Tag Archive | Aspartame

Sweet As Sugar: Health Benefits Of Stevia And Xylitol

Sweet As Sugar: Health Benefits Of Stevia And Xylitol

By Robert Iafelice
***SEE REPOSTERS Note after References if sugar/carbs are causing deterioration in your health***

In 1991, reacting to an anonymous trade complaint, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) deemed the sweetener stevia unsafe and issued an Import Alert, banning all stevia from entering the United States.1-3 While the FDA cited inadequate toxicological evidence of its safety, the ban was not based on any consumer complaints or reported adverse effects.2

Extracts of the South American stevia plant, called steviol glycosides , are up to 300 times sweeter than sugar and have little aftertaste, zero calories, and no effect on blood sugar.3 At the time of the FDA ban, supporters of stevia argued without success that stevia, with its long history of food use, should qualify as having GRAS (Generally Recognized as Safe) status in the same manner as coffee, tea, sugar, fruit, etc. A history of safe use is one condition that must be met to qualify for GRAS, and this was actually acknowledged in the FDA’s Import Alert for stevia!4 The FDA not only banned a safe and natural sweetener in stevia, but one that appears to provide health benefits as well, most notably for regulating blood sugar and blood pressure.3,5

The controversial ban on the importation of stevia in the US continued until 1995 when the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994 forced the FDA to allow stevia to be imported and marketed as a dietary supplement, but not as a sweetener or other food additive purpose.1 The FDA’s policy to classify stevia to be safe for consumption as a “supplement,” but potentially harmful as a sweetener just added to the controversy and confusion.

In 2008, after a rigorous review of the scientific evidence, the FDA granted stevia sweeteners GRAS status.6 It was also approved by the European Union in 2011.7

Today, hundreds of foods and beverages throughout the world are sweetened with stevia sweeteners. Among these are Vitamin Water®, Coke Zero®, Sprite Green®, Gatorade’s G2® and Crystal Light®. Coca-Cola® and Pepsi Cola® have both disclosed their intentions to use rebaudioside A, the sweetest stevia extract, as a zero-calorie soft-drink sweetener in the US.3

Stevia May Help Control Blood Sugar And Insulin Levels

Health Benefits

While stevia has been documented to have medical purposes as an antimicrobial, anti-diarrheal, anti-tumor, diuretic, anti-inflammatory, and immunomodulatory actions, the scientific evidence is strongest, and its use is most promising for two indications: (1) high blood sugar/insulin resistance and (2) high blood pressure.3,5,8

Stevia May Help Control Blood Sugar And Insulin Levels

Extracts from stevia leaves have been used for centuries as a medicinal herb in the traditional treatment of diabetes in South America.5,9 Today, scientific evidence on stevia supports its historic precedent in the regulation of blood sugar and insulin.

Avoiding excess elevation of blood sugar and insulin after meals is perhaps the most important dietary measure you can take to reduce your risk for heart disease, cancer, and other age-related disorders. In a recent study in type II diabetic subjects, stevioside, one of the stevia extracts, reduced after-meal blood glucose levels by an average of 18%.10

When compared to sugar, stevia consumption before meals results in far lower after-meal glucose and insulin levels.11 Even when compared to aspartame, stevia resulted in lower post-prandial insulin levels.11 The comparison with aspartame is more impressive because the change in glucose and insulin levels cannot be due to a difference in calories, as with sugar. A key finding from this study was that participants eating stevia felt satisfied with fewer calories and did not eat more food throughout the day to compensate.11 This is an indication of stable blood sugar and insulin levels.

At the root of many cases of chronically elevated glucose and insulin levels is insulin resistance. In rats fed a fructose-rich diet for four weeks to induce insulin resistance, stevioside lowered high blood glucose levels in a dose-dependent manner and delayed the development of insulin resistance.12

Studies have evaluated the effects of stevioside on animal models of both type I and type II diabetes: elevated blood glucose levels were lowered, and less insulin medication was needed for the same effect. This research clearly demonstrates that stevia has the ability to increase cellular insulin sensitivity and help reverse insulin resistance.12,13

Interestingly, the mechanism for stevioside’s hypoglycemic effect in the latter group of rats with insulin dependent type I diabetes was determined to be slowing down gluconeogenesis (the synthesis of glucose in the liver from non-carbohydrate sources).13 Another plant compound very familiar to readers of Life Extension magazine®, chlorogenic acid from coffee beans, also down-regulates gluconeogenesis. Coffee sweetened with stevia may pack quite a one-two punch for blood sugar control!

The effect of stevia on blood sugar has only been observed when plasma glucose levels are elevated. It does not lower normal blood sugar levels in healthy individuals.5

Stevia is not just a safe sugar substitute, but a natural insulin sensitizer that may help maintain normal sugar and insulin levels in diabetics and nondiabetics alike. Since stevia extract also decreases oxidized LDL cholesterol14 and triglycerides,15 and lowers high blood pressure3,5—all metabolic risk factors—it has great potential for the treatment of metabolic syndrome.

Stevia May Lower Blood Pressure

A double-blind, placebo-controlled study demonstrated that oral stevioside taken at doses of 250 mg, three times a day for one year resulted in significant, lasting decreases in both systolic and diastolic blood pressure in patients with mild to moderate hypertension.16 A longer, subsequent study by the same research team that lasted two years and with an increased dose of stevioside ( 1,500 mg) replicated the decreases in blood pressure found in the initial study.17

The stevioside treatment was well-tolerated and no side effects were reported or detected. Moreover, the stevioside treatment group reported significantly higher quality of life scores than the placebo group.17 On the other hand, it was noted that more patients in the placebo group developed left ventricular hypertrophy,17 an abnormal thickening of the heart muscle often caused by high blood pressure.

Though the effect of stevioside was not better than drugs, it appears comparable and nearly everyone taking stevioside had significant lowering of blood pressure. As in the case of blood sugar, stevioside lowers elevated blood pressure, but not normal blood pressure.5

As a natural plant compound with no demonstrated side effects, stevia may offer an alternative or supplementary therapy for high blood pressure, and with possibly better compliance.

Xylitol: A Sweetener That’s Good For Your Teeth

Another sugar substitute with beneficial health properties that is growing in popularity is xylitol. While xylitol is a natural substance found in fruits and vegetables, it is also naturally produced in our bodies during normal carbohydrate metabolism. An average-size adult makes up to 15 grams of xylitol daily.18,19

Xylitol is classified as a sugar alcohol (like sorbitol, mannitol, erythritol, etc) because its chemical structure partially resembles sugar and partially resembles alcohol.20 It is actually a carbohydrate that looks and tastes remarkably like table sugar with 40% fewer calories and practically no aftertaste.21 It is used as a sweetener in chewing gums, mints, beverages, sweets, toothpaste and in tabletop granular form. It has been approved for use in foods, pharmaceuticals and oral health products in more than 35 countries worldwide, including the US.21

History Of Stevia

Stevia is a perennial shrub with over 200 species belonging to the Aster (sunflower) family and indigenous to South America.46 For centuries, the Guarani tribes of Paraguay and Brazil used the leaves of stevia, which they called ka’a he’e (“sweet herb”) to sweeten yerba mate tea and various foods. It was also used medicinally as a treatment for diabetes,47 hypertension, and obesity.5

Stevia has been used in Europe and Asia since the sixteenth century when it was discovered by the Spanish Conquistadors.48 The particular species used as a sweetener, Stevia rebaudiana Bertoni, was named after botanist Moises Santiago Bertoni, who “rediscovered” stevia and scientifically classified the plant in 1899, describing its sweet taste in detail. The compounds in the stevia leaf that give the plant its sweet taste, stevioside and rebaudioside A, were isolated in 1931 by French chemists.2

During World War II, England began to investigate stevia as an alternative to sugar, which was in short supply.49 In the 1970s, the Japanese began to use stevia to replace the banned artificial sweetener, saccharin. It became their chosen sugar alternative to sweeten food and beverages, so much so that Japan is now the largest consumer of stevia.2 Today, stevia can be found growing in China, South America, India, South Korea, Taiwan, and Israel, and is used in many countries around the globe.

Xylitol Fights Cavities

Though largely preventable, tooth decay (cavities) is one of the most prevalent chronic diseases among both adults and children, with 1 in 5 Americans reported to have untreated cavities according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).22 In 2010, roughly $108 billion dollars were spent on dental services in the US.23

By providing fuel for acid-forming bacteria in the mouth, sugar consumption sets up an ideal acidic condition that promotes decay and demineralization of teeth. Xylitol, conversely, is non-fermentable and does not feed acid-forming oral bacteria. Regular use of xylitol causes cavity-forming bacteria, most notably Streptococcus mutans (S. mutans ), to starve and die off by as much as 73%, decreasing the level of acidic byproducts formed when bacteria ferment sugars.24 Xylitol also increases salivary flow which helps to buffer these acids.25 A more alkaline environment is created, leading to less tooth decay and plaque, and enhanced tooth remineralization. Untreated cavities, especially small decay spots, can harden and become less sensitive from exposure to xylitol.26

Considerable research conducted since the early 1970s has established that consuming xylitol products results in reduction in tooth decay rates ranging from 30% up to levels in excess of 80%.27 What’s more, the protective effects of xylitol are long-lasting. In a study of nearly 300 children who chewed xylitol gum habitually for over two years and then stopped, some experienced a reduction in their tooth decay rate over the next five years.28 Xylitol-sweetened gum even reduces transmission of cavity-causing bacteria from mother to child.29

According to newer research, the number of exposures to xylitol throughout the day is more important than the quantity of xylitol.30 Consider chewing xylitol gum after each meal, sweetening your tea or coffee with xylitol granules and using xylitol toothpaste once or twice a day. Several dental associations, including the American Dental Association31 and the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry,32 support the use of xylitol in caries control and prevention.

Xylitol Benefits Diabetes And Metabolic Syndrome

Because xylitol is slowly emptied from the stomach, and only about 50% of it is absorbed, it has neglible effects on blood sugar and insulin secretion.33,34 Xylitol has a considerably lower glycemic index (13) when compared with sucrose (65) and glucose (100).33 It even compares favorably with foods such as legumes and milk.35

In a recent animal study examining the antidiabetic potential of xylitol, animals fed xylitol had significantly better glucose tolerance (more stable blood sugar levels), less weight gain and significantly lower food intake (suppressed appetite) than both the sugar and control groups.36 Data from this study and others confirm that xylitol is an ideal low-calorie sweetener for people with diabetes, metabolic syndrome, obesity, and other metabolic disorders.34,36,37

Of course, like stevia, xylitol can be used by anyone to help maintain low blood sugar and insulin levels, thereby reducing risk of age-related disease.

Xylitol Helps Prevent Ear And Upper Respiratory Infections

Xyitol not only suppresses S. mutans, the cavity-promoting bacterium, but it also inhibits the growth of Streptococcus pneumoniae (S. pneumoniae), a major cause of middle ear infections and sinusitis.38,39 Owing to its unique structure, xylitol also has the ability to interfere with S. pneumoniae’s ability to stick to tissues and form colonies of bacteria called biofilms, making the germ more vulnerable to treatment.40

In clinical trials, xylitol given in the form of chewing gum or syrup reduced middle ear infections in daycare children by 30-40%.38,41,42 This safe and great-tasting sweetener offers the possibility of preventing ear infections in children and thus lessening the need for antibiotics.

Xylitol Strengthens Bone

Since xylitol appears to induce remineralization of tooth enamel, researchers are also now investigating its ability to remineralize bone tissue. Several animal studies show that xylitol increases bone density,43-45 suggesting that xylitol shows promise in the treatment or prevention of osteoporosis. Clinical trials are needed to confirm these potential benefits.

Summary

Stevia and xylitol are not only safe and tasty sugar alternatives, but also potent natural compounds that provide multiple health benefits.3,5,8,27,34,36-38,43-45 While both sweeteners improve glucose tolerance and reduce insulin needs, stevia can also lower elevated blood pressure while xylitol can help prevent cavities and ear infections, and possibly strengthen bones.3,5,8,27,34,36-38,43-45

Add some stevia to your favorite beverage and chew xylitol gum after meals. Enjoy the sweet taste and gain important health dividends as well.

If you have any questions on the scientific content of this article, please call a Life Extension® Health Advisor at 1-866-864-3027.

References

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  8. Goyal SK, Samsher, Goyal RK. Stevia (Stevia rebaudiana) a bio-sweetener: a review. Int J Food Sci Nutr. 2010 Feb;61(1):1-10.
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  11. Anton SD, Martin CK, Han H, et al. Effects of stevia, aspartame, and sucrose on food intake, satiety, and postprandial glucose and insulin levels. Appetite. 2010;55(1):37–43.
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  14. Geeraert B, Crombe F, Hulsmans M, et al. Stevioside inhibits atherosclerosis by improving insulin signaling and antioxidant defense in obese insulin-resistant mice. Int J Obes (Lond). 2010 Mar;34(3):569-77.
  15. Park JE, Cha YS. Stevia rebaudianaBertoni extract supplementation improves lipid and carnitine profiles in C57BL/6J mice fed a high-fat diet. J Sci Food Agric. 2010 May;90(7):1099-105.
  16. Chan P, Tomlinson B, Chen YJ, et al. A double-blind placebo-controlled study of the effectiveness and tolerability of oral stevioside in human hypertension. Br J Clin Pharmacol. 2000;50(3):215-20.
  17. Hsieh MH, Chan P, Sue Y.M, et al.Efficacy and tolerability of oral stevioside in patients with mild essential hypertension, a two-year, randomized, placebo-controlled study. Clin Ther. 2003;25(11):2797-808.
  18. Available at: http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredientmono-996-XYLITOL.aspx?activeIngredientId=996&activeIngredientName=XYLITOL. Accessed November 21, 2013.
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  21. Available at: http://www.caloriecontrol.org/sweeteners-and-lite/polyols/xylitol. Accessed October 30, 2013.
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  24. Bahador A, Lesan S, Kashi N. Effect of xylitol on cariogenic and beneficial oral streptococci: a randomized, double-blind crossover trial. Iran J Microbiol. 2012 Jun;4(2):75-81.
  25. Soderling E. Controversies around xylitol. Eur J Dent. 2009 April 3(2):81-2.
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  27. Makinen KK. The rocky road of xylitol to its clinical application. J Dent Res. 2000 Jun; 79(6):1352-5.
  28. Hujoel PP, Makinen KK, Bennett CA, et al. The optimum time to initiate habitual xylitol gum-chewing for obtaining long-term caries prevention. J Dent Res. 1999;78(3):797-803.
  29. Isokangas P, Soderling E, Pienihakkinen K, et al. Occurrence of dental decay in children after maternal consumption of xylitol chewing gum, a follow-up from 0 to5 years of age. J Dent Res. 2000 Nov;79(11):1885-9.
  30. Milgrom P, Ly KA, Roberts MC, et al. Mutans streptococci dose response to xylitol chewing gum. J Dent Res. 2006 Feb;85(2):177-81.
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  36. Islam MS. Effects of xylitol as a sugar substitute on diabetes-related parameters in nondiabetic rats. J Med Foods. 2011 May;14(5):505-11.
  37. Hassinger W, Sauer G, Cordes U, et al. The effects of equal caloric amounts of xylitol, sucrose and starch on insulin requirements and blood glucose levels in insulin-dependent diabetics. Diabetologia. 1981;21:37-40.
  38. Uhari M, Tapiainen T, Kontiokari T. Xylitol in preventing acute otitis media. Vaccine. 2000;19:S144-7.
  39. McEllistrem MC, Adams J, Mason EO, Wald ER. Epidemiology of acute otitis media caused by Streptococcus pneumoniae before and after licensure of the 7-valent pneumococcal protein conjugate vaccine. J Infect Dis. 2003 Dec 1;188(11):1679-84.
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  41. Uhari M, Kontiokari T, Koskela M, et al. Xylitol chewing gum in prevention of acute otitis media: double blind randomized trial. Br Med J. 1996;313:1180–3.
  42. Uhari M, Kontiokari T, Niemela M. A novel use of xylitol sugar in preventing acute otitis media. Pediatrics. 1998;102:879–84.
  43. Sato H, Ide Y, Nasu M, et al. The effects of oral xylitol administration on bone density in rat femur. Odontology. 2011 Jan;99(1):28-33.
  44. Mattila PT, Svanberg MJ, Pokka P, et al. Dietary xylitol protects against weakening of bone biomechanical properties in ovariectomized rats . J Nutr. 1998 Oct;128(10):1811-4.
  45. Mattila PT, Svanberg MJ, Knuuttila ML. Increased bone volume and bone mineral content in xylitol-fed aged rats. Gerontology. 2001 Nov-Dec;47(6):300-5.
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  47. Abudula R, Jeppesen PB, Rolfsen SE, et al. Rebaudioside A potently stimulates insulin secretion from isolated mouse islets: studies on the dose-, glucose-, and calcium-dependency. Metabolism. 2004 Oct;53(10):1378-81.
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*****REPOSTER’S NOTE

Thank You to  Life Extension Magazine February 2014    for this article – Well Done

Dietary Intake of  refined sugars and starches has increased dramatically during a time when physical activity has reduced significantly. We are seeing the North American population in particular.

This in combination with other lifestyle changes over the past 100 years of progress is leading to an overall reduction in health and wellness. Obesity, Type 2 Diabetes, Cardiovascular and Cardiopulmonary Disease are now very common detractors to what should be more enjoyable lifestyles.

Our societal sweet tooth is doing more to shorten lifespans and quality of life than anyone could have anticipated 100 years ago. Natural substances such as Stevia, Xylitol and Monk Fruit are gaining popularity as healthy natural sugar replacements.

They are a step in the right direction. Real progress will need us to move away from our high calorie, sedentary, sleep deprived  behaviors we as a majority are currently engaged in.

To combat the effects of the typical North American Lifestyle, we have chosen to add a nutritional supplement to our daily routine that employs Stevia, Xylitol and Monk fruit.  On  their own they provide healthy benefits but when combined with other needed and beneficial nutrients They Can Literally Save  Lives. Consistent use reverses damage caused by the typical North American lifestyle.

Take a look at this link only if you are interested actively pursuing a path to better health. It just requires a few moments a day consistently. This solution is just one part of the equation for far better health and wellness but to us, a very important one. So important that I chose to become a sales rep so I could help friends and family.

Should you decide that this is also for you, my name is Deb St Jean and my ID number is 1309426. Please contact me through comments for consumption guidelines.

You don’t have to be perfect to be healthy – and you don’t have to be deprived. A few good choices can change every outcome.
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3 Ingredients To Stop Feeding You and Your Kids

3 Ingredients To Stop Feeding You and Your Kids

By Scott Morefield Guest Writer for Wake Up World

High-Fructose-Corn-Syrup

No matter how you slice it – choosing the right foods to feed your family is tough! Not only are kids and parents inundated with commercials and peer pressure to eat the baddies everyone knows about, the candy bars, sodas, snack cakes, and candy that kids seem to pick up for ‘free’ at every ‘kid’ activity they go to, but the things that people typically do NOT know about can be just as or even more harmful. While we parents should certainly watch what’s on the front label of the foods our kids eat, it’s also important to pay attention to the ingredient list on the back. A front label might say ‘all natural,’ or ‘packed with vitamins and minerals,’ but that doesn’t mean it isn’t filled with toxic and potentially harmful ingredients. It’s up to us to educate ourselves and vote with our dollars – if enough people do, manufacturers will be forced to listen.

These three ingredients are a great place to start:

1.) High Fructose Corn Syrup

It’s hard to find a processed food without High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS), although it’s easier than it used to be.

The Corn Growers Association and other special interest groups that have a direct monetary stake in the continuance of turning genetically modified corn into a sweetener that populates seemingly every product on every grocery store aisle are constantly insisting that HFCS is the same as sugar or any other sweetener – except that it’s not. According to Dr. Joseph Mercola (Mercola.com),

Part of what makes HFCS such an unhealthy product is that it is metabolized to fat in your body far more rapidly than any other sugar, and, because most fructose is consumed in liquid form, its negative metabolic effects are significantly magnified.

HFCS has been linked to diabetes, obesity, and metabolic syndrome. Additionally, HFCS is made from genetically modified corn, which brings on a host of other issues.

How to avoid it – Don’t get me wrong – sugar is bad for you, period, and replacing HFCS with regular sugar isn’t the ‘answer’ either, although if you’re going to eat one or the other I would certainly go with organic non-GMO sugar, honey, or stevia as a sweetener over anything with HFCS in it. The best way to avoid HFCS altogether is to check out the labels of everything you buy. If it’s on there, put it back. The good news is, more and more companies are aware of the growing segment of the public that doesn’t want to consume HFCS. Look for more and more boxes and labels that explicitly advertise the absence of HFCS. While it’s best to avoid most processed foods altogether, avoiding HFCS and other dangerous ingredients is certainly a step in the right direction.
2.) Aspartame

Aspartame (NutraSweet, Spoonful, Equal-Measure, and Equal) is 180 times sweeter than sugar. It’s composed of three primary ingredients – phenylalanine (50 percent), aspartic acid (40 percent), and methanol (wood alcohol – 10 percent). Discovered accidentally when a G.D. Searle chemist testing an anti-ulcer drug licked his finger after spilling one of the chemicals he was using, aspartame’s road to FDA approval is more shady than Barak Obama’s birth certificate.

The problem is not so much the amino acids in aspartame, but the ratios and chemical manipulation involved, which causes the body to break them down into free amino acids. Unable to recognize them in that form, it tries to metabolize them anyway, causing the central nervous system to flood and (potentially) causing brain neurons to fire excessively. This condition, called ‘excitotoxicity,’ can cause a whole host of physical and neurological problems. Additionally, the menthol in aspartame, having no natural binder (in nature, menthol is bound to pectin), turns into cancer-causing formaldehyde in the body.

There is so much more to the aspartame story – one that is well worth researching and reading about yourself. Your health and the health of your children could depend on it!

Sadly, in addition to the packet sweeteners at most restaurant tables, aspartame is in so many products, from chewing gum (we had to give up most of our favorite gums – turns out that uncanny ‘long-lasting’ flavor comes with a price!) to yogurts, dessert mixes, gelatins, and lots of ‘sugar-free’ desserts. As always, it’s important to check the labels.

85 Percent of Major Brands of Chewing Gum Still Contain Aspartame and Sucralose
3.) Monosodium Glutamate

Monosodium glutamate (MSG), another excitotoxin added by the ‘big-food’ manufacturers as a ‘flavor-enhancer’ designed to mask the lack of ‘real’ ingredients in processed food, has been linked to brain damage, migraines, ADD, ADHD, obesity, and other health issues. MSG is well known for its prevalence in Chinese food, but it’s also found in certain processed soups, snack foods, and even infant formula and baby food! MSG can be tough to avoid because the ingredient labels aren’t always clear. Here’s a great resource to help educate parents on the ‘why’ and the ‘how’ to avoid MSG.

Those are three great first steps on the road to better nutrition. At first it can be discouraging to find these ingredients in so many things you once purchased regularly, but the effort to avoid them is well worth it. It’s one thing to make our kids ‘eat their veggies,’ but that’s only part of the picture. If they are also eating a load of potentially harmful empty-calories, their little bodies are going to be so busy reversing the effects of a system overloaded with garbage that they won’t be as effective at fighting off disease. No wonder kids, especially during Fall and Winter, seem to be constantly finishing or starting runs of antibiotics! As the ancient Greek physician Hippocrates once said,

Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.

Feed your kids well, and they’ll stay well more often!