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    The Low Carb Luxury Online Magazine  
    January 16, 2004    PAGE 8       > About LCL Magazine      > Cover Page      > Inside Cover      Feature Pages:   1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10   11   12    

  Featured Articles
 Low Carb Kids!
 The Devil Made Me Do It
 Becoming Real
 The Goodness of Butter
 Cosmetic Surgery: Part II
 Nibbles & Noshes
 Idol Thoughts
 Too Much Information?
 Kitchen Knives: A Primer
 Warm Up With Soups!
 You Make The Call
 Snapshot: Don Pablo's



            Are We Victims of Too Much Information? by Joy Turner

                            "The fact that an opinion has been widely held
                                is no evidence whatever that it is not utterly absurd."
                                                                      Utterly Russell

Today, with the Internet in all its glory, we are inundated with information. Choose a subject and perform a search on that topic. If you've never done this before, you'll be amazed at the number of links that pop up. And if you take the time to read your findings, you'll notice a lot of contradiction.

Take low carb, for instance. Hundreds of thousands of websites, news and magazine articles, and "scientific" studies are related to the topic. Some sources say that a low carb lifestyle will kill you over time. Just as many say it's the best, most natural, healthful, and satisfying way to eat. So who are we to believe?

We must all make this choice for ourselves. I choose to believe that low carb is the way for me. It's the only diet I've ever been able to stick with. It's the only diet that, when done properly, rids me of the overwhelming cravings for sugar-laden foods. For me, it's the only way to overcome the dysfunctional eating that is my past.

We've already made our decisions about low carb. Whether we chose it for weight loss, lower cholesterol, stable blood-sugar levels, or to treat insomnia, migraines, or various other diseases, disorders, and dysfunctions, we've all come to the conclusion that low carb is what works for us. But, even among the low carbohydrate diets, there are constant areas of disagreement that plague us.

I'm the kind of person who doesn't take for gospel most things I'm told. A researcher by nature and by profession, I cannot abide those who simply hear something on TV or read something in the newspaper and spread it like holy truth without first attempting to confirm the validity of the information. Besides that, I truly believe that nothing is universal. What works for one will not necessarily work for all. This line of thinking is known as "Your Mileage May Vary" (YMMV) on the Internet. We are all individuals. We all have our likes and dislikes. We all know what we can and cannot do; we know our limits. I certainly believe in stretching those limits to better ourselves, but when it comes to dieting or overcoming addiction, stretching is best left to the strong of will.

So what are these topics of disagreement among low carb community?
Here are just a few:

  • Aspartame
  • Sugar alcohols (polyols)
  • Soy
  • Supplements
  • Calories and fat

Aspartame (Equal, NutraSweet, Equal Measure, and Canderal):
The bad news is that 10% of aspartame is composed of methanol (wood alcohol.) Free methanol (which is created by aspartame when it's heated to above 86 degrees Fahrenheit), when metabolized by the body, is broken down into formic acid and formaldehyde. Widely reported by many to be symptoms caused by the consumption of aspartame:

Abdominal pain, anxiety attacks, joint pain/arthritis, asthma, attention deficit disorder (ADD), edema, hypoglycemia, hyperglycemia, cancer, pulmonary difficulties, burning eyes/throat, brain fog, chest pains, fatigue, confusion, death, depression, diarrhea, excessive thirst/hunger, hair loss, headaches/migraines, hearing loss, heart palpitations, hypertension, impotency and sexual problems, insomnia, laryngitis, tingling of extremities, seizure/convulsions, slurring of speech, swallowing pain, tachycardia, tremors, tinnitus, vertigo, vision loss, weight gain. (According to Dr. Earl Mendell, author of The Diet Bible, The FDA receives the majority of its complaints about aspartame.)

On the other hand, the U.S. government has approved aspartame for use in food and many people claim to experience no problems with the use of it.

Is aspartame something you want to put into your body?

Sugar Alcohols:

A white crystalline powder that is approximately 70% as sweet as sucrose, with a similar taste. Erythritol has about 7-13% of the calories of other polyols and 5% of the calories of sucrose. Because it is rapidly absorbed and rapidly eliminated, laxative side effects are unlikely.

A disaccharide polyol produced by the hydrogenation of maltose, maltitol occurs in nature in chicory and roasted malt. It is about 0.9 times as sweet as sucrose with similar body and sweetness.

Hydrogenated Starch Hydrolysates (HSH):
A mixture of sorbitol, maltitol, and hydrogenated oligosaccharides, the sweetness of HSH varies from 25-50% that of sucrose. It is also known as maltitol syrup and hydrogenated glucose syrup.

A disaccharide polyol approximately 45-65% as sweet as sucrose, isomalt is used as a sweetener/bulking agent. It has no off-flavors and works well in combination with other sweeteners.

A monosaccharide polyol approximately 0.5-0.7 times as sweet as sucrose, sorbitol can cause a laxative effect when consumed to excess (more than 50-80g/day).

A monosaccharide polyol derived from fruits and vegetables (e.g., lettuce, carrots, and strawberries) and from plants and fibrous vegetation, xylitol has the same sweetness, bulk, and caloric value as sucrose.

A monosaccharide polyol, approximately 0.7 times as sweet as sucrose, mannitol can cause a laxative effect when eaten to excess (more than 20 g/day).

A disaccharide polyol derived from lactose, lactitol provides the bulk and texture of sucrose with half the calories. It is 30-40% as sweet as sucrose.

The bad news about sugar alcohols is that, for many, gastric distress, abdominal pain/cramping, and diarrhea are common side effects.

The good news is that if you're experiencing these symptoms, your body is not completely metabolizing them and using them for fuel so there is no need to count the carbs that come from them (if you want to call that good.) Most people can consume sugar alcohols in moderation with no harmful side effects.

Count the carbs accordingly, and use sugar alcohols at your discretion.

Conflicting studies and opinions about soy abound. Some tells us that soy prevents our bodies from properly assimilating many essential vitamins and minerals, that the phytoestrogens in soy are harmful for women and can cause infertility and breast cancer. Soy is blamed for harming the thyroid function, for causing growth dysfunction in children, and for harming the kidneys and nervous system due to high levels of aluminum. It is considered a carcinogenic as well, due to the manner in which it processed.

On the other hand, we're told soy is almost a "food of the gods." The very phytoestrogens called harmful elsewhere, we're told, are not only NOT harmful, but have been shown to prevent various types of cancer. Soy is high in protein, fiber, iron, calcium, and zinc. It can help prevent osteoporosis. Soy is full of antioxidants and protects the body from free-radical damage, boosts the immune system, and lowers the risk of arteriosclerosis and hypertension. Soy is also high in essential fatty acids, such as Omega-3.

So is soy good or bad? You be the judge.

Some say that you need to take a handful of supplements daily. They will tell you that you should take a multi-vitamin, then go on to tell you about a wealth of other supplements that will help with cravings and will help you burn fat faster, sleep better, give you more energy, and so on. Others believe only a good multi-vitamin is necessary. Still others will say there is no need for supplements at all. They claim that if you're eating a proper diet, you're getting all the vitamins and minerals your body needs.

The several schools of thought on the subject all have good points. Ultimately, the decision is yours to make.

Fat and Calories:
Do they matter when on a low-carb diet? For some, they do. For others, they don't seem to. While one person can continue to lose weight at a 2,000-calorie-per-day level, another might gain weight if he took in more than 1,600.

How many calories should you be eating daily? You'll have to figure that out for yourself.

Therein lies the beauty of the low carb lifestyle. It's a plan that can (and should) be tailored to meet the specific needs of the user. We can all be successful in our respective journeys if we will only do a bit of research, fact-finding, and myth busting.

Always make informed decisions. Find what works best for YOU. Start with your epiphany, and end with your victory. What lies between the two is up to you.


Copyright © January 2004  Joy Turner and Low Carb Luxury

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