August 24, 2001
In this issue:|
| i everyone! We're nearly at the end of Summer. Wow.. time really
flies when you're busy. Everyone ready for "back-to-school"?
A LOT of people (mostly those new to low-carb) have entered questions about low-carbing and cholesterol levels when filling out the sign-up form. We've addressed it quite often in our previous issues and will continue to elaborate on it from time to time. In the meantime, we want to remind everyone that the back issues are online and are packed with information, recipes and opinion pieces. You can find them here.
We're shortening the newsletter just a bit. Some people have begun to have some difficulties getting so large a file, so we've scaled it back just a tiny bit.
On with the newsletter!
"A Look at High Fructose Corn Syrup"
As I walk down the aisles of my health food stores, I naturally look to the products that seem least likely to contain any form of sugar. Obviously. I'm a low-carber. But to those that don't avoid the carbs and look simply to "something more natural" (a phrase I hear bandied about in my local venues quite a bit), the substitution of what they see as "better than sugar" is actually shocking.
Don't believe it? Look for yourself. Go to any health food store or that "section" of your grocery, and start reading labels. You'll see a huge number of products that have substituted "raw" sugar (just as unhealthy) and even worse, high fructose corn syrup.
And that, is the reason for this column. I have mentioned in the past my strict avoidance of HFCS (high fructose corn syrup), but I am told I have not really expounded on the reasons why. So here we go. . .
If you consider fructose a safe, natural sugar, think again. You've been had by one of the biggest nutritional bait-and-switch ploys in years.
First, you should know, that while most people associate the word "fructose" with "fruit sugar", more than 95% of fructose in America comes from cheaply processed corn and not fruit at all. HFCS is sort of like "fructose-plus". More concentrated, more dangerous. And a MUCH higher profit margin for food makers.
You see, there's been a quiet revolution going on in America since 1970: The gradual replacement of cane & beet sugar by corn syrups. And little wonder. Corn syrup, particularly high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), is cheap to produce, sweet to the tongue, and easy to store safely. According to the USDA, the average American consumed 1/2 pound of high fructose corn syrup in 1970. By the mid-1990s, that figure has jumped to 55.3 pounds of HFCS per person.
And just because you stay away from soda and sweets doesn't count you out as a corn syrup consumer: HFCS finds its way into everything from sauces to bacon to beer. And, despite the FDA's assurances to the contrary, a growing number of researchers are beginning to think HFCS is a constant dietary companion we'd be better off without.
The truth is that fructose and HFCS, as large-scale commercial sweeteners, didn't exist 20 years ago. Now, they're almost as common as sucrose-plain old white sugar. HFCS is routinely added to processed foods and beverages including Coca-Cola, Snapple, and many health food products.
The trouble may lie with the particular form fructose assumes in corn syrup. While naturally occurring sugars, as well as the sucrose we spoon into our coffee, contain fructose bound to other sugars, high-fructose corn syrup contains a good deal of "free" or unbound fructose. And it may be this free fructose that interferes with the heart's use of key minerals, like magnesium, copper and chromium.
In fact, a trail of medical studies dating back a quarter of a century doesn't paint a terribly sweet picture for fructose. High fructose consumption has been fingered as a causative factor in heart disease. It raises blood levels of cholesterol and another type of fat, triglyceride. It makes blood cells more prone to clotting, and it may also accelerate the aging process.
The problem comes with the sheer quantity of "hidden" fructose being consumed through the HFCS and sucrose in processed foods. For example, conventional and "new age" soft drinks almost universally contain 11 percent HFCS by weight-2.2 pounds per case.
Fructose and other sugars contribute to heart disease in yet another way. Dietary sugars increase what doctors call "spontaneous platelet aggregation", an unnatural tendency toward blood clotting. But according to a study published in the Aug. 1, 1990, Thrombosis Research, fructose promotes abnormal clotting much more than does any other common sugar does.
Isn't it interesting that the FDA has basically allowed fructose and HFCS based products to enter the market without any rigorous testing of it. The passage:
"Fructose is part of the sucrose sugar. Sucrose is affirmed as GRAS (generally regarded as safe)," explained Judy Folke, a spokesperson at the FDA's Food Safety and Applied Nutrition Press Office in Washington, D.C. "Fructose is not GRAS, but it was treated under prior sanction because it had been used for so many years."
I see... so it's in the food supply without being classified as "Generally Regarded as Safe" because no one has challenged it over the years... Wow, I feel better now.
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Have a Coke and a Smile...
I'd been talking with my wife about a close cousin - hooked on soda pop for many years - who had recently succumbed to osteoporosis (wherein the bones become extremely porous, are subject to fracture, and heal slowly, occurring especially in women following menopause.)
This discussion had made me realize the relevant connection between her drinking so much soda and her resulting condition.
But I was again struck with thoughts of her as I visited the MSN Health News page and eyed the headline, "Drink Too Many Colas, and Your Bones May Pay the Price". I couldn't click on it fast enough, my mind wondering if this was it — the article that made the connection.
What was I thinking?
Although the title of the article sparked a hope, alas further reading continues instead to hammer home the point that they "just don't get it."
Let me share a few relevant passages from this article:
"But somebody who is drinking six cans of cola a day and getting no milk at all is going to be in trouble. It is not because they are drinking the cola. It is because they are not drinking milk."
What? It is NOT because they are drinking the cola—
They seem to imply that if you just drank the cola AND drank milk, you'd be just peachy.
First, let me quickly address the milk issue. Yes, milk can be a good source of calcium, but there are MANY others — others that don't contain the levels of lactose (milk sugars) that make it unsuitable in appreciable quantities on a low-carb diet.
For example, while milk contains 300 mg calcium per cup, a 2-oz serving of cheddar cheese contains 410 mg. A 2-oz serving of Swiss cheese gives you 480 mg. Almonds offer up 100 mg per 1/4 cup serving, and a 4-oz serving of salmon gives nearly 400 mg. Most green vegetables offer a good dose of calcium as well (a cup of spinach gives you 240 mg!)
But let's get back to the idea that soda's "not the problem"... Their next quote is:
"I don't work for [a major cola company], and they didn't pay me a penny to do this research, but the fact is that their product is not particularly harmful on the face of it. It is what it doesn't contain, like calcium, and not what it does contain that is the problem."
Not particularly harmful? Well, I think we better understand why this statement is patently false.
There are two major elements to a "Coca-Cola" (or Pepsi, etc) that indeed ARE the problem. The first is sugar (and/or its more dangerous cousin High Fructose Corn Syrup.)
Sugar (and HFCS) promotes bone loss. The average American consumes about 150-170 pounds of refined sugar per year, which is sufficient to do a lot of bone damage. Sugar is absorbed quickly and sharply increases our cellular glucose levels. Cellular glucose increases, but the oxygen in the cell doesn't increase and this causes incomplete oxidation of the sugar. Partial oxidation forms acids and the acids strip calcium from our bones. Sugar also causes losses of magnesium, which is necessary for bone formation.
And then, there's phosphoric acid. Now, I won't kid you. I still drink diet colas (though only those that are Splenda sweetened.) And they contain just as much phosphoric acid as the sugared variety. So I am trying to keep them to a minimum. Not all soda contains phosphoric acid, but all colas do, as do many of the "other" dark colored ones (like Dr. Pepper and its clones.) But while I still drink a cola or two each day, I have no illusions about them being harmless. And neither should you — especially if you are at risk of osteoporosis.
So how does phosphoric acid do its damage?
Excessive phosphorous causes bone loss by reacting with the calcium to form an insoluble compound thus inhibiting absorption of calcium from the digestive system. Phosphorous also causes calcium losses from bone by metabolizing to phosphoric acid, which has to be neutralized with calcium.
Since drinking colas with both sugar AND phosphoric acid is shown to cause 40% more calcium loss (as measured in the urine) than sodas containing either one alone, we can clearly see the danger here should not be glossed over in junk-science articles.
Another quote from the article: "It is important for people of all ages to consume a calcium-rich beverage or food with every meal, Weaver says, whether it is milk, fortified orange juice, cereal, yogurt, cheese, or something else."
A valid point, but flawed. First, and most important, when calcium is consumed within a sugar-containing item, the anti-nutrient properties of the sugar more than negates the calcium consumption.
They go on to say that, "Parents often pick their battles with teens, and food doesn't seem all that important," she says. "Hopefully, their kids will make it through all of the other issues of adolescence without too many scars. But they will live with the diet choices and exercise patterns they set up for the rest of their lives."
Now here is an actual good point. If we could begin to educate our children about the dangers of refined sugars early on in life, this generation could escape the curse of being the fattest and most unhealthy in our history. Sadly, I don't see this happening anytime soon. Not with all the corporate cereal and beverage companies out there to keep our children hooked.
Want an example?
Four years ago — in 1997 — Coca-Cola spent $277 million to advertise its sodas. Pepsi spent close to $200 million. Americans drank twice as many soft drinks in 1997 as they did in 1973 and 43 percent more than in 1985. Manufacturers pump out enough pop to give every American 54 gallons a year - that's 19 oz. a day. The average teenage boy who drinks soda downs 3 1/2 cans (42 oz.) a day. One in ten drinks seven cans a day. Girls average three quarters as much soda as boys.
In Coca-Cola's 1997 Annual Report, they made this statement: "We're putting ice-cold Coca-Cola classic and our other brands within reach, wherever you look: at the supermarket, the video store, the soccer field, the gas station – everywhere." More than 2.8 million vending machines spew out more than 27 billion soft drinks a year.
Colorado Springs School District 11 will receive between $8 million and $11 million over the next 10 years from its exclusive contract to sell Coca-Cola products in its vending machines. This type of marketing is popping up all over the United States. On the national news recently, a teenager was expelled from school for the day, when he arrived at school wearing a Pepsi Cola T-Shirt on Coca-Cola Day in protest of the commercialism of his educational experience.
In 1942, when production of carbonated soft drinks was about 60 12-ounce servings per person, the American Medical Association's (AMA) Council on Foods and Nutrition stated:
"From the health point of view it is desirable especially to have restriction of such use of sugar as is represented by consumption of sweetened carbonated beverages and forms of candy which are of low nutritional value. The Council believes it would be in the interest of the public health for all practical means to be taken to limit consumption of sugar in any form in which it fails to be combined with significant proportions of other foods of high nutritive quality."
By 1998, soft-drink production had increased by nine-fold and provided more than one-third of all refined sugars in the diet, but the AMA and other medical organizations now are largely silent.
M. Douglas Ivester, Coca-Cola's chairman and CEO, actually made the Following statement: "Actually, our product is quite healthy. Fluid replenishment is a key to health... Coca-Cola does a great service because it encourages people to take in more and more liquids."
I guess we can expect more news stories that tell us how "harmless" a simple Coke can be...
Low Carb Connoisseur Announces New Atkins Products!"
This issue offers up a LOT of variations on an American favorite that lends itself to low-carb extremely well — Cheesecakes! Their possibilities are nearly endless, so here are some of our favorites and some that were sent our way by many of YOU!
Orange Upside-down Cheesecake
Chromium - And Do You Need It?
I've been wondering about taking chromium along with my other supplements. But I am a little confused about what advantages it will offer me and what form to take it in. Can you help?
Sure, let me try and explain the "what" and the "why" of it.
It's estimated that Americans get only half of the chromium they need each day. Although humans need chromium only in trace amounts, too little chromium in the human diet can lead to serious health problems.
After chromium enters the human body, it teams up with other elements to keep our metabolism tuned and efficient. Food processing techniques can remove nearly all of it, leading to dietary deficiencies.
Minerals by themselves are usually hard to absorb and require helper molecules as chaperones to usher them into the bloodstream, and through the cell wall where they can be put to work. Certain bonding molecules are better than others in order for us to efficiently absorb and utilize chromium.
For proper absorption of chromium, the body depends on a natural form of chromium which is "chelated," or joined to helper molecules. The general environment of the bowel is also important for absorption. Such factors as enzymes, pH (acidity or alkalinity), and bacterial action on food in the bowel can make a big difference on how much chromium gets into the bloodstream.
Chromium is the central atom in the "glucose tolerance factor" (GTF), a hormone-like compound that works with insulin to transport glucose - the body's quickest fuel - out of the blood and into the cells. GTF is composed of two niacin molecules, three amino acids, zinc and manganese. With chromium present in the diet, intestinal bacteria can produce GTF for you.
Taking chromium supplements is the next best thing to ingesting it through everyday eating. But putting a mineral supplement in an absorbable form is another matter.
Studies indicate that chromium nicotinate tends to be both absorbed and retained better than chromium picolinate, but both can be of value when taken in conjunction with a low-carbohydrate eating regime. It can curb cravings and stop a stall.
Chromium is believed to enhance the effectiveness of insulin, a hormone vital for the processing of glucose. Supplemental chromium reduces blood glucose levels.
For most people, getting between 250mcg and 500mcg per day is ideal.
Thanks for all your letters, everyone! I get hundreds of letters each week and try to answer as many as I can.
Thanks for reading! Keep your suggestions and questions
coming in — we always want to hear from you! Remember, we
can't address every request and query, but the ones we hear
about the most or offer the greater potential to help others
will surely make their way here.|
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