Tag Archives: health

This is from the website – direct link to the below article is as follows. To summarise, before you go on, basically the only vaguely safe sweetener is currently considered to be Stevia (plant-based) and brand names include Truvia and Canderel Green …. :

Quick Guide To Artificial Sweeteners and Sugar Substitutes
by Evita Ochel

on Feb 13, 2009

Most of us out there have been brought up with a very clear understanding of what sugar is. Most of us love it and are in fact quite addicted to it.

However during the past few decades more and more negative research and press continues to come out about sugar. This has been hard for many to ignore – given our weight, diabetes and other health problems.

Thus as sugar’s popularity began to decrease, the popularity of artificial sweeteners began to grow. However, unlike our familiarity with sugar, most of us today did not grow up with many of the artificial sweeteners that are around today. Most of us have no idea where they come from, how they compare to sugar and even if they are safe for us to consume.

Therefore, today I want to present you with a quick guide to understanding artificial sweeteners and sugar substitutes.

Why Go Artificial?

Artificial sweeteners gained popularity the most for no other reason than the fact that we want to have our cake and eat it too – literally. By now most people have caught on to the fact that sugar = quick weight gain.

Thus the main reason why people have turned and continue to turn to artificial sweeteners is that we want the sweetness of sugar in many common foods, but without the unnecessary calories. Thus, this brought about the popularity and age of artificial sweeteners.

These are often, many times sweeter than sugar, but contain few, if any calories. Sugar on the other hand, biochemically exists either as a single or double sugar which is full of calories and needs minimal if any digestion, thereby going straight into our blood stream.

Since sugar is an energy source and our body quickly gets overwhelmed with too much energy, most of it gets packed away into our fat cells, as there is only so much that our cells need or can store in their short-term reserves. That is only the tipping point where the problems with sugar and our health are concerned.

The second biggest reason why some people look toward artificial sweeteners is because they may have diabetes and thus have to avoid increasing their blood-sugar. Some artificial sweeteners completely do not act like sugars in our body and thus became a perfect option for diabetics – sweet taste, minus the high if any blood-sugar health risks.

So let us examine the artificial sweeteners out there and learn a little bit more about what some of us may be putting into our bodies.
1. Acesulfame-K

– is 200 times sweeter than sugar

– was introduced in 1967, approved by FDA in 1988 and had its use expanded in 1998

– breaks down into acetoacetamide, which has been linked to thyroid problems and tumor formation

– thought not to be metabolized by the body and excreted in urine

– has no calories

– to date has not been tested properly and is considered the worst sweetener by some due to the great lack of information and testing done on it

– FDA has no plans of removing it from the market anytime soon or to push for proper testing
2. Aspartame

– most commonly known as Equal or NutraSweet

– is about 200 times sweeter than sugar

– has essentially no calories (due to small amounts used)

– discovered in 1965, refused at first by the FDA in 1974 and approved by FDA in 1980

– made from amino acids and metabolized by body through various toxic reactions

– breaks down into the amino acids phenylalanine and aspartic acid, as well as methanol (or wood alcohol – known poison) and possibly formaldehyde

– is considered a neurotoxic substance that has been associated with numerous health problems including dizziness, visual impairment, severe muscle aches, numbing of extremities, pancreatitis, high blood pressure, retinal hemorrhaging, seizures, multiple sclerosis like symptoms and depression, as well it is suspected of causing birth defects and chemical disruptions in the brain
3. Saccharin

– most commonly known as Sweet ’N Low

– is 200 – 700 times sweeter than sugar

– has no calories

– originally synthesized from toluene/coal tar in late 1800′s

– thought not to be metabolized by the body and excreted in urine

– is the most tested artificial sweetener to date

– studies have continually proven links to cancer

– considered for official ban in 1977, but instead got removed from carcinogenic list in US in 2000
4. Sucralose

– most commonly known as Splenda

– is about 600 times sweeter than sugar

– discovered in 1976, approved by Canada in 1991 and by FDA in 1998

– made by chlorination of sucrose

– has no calories

– considered a safe alternative to aspartame, saccharin and acesulfame K by most

– studies however have been inadequate and some have pointed at links between sucralose and thymus and immune dysfunction, as well as possibly being mutagenic
5. Stevia

– most commonly known as Truvia

– is about 100 – 300 times sweeter than sugar

– breaks down into steviol, which some suspected of being mutagenic

– rejected by FDA for approval in 1990 and earlier for oddly unjustified/political reasons

– extracts of Stevia got approved by the FDA in December 2008

– comes from natural plant origin, but commercially sold in chemically altered form

– considered by many natural health proponents as the ultimate safe sweetener
6. Maltitol, Mannitol, Sorbitol and Xylitol

– are chemically known as sugar alcohols

– are half as sweet as sugar

– are not well absorbed by the body

– produce a laxative effect in large quantities
7. Neotame

– is about 7,000 – 13,000 times sweeter than sugar

– chemically related to aspartame

– has no calories

– approved by the FDA in 2002

– not widely used to date, mostly due to the known problems with aspartame
8. Cyclamate

– known as the original Sweet N’ Low

– discovered in 1937 and banned by FDA in 1970

– a petition has been currently filed to the FDA for re-approval

– animal studies showed product to be carcinogenic
9. High Fructose Corn Syrup

– commonly referred to as glucose/fructose in Canada

– in use since about the 1980’s

– produced by processing that increases the fructose content

– depending on the formulation may be sweeter, just as sweet or slightly less sweet than sugar

– cheaper than sugar

– contains calories equivalent to regular sugar

– greatly linked to obesity, diabetes and heart disease

The above is just a condensed summary of what each of the sugar substitutes is all about. If you ingest any of the above, it would be very wise to conduct more of your own research on the product if you intend to keep using it, as each one carries with it a certain risk.

My personal health advice to you is not to go up and down the list and see which one is the better option to rely on. Aside from perhaps Stevia, the sugar alcohols and high fructose corn syrup, all of the other sweeteners are nothing more than chemical substances which should not be ingested by anyone in any amounts.

While some of us can rely on the FDA or other governing bodies to make the decisions for us, I strongly urge you not to be a guinea pig yourself. The fact that these substances are being used by people today is nothing short of perhaps one of the best long term studies that is taking place at our own personal expense. Unfortunately, many people are learning the hard way and paying for it with their health, that these substances are not safe or at least do not lead to average, never mind optimal health.

While your concerns about calories, blood-glucose stress and dental health are valid when it comes to eating regular sugar, what we really should be moving towards are not sugar replacements, but complete sugar removals. Yes, this may sound unrealistic to many, but again it comes down to how serious you are about your health and how open minded you are to break out of the clever brainwashing that has taken place in society up until this point. Several companies are making billions of dollars off of the sugar industry, while we pay both financially and with our health.

We can continue to come up with any and every excuse why we need sugar, crave sugar or want sugar, or we can just break the vicious cycle, detoxify and get off of the addictive substance once and for all, to live out our best health ever, processed-sugar free!

For detailed information on artificial sweeteners, check out the following sites:



3. From Dr. Mercola “New Study of Splenda Reveals Shocking Information about Potential Harmful Effects“

For more information on sugar and its effects, check out sugar expert Dr. Scott Olson’s site, OR his book Sugarettes
*Photograph provided by abbyladybug


They say 1 in 5 women in the UK or Australia suffer from PCOS with varying symptoms. I’m interested to know a natural way to manage this, and the first thing is diet. Apart from the obvious problems with fertility (PCOS means irregular egg release therefore tricky conception), 40% of PCOS sufferers will be Type 2 diabetic by the time they are 44 years of age. It has also been linked (somewhat spuriously) to heart disease and (less spuriously) to Endometrial cancer.

It seems the most important issues will be 1) Low G.I. diet and regular exercise and 2) A cycle at least every 3 months (even if it must be induced e.g. by birth control pills).

The below is taken from Katie Humphrey’s book, Freedom From PCOS :

  • Avoid sugary foods. The worst offenders are soft drinks (soda), cookies, cakes, chocolate, sweets and processed breakfast cereals.
  • Avoid foods containing sugar compounds such as high-fructose corn syrup, sorbitol, fructose, mannitol, maltitol, isomalt & glycerol.
  • Avoid ‘diet’ foods containing harmful artificial sweeteners. There is clear-cut evidence that artificial sweeteners do not assist blood sugar control. In fact, these synthetic chemical sweeteners can actually stimulate your desire for sugary foods.
  • Increase the consumption of fruit & vegetables. Ideally you should consume 2 serves of fruit and 5 serves of vegetables daily. Note: Obtain organic fruit & vegetables if possible. Certified organic products are grown and processed without the use of synthetic chemicals, fertilisers or genetic modification. Organic produce is a better option as your hormone imbalance may make you overly sensitive to the hidden chemicals commonly found in conventional fruit and vegetables.

    If you cannot source organic fruit and vegetables it is possible to wash all fruit and vegetables in a solution of one part apple cider vinegar to twelve parts water to remove pesticide and chemical residues. Rinse the fruit & vegetables in filtered water to remove the vinegar smell.

  • Choose wholegrains, which contain all parts of the grain. This includes: oats, corn, rice, wheat, barley, rye, triticale and millet. Limit processed grain based foods such as boxed breakfast cereals, white bread and pasta. Choose wholegrain alternatives such as: muesli, porridge, steamed rice, wholegrain pasta and wholegrain breads, including spelt & rye.

    Note: Fibre is abundant in fruit, vegetables and wholegrains. Fibre contributes to improved blood sugar control and healthy bowel function.

  • Protein foods such as fresh fish, lean red meat, organic chicken, organic eggs or secondary protein such as whole grains and legumes should be eaten twice a day to help balance your blood glucose levels. Fish is an ideal protein source as it does not contain saturated fat or hormone residues. Eat local, fresh fish 2-3 times a week if you are not a vegetarian.
  • The type of fat in your diet plays an important role in assisting with insulin reception at the cell level. Cold water fish, organic eggs, avocadoes, extra virgin olive oil, macadamia nut oil and raw nuts and seeds are rich in essential fatty acids.
  • Are you ready to get the junk out of your body? Stop buying meals from fast food outlets. These foods are packed with calories, sugar and unhealthy ingredients.
  • Limit the intake of saturated fats that are found in red meat, chicken, deli meats and dairy foods. Avoid trans fats found in margarine, TV dinners, commercially prepared snack foods and deep fried food.
  • Ensure you eat regularly and choose healthy snacks mid morning and mid afternoon to balance your blood sugar levels between meals. Fruit, nuts, seeds, protein shakes and natural yoghurt all make healthy snacks.

Your PCOS Diet & Lifestyle Plan – Lifestyle Recommendations

Along with improvements in your diet, some changes to your lifestyle will also have an effect on reducing the symptoms of PCOS.

  • Quit smoking. Smoking stimulates androgen production, the male hormones that exacerbate weight gain, excess facial hair and acne.
  • Avoid alcohol. Alcohol places extra stress on the liver, a major organ that assists in balancing your hormone levels.
  • Manage stress and anxiety. Stress has a major affect on your hormone balance. Do things that you enjoy and follow your passion, whatever that may be.
  • Stay well hydrated by drinking 1.5 – 2 litres of filtered water daily. This will detox your system and can reduce fluid retention problems.
  • Get Moving. Perform light to moderate exercise 3-5 times a week. Regular exercise leads to weight loss and improves your capacity to deal with stress.

Actually if you click the link above you will find 1001 uses for household vinegar – but I only have a section called 10 ways to … (Not 1001 ways to …)  It’s just nice to know that we have the option not to use harmful chemicals at home – not only because NONE of us should be putting those chemicals back into the environment but also for those who have sensitivities to chemicals, AND it’s great to remind ourselves that there are cheaper, natural alternatives to most things.

Here are 10  :

1.  To shine chrome sink fixtures that have a lime buildup, use a paste made of 2 tablespoons salt and 1 teaspoon white distilled vinegar.

2.  Make your own scouring cleanser by combining 1/4 cup baking soda with 1 tablespoon liquid detergent. Add just enough white distilled vinegar to give it a thick but creamy texture.

3. Clean counter tops and make them smell sweet again with a cloth soaked in undiluted white distilled vinegar.

4. Clean and deodorize a drain by pouring in 1 cup baking soda, then one cup hot white distilled vinegar. Let this sit for 5 minutes or so, then run hot water down the drain.

5. For cuts and scrapes, use white distilled vinegar as an antiseptic.

6. Clean the shelves and walls of the refrigerator with a half-and-half solution of water and white distilled vinegar.

7. To clean a grease splattered oven door window, saturate it with full-strength white distilled vinegar. Keep the door open for 10 to 15 minutes before wiping with a sponge.  (Vinegar and water spray will act as window cleaner too).

8.  Get rid of lime deposits in a tea kettle by adding 1/2 cup white distilled vinegar to the water and letting it sit overnight. If more drastic action is needed, boil full-strength white distilled vinegar in the kettle a few minutes, let cool and rinse with plain water.

9. To kill germs, spray full-strength white distilled vinegar and then wipe dry.  From chopping boards to door handles.

10. Get stickers off jam jars by letting undiluted white distilled vinegar soak into them for several minutes before trying to peel them off. Repeat if necessary.

[Notes from me: I put them in the oven at 175 c for just over 15 mins and they were browned but still soft.  Because I like more crunch, I then put them on a rack but left them in the oven while it was still hot but switched off and when I eventually took them out to cool they did harden up a bit – any other advice on how to crunch up the cookie is welcome!]

(photo and recipe courtesy Heidi Swanson –

Nikki’s Healthy Cookie Recipe

You can use unsweetened carob, or grain sweetened chocolate chips, or do what I did and chop up 2/3 of a bar of Scharffen berger 70%. I sort-of shaved half the bar with a knife and then cut the rest into bigger chip-sized chunks. You can make your own almond meal by pulsing almonds in a food processor until it is the texture of sand – don’t go too far or you’ll end up with almond butter. And lastly, the coconut oil works beautifully here, just be sure to warm it a bit – enough that it is no longer solid, which makes it easier to incorporate into the bananas. If you have gluten allergies, seek out GF oats.

3 large, ripe bananas, well mashed (about 1 1/2 cups)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup coconut oil, barely warm – so it isn’t solid (or alternately, olive oil)
2 cups rolled oats
2/3 cup almond meal
1/3 cup coconut, finely shredded & unsweetened
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
6 – 7 ounces chocolate chips or dark chocolate bar chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, racks in the top third.

In a large bowl combine the bananas, vanilla extract, and coconut oil. Set aside. In another bowl whisk together the oats, almond meal, shredded coconut, cinnamon, salt, and baking powder. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and stir until combined. Fold in the chocolate chunks/chips.The dough is a bit looser than a standard cookie dough, don’t worry about it. Drop dollops of the dough, each about 2 teaspoons in size, an inch apart, onto a parchment (or Silpat) lined baking sheet. Bake for 12 – 14 minutes. I baked these as long as possible without burning the bottoms and they were perfect – just shy of 15 minutes seems to be about right in my oven.

Makes about 3 dozen bite-sized cookies.

Sounds serious? … well, it is.  This is an incredible jewel of a surf camp with 1, 3 or 5 day courses plus as many extra days as you want if you pay.   If you really want to get surfing, this is definitely one of the best foundations you could wish for.  And if you already surf well?  Rui will push you to competition standard.  Or so he says.  Sagres, Portugal (Western Algarve) is beautiful, the beaches are secluded and the teaching is second to none.  I haven’t been to the Pipa camp in Brazil but it’s not through lack of want!

International Surf School – Sagres, Portugal

International Surf School – Pipa, Brazil