“Fake” Fiber Added By Food Manufacturers

330px-Modified_food_starchCheck out my latest article about “fake” dietary fiber that’s been added by food manufacturers to super-charge fiber counts.  It’s published at www.ezinearticles.com.  Click on the link below:



October 29, 2014 in Nutrition by

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Sugary Sodas Shorten Life by 4.6 Years!

SodasHere’s yet another nail in the sugar coffin.  In addition to making you fat, sick and tired, a study published in the American Journal of Public Health suggests that sugary soda drinks speed up the aging process.  Aging shrinks telomeres, the caps on the end of your chromosomes.  The shorter the telomere, the harder it is for a cell to regenerate, and the quicker it ages. Sugary soda consumption can shorten your telomeres and promote aging, possibly the same impact as smoking.

Researchers at UC San Francisco studied the stored DNA of 5,300 healthy Americans who participated in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey over a 14 year period.   The participants were all between 20-65 years old and had no history of diabetes or cardiovascular disease  The big discovery is that the people who drank more soda had shorter telomeres.  Just 20 ounces of soda per day was linked to 4.6 years of aging.  “The extremely high dose of sugar that we can put into our body within seconds by drinking sugared beverages is uniquely toxic to metabolism,” says Elissa Epel, senior author of the study and psychiatry professor.

There was no link to aging with diet sodas or with fruit juices.

Mothers, save your children and get all sugary drinks out of the house!

This post was sourced from an October 20, 2014 article in The Washington Post entitled “A lifetime of sugary sodas may be 4.6 years shorter” by Lindsey Bever.

October 21, 2014 in Scientific News, Sugar/Caloric Sweeteners by

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The Gluten Sensitivity – Sugar Connection

BellyAcheGluten is a protein in wheat, and the people who report a sensitivity to it have a wide range abdominal discomforts including bloating, gas, diarrhea, and tummy pain as well as headaches, tiredness, cloudy mind, and numbness in arms, fingers and/or legs.  According to Jane Brody, esteemed health reporter for The New York Times, “recent studies have strongly suggested that many, and possibly most, people who react badly to gluten may have a more challenging problem:  sensitivity to a long list of foods containing certain carbohydrates.” 

Most notably, a study was conducted in 2011 by Dr. Peter Gibson, a gastroenterologist at Monash University in Victoria, Australia.  He did his research on 34 people with irritable bowel syndrome and non-celiac gluten sensitivity.  (These are people who have gluten sensitivity but not celiac disease.)  The participants were put on a two week diet that was low in certain sugars (carbohydrates) which are collectively referred to as “Fodmaps.”  All participants improved while on the diet.  The big surprise was that only 8% of them reacted specifically to gluten when it was re-introduced.  This led to the conclusion that it might be the sugary fodmaps, not the gluten, that’s causing the problem for most people.

Fodmap is an acronym form Fermentable, Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides and Polyols — which are all sugars that draw water into the intestine.   The theory is that these sugars are poorly digested or absorbed and result in bacteria in the colon.  Here’s a snapshot of fodmaps:

FRUCTOSE:  These are the sugars found in fruits, honey, agave, peas, sweet peppers and all drinks made with  high fructose corn syrup.

LACTOSE:  These are the sugars found in dairy products including ice cream, cheeses and sour cream.

GALACTANS:  Complex sugars found in legumes, broccoli, cabbage and Brussels sprouts.

POLYSOLS:  These are the sugar alcohols that are typically used in sugar-free candies and include maltitol, sorbitol, xylitol, and isomalt.  Sugar alcohols are also present in stone fruits like avocado, cherries, peaches, plums and apricots.

FRUCTANS:  Soluble fiber found in wheat and rye as well as bananas, garlic, onions, leeks, artichokes and asparagus.

There’s a complete list of foods in the fodmap category at www.stanfordhealthcare.org

Note that gluten sensitivity isn’t the same as celiac disease, an uncommon autoimmune condition that can destroy the small intestine.  It’s also not the same as a wheat allergy, another uncommon problem, that has symptoms such as swelling, itching, skin rash, tingling or burning in the mouth, and nasal congestion.


October 17, 2014 in Scientific News, Wheat/Gluten by

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Sugar-free Halloween Treats

HalloweenHere are 10 practical, affordable ideas for sugar-free treats to give to the costumed tricksters who come to your door later this month:

Food Choices
1. Boxes of raisins
2. Small packages of popcorn
3. Small packages of pretzels
4. Sugar-free gum
5. Individually-wrapped packages of string cheese
Small packages of seeds or nuts are too risky because many kids having allergies

Non-food Choices
6. Temporary tattoos
7. Stickers
8. Toys
9. Glow-in-the-dark items
10. Glitter

And, of course, there’s always money!

October 6, 2014 in General by

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Jessica Simpson Eats Sugar-Free!

JessicaSimpsonYet another celebrity goes sugar-free and shrinks by 70 pounds!  Jessica Simpson is a singer, songwriter, actress, mother, wife, 2012-2013 Weight Watchers spokesperson, and fashion mogul.  She’s also a petite 5’3″ woman who’s publicly struggled with her weight much of her adult life, especially after her first pregnancy.  There are many of us who can relate to her story.

Simpson gives Weight Watchers credit for weight loss after her first pregnancy and for teaching her how to eat more sensibly.  After her stint as WW spokesperson, Simpson switched to a sugar-free/low carb eating strategy.  Her daily diet was mostly comprised of veggies, smoothies and protein.  Fave recipes include egg white omelets, chicken satays, whipped chick peas, soba noodles, and shrimp skewers.  Click here for a link that features an example of Simpson’s eating plan. Then, in preparation for her wedding to Eric Johnson, Simpson switched to a strict vegan diet to lose the remaining 10 pounds.

Simpson also amped up her exercise program with daily yoga workouts, and a goal of achieving 8,000-10,000 daily steps (4-5 miles mile walks).  Now she has a personal trainer who guides her through 45-minute workouts 4 times a week.

Of course, it helps for Simpson to have a personal chef, a personal trainer and support of every kind, but everyone on every budget can switch to a mostly fresh veggie and protein and get decent results.

September 30, 2014 in General, Obesity/Weight Loss by

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10 Foods with Hidden Sugar

NoSugarThe World Health Organization recently established a guideline for limits on daily sugar consumption, and here it is.  No more than 6 teaspoons (or 25 grams) of sugar per day max!  (FYI, this amount is still double the 3 teaspoon limit recommended by other experts.)  The WHO also published tips for identifying 10 foods that contain hidden sugars and that aren’t normally associated with sugar consumption.

1. Pasta sauces
2. Granola bars
3. Yogurt
4. Instant oatmeal
5. Salad dressing
6. Breakfast cereals
7. Energy drinks
8. Canned/packaged fruits
9.  Bottled ice tea
10. Ketchup

September 29, 2014 in Nutrition, Sugar/Caloric Sweeteners by

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Soda Companies to Cut Sugar Content of Drinks!

SodasThe American Beverage Association just announced that Coke, Pepsi and Dr. Pepper will reduce the sugar/caloric content of their soda drinks by 20% by 2025.  This is largely a PR move in response to declining soda sales and public pressure about the role of sugary drinks in our national obesity problem and type 2 diabetes epidemic.

A 20% reduction over 10 years is a relatively small change.  That said, it’s a big step in the right direction and reflects growing awareness about the impact of excess sugar on health and weight.   As a consumer, you can expect to see smaller sized soda cans (probably at the same price), more variations of bottled water and more diet drinks.

This announcement was made on September 23rd at the Clinton Global Initiative.  Michael Jacobson, executive director for Science in the Public Interest, says the announcement demonstrates “the industry is seeing the writing on the wall.” 

About time!

September 24, 2014 in General, Health by

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Joe Manganiello Eats Sugar-Free!

JoeManganiello1Hunky actor, author and director Joe Manganiello is a sugar-free and bread-free eater.  And by the way, so is his current girlfriend, Sofia Vergara.  In case you haven’t noticed, both of these people have amazing physiques.

Manganiello says his body is the result of a low-carb, sugar-free diet, CrossFit exercise, and high intensity interval training on a treadmill.  To get camera-ready, Manganiello trains like a pro athlete rather than as an actor.  He works out twice a day, six times a week and claims to be 100% steroid free.  Some of his fave CrossFit moves include Olympic lifting, lunges and box jumps.

Manganiello is best known for his acting work in Magic Mike, a big screen movie, and as the best werewolf ever in the HBO TV program, True Blood.  He’s also a graduate of Carnegie Melon and the author of a fitness book, Evolution. Evolution Manganiello’s book emphasizes the vital importance of developing mental strength as a component of physical strength.

A day in the food life of Joe Manganiello

Joe Manganiello’s Diet

Nice half-Italian boy from Pittsburgh does good.  Go Joe!

September 23, 2014 in General, Health by

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Live 33% Longer by Eating More Veggies and Fruits

fruitveggiesVeggies and fruits tend to be low in calories, high in nutrients, and rich in fiber.  They’re also the only source of phytochemicals, and the smartest (most skinnifying) source of carbohydrates., the nutritional term for foods that contain natural or added sugar.  In addition to all these advantages, now there’s even more evidence that Mom was right about eating your veggies.  A new study shows that you’ll live longer if you eat more than the 5 recommended servings per day.

This observational study was conducted in the U.K. over a 7.7 year period, and published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health. (The source for this blog post is a summary of the study published in the Tufts Health & Nutrition Letter: July 2014 Edition.)  Study results revealed a “robust association” between high veggie and fruit consumption with a dramatic increase in participant longevity by 33% for any cause of mortality.  Even more, the risk of death from cardiovascular disease was 31% lower, and the risk of death from cancer was 25% less.   Vegetables provided a slightly greater benefit than fruits because fruits did not provide any incremental advantage after 3-4 servings were consumed. Another important finding was that frozen fruits and veggies provided as many protective benefits as fresh fruits and veggies, but canned fruits and veggies were actually linked to an increase in mortality.

Note that the U.K. study did not count starchy veggies like potatoes, yams and plantains as veggies.  It used the following guidelines as the basis for determining a single portion.
– 2 or more small fruits (2 plums, 3 apricots, 7 strawberries)
– 1 medium-sized fruit (apple, orange, pear, banana)
– 1/2 grapefruit, 1 slice of melon, 1 slice pineapple
– 2 broccoli spears, 5 asparagus, 3 stalks of celery
– 4 heaping tablespoons of cooked kale/spinach/green beans
– 3 heaping tablespoons of beans or peas
– 1 large bowl of salad greens
– 1 5-ounce glass of unsweetened fruit or veggie juice


September 16, 2014 in Health, Nutrition by

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The Code of a Good Training Partner: From Thinner, Leaner, Stronger by Michael Matthews

ThinnerLeanerStrongerThis is an excerpt from THINNER, LEANER, STRONGER by Michael Matthews.  Training partners can be very helpful in getting you to show up and exercise, especially when  you don’t feel like it.  Establishing rules or a “code” for partners helps to avoid the problem of constant cancellations of training sessions or dissolving a training session into a chat fest.  Here’s Michael’s training code:

1.  I will show up on time for every workout, and if I can’t avoid missing one, I’ll let my partner know as soon as I know.
2.  I will come to the gym to train — not to chat.  When we’re in the gym, we focus on our workouts, we’re always ready to spot each other, and we get out work done efficiently.
3.  I will train hard to set a good example for my partner.
4.  I will push my partner to do more than she thinks she can.  It’s my job to motivate her to do more weight and more reps than she believes possible.
5.  I will be supportive of my partner and will compliment her on her gains.
6.  I won’t let my partner get out of a workout easily.  I will reject any excuses that are short of an actual emergency or commitment that can’t be rescheduled, and I will insist that she comes and trains.  In the case where there’s a valid excuse, I’ll offer to train at a different time so we can get our workout in (if at all possible).

Click HERE for the link to THINNER, LEANER, STRONGER at Amazon.com.

April 2, 2014 in Fitness by

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Greek Yogurt vs “Regular” Yogurt

FageYogurtGreek-style yogurt isn’t imported from Greece or any other country.   The name Greek simply reflects a thicker style of yogurt that’s preferred by people living in the Mediterranean region.  Note that the FDA doesn’t regulate the term “Greek yogurt,” which means that the thickening process varies from product to product based on the recipe used by the food manufacturer.  All Greek-style yogurts start as regular yogurt.  The healthiest Greek-style yogurt products are made by straining out the excess liquid whey, thus leaving a thicker product.  Other Greek-style products are thickened with pectin, corn starch, carrageenan (a suspected carcinogen) and/or gelatin rather than being strained.  Always check the ingredients list to see what’s in the product you’re considering.

Thickening impacts the nutritional profile of the yogurt because it creates a more concentrated product.  Six ounces of Greek yogurt, for example, has 17 grams of protein.  Compare this to six ounces of regular yogurt which has around six to eight grams of protein.  Carbohydrate and fat content varies based on whether sugar has been added by the food manufacturer or fat has been removed.  Avoid products made with granola, fruit, syrups or chocolate.  These additives often turn the  yogurt into candy.  Terms like authentic or traditional typically signal that the yogurt is made with whole milk or whole milk and cream.  Obviously, if  you’re interested in caloric content, choose a plain, low-fat option. Another difference is calcium content.  Greek-style yogurt usually has around 150 milligrams of calcium rather than the 300 milligrams of calcium in regular yogurt.  It’s reduced because calcium is lost during straining.

Yogurt is made by adding bacteria (primarily lactobacillus bulgaricus and streptococcus thermophiles) to milk.  These friendly bacteria have been shown to prevent or shorten episodes of diarrhea associated with taking antibiotics.  Claims regarding protection to the auto-immune system and/or regarding protection against ordinary colds or flu, are still  unproven.  In any case, for a superior product, always look for terms like active or live cultures on the yogurt label.

Greek yogurt is a reasonable taste and texture substitute for sour cream, cream and mayonnaise. According to a recent retail research study, more than half U.S. households bought Greek-style yogurt last year.  This is the biggest growth area in the yogurt market and represents 44% of this multi-billion dollar industry.

April 1, 2014 in Nutrition by

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New FDA Nutrition Label: Great for Sugar Awareness

NewLabel2The updated Nutrition Label proposed by the FDA is the most major, practical and consumer-friendly change since the label was instituted, almost 20 years ago in 1993.

One of the most important revisions is new information about added sugars.  Now you don’t need a PhD to figure out how much sugar has been added by food manufacturers to make the food or drink sweeter.

The new and old label both include total sugars, which is a combination of naturally-occurring sugars and sugars (and other caloric sweeteners) that are added to the product by food manufacturers.  What’s new is that the new label now also provides a specific breakdown of added sugars.   Previously, the only way to identify added sugars was to look at the ingredients list and figure it out on your own.

It’s still a good idea to look at the ingredients list because this is the one and only place to see the types of sugars that have been added and the relationship of the added sugars to other ingredients.  So, for example, if high fructose corn syrup is listed as the first ingredient and sugar is listed as the second ingredient, then you know that the two most important and dominant ingredients in the food/drink are caloric sweeteners.

Other important label changes include:

1.  Bigger, more prominent display of caloric values.
2.  More realistic serving sizes to reflect actual portions consumed.
3.  Per package nutritional and caloric values will be provided when the food or drink is typically consumed by one person in one eating event.
4.  Dual nutritional columns for individual servings and per package amounts will be provided for certain larger packages,
5.  Total fat will continue to be displayed, but now saturated fat content will be included as a sub-set of this value.
6.  Potassium content will be displayed.
7.  Vitamin D content will be displayed.

For more information, visit the FDA page about the new label.

March 4, 2014 in Nutrition by

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ASPARTAME: A dangerous excitotoxin that harms your brain

Aspartamaspartamee, also known by the brand names NutraSweet and Equal, is a common and popular artificial sweetener. It’s also a powerful excitotoxin.  Excitotoxins are a class of chemical substances that have the harmful potential to excite, exhaust, damage and ultimately kill brain cells. The McGraw-Hill Concise Dictionary of Modern Medicine says excitotoxins result in “diverse neurologic diseases.” (Three other common artificial sweeteners – sucralose (Splenda), saccharin (Sweet N Low) and stevia blends – are not excitotoxins.)

Over 100 countries, including the U.S., claim aspartame is safe for human consumption. The FDA says, “Few compounds have withstood such detailed testing and repeated close scrutiny.” Aspartame was first approved by the FDA in 1974. Approval was repealed for a short time in 1980. Then it was again approved by the FDA in 1981. Aspartame has been in our food supply ever since.  A timeline of the FDA aspartame-approval process is available here. The cozy political connection between Ronald Reagan (then a newly elected president) and Donald Rumsfeld (then the CEO of Searle, the owner of aspartame) allegedly resulted in the speedy FDA approval the second time around.

After FDA approval, aspartame quickly became the most popular artificial sweetener in the world. That is because cyclamate, another artificial sweetener, was banned in the U.S. in 1969 and a different product was wanted and needed by the dieting and diabetic public. At the same time, Saccharin was suspected of causing bladder cancer. Consequently, all saccharin products had to display a cancer warning from the 1970s until 2000 when Bill Clinton removed it during his last week in office, perhaps the first ever presidential pardon for a food product.

Aspartame dominated the artificial sweetener market for 30 years until the introduction of sucralose in 1998. Since then, sucralose has taken over as the most popular, and stevia blends aren’t far behind. That said, over 6,000 drinks, food products, pharmaceuticals and vitamin supplements are still made with aspartame. It’s especially prevalent in diet sodas, low-fat foods, yogurts, cereals, shakes, gums, and some sugar-free foods.

The recipe for aspartame is to combine two amino acids, L-phenylalanine and L-aspartic acid, with a third component called a methyl ester group. All three ingredients have the potential to create serious, chronic neurological problems and are the subject of relentless anecdotal reporting by individuals and warnings by independent health experts. Problems range from headaches to seizures, strokes, tumors and progressive neurological diseases. None of this is officially recognized.

Let’s take a look at each ingredient in aspartame:

● The amino acid phenylalanine is serious health threat for people with the genetic disorder phenylketonuria (PKU). It’s known to cause mental retardation, brain damage, seizures and other problems and must be avoided. The FDA requires a warning on any food that contains aspartame: “Phenylketonurics: Contains phenylalanine.”

Note that large doses of aspartame can also cause a rapid increase in the brain levels of phenylalanine in people who do not have PKU. This is particularly problematic if aspartame is taken in conjunction with a sleep disorder, an anxiety disorder, or with medications that contain levodopa or that contain oxidase inhibitors or neuroleptics.

● The amino acid called L-aspartic acid or aspartate is an excitotoxin. Researchers noticed that a certain class of chemicals over-excite brain cells and cause them to dysfunction or die. They called these chemicals excitotoxins because they harm and kill with over-stimulation. At least 70 excitotoxins have been identified, but the two most prevalent are aspartame and MSG. Other common ingredient terms that hide the presence of excitotoxins include natural flavors, hydrolyzed vegetable protein, plant protein and others.

Excitotoxins are said to be safe because of the blood-brain barrier, which regulates and prevents harmful substances from entering the brain. The basic idea is that small amounts of aspartame (and other excitotoxins) do not impair brain functionality or cause disease because the blood-brain barrier keeps them out. New research, however, leads to a different conclusion. Some experts now believe the barrier can be compromised, especially when excitotoxins accumulate over time and reach a certain threshold. The greater the intake of excitotoxins, the faster the threshold is reached.

Several new theories attempt to explain the reason for the breach of the blood-brain barrier. One has to do with the role of calcium, which opens the brain barrier channel and allows high concentrations of excitotoxins to reach brain cells. Another has to do with the fact that excitotoxins stimulate the release of free radicals, and free radicals most likely play a major role in all neurodegenerative diseases and problems. Aging also makes the brain barrier less resilient and more vulnerable to excitotoxins. Then there’s the impact of reduced calorie intake, common to people on a diet who drink and eat products made with excitotoxins. When brain energy is low, the effect of excitotoxins is aggravated and exaggerated. For a more scientific and more comprehensive explanation of these theories and others, read Excitotoxins: The Taste that Kills by neurosurgeon Russell Blalock, MD.

● Methyl alcohol is a wood alcohol. When methyl alcohol is bonded to phenylalanine it forms a methyl ester bond. The bonding of these two chemicals is what makes aspartame 200 times sweeter than sugar. Because the phenylalanine-methyl alcohol bond is very weak, the two substances can easily separate. Heat, for example, breaks the chemical bond, and it’s the reason you can’t cook with aspartame or why you shouldn’t expose diet sodas to heat (as when left in a car on a hot day). When heat is applied to aspartame, you end up with all of the poison and none of the sweetness.

Once the bond between methyl alcohol and phenylalanine is broken, the methyl alcohol is free to pass through the brain barrier and rapidly converts to formaldehyde. Formaldehyde has the potential to damage DNA and contribute to more serious and chronic neurological diseases, particularly multiple sclerosis.

Dr. Woody Monte, a world expert on methyl alcohol toxicity, says, “Multiple sclerosis behaves sort of like an autoimmune disease…The formaldehyde is what causes it.” Formaldehyde destroys the myelin basic protein, one of the triggers for MS.

For more information about the dangers of methyl alcohol, read Dr. Monte’s book While Science Sleeps: A Sweetener Kills. If you’re interested in a personal story about recovery from multiple sclerosis that’s attributed to the elimination of aspartame and other excitotoxins from the diet, check out Sweet Misery: A Poisoned World, a documentary by Cory Brackett.

So here’s what we know about brain dysfunction and disease:

● 28 million people in the U.S. suffer from migraine headaches.

● 1 out of every 19 people dies from a stroke.

● 221 people out of every 100,000 have a brain tumor. Brain tumors are the second leading cause of deaths in people under 20. From 1973 to 1990, brain tumors in people over the age of 65 increased by 67%.

● One out of every 88 kids has autism.

● One out of every six kids has some kind of developmental disability.

● One out of every three seniors has Alzheimer’s disease or some kind of dementia.

● 1.2 million people have Parkinson’s disease, the 14th leading cause of death in the U.S.

● 400,000 people have multiple sclerosis.

● Two out of every 100,000 people have ALS (Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or Lou Gehrig’s disease).

Why so many brain disorders for so many people?

Is to too simplistic to think there might be something subtle in our environment triggering disease and making us sick in the head? What if that something is in our food supply? Every single ingredient in the aspartame recipe has the potential to result in brain damage. It’s a poison with triple potency, and it’s everywhere! The problem is that disease and dysfunction often take several years to manifest. And when a neurological problem shows up, it’s hard to prove the cause.

Because the brain is not fully developed in fetuses and young children, excitotoxins of all kinds are exceptionally dangerous to them. Seniors and people with a family history of neurological disorders also have a greater risk than others. And for the rest of us, the brain is under constant, exhausting pressure from excitotoxins. How much stimulation can it take before you wear it out?

Russell Blaylock says, “The FDA has failed in its stated purpose of protecting the public from harmful substances being added to our food supply. Millions of lives are at stake—including those of future generations. People must be warned.”

Don’t wait for the government to catch up. Your safest bet is to be self-informed and to avoid aspartame. Always read the ingredients list. There are plenty of other non-caloric sweeteners to choose that are not excitotoxins.
This article was originally published at http://blogcritics.org/aspartame-a-dangerous-excitotoxin-that-can-damage-your-brain/

January 19, 2014 in Nutrition, Sugar/Caloric Sweeteners, Thumbs Down by

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Omega-6 Polyunsatured Oil – BEWARE!

cornoilWhen health food experts talk about good fats and bad fats, they mean you should distinguish between saturated and unsaturated fats, with all unsaturated fats being good and all saturated fats being bad. Many health organizations, for example, continue to promote the indiscriminate use of polyunsaturated fats over other types of fats. This article challenges the premise that all unsaturated fats are good, particularly omega-6 type polyunsaturated fats.

The first thing you need to know is that there are two types of unsaturated fats: monounsaturated and polyunsaturated. Monounsaturated fats are chemically stable because they have only one double bond in the fatty acid chain. Mono means one. Stable fat is desirable because it’s hearty, and it doesn’t convert to a different substance when heat is applied. Common sources of monounsaturated fats include olive oil and olives, red meat, whole milk products, nuts and avocados. Olive oil is an essential, prominent, health-promoting ingredient in the Mediterranean diet.

Polyunsaturated fats (also referred to as PUFAs or polyunsaturated fatty acids) are chemically unstable because they have multiple double bonds in the fatty acid chain. Poly means many. Unstable polyunsaturated fats are more susceptible to going bad, and they can be innocently converted into an unhealthy trans fat by high heat. It’s safer to cook with olive oil (a monounsaturated oil), tropical oils, butter or high heat canola oil. Another problem with all polyunsaturated fats is that they oxidize quickly. Oxidation is a natural process that results in a 1% to 2% production of free radicals, and free radicals have the potential to mutate and damage cells.

This is a little complicated because there are also two types of polyunsaturated fats, omega-3 and omega-6. Both types are essential for proper cell functioning, but they compete with each other for entrance into cell membranes. Omega-6 fats dominate, and too much omega-6 fat tends to make cell membranes flabby. One of the reasons why omega-6 polyunsaturated oils lower cholesterol is that cell membranes have been compromised, and cholesterol be absorbed into tissues more easily.

A small but important nutritional detail is keeping the ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fats in proportion. Some experts say the ratio should be one-to-one. Others say it can be four-to-one (omega-6 to omega-3). The typical Western diet far exceeds both of these recommendations and is estimated to be in the range of 15-to-one up to 30-to-one, with omega-6 fats overwhelming omega-3 fats.

Omega-3 polyunsaturated fats are found in cold water fish, shellfish, green plants and algae. The colder the water, by the way, the higher the concentration of omega-3s in the fish. Fish need it to survive the extreme temperatures. Omega-6 polyunsaturated fats are found in corn, seeds, seed oils, grains and from the animals that eat these foods. Omega-3 fats enhance immunity and reduce inflammation. Conversely, overdosing on omega-6 fats inhibits immunity, impairs cell function, promotes inflammation and lowers vitamin E levels.

Consider these tidbits about polyunsaturated fats: – I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter is made with a vegetable oil spread (soybean oils and canola oils) which are predominantly omega-6 type polyunsaturated oils. This is a so-called healthy food that’s supposed to be superior to butter, a saturated fat. – Most chips, cookies, baked goods and fried foods are made with omega-6 type polyunsaturated oils. – Corn oil has a ratio of 100-to-one (omega-6 to omega-3). In experimental studies, mice fed corn oil were more likely to develop and grow cancer tumors. – Polyunsaturated oils are typically extracted with chemical solvents that accelerate oxidation.

Then there’s the Israeli Paradox. Israelis consume the highest ratio of polyunsaturated fat in the world; and their national consumption is estimated at 8% higher than the U.S. and 10%-12% higher than Europe. According to the nutritional guidance we all receive, this should make Israel the healthiest country in the world. Yet Israelis have a high prevalence of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and other related conditions grouped together as syndrome X. There’s also a higher incidence of cancer, especially in women.

Bottom line: Teach yourself to recognize omega-6 type polyunsaturated fats and manage your consumption of them. There are two easy ways to do it. First, cut back on or eliminate processed foods, fast foods and butter-alternative spreads. Second, limit the use of polyunsatured oil products to salads or as a dressing for vegetables after they’ve been cooked. If your budget can afford it, look for oil products that are cold-pressed, expeller-pressed, extra virgin or unrefined.

This article was orginally published on www.blogcritics.org


January 9, 2014 in Nutrition, Thumbs Down by

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BOOK REVIEW: 21-Day Sugar Detox by Diane Sanfilippo – 1 thumb down

The 21-Day Sugar Detox received many, many 5-star reviews at Amazon.com, but except for the recipes, it didn’t resonate with me.  Here’s a copy of my review at Amazon.com and why I rate it one-thumb down.
The 21-day Sugar Detox program IS NOT A WEIGHT LOSS program. Rather, it’s a highly restrictive sugar detox program for sugar addicts. Going through the recommended diet without the prospect of losing a pound is not appealing or inspiring. Every serious food addict knows that being overweight or obese is a persistent and disturbing side effect of out-of-control eating.  An eating program that does not also solve the concurrent weight problem is flawed in a major way.

In addition to caloric and artificial sweeteners, Sanfilippo limits consumption of fruit, refined carbohydrates, grains and legumes, some starchy veggies and some dairy products. Her preference for tropical oils over olive oil, a heat stable monounsaturated fat with well-documeted highly protective health qualities, defies all logic and is a totally unnecessary dietary hardship.

After the 21-day period, Sanfilippo says “so-called” natural caloric sweeteners are okay in small quantities. Her definition of natural sweeteners includes concentrated substances like brown sugar, molasses, maple syrup and others. She says these sweeteners are “less processed” and been “made for hundreds of years.” Huh? What about the dramatic impact on blood sugar or that fact that highly concentrated caloric sweeteners provoke binge eating in some food addicts?

I would have liked Sanfilippo to be more aware of and focus on the specific issues that plague sugar addicts. This is, after all, a book about breaking free from sugar addiction. She attributes sugar addiction to a neurotransmitter called dopamine, which may or may not be the complete reason people pig out on sugary confections and wheat products. In any case, this concept is explained more comprehensively and convincingly by Dr. William Davis in his book, “Wheat Belly.”

Unfortunately, Sanfilippo’s explanation of how to initiate the program is incomplete and confusing, but her food lists and her 21-day menu are both good. You can more or less figure out what to do from these two resources. In fact, Sanfilippo’s recipes are the very best part of the book and are the primary reason I gave it a 3 rating instead of a 2 at Amazon.com.  I wish she would have included calories and other nutritional info in the recipes, though.

This book was disappointing because Sanfilippo doesn’t say anything about the evils of sugar and refined carbohydrates that we haven’t heard many times before. Except for the recipes, I recommend instead “The New Atkins for the New You.” The writing is better. The science is better. The results are better.

January 6, 2014 in Product Recommendations, Recipes, Thumbs Down by

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About Karen Bentley

Karen Bentley Karen Bentley is the founder of The Sugar-Free Institute and an expert on sugar-free eating. She’s also an author, educator, coach and speaker. Her most recent book, The Power to Stop, is an Amazon Kindle bestseller.

Be A Sugar Detective

Video: Be a Sugar-Free Food Detective by Karen Bentley

Karen Bentley teaches you how to read the ingredients list on packaged foods to figure out how much sugar has been added by the food manufacturer. Find more information at http://sugarfreeinstitute.com.

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