Diets and Weight Loss, Foods, Health and Disease, Uncategorized

A Spoonful of Erythritol

sugar

Erythritol is a sugar alcohol like xylitol that is the worst artificial sweetener!  A lot of people think it’s awesome because it decreases the amount of sugar and calories in what they’re consuming. You’ll commonly find it as an ingredient in low-sugar and sugar-free foods, but there are some very concerning and common erythritol side effects — even when it’s used in low amounts, erythritol consumption can cause diarrhea, stomachache and headache.

 

The reason why it doesn’t provide calories or sugar to its consumer is because the body actually can’t break it down! That’s right — even though erythritol travels through your body, it doesn’t get metabolized. (1)

 

Is erythritol a safe and smart substitute for sugar? If it’s made from GMO cornstarch, then absolutely not. I definitely don’t recommend it, especially when there are healthier, safer options readily available. If you’re talking about non-GMO erythritol, then it can be a better choice than some other artificial sweeteners, but I still think there are better options out there.

 

Erythritol is rapidly absorbed in the small intestine, but it’s poorly metabolized, has absolutely no known functions in the human body and is excreted through the urine unchanged. As we’ve seen before, just because a sweetener doesn’t have calories and doesn’t appear to affect blood sugar, it does not mean that it’s good for your health.

 

What Is Erythritol?

 

If you’re a label reader (and I hope you are!), you may have noticed erythritol becoming more and more prominent in ingredient lists lately, especially in energy and sports drinks, thinking to yourself, what is erythritol? It naturally occurs in some fruits and fermented foods, but the variety being added to food and beverages today is typically man-made from GMO cornstarch, resulting in an ultra-processed food — very far from a natural sweetening agent. It’s one of those “invisible GMO ingredients.” It’s also likely to be an insecticide in the near future since researchers have found that the main component of Truvia®, erythritol has proven potent insecticidal activity. (2)

 

Erythritol is a four-carbon sugar alcohol or polyol that contains about 60 percent to 80 percent of the sweetness of table sugar. Sugar alcohol has nothing to do with cocktails, though since it does not contain ethanol (aka alcohol) like alcoholic beverages. Other sugar alcohols include sorbitol, lactitol, maltitol, mannitol and xylitol. Fruits like watermelon, pear and grapes naturally have minor amounts of erythritol, as do mushrooms and fermented foods like cheese, wine, beer and sake. (3)

 

Erythritol was first discovered in 1848 by a Scottish chemist named John Stenhouse. Japan has been using it since the early 1990s in candies, jellies, jams, chocolate, yogurt, beverages and as a sugar substitute. It’s gained popularity in the United States more recently. As of 1997, it has the status of generally recognized as safe from the FDA, which honestly really doesn’t tell you much about how safe it is. The food industry and consumers love it because it can have up to 80 percent of the sweetness of sugar, but it’s noncaloric and does not raise blood sugar levels.

 

Erythritol is now commonly added to many packaged food and drink items as well as sugar-free gums, mints and even some medications. It’s also available by itself as a granulated or powdered sweetener, like Zsweet and Swerve. Erythritol does occur naturally in some fruits and fermented foods — however, the problem is that the grand majority of erythritol used in products today is man-made by taking glucose (most commonly from GMO cornstarch) and fermenting it with a yeast called Moniliella pollinis.

 

7 Reasons to Not Consume Erythritol (Especially the GMO Kind)

 

  1. GMO

 

The World Health Organization defines genetically modified organisms (GMOs) as “foods derived from organisms whose genetic material (DNA) has been modified in a way that does not occur naturally, e.g. through the introduction of a gene from a different organism.” (4) Much of the erythritol used in foods and beverages today is derived from cornstarch from genetically modified corn.

 

Truvia, which markets itself as stevia, is actually about 95 percent genetically modified erythritol with a little bit of rebiana (a stevia derivative) and “natural flavors” thrown in. (5) Animal studies have linked consumption of GMOs with infertility, immune problems, accelerated aging, faulty insulin regulation, and changes in major organs and the gastrointestinal system. (6)

 

  1. Commonly Combined with Artificial Sweeteners

 

Erythritol is not as sweet as sugar on its own so it’s often combined in foods and beverages with other questionable sweeteners, usually ones that are artificial. When combined with artificial sweeteners like aspartame, the erythritol-laden product becomes even more lethal to your health. Side effects of aspartame include anxiety, depression, short-term memory loss, fibromyalgia, weight gain, fatigue, brain tumors and more.

 

Since products containing erythritol typically also contain artificial sweeteners like aspartame, the side effects of that particular food or beverage become even more likely as well as dangerous.

 

  1. Gastrointestinal Problems and Headache

 

Sugar alcohols like erythritol are well-known for their link to digestive issues. Some of the most common erythritol side effects in small amounts, and especially in large amounts, are undesirable gastrointestinal side effects. These GI side effects are especially common in children. (7)

 

Unfortunately, the gastrointestinal issues don’t necessarily stop at some rumbling in your stomach. Diarrhea is a well-known common erythritol side effect. Especially when consumed in excess, unabsorbed erythritol can attract water from the intestinal wall and cause diarrhea. The likelihood of diarrhea appears to be even more likely when erythritol is consumed along with fructose. (8) Diarrhea might sound harmless, but it can lead to dehydration and malnutrition.

 

Many people report upset stomach and diarrhea after consuming normal amounts of erythritol in food or beverages. If consumption is high (50 grams or more per day) then digestive troubles, including gas, cramping, bloating, stomachache and diarrhea, become even more likely. One study specifically showed that the intake of 50 grams of erythritol causes stomach rumbling and nausea. (9)

 

In 2012, a pediatric study looked at the GI tolerability of erythritol. The aim was to determine the maximum dose level of erythritol that’s well-tolerated by young children (4–6 years old) in a single drinking occasion. The researchers concluded that there is “a safety concern with respect to GI tolerability for the use of erythritol in beverages at a maximum use level of 2.5% for non-sweetening purposes.” (10)

 

Headaches are another common but less studied side effect.

 

 

 

Seven reasons to not consume erythritol – Dr. Axe

 

 

  1. Could Lead to Overeating

 

One of the ongoing problems with noncaloric artificial sweeteners is that they don’t get processed by your body the way regular sugar gets processed. When you eat foods containing table sugar and healthier natural sweeteners, your body knows exactly what to do with them. The sugar gets metabolized, and hormones are released to decrease your appetite.

 

The problem with erythritol is that it’s a sugar alcohol that basically just goes right through your body. It does not metabolized, and therefore, your body may not be getting calories or sugar. It’s also not registering that any fuel got put into your body at all. This is why you can end up still feeling hungry after you consume products with alternative and fake man-made sugars. The body is left feeling unfilled, and you still want to eat or drink something else. This is a slippery slope that can lead to overeating and weight gain. Weight gain has been seen when sugar alcohols like erythritol are overeaten. (11)

 

  1. Terrible for SIBO and IBS Sufferers

 

SIBO is a more prevalent digestive disorder than previously believed, and it occurs in many people suffering from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and other underlying conditions. (12) SIBO is the acronym for “small intestinal bacterial overgrowth,” defined as excessive bacteria in the small intestine. While bacteria naturally occurs throughout the digestive tract, in a healthy system, the small intestine is supposed to have relatively low levels of bacteria. When people suffer from SIBO or IBS, what they put into their bodies on a daily basis can truly spell the difference between healing or increased distress.

 

Polyols like erythritol top the list for ingredients to avoid with a digestive problem like SIBO because they can so commonly be irritating and problematic to the digestive system.

 

  1. Allergic Reactions

 

Although not highly common, erythritol can cause an allergic skin reaction for some people. A study published in 2000 in the Journal of Dermatology demonstrates how drinks containing erythritol can potentially cause a severe allergic skin reaction. A young 24-year-old woman had severe wheals all over her entire body after having one glass of a beverage sweetened with erythritol. (13)

 

A wheal, often called a welt or hives, is a a raised, itchy area of skin that’s sometimes an obvious sign of an allergy to something you’ve consumed or come in contact with. When you suddenly have a negative skin reaction, it’s always important to consider what you most recently consumed, especially if it contained a questionable ingredient like erythritol.

 

  1. Excellent Insecticide

 

If you’re not yet convinced that you should stay away from erythritol, there’s more. As of 2014, researchers at Drexel University were pursuing a patent on erythritol as an insecticide and are continuing to study its effectiveness. Yes, that’s right — not only is it low in calories, it’s also really great at killing bugs. I wish I was joking, but I’m not.

 

The 2014 study is titled “Erythritol, a Non-Nutritive Sugar Alcohol Sweetener and the Main Component of Truvia®, Is a Palatable Ingested Insecticide.” The researchers show that erythritol is toxic to flies, which are drawn to its sweet flavor, which makes erythritol a “killer combination.” (14) I don’t know about you, but I certainly would rather put some raw honey in my next cup of tea rather than a proven bug killer.

 

The Positive Side of Erythritol

 

If you purchase a product that has erythritol, how do you know if it’s a GMO erythritol? The product needs to have a USDA Organic- or a Non-GMO Project-certified insignia on the packaging. Under these guidelines, it cannot be from a GMO source.

 

If you choose a non-GMO erythritol, can be beneficial? I would say the answer is somewhat. Fans of this common sweetener mainly love it because of its lack of calories, which can be helpful to weight management. However, as I’ve said before, the lack of calories in sweeteners can be very confusing to our bodies and brains. Many people also choose it as their sweetener of choice because it won’t cause a blood sugar spike, which can be especially helpful for diabetics.

 

Studies have been mixed, but some say that erythritol can decrease plaque or, at the least, not contribute to tooth decay. One double-blind, randomized trial study looked at the effects of erythritol on 485 primary school children. Each child consumed four erythritol, xylitol or sorbitol candies three times per school day. In the follow-up examinations, researchers observed a lower number of cavities in the erythritol group than in the xylitol or sorbitol groups. The time until the development of cavities was also longest in the erythritol group. (15)

 

Better Sweetener Alternatives

 

Erythritol may have some positives, but I’m not convinced that those positives outweigh the negatives. I personally would rather use stevia because it also doesn’t spike blood sugar and has more proven health benefits, including improvements in cholesterol, blood pressure and even some types of cancer. (16) Raw honey is another favorite of mine that’s truly a superfood. I also recommend monk fruit, which is a fruit-derived sweetener that has been used for hundreds of years.

 

Stevia

 

I’m talking about a real stevia product, not Truvia. Stevia is an herbal plant that belongs to the Asteraceae family. The stevia plant has been used for over 1,500 years by the Guaraní people of Brazil and Paraguay. It’s really a great, health-promoting choice when you buy a high-quality, pure stevia product. Make sure to buy stevia without additives and one that has been less processed. I recommend green stevia as the best option.

 

Raw Honey

 

Raw honey is a pure, unfiltered and unpasteurized sweetener made by bees from the nectar of flowers. Unlike processed honey, raw honey does not get robbed of its incredible nutritional value and health powers. It has been scientifically proven to help with allergies, diabetes, sleep problems, coughs and wound healing. Look for a local beekeeper to source your raw honey. This makes it even more likely to help with seasonal allergies.

 

Monk Fruit

 

Monk fruit, also called luo han guo, has been used as a sweetener for centuries, and after many years being only available overseas, it’s recently become easier to find in grocery stores in the United States. Monk fruit contains compounds that, when extracted, are natural sweeteners 300–400 times sweeter than cane sugar — but with no calories and no effect on blood sugar.  Just make sure that the monk fruit product you’re purchasing doesn’t contain any GMO-derived erythritol or other unhealthy additives.

 

Final Thoughts on Erythritol

Once erythritol enters your body, it’s rapidly absorbed in the small intestine with only about 10 percent entering the colon while the other 90 percent is excreted in the urine. It essentially goes through your system untouched with zero metabolization. Many manufacturers and consumers think this is great because that means no added calories or sugar to your diet, but what about it is really healthy or natural? Certainly nothing if it’s man-made from genetically modified corn products.

 

Even if it’s not GMO, its ghost passage through the body doesn’t signal any feelings of satiety and can easily lead to overeating. Also, let’s not forget the possible gastrointestinal distress, headaches and allergic reactions.

 

When we eat or drink anything, we ideally want it to go to work for us and encourage our overall health and well-being. Erythritol might have some benefits, but I just don’t think it does enough good for the human body. You’re much better off choosing a more natural, health-promoting sweetener, like raw honey, in small amounts.

 

Please call us if you have any concerns for yourself.  It is always best to not introduce more chemicals into your body, but how do you stop?  Call us.

 

Health and Wellness Associates

Archived : JA

312-972-WELL

Advertisements
Pets, Uncategorized

Did Your Pet Just Have A Stroke?

dogstroke

These Stroke Symptoms Can Come on Like Gangbusters, Even in Pets

 

It wasn’t until fairly recently that the veterinary community realized that just like humans, dogs and cats also suffer strokes — perhaps more frequently than we thought.

 

With increased use of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and computerized tomography (CT) scans in pets, strokes are being diagnosed more often. Fortunately, they are still a relatively rare occurrence in both dogs and cats.

 

What Exactly Is a Stroke?

 

In a nutshell, a stroke is a brain abnormality that occurs as the result of a disruption of the blood supply to the area. Circulating blood feeds oxygen and glucose to the brain. If a blood vessel becomes blocked or ruptures, the brain is deprived of those critical nutrients.

 

Most strokes are ischemic strokes caused by a blood clot (embolus) that develops in the circulatory system. The clot at some point dislodges and travels to a blood vessel that feeds nutrients to the brain, interrupting blood flow and causing surrounding tissue to die.

 

Strokes in dogs and cats can also result from bleeding in the brain (called hemorrhagic strokes) caused by the rupture of blood vessels or a clotting disorder. Hemorrhagic strokes are much less common in pets than ischemic strokes, and are usually the result of trauma or disease.

 

There’s also a non-brain related type of stroke called a fibrocartilaginous embolism (FCE). An FCE is a blockage in a blood vessel in the spinal cord. It’s often referred to as a spinal cord stroke.

 

There are several disorders that are associated with strokes in pets, including bleeding disorders, diabetes, hypertension, heart, kidney or thyroid disease, Cushing’s syndrome, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (a tick-borne disease) and cancer.

 

Internal parasites, tumors, ingestion of toxins, head trauma and high doses of steroids such as prednisone can also be contributing factors.

 

Symptoms to Watch For

 

The symptoms of stroke in dogs and cats depend on the location and extent of bleeding from cerebral arteries in the case of hemorrhagic stroke, or much more commonly, blockage of cerebral arteries in the event of an ischemic stroke. Symptoms typically come on suddenly and can include:

 

Head tilt

Weakness

Abnormal eye movements (nystagmus) or eye positioning

Seizures

Difficulty walking or inability to walk

Disorientation

Loss of bowel control

Collapse

Loss of balance

Persistent circling

Inappropriate urination

Coma

Loss of coordination

Sudden vision impairment

Stupor

Other sudden behavioral changes

Pet parents often remark that one minute their dog or cat was fine, and the next minute the animal was down and couldn’t get up. These episodes can last for just a few minutes, or for hours or even days.

 

When a pet recovers from one or more signs of a stroke in less than 24 hours, it’s usually considered a transient ischemic attack (TIA). Fortunately, TIAs typically don’t result in permanent brain damage.

 

Stroke Diagnosis

 

If your pet is exhibiting symptoms of a stroke, it’s important to get him to your veterinarian or an emergency animal hospital right away. Since there are many unrelated disorders with stroke-like symptoms, quick action and a proper diagnosis are critical.

 

For example, vestibular disease in geriatric dogs is often mistaken for stroke. The vertigo caused by the disease can be particularly intense in older dogs with symptoms of nausea, difficulty or complete inability to stand up, head tilt, nystagmus and circling.

 

Your veterinarian will need to run a variety of diagnostic tests, including bloodwork and a urinalysis, to rule out other possible causes for your pet’s symptoms.

 

If the problem isn’t obvious from initial test results, additional diagnostics will be required to look for evidence of a stroke, including an MRI or CT scan of your pet’s brain.

 

Your pet may be sent to a veterinary specialist (neurologist) for these scans, and may need to be hospitalized for the procedures. CT and MRI scans are the gold standard for diagnosing strokes in pets, including whether the stroke is ischemic or hemorrhagic. Other tests that may be needed include:

 

Arterial blood gases to assess oxygenation of blood

Coagulation profiles to assess blood clotting

X-rays of the skull to look for evidence of trauma or fractures

Electrocardiogram (ECG) to evaluate heart rhythm

A spinal tap to evaluate cerebrospinal fluid

Treating a Pet Who Has Had a Stroke

 

If your pet’s symptoms are severe, she may need to be hospitalized to receive oxygen and fluid therapy and other supportive care.

 

Treatment of stroke patients is focused on minimizing brain swelling and tissue damage, maximizing oxygen flow to the brain, identifying and treating the underlying cause of the stroke if possible and physical therapy.

 

Initial treatment typically involves intravenous fluids and IV corticosteroids to control brain swelling and support blood circulation to the brain.

 

This is a situation in which giving corticosteroids immediately can be life-saving and help prevent permanent damage. Seizures must also be controlled with conventional drugs to prevent further brain damage. Anti-seizure herbs usually do not work quickly enough to help during the initial crisis, and are difficult to administer to a vomiting dog.

 

The neurologic symptoms of a stroke gradually resolve on their own as the animal’s body re-establishes normal blood flow to the brain and swelling resolves. During this period, acupuncture, antioxidants (SOD and astaxanthin), Chinese herbs and homeopathy can be very beneficial.

 

The most crucial supplement to add for these patients, in my opinion, is nattokinase, which can also help prevent additional strokes from occurring. The brain has the ability to recover given time. As always, early diagnosis and treatment can dramatically improve your pet’s chances for a full recovery.

 

Pets who survive the first few days following a stroke have a good chance for a full or nearly full long-term recovery when the underlying cause can be identified and either eliminated, or successfully controlled.

 

Health and Wellness Associates

Archived

C Becker

312-972-WELL

Foods, Uncategorized

Coconut Rice Pudding

coconutbrownrice

Disease-fighting coconut rice pudding that will put all other desserts to shame

 

When it comes to the first and last meals of the day can be extremely difficult to find something that is both healthy and delicious. This challenge becomes increasingly difficult if you are attempting to eat a vegan diet. The answer to the breakfast and dessert dilemma is this delightful healthy twist on traditional rice pudding.

Traditional rice pudding is high in fat and heavily processed foods. By replacing regular milk with coconut milk, white rice with brown and removing the egg, the dish becomes an altogether healthier prospect.

This is a healthy, animal-friendly and tasty recipe for early mornings and late nights. So get out the slow cooker and start cooking!

 

Coconut Milk

 

The replacement of regular dairy milk with coconut milk not only makes this recipe a great choice for vegans, but it also provides a significant boost to your health. Coconut milk has a high copper content. Elevated levels of copper in the body have been shown to boost your immune system to fight off illness and infections.

 

Additionally, coconut milk has been proven to contain high levels of niacin (also known as Vitamin B-3). One of the significant benefits of increasing the level of niacin in your body is that it helps with a healthy increase of sex hormones and stress relieving hormones. Niacin is crucial to your reproductive and mental health.

 

Brown Rice

 

The debate between whether you should eat white or brown rice has been going on for many years now. However, a study from the University of Harvard has shown that eating brown rice instead of white rice can significantly lower your risk of diabetes. There are clear health benefits to replacing heavily processed white rice with naturally occurring brown.  The exception to this being this study was done prior to President Obama lifting the regulations on processing foods.  Brown rice is now processed with arsenic, which speeds up the method of deshelling the rice.    So for now I personally am back to using white rice that is NOT from Oklahoma or Nebraska.

 

 Coconut Rice Pudding

Prep time: 5 minutes

 

Cook time: 3 hours 35 minutes (slow cooker)

 

Ingredients

 

1 cup U.S.-grown short grain  rice

1 can light coconut milk

2 cups water

2 tablespoons maple syrup

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1/2 cup raisins

Instructions

 

Put the coconut milk, brown rice, syrup, vanilla and water into the slow cooker and cook for three and a half hours on low heat.

Stir in the cinnamon and raisins.

Enjoy!

Health and Wellness Associates

Archived

312-972-WELL