Thursday, August 19, 2010

feel like ass(partame)

Monday morning, 9:02am. I quickly drop my purse at my desk, turn on my computer, and rush my lunch off to the kitchen fridge. On my way there I can smell the coffee brewing away. While I totally get why most people love the smell of coffee, it tends to make me feel sleepy and kind of dirty. I guess that’s because I associate coffee with bath robes, heavy eyes, and bad breath.

While I make room for my lunch in the fridge, someone is standing next to me, pouring a very generous amount of Equal into their cup of coffee. Another woman is sprinkling Splenda packets on top of her otherwise healthy bowl of oatmeal.

As I rush back to my desk, I can’t help but notice the coffee cups already stacking up on my co-workers' desks. I’m also surprised to see several people drinking diet-coke this early in the day...

... And that’s when I decided that I need to blog about the dangers of artificial sweeteners, specifically, those of Aspartame.

For years, people have been using Nutrasweet and equal, (aka Aspartame) in replace of table sugar, and trading in their regular coke for diet all in the name of losing or maintaining a desirable weight. HOWEVER, what most people don't know is that Aspartame actually suppresses the hormone that notifies our body when it's full. So while the Aspartame itself doesn't directly cause weight gain, it can cause us to eat more!

But increased appetite is the least of our worries when it comes to Aspartame. As discussed in Skinny Bitch by Rory Freedman and Kim Barnouin, Aspartame, the most dangerous of all artificial sweeteners, was initially rejected by the FDA. However after some shady bribery, manipulation, etc., the FDA finally gave in and approved it. BUT with their approval came a list of 92 side effects, 11 of which are named below:

• Memory loss
• Nerve cell damage
• Alzheimer's Disease
• Migraines
• Reproductive disorders
• Brain lesions
• Weight gain
• Food cravings
• Depression
• Schizophrenia
• Seizures

Additionally, many studies show a link between Aspartame consumption and cancer. (Aspartame may as well be a black box drug.)

So there you have it. Aspartame (along with other artificial sweeteners such as sucralose, saccharine, and Acesulfame K ) make you feel like ASS and are no good for your health. But by all means do not be mistaken. I'm definitely not saying to suck up the empty calories and drink regular soda or douse your morning lattes with table sugar instead. Refined sugars come with their own list of dangers. So what are the sugar lovers out there to do?

The health coach in me would say to crowd out the unhealthy coffee and soda habits by drinking more water and herbal teas. I would also suggest eating fruit to curb your sugar cravings, or drink green smoothies in the morning for a nutritious and delicious energy boost. However, not everyone will be open to this right off the bat, and making changes like these take time. So instead I'd like to introduce you to a few guiltless ways of satiating that pesky sweet tooth.
Drum Roll Please....


Stevia is a 100% natural, low calorie sweetener that is even sweeter than table sugar! (so use sparingly). And the real treat is that it doesn't effect blood sugar levels at all! It's great in tea, coffee, smoothies, for baking, and would probably even taste great over my co-worker's oatmeal! I'd Choose organic when possible.

Other options include raw honey and organic maple syrup. Both are great for cooking and baking!

Agave nectar-The Jury is still out on this one, however it has a relatively low glycemic index compared to refined table sugars and is much sweeter which allows you to use less.

While these natural sugars are certainly better for your health, balance is key, and just as you wouldn't down a bottle of celtic sea salt in a day, you definitely don't want to go crazy with sweeteners either!

If it's soda you are still after, I'd try jazzing up club soda with lime, berries, mint leaves, etc. However, I firmly believe if you start becoming conscious of your sugar cravings, seek healthier alternatives like those mentioned above, and drink plenty of water, the soda addiction will pass with time!!!

To a sweet, healthy life!!!

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