being dried at low temperature, there is no concern about the nutrition in the nuts being destroyed.

One excellent source of soaked and dried nuts is Wilderness Family Naturals.  They offer a wide variety of nuts ready-to-eat, or buy them raw and prepare them yourself!

 

To Bean or not to Bean

We all know that beans have a reputation for causing gas, and the reason for this is because they are not soaked properly prior to eating.

Unfortunately, proper bean preparation has to occur at home.  Soaking them in an acid medium before cooking will inactivate the phytic acid.  Your digestion will thank you!

Visit my bean blog to find non-GMO beans!

 

Flour

Because we eat so many bread-based foods, replacing regular flour with sprouted flour for baking and cooking use is very important.

There are two brands of sprouted flour that I use regularly and have been very pleased with: King Arthur and One Degree.  They require no special treatment and are used exactly like the flour you are used to using, so there is no added stress!

 

 

I believe that you will find that, as you integrate more of these foods into your diet after being prepared properly, that you will feel more satisfied after eating.  I have also experienced that I eat a smaller quantity of food, and I believe this is because I am receiving more nutrients from the foods I do eat.  This likely plays a factor for those that struggle with constant hunger, over-eating, and excess weight.

11 Apr
2017

Another Ancient Remedy!

I am beginning to believe that the ancient people groups had some sort of wisdom that we need to somehow regain.  Many of the superfoods had their start with the ancient cultures, and wheatgrass is no exception.

Traced back with certainty to Ancient Egypt and possibly Mesopotamia, wheatgrass was used for positive health and vitality.  While they didn’t have the tools then to determine exactly how their choice in foods specifically benefited them like we do today, they certainly knew what to use!

Wheatgrass did not gain popularity in North America until the early-mid 1900’s.  As with all new and exciting health foods, it was a craze in the beginning that has now leveled off somewhat.  But there are still many that use it and extol its benefits.

Wheatgrass is what it is described to be, the grass of the wheat grain.  It is used primarily in the juiced form, but you can eat the grass if you so choose.  It is harvested before the formation of a wheat grain forms, which is where the gluten would be found, so there is no gluten in wheatgrass juice.  Unless you are allergic to wheat, this should not be a problem for gluten sensitivities.

The Benefits are Legit

Wheatgrass, similar to Moringa, is another superfood that provides a wide array of nutrients.  It is a great source of the minerals potassium, iron, zinc, copper, manganese and selenium, dietary fiber, the fat soluble vitamins A, C, E and K, and the B-vitamins thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, B6, and pantothenic acid, . Wheatgrass is also a source of protein in a moderate amount, but the protein content consists of almost all of the amino acids.

Wheatgrass juice

Up to three-quarters of the total amount of wheatgrass juice is chlorophyll.  Chlorophyll is excellent for the health of the blood by cleansing and detoxifying.  Because it provides fat-soluble vitamins and iron, it also improves the quantity of the blood and overall health of the blood cells.  You have probably seen chlorophyll tablets at your local natural foods store, but you will reap the highest benefit from fresh extract.

Anti-oxidant levels in wheatgrass are also high, improving inflammatory states.  With all of the nutrients and anti-oxidant capabilities, look to wheatgrass to help your body cleanse, detoxify and be healthier!

And while wheatgrass and other superfood/nutrient-dense foods do not “cure” diseases like cancer and auto-immune diseases, they do lower inflammation in the body and provide nutrition that we likely don’t get from the every day diet.  Inflammation is one of the leading contributors to these types of diseases, so adding these foods to your diet will improve your body’s capability to prevent disease.

GMO Watch

Wheat

Wheat grain is one of the crops that is over 90% genetically modified, and since wheatgrass is from wheat, your chances of it being GMO are high.  Be sure all of your wheat products of any kind are non-GMO!

So where do I find it?

Visit my blog on growing greens indoors to find non-GMO wheatgrass kits and supplies!

8 Apr
2017

What is phytic acid?

There are four types of foods that contain phytic acid: grains, legumes, nuts and seeds.  For ease of reference, I will refer to these four food groups together as GLNS through the rest of this article.

Adzuki Beans

Also known as phytate when in the form of a salt, it is an amazing mechanism developed by many GLNS’s to store phosphorus.  Phosphorus is important for the germination and growth of the GLNS’s and the continued growth of that sprout to a full-grown plant.

This is a particularly interesting protection mechanism for these little plant precursors.  These little guys are popular food choices for many wild animals, and when consumed, can survive the digestive process and germinate.  Phytic acid is the mechanism by which the GLNS’s protect their source of nutrients so that if they survive digestion, they can go on to grow and establish.

Why should I be concerned about it?

While phytic acid serves an excellent purpose for the GLNS’s that are trying to stay alive, it doesn’t benefit in the same ways.

Ruminant animals such as cows, goats and sheep are able to digest phytic acid because they have a rumen that functions to ferment the food and break it down before completing digestion.  We, however, are not ruminants.

Because we are not ruminants, the foods that we eat that contain phytic acid tend to sit in our stomach undigested.  This can lead to heartburn and acid reflux as the food begins to ferment and rot (lovely, right?).  Eventually it all passes through the system but we repeat the cycle every time we eat food with phytic acid.

Aside from the digestive discomfort, phytic acid is considered an anti-nutrient for three main reasons:

  1. It blocks the absorption of the minerals in the food we eat that contain it,
  2. It binds to other minerals that our bodies need and holds on to them so we cannot absorb them,
  3. It inhibits the digestive enzymes produced by our body to digest the food we eat. (Acid reflux happens here) [1]

Let me clarify here that I am NOT saying that these foods are inherently bad for you!  What I am saying is that they need to be used with intention.  We can glean great nutritional benefit from these foods.

How to eat foods with phytic acid

Phytic acid is neutralized by soaking other acidic foods or fermenting.

An excellent resource to learn how to implement this into your everyday cooking is a book called “With Love From Grandmother’s Kitchen” by Monica Corrado.  This book outlines specific soaking times and mediums for the variety of GLNS’s that you eat.

Fermenting these foods also yields the neutralization of phytic acid, but it takes longer than soaking.

You can also find pre-soaked foods if you feel like the process is too time-consuming.

Pre-packaged grains like noodles can be soaked but I have found that they become mushy when cooked.  The best solution I have found is to cook noodles with apple cider vinegar in a ratio of 1 tablespoon per cup of water, keeping the ratio to the quantity of water you need.

If these things are a part of your life…

If you can relate to any or some of these things, you may need to consider changing your routine with GLNS foods:

  • Take a prescription or over-the-counter antacid frequently or daily
  • Often have heartburn or digestive discomfort such as bloating, slow digestion, or constipation
  • You have allergies to grains, legumes or nuts
  • You have a chronic inflammatory disorder
  • You are constantly hungry, even after having a large meal
  • You eat a lot of carbohydrates
  • You strive to eat a raw food diet and have problems with fatigue, weight gain or tooth de-mineralization (these occur at times with the paleo diet)
  • You suffer from malnutrition-type symptoms but don’t know why
  • You suffer from mood swings or other emotional difficulties

Do these ring a bell?  Then consider purchasing the book I recommended above and integrating the suggestions into your diet.  You will be glad you did!

I have lived with what I thought was a gluten intolerance for many years, and cooked all gluten free.  After I began soaking these foods, I have found that I can eat foods containing gluten.  It has broadened my choices in food and I feel much better for it!

1. Weston A. Price.  Living With Phytic Acid. https://www.westonaprice.org/health-topics/vegetarianism-and-plant-foods/living-with-phytic-acid/
3 Apr
2017

Find the Plant to Find the Sprout

Sprout blend

Since plants come from sprouts, sprouts have been around for a very long time.  We will probably never know exactly when sprouts first became part of the human diet, but we do have record of sprouts being part of the healing diet of the Ancient Chinese.

Because of their vitamin C content, they were useful during the 1700-1800’s as a preventative for scurvy.  And being easy to grow with just a little water, they were an easy food to maintain on a ship in the vast ocean.

Western countries being a bit slow in adopting the healthy habits of other countries, took an interest in sprouts as a healthy food within the last 40 years or so.  Now sprouts can be found in almost any grocery store, making them accessible nutrition for everyone.

What is a sprout exactly, and why would I eat it?

Sprouts are the baby version of anything that grows from a seed, bean or grain.  These little greens would, if left to grow, become the plant that produces food products.  While the preservationist in us might cry “why kill that plant?”, the truth is that sprouts are little nutrient-packed bites of goodness and there are plenty to go around.

When a seed, bean or grain sprouts, that little green stores up a whole bunch of nutrients in preparation for its
growth into a plant, vitamin C and vitamin A being in the highest concentration.  Consuming sprouts at this stage gives us nutrients in a higher density than we would get from the mature plant or its products.  These sprouts also provide proteolytic enzymes that aid in digestion and, if consumed on an empty stomach, help to decrease inflammation.

Sprouts of just about any food source can be consumed.  You can easily grow sprouts from seeds such as alfalfa, clover, cabbage, chia and broccoli, and beans like adzuki, red, lentil and garbanzo.  This is just a small portion of the seeds and beans that can be sprouted and eaten.  The sky is literally the limit!

Grains can be sprouted as well, and in fact, provide more nutrients in sprouted form.  Read my blog here about why!  Sprouted grains can be used in cereals, salads and other cold preparations, or heated minimally for a hot breakfast cereal.  If dried and ground, they make excellent flour, or can be used whole in baked goods.

Does a Body Good

Sprouts provide vitamins C, A, K, B6, pantothenic acid, thiamin, niacin, and riboflavin; the minerals manganese, copper, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, and potassium; and protein and fiber.  The levels of each will vary between species of sprouts, but rest assured that no matter which kind you eat, you will be getting very beneficial nutrients.

GMO Watch

One of the dilemmas we are soon to encounter with the presence of GMO foods is the unplanned propagation of genetically modified genes.  As I talked about it my blog about GMO meat, it has been found that genetically modified genes can and do survive the digestive tract in both animals and humans.

This means that animal waste that is used as fertilizer may very well contain those undigested genes.  That waste is tilled into the ground as fertilizer for plant growth, and may be absorbed by the plants, creating an unintended GMO plant.  This opens up a whole new reality for the propagation of genetically modified foods.

Alfalfa seeds
As seeds go, there are many plants that have been genetically modified besides corn and soybeans: alfalfa, potato, wheat, rice and tomato have also been introduced to the market, probably without your knowledge.  This also begs the question of what else has been introduced that hasn’t been studied that we as consumers do not know about.

For these reasons I suggest purchasing seeds for sprouting that are certified non-GMO.

Find them!

Find my sprouting seeds review blog here to buy non-GMO sprouting seeds and supplies!

27 Mar
2017

The short answer is yes.  You should be concerned.  I believe too often we shrug off concerns because we don’t see an immediate threat looming in front of us.  Let us consider this…as you reflect back on the negative experiences of your life, how many of them presented as a big looming threat at the outset?  If you’re like me, probably not many.

It makes me wonder why it is that we as humans don’t heed the warnings when they are small so that we don’t suffer the larger consequences down the road.  I’ll let you answer that one for yourself, but let me pose a few hypothetical comparisons to the subject of this blog.

 

  • If someone you knew told you that they contracted food poisoning from a certain restaurant, would you rush over and have lunch?
  • If you knew that the waiter that was serving you your food spit in it, would you eat it?
  • If he dropped your food on the floor and the scooped it back on the plate as if nothing had happened and set it in front of you, would you eat it?

The answer to all of these is, of course, no way!

And yet we do something similar on a daily basis when we choose to consume foods without knowing or understanding their origin or the potential effects they may have on us.

What is Transgenic Gene Transfer?

If it sounds complicated it’s really not.  The basic definition is the transfer of genetically modified DNA from one species to another after the modified food is consumed.

If you haven’t already, read my blog about GMO meat to get a better understanding of what the research in animal studies has shown.  This has been shown to occur in animals in many research studies.

Why you Should be Concerned about Transgenic Gene Transfer

The first print-out of the human genome in book form. More than 100 volumes, 1000 pages long.
The biggest reason is because we as humans have a habit of choosing to be ignorant of the things around us and put
an excess amount of faith in others to spoon-feed us information so we don’t have to take responsibility for ourselves.

The second reason is that, while it is not made public, research has shown that this does occur inside the human body.

The third reason is that, because this is happening, the potential harm that it is causing is something of great concern.

What does the Research Say?

Let me digress for a moment and share with you how much research has really been done on the potential long-term effects of GM foods.

A very telling critical review published in December 2014 detailed how many long-term feeding studies using rats were published for each genetically modified food that is currently available on the market as of then.  The results are astonishing and highly alarming.

Of all of the GM crops listed, only 19% of all GM crops has undergone long-term research, and many of those have only undergone one study.  This is like one pea in a five-gallon bucket…much more research would need to be completed to get a full understanding of the potential outcomes of rats consuming genetically modified foods.

It is discouraging to report that most of the crops have had ZERO research.  And most of the studies that were published were published long after the food became available on the market, indicating that safety studies were not responsibly completed before exposing the masses to these foods [1].

I strongly encourage you to, at minimum, review Table 1 of this review for yourself and, if you feel motivated, read the entire thing.

Transgenic Transfer

It has already been shown that transgenes survive digestion through the stomach and small intestine in humans.  Human feeding studies are sorely lacking in this department (another reason to question the safety of GM foods), but there has been one study that indicated that transgenes were transferred to gut microflora (bacteria) [2].

Interestingly, the transgenes that were transferred to the microflora were not from the foods provided during the test study but from foods consumed prior to the test.  This confirms that we have very little understanding of how long transgenes will survive in the GI tract.

Why does this matter?

It may just be my bent, but I don’t like the idea of my body absorbing the products of a science experiment…and the possibility that I am then becoming a subsequent science experiment from that point forward.

But functionally speaking, the biggest reason of concern lies in the transfer of transgenes to gut bacteria.  Because

L. Acidophilus, one of many healthy bacteria in your gut that many fall victim to gene transfer
the research is so undefined at this point and the outcomes are unknown, we are looking down the barrel of a potentially incurable health crisis.

When these genetically modified genes are integrated into the DNA of the gut bacteria, the bacteria still produces proteins from that bacteria.  Genetic modification is used for the primary purpose of creating toxic proteins, that the bacteria inside your body now have inside them.

So, the proteins that your gut bacteria are making from this GM DNA is the same toxic protein produced by the plant it came from, except now it is inside you!  The potential health outcomes of this are entirely unknown at this point, but if our gut bacteria are producing toxins inside us we are literally becoming toxic from the inside out.

And we can’t stop it.

Want to learn more?

Glad to hear it!  The book titled Genetic Roulette by Jeffrey Smith provides more research that explains the potential outcomes of genetically modified foods.  An excellent resource at an excellent price at ThriftBooks.com.

 

1. I.M. Zdziarski, J.W. Edwards, J.A. CarmanJ.I. Haynes.  GM crops and the rat digestive tract: A critical review. Environment International Volume 73, December 2014, Pages 423–433

 

22 Mar
2017

How do I find Non-GMO meat?

256px-essex_boarThe best source is your local farmer or rancher.  Animals that are 100% grass-fed are the best.

It is important to clarify that some sellers do not consider “grain-finished” the same as grain fed.  Grass-fed animals are sometimes grain-finished to give the meat a milder taste.  The consumption of grains here will still present the likelihood that their grains may be GMO.

Pork and other livestock can be more challenging as many ranchers grain feed their animals.  If you find a local rancher that you are considering purchasing from, ask them the following questions:

  1. Are their animals grain fed?
  2. What specific grains do they feed them?
  3. Do they source non-GMO grains?

Chances are if they do not intentionally source non-GMO grains and their animals are grain-fed, they are feeding GMO grains.  If they do not feed soy or corn, it may be more likely that the meat will not be contaminated but it is difficult to say for sure.

If you cannot find a local source that meets these standards, shopping online is an option.

Find Non-GMO meat online

It’s not as difficult as you might think!

US Wellness Meats is located in Canton, MO.  They provide 100% grass-fed beef, bison, lamb, poultry, pork and rabbit.  None of their animals are fed grains.

Organ meats are also available.  While the thought of eating an organ is not highly appetizing to most, many organs contain a high nutrient base that is beneficial to our health.  Liver and onions is fairly well known to most, and is popular because it is a great source of many vitamins, minerals, proteins and fats, notably iron and B12.

 

 

coombe farm organic
If you live in Britain, Coombe Farm Organics sells 100% grass fed and finished beef, lamb and pork, as well as free-range fed chickens.  Going a bit outside the norm, they also sell fish and shellfish as well!

Their meat boxes are sold with meal occasions in mind (steaks, slow cooker, BBQ), so you have what you need for your meal.

And last, but most definitely not least, is the homemade bone broth.  I will commit myself to a blog at some point in the future about how chicken broth is NOT the same as chicken bone broth, but for now I will tell you that true bone broth offers much more nutrition.

20 Mar
2017

If you prefer xylitol as a sweetener, is strongly suggest sourcing non-GMO Verified products because xylitol is often made from corn cobs.  There are only a handful of brands that have taken the verification but one stands out above the crowd.

XyloSweet is the most convenient brand to find and the only one reviewed by customers.  As a sugar replacement it can be used for beverages, baking or cooking.  You can find XyloSweet in 1 pound, 3 pound or 5 pound bags and individual 4g sachets at Lucky Vitamin or if you are a Thrive Market shopper find the sachets there as well for a low price!  XyloSweet earns 4.5 stars so I believe you will love it!

11 Mar
2017

Xylitol is a relatively new sweetener on the market that has joined the lo-calorie sweetener club.  Many are justifiably concerned with the regular consumption of chemical sweeteners and are regularly on the look-out for sweeteners that are made from natural sources.  While xylitol is made from natural sources, it has been discovered that it may not be without health risk.

The Making

Xylitol crystals as seen under a microscope

Xylitol was discovered at almost the exact same time by German and French scientists during the late 19th century and has been used throughout Europe since World War 2.  As with all good tasting things, it has been readily adopted in the U.S. and used in sweetening many different types of food products.

While xylitol can be extracted from many fruits and vegetables, the majority of xylitol used for food consumption is taken from either corn cobs or birch trees, and because corn cobs are easier and a more renewable resource this is the primary source.   Birch trees must essentially be killed because the bark must be harvested to extract xylitol and we all know that trees don’t grow in a year!

Xylitol is produced primarily through hydrogenation, being processed with steam, hydrogen and hydrochloric acid.  This leaves waste water that can be used for mushroom farming and corn cob pulp that can be used for fuel.  The processing of birch bark is similar but substitutes sulfuric acid for hydrochloric acid, rendering the waste products unusable.

How Xylitol May Impact your Health

The good:

  • Xylitol is a low-calorie sweetener called a sugar alcohol, containing about 1.5 kcal less than the equivalent amount of sugar.  It is also a low glycemic index food, meaning that it does not cause the same rises in blood sugar as sucrose.  This makes it attractive for those with diabetes.
  • It is good for your teeth
    • While there is always conflicting research, most of it shows that it helps to reduce plaque build-up and tooth decay by reducing the levels of strep mutans bacteria in dental plaque and reducing the amount of bacteria that stick to the teeth [1].
    • The caveat to this is that this benefit only lasts while the xylitol is present in the mouth, and it does not reduce the bacteria in the saliva [2].
    • To receive maximum benefit, one must use an oral product containing xylitol a minimum of 3 times per day, for a total daily dose of 5-6 grams [3].

The bad:

  • Xylitol is included in the same class of low-digestible carbohydrates as dietary fibers such as pectin and inulin, and other sugar alcohols such as sorbitol and erythritol.  While there is no immediate health risk associated with consuming these products, any consumption of low-digestible carbohydrates increases food fermentation in the gut.  This leads to abdominal discomfort, gas and bloating [4].  Those of you that have had severe episodes of digestive discomfort know that it can be quite miserable.
  • Explosion of a hydrogen balloon

    Hydrogenation is used to make xylitol.  This is the same process that is used to make hydrogenated oils (trans-fats), and requires a catalyst such as nickel, palladium or platinum.  Hydrogenation is linked to a scad of health ailments, including:

    • Coronary heart disease
    • Inflammation [5]
    • Alzheimers
    • Cancer
    • Obesity
    • Diabetes
    • Compromised liver function
    • and depression [6].
  • Nickel and palladium are all heavy metals used regularly in chemical reactions.  Both are known to be toxic and create the following symptoms:
    • Palladium
      • Bone marrow damage
      • Liver Damage
      • Kidney damage
      • Cancer
    • Nickel
      Nickel
      • Cancer of the respiratory tract and prostate
      • Heart disorders
      • Birth defects
      • Respiratory failure
      • Asthma and chronic bronchitis
    • Platinum is relatively non-toxic in most applications

While these risks are relatively low, in my opinion (and contrary to FDA allowances) no level of toxic metal is safe for ingestion.  There are some metals the body requires in small amounts but even those are toxic at high levels.  Another concept to consider is that each unique person has different tolerance levels for toxins, so what may be fine for your friend may not be fine for you.  Listen to your body and treat it with respect.

GMO Watch

Corn, corn, corn…I’m sure you see my mention of corn in this section of MANY blogs.  It goes to show how the role that corn-based products play in our food supply because of its crop sustainability and ease of use.

Xylitol is made from corn cobs, and it would be ignorant of me not to mention it.  If you can ingest xylitol without digestive issues and choose to keep using it, be sure to seek out non-GM sources.

Check out these blogs for GMO free xylitol-based products!

 

 

 

 

1. Nayak, Prathibha Anand, Nayak, Ullal Anand, and Khandelwal, Vishal. The Effect of Xylitol on Dental Caries and Oral Flora. Clinical, Cosmetic and Investigational Dentistry. 2014; 6: 89–94.
2. Söderling, Eva;  Hirvonen, Aino; Karjalainen, Sara; Fontana, Margherita; Catt, Diana and Seppä, Liisa.   The Effect of Xylitol on the Composition of the Oral Flora: A Pilot Study. European Journal of Dentistry. 2011 Jan; 5(1): 24–31.
3. Söderling, Eva. Controversies around Xylitol. European Journal of Dentistry, 2009 Apr; 3(2): 81–82.
4. Livesey, Geoffrey. Tolerance of low-digestible carbohydrates: a general view. British Journal of Nutrition (2001), 85, Suppl. 1, S7±S16.
5. Kummerow, FA. The negative effects of hydrogenated trans fats and what to do about them. Atherosclerosis. 2009 Aug;205(2):458-65.
6. Wikipedia.  Trans Fats, Other Health Risks.
7 Mar
2017

 Artificial Sweeteners-the Good and Bad

There are a number of artificial sweeteners on the grocery shelves these days, all created to provide a sugar free alternative for those that have blood sugar imbalances or wish to decrease their sugar intake.  Some are better choices than other based on how they are made and what potential negative effects they may have on your health.  For clarity, I have provided some information on each sweetener below.

A couple basic concepts to keep in mind pertaining to artificial sweeteners:

  1. Remember when discussing chemical reactions that when two or more chemicals combine to make a new chemical, there will always be remainders of the initial components left over.  So even though a product may be made mostly of the final product, there will always be remainders of what comprised it.
  2. Chemicals are chemicals, period.  They increase the toxic load on your body and use up energy for detoxification.
  3. Thorough studies were not completed to determine the safety or outcome with prolonged use of many chemical sweeteners before allowing them onto the food market.

Aspartame

Check food labels

Aspartame is made chemically from the amino acids aspartic acid and phenylalanine.  There is a fair quantity of information about the potential negative side effects that aspartame may have on our health.  Much of this concern revolves around what it is made from and  chemicals are created in our digestive systems when aspartame is digested.

Consumption of aspartic acid increases blood levels of aspartate.  Aspartate can cross the blood-brain barrier, and excess levels cause nerve cell death by exciting the cells to the point where they die.  This also occurs with the consumption of monosodium glutamate, also known as MSG.  Children, pregnant women and individuals with existing brain disorders are highly encouraged to avoid products containing these products.  Russell Blaylock, M.D. published a book called Excitotoxins: The Taste That Kills that has been very helpful in my understanding of this process.  It clearly outlines the effects that these excitotoxins have on our nervous system and how best to avoid them.  I highly recommend this book!  A general rule of thumb is to avoid any food that obviously states either aspartame or MSG and avoid using packaged foods.

Phenylalanine is normally found in the brain, but with the consumption of aspartame the levels can rise to those that are dangerous.  Increased consumption of phenylalanine can decrease serotonin levels in the brain, leading to depression.  Blaylock also addresses this in his book, pointing out that high levels of phenylalanine can cause schizophrenia and make one more susceptible to seizures.  In order for phenylalanine to be used in the production of aspartame, it must be treated with methanol and hydrochloric acid.  While most of the methanol is likely removed from the phenylalanine, small amounts remaining will likely contribute to the methanol toxicity from consuming aspartame, discussed below.

Two of the final by-products of the digestion of aspartame are formic acid and formaldehyde.  Formic acid is highly acidic and, according to MSDS, is listed as a corrosive and an irritant, and is known to be corrosive on the skin.  It is used commercially as a preservative and antibacterial agent in livestock feed, and it slows the decay of said products.

I think that many of us are familiar with formaldehyde as an effective preservative, and was once used to preserve cadavers before its severe toxicity was discovered.  What many may not know is that is it a product of the break down of methanol.  Methanol is released from aspartame during the digestive process in the small intestine.  Free methanol is the most easily absorbed by the body, and is created when aspartame is heated to over 86 degrees.  Consider food products like microwaved sugar free foods or foods that require heat for preparation. Methanol toxicity most commonly exhibits with visual disturbances like blurry vision, decrease in visual fields, retinal damage and blindness.

Formaldehyde is also used in the manufacturing of glues and bonding agents.  This is part of the familiar “new house” smell that emanates from cabinets, composite counter-tops, pressed bookshelves and other similar items.  Formaldehyde is a known carcinogen, causes damage to the retina, leads to birth defects and interfered with normal DNA replication.

You will recognize NutraSweet and Equal as two of the most well-known names of aspartame products.  And you may be thinking ” I don’t consume that much aspartame so it can’t be that bad!”.  If you were to stop and consider the sweetened drinks you consume, the gum you chew, the frozen or packaged meals you eat and candy you buy you might want to re-consider.  If you intentionally seek out sugar free foods, unless you are intentionally avoiding aspartame you are probably eating more than you think.

Acesulfame Potassium (Ace K)

Created in 1988, it was not officially used as a food product until 1998 in soft drinks.  Initial research indicated that Ace K moved through the body without being metabolized, so it was deemed safe for consumption.  This information, however, was based on very few studies so the possibility of health concerns was not ruled out.

Ace K is made by combining acetoacetic acid and fluorosulfonyl isocyanate to create an unstable compound that is then reacted with potassium hydride under heat to crystallize it to a powdery sweetener.  Methylene chloride is a solvent used in the initial steps to create Ace K.  Per concept #1 at the start of this blog, even though these chemicals are reacted together to form Ace K, there will still be remaining amounts of acetoacetic acid, fluorosulfonyl isocyanate and methylene chloride in the final product.

Isocyanates are powerful irritants to the mucus membranes of the body, including the repiratory system, gastrointestinal system and eyes.  Most isocyanates are used in vapor form and are thereby inhaled and swallowed.  Methylene chloride is classified as a potential carcinogen by OSHA.  Skin exposure causes irritation and burns, and continuous exposure causes respiratory tract and eye irritation.

Ace-K is used in combination with other artificial sweeteners due to its intense sweet taste and bitter aftertaste.  It is most commonly used with aspartame.

A research study using mice was completed in 2013 that may indicate other potential effects of Ace-K that were previously unknown.  The study quantified ingestion levels for mice that were realistically comparable with ingestion levels of humans based on weight.  The outcomes showed that consistent ingestion altered fasting levels of insulin and increased leptin levels which correlated with increased total cholesterol levels, LDL and HDL levels.  It was also discovered that Ace-K consumption decreased the mitochondrial activity of nerve cells (decreasing the energy production capacity of the cell), compromising the ability of the cell to function properly.  Impaired cognitive function was reflected in decreased function of short-term memory [1].

You will recognize sweeteners that contain Ace-K by the names Sunnett or Sweet One.  I would include this with aspartame as a sweetener to avoid.

Neotame

Neotame is produced by combining aspartame with 3-dimethylbutyl.  The result is that it retains a 3, 3-dimethylbutyl group that prevents the complete breakdown of the sweetener.  This reduces the amount of phenylalanine produced, making it “safe” for those with PKU.

It has a sweetness factor that is over 7,000 times that of table sugar!  So it requires much less to achieve the same sweetness.  So little that you are probably consuming it without realizing it.  Because labeling laws do not require that an ingrediFront page of 'Methanol Poisoning'ent be labeled if it is 1% or less of the ingredients, it is added and not labeled but is combined with other artificial sweeteners.

While this sounds wonderful, the reality is that, because it is a derivative of aspartame it is metabolized to the same end-products, namely phenylalanine and methanol.  I explained under the aspartame section how methanol is broken down to formaldehyde, and the dangers of phenylalanine.  The same apply here.

I attempted to locate and retrieve research studies on the safety of neotame and was unable to find any, which leads me to believe that the true safety of this product has not bee studied.  Again, beware of what you eat.  Because of the likelihood that it is not on the label and is combined with other artificial sweeteners, you are likely consuming it and do not realize it.

Saccharin

Saccharin is made from sugar so it tastes more like sugar, but by the end of processing sugar to make it, it retains none of the chemical characteristics of sugar.  During its making, sucrose is chlorinated to leave a chemical with three chlorine molecules attached.  Yes, similar to the chlorine that goes into your swimming pool.  This yields a compound called an alkyl halide, which the body has great difficulty detoxifying.  This puts it in the same category of DDT…comforting, right?

Saccharin was approved for food use in 1998 under the pretense that it was not metabolized during digestion and studies showed no carcinogenic effects.  However, like all other chemical sweeteners, long-term studies were not conducted before release of the product onto the market so the outcomes were really not clearly or carefully investigated.

Research studies since then have shown that saccharin is likely more toxic that originally thought.  According to the Sucralose Toxicity Information Center, the absorbed sucralose and its metabolites concentrate in the liver, kidney, and gastrointestinal tract. While Splenda manufacturers claim that there is minimal absorption after ingestion, the FDA says there is only 11 percent to 27 percent absorption and the Japanese Food Sanitation Council dictates as much as 40 percent.

A rat study conducted in 2013 by Susan Schiffman and Kristina Rother determined several things that were not yet understood:

  • The consumption of sucralose initiated the pre-systemic detoxification systems to prepare the body to detox the chemical, indicating that the body sees sucralose as something toxic.
  • It was also found that some of the sucralose is metabolized in the gut and the metabolites created are mutagenic at elevated concentration (meaning they have the potential to cause cancer).
  • Sucralose in the large bowel was seen to decrease the level of beneficial gut bacteria.
  • Cooking sucralose at high temperatures created choloropropanols, that have been shown to be carcinogenic, genotoxic (damage DNA), and contribute to male infertility.
  • Sucralose may alter glucose and insulin levels. [2]

While some may question if the outcomes of the study pertain to humans because rats were the test subjects, it was shown that sucralose in indeed not an inert compound as previously believed and may have more serious health effects than we thought.

While it may seem small, one study carried out in 1994 indicates that there may be individuals within the population that are more sensitive to the toxic nature of sucralose than others.  One patient experienced hepatotoxicity (liver toxicity) after ingesting three different medications that contained sucralose, and the study later determined the sucralose was causing the toxicity.  I do understand that this is certainly not reflective of the entire population, but there are segments of the population that will have a similar reaction.  It may very well be you!

GMO Watch

Because sucralose is so sweet by itself, it is mixed with either maltodextrin or dextrose in a ratio of 1% sucralose to 99% dilution powder.  Since both are maltodextrin and dextrose are derived from corn, and corn crops are over 90% genetically modified, chances are your sucralose sweetener is GMO.  Look for Sweet ‘N Low, Sweet Twin and Sugar TwinSplenda when weeding out sucralose products.

Cyclamate was banned in 1969 by the FDA because it showed cancer causing potential.

Do artificial sweeteners really help you lose weight?

Quite to the contrary, research has shown that artificial sweeteners may actually contribute to weight GAIN, nor are they always effective in reducing weight.

A trial study published in 2014 completed at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel may shed some light on this. This study indicated that consumption of moderate amounts of sucralose causes an imbalance in gut microbes that created metabolic changes normally associated with obesity and diabetes.  This means that there is a likelihood that replacing all of your sugar needs with artificial sweeteners may very well make it more likely for you to gain weight and develop type 2 diabetes.

At the 2009 meeting of the Endocrine Society, a conglomeration of research was compiled that showed that increased consumption of artificial sweeteners leads to obesity, increased insulin resistance and an increased likelihood of diabetes.  A thorough paper by Susan E. Swithers discusses the evidence that has accumulated that indicates the consumption of artificial sweeteners is linked to obesity, diabetes, metabolic syndrome and cardiovascular disease, and may interfere with learning processes.

Research into basic physiology also explains why this is the case.  It has been shown that sucrose plays a role in satiety by causing a response in the amygdala of the brain, and subsequent to this it has also been discovered that consuming artificial sweeteners decreases the response of the amygdala to sugar intake so we eat more [3][4].

What to do?

Avoid chemical artificial sweeteners.  If you have an intense craving for sugar, find a practitioner who can evaluate you for metabolic issues such as systemic candida, hormone imbalances, adrenal fatigue and intestinal dysbiosis.

 

 

1. Wei-na Cong, Rui Wang, Huan Cai, Caitlin M. Daimon, Morten Scheibye-Knudsen, Vilhelm A. Bohr, Rebecca Turkin, William H. Wood III, Kevin G. Becker, Ruin Moaddel, Stuart Maudsley, Bronwen Martin.  Long-Term Artificial Sweetener Acesulfame Potassium Treatment Alters Neurometabolic Functions in C57BL/6J Mice. August 7, 2013
2. Schiffman, Susan and Rother, Kristina. Sucralose, A Synthetic Organochlorine Sweetener: Overview of Biological Issues. Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health B, Critical Reviews. 2013 Sep; 16(7): 399–451.
3. Rudenga, K.J. and Small, D.M. Amygdala response to sucrose consumption is inversely related to artificial sweetener use. Appetite, Volume 58, Issue 2, April 2012, Pages 504–507.
4. Anderson, G Harvey and Woodend, Dianne. Consumption of sugars and the regulation of short-term satiety and food intake. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, October 2003 Vol. 78, No. 4:843S-849S.
23 Feb
2017

Cassava flour is becoming popular among the gluten free community, as it is much easier to use as a flour in place of wheat flour.  It can also be used freely in the paleo diet as it is a vegetable, not a grain.  It is also, however, somewhat expensive.  Otto’s Naturals is the only company that makes Non-GMO Project Verified cassava flour, and their flour is very enjoyable.   If you are looking for something easy to use for gluten free uses or even something new and different, cassava flour is definitely an excellent place to start!

Find Otto’s cassava flour at the lowest price at Lucky Vitamin, rated 4.5/5 stars!

 

Madhava is currently the only company producing cassava syrup but with their commitment to quality, non-GMO products I would not hesitate to buy.  Those that use this product rave that it is light in flavor but completely sufficient for any sugar needs.  The only use for which it may not be ideal is cold drinks, as it does not dissolve well in cold fluids.  But that is easily solved by dissolving in warm water first!  Doesn’t it look tasty?

At 4.5/5 stars, try Madhava cassava syrup and see the difference for yourself!

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