January 12, 2001
In this issue:|
| New Year, and a new batch of resolutions brings us a host
subscribers. Every day since the New Year, hundreds of new low-carbers have signed on to receive the newsletter. We welcome you all with open arms and hope we can help a bit on your journey of discovery to a "new you".
One quick word — after our last issue, a couple of people re-posted some portions of our newsletter on public forums. One claimed the work as their own. When others praised them for it, they accepted the praise. It's now being circulated, credited to this other person. We'd like to ask that our readers not do this. You are welcome to share tidbits from our newsletter with others, but please properly credit the work. Thank you.
Now, on with the newsletter!
While watching a television drama this week, a character made an off-hand comment about people eating their weight in sugar. At first this sounded like a figure of speech (like when my mother would say she had a "ton of cookies to bake" for church, she didn't literally bake 2,240 pounds of cookies...) Then I got to thinking... maybe we really do eat our weight in sugar. I decided to research it.
Sickeningly Sweet Facts:
If the thought of eating your weight in sugar sounds impossible, think again. The average American eats about 139 pounds of sugar every year, or about 25 teaspoons a day (recent surveys indicate this number has jumped again in the year 2000, but final numbers are not yet in place.)
Do you think this statistic sounds too high to apply to you or your family? Then consider this: most popular brands of soda contain between 10 and 12 teaspoons of sugar in a 12 ounce can. If you normally drink 2 cans a day, you’re already close to 25 teaspoons, and you haven’t even factored in the sugar in your coffee, in your cereal, or in the cookies you enjoy with lunch. If converted by the body, this sugar would produce a whopping 79 pounds of fat every year. And this is just the pure sugar in these foods. The white flour in the cookies, cakes and cereals doubles this intake and is not counted in the sugar-per-person tally!
If sugar was full of nutrients and contributed to good health, eating that quantity would be something to be proud of. However, sugar is not only lacking in nutritional value, it leads to life threatening health problems, and alters our emotions faster than a speeding Twinkie.
The Highs and Lows of Sugar Rushes:
The following is a brief synopsis of what goes on in your body after you eat something filled with sugar — like a doughnut. First, the sugar and white flour in the doughnut goes directly into your bloodstream, giving you a "high" feeling. Unfortunately, this is only temporary. Your pancreas senses the sharp rise in blood sugar, and springs into action, dumping large amounts of insulin into your blood. This insulin does its job well, bringing your blood sugar level down, but too quickly and to a very low level. This leads to the "sugar low" we all feel after eating one or two jelly-filleds. We feel depressed, irritable, and tired. Feeling that we need another "pick me up" many of us reach for a cookie or soda, and the process starts all over again.
Our Health — Or What's Left Of It:
While the effect sugar has on your blood sugar is relatively short-lived, long-term damage can result as well. Since your pancreas reacts every time you eat something containing sugar, over time it will become strained, as will your liver and adrenal glands. Your body may respond to this stress in one of two ways: hypoglycemia or diabetes. When our blood sugar levels dip too low and too quickly, our brains get less oxygen and hypoglycemia occurs, resulting in depression, irritability, and anxiety.
Type II Diabetes may be the most well-known result of eating too much sugar over too many years and is quickly reaching epidemic proportions. In the past 30 years the number of diagnosed cases of Type II diabetes has tripled, affecting more than half of Americans over the age of 65. While some people have a genetic tendency to get Type II diabetes, more often than not it is helped along by being overweight, and eating a diet high sugars and starches.
Additionally, sugar wreaks havoc on the vitamins and minerals in our bodies. It robs you of B vitamins, and takes calcium from your bones and teeth. Even if you usually eat healthy meals, enjoying a bowl of ice cream or a couple of cookies will cancel out any benefits because sugar prevents proper absorption of calcium, protein, and minerals.
Sugar is devastating to over-all health as well since it depresses the natural immune system. Without your body's normal ability to fight off disease with it's regular alacrity, degenerative diseases can take hold, cancer can develop or spread, and the simple cold lingers on and on. Many low-carbers have noticed that they no longer get frequent colds, and if they do catch a bug, it's dispensed with quickly by the body's natural defenses. In my personal experience, I got every single "bug" that made the rounds. Colds were something I had at least several times a year and it always stayed with me 5-7 days. I now rarely find myself ill and when I note cold symptoms at all, they disappear within a day.
Obviously, most of us won't be able to totally give up sweets, since we've been brought up on them and social occasions can even revolve around them. The answer lies in a reasonable use of sugar substitutes. Some are better or worse than others on four distinct levels — taste, carb count or insulin response, functionality, and safety.
I asked Richard to use his column this issue to create a mini-dictionary of our sweetener alternatives. We'll expand on these at the site later.
So Luscious and So Low Carb...|
Introducing. . . Macaroni & Cheese Dinner!
Delicious, soft elbow noodles in a "sea" of creamy-rich
Keto Products are available from Life Services.
As mentioned in Lora's column above, I've created a little dictionary of alternative sweeteners to help you sort it all out. We've put them into three groups:
(also known as Acesulfame Potassium, "Ace-K", Sunette)
Discovered in 1967 by Hoechst AG, acesulfame potassium is a high-intensity, non-caloric sweetener, approximately 200 times sweeter than sucrose. Acesulfame K is not metabolized by the body and is excreted unchanged. The sweetness of acesulfame K shows synergistic effects with aspartame, sucralose, and cyclamate, but not to a strong degree with saccharin.
(also known as NutraSweet, Canderel, Equal)
Discovered in 1965, aspartame is a low-calorie sweetener which is approximately 180 times sweeter than sucrose. Aspartame, a synthetic sweetener, is a dipeptide (two amino acids) consisting of the amino acids phenylalanine (as methyl ester) and aspartic acid. It is metabolized as other amino acids. The sweet taste of aspartame has a good taste profile, much like that of normal sugar. Aspartame exhibits synergistic effects with other sweeteners, especially acesulfame K.
Aspartame is best suited for slightly sour products. The most common applications are in lemonade and other soft drinks. However, these have only limited keeping qualities due to the breakdown of the aspartame and the consequent reduction in sweetness. Aspartame also starts to break down upon heating and therefore is not suitable for baking. People suffering from phenylketonuria (PKU) are advised to avoid aspartame due to its phenylalanine content.
(also known as Sweet'N Low, Sugar Twin [in U.S.] & Hermesetas)
Saccharin is a synthetic sweetener and is among the most commonly used substances in the group of high-intensity sweeteners. Saccharin is normally used as the sodium or potassium salt. It has a slight bitter aftertaste, which can be masked by combination with other sweeteners. The sodium salt form of saccharin has a high solubility and its stability is relatively good. Saccharin is not metabolized and thus requires no insulin.
Throughout the 1970s, saccharin was the only low-calorie sweetener available in the United States. Saccharin continues to be important for a wide range of low-calorie and sugar-free food and beverage applications. It is used in the U.S. in such products as soft drinks, tabletop sweeteners, baked goods, jams, chewing gum, canned fruit, candy, dessert toppings and salad dressings.
In 14 single-generation animal studies involving several species of animals, saccharin was not shown to induce cancer in any organ, even at exceptionally high dose levels. Saccharin is approved in more than 100 countries around the world and has been reviewed and determined safe by the Joint Expert Committee on Food Additives, who noted that the animal data which earlier raised questions about saccharin are not considered relevant to humans.
(also known as Sweet'N Low & Sugar Twin [Canadian versions] and as Sucaryl)
Cyclamate is a non-caloric sweetener discovered in 1937. It is a synthetic sweetener manufactured by the sulfonation of cyclohexylamine. The sodium salt, sodium cyclamate, is the most practically useful. It has been used widely in low-calorie foods and beverages and is 30 times sweeter than sucrose. Most people do not metabolize cyclamate. A small portion of the population metabolizes some of the cyclamate they consume.
It is stable in heat and cold and has good shelf life. When cyclamate is combined with other low-calorie sweeteners, they enhance each other so that the combinations are sweeter than the sum of the individual sweeteners.
Cyclamate was banned in the United States in 1969 as it was suspected that it could cause cancer. Sweden and other countries followed suit. Additional experiments (around 75 studies) showed that it was not carcinogenic and cyclamate is now permitted in many countries, although not in the US. Currently there is a petition before the FDA to reapprove cyclamate in the U.S.
(also known as Splenda)
Sucralose is a synthetic sweetener based on sucrose, and was discovered in 1976. Sucralose has a more sugar-like taste than other non-nutritive (non-caloric) sweeteners and is 400-800 times sweeter than sucrose. Sucralose has been approved for use in foods and beverages in more than 40 countries including the U.S., Canada, Australia and Mexico.
Because it ends in "ose" as normal sugars do, consumers sometimes mistakenly assume this product is a true sugar.
Sucralose is the only non-caloric sweetener made from sugar. Sucralose is derived from sugar through a multi-step patented manufacturing process that selectively substitutes three atoms of chlorine for three hydroxyl groups on the sugar molecule. This change produces a sweetener that has no calories, yet tastes like sugar. It has a clean, quickly perceptible, sweet taste that does not leave an unpleasant aftertaste. The exceptional stability of sucralose allows both food manufacturers and consumers to use it virtually anywhere sugar is used, including cooking and baking.
Reduced-Calorie / Nutritive Sweeteners / Polyols:
Polyols, or "sugar alcohols" are neither a "sugar" nor an "alcohol". Sugar alcohols (such as maltitol, sorbitol, mannitol, xylitol, or HSH/lycasin) affect the blood glucose levels less dramatically than regular table sugar (sucrose) as they are digested and absorbed much slower. Although little or no insulin is needed for metabolism of sugar alcohols they still must be counted as a carbohydrate in the meal plan. Sugar alcohols are not free foods. Foods containing "sugar alcohols" but no sugar can be labeled "sugar free" according to the FDA. Consume only the recommended serving size as excess consumption can cause abdominal discomfort and/or laxatives effects.
Polyols are frequently combined with low-calorie sweeteners such as acesulfame K, sucralose and saccharin in sugar-free chewing gums, candies, frozen desserts and baked goods. The polyol gives these foods the bulk and texture of sugar; the intense sweeteners make the product taste as sweet as if sugar were used.
The following is a run-down of the most common polyols used:
Maltitol is a reduced calorie bulk sweetener with sugar-like taste and sweetness. It has a disaccharide polyol produced from maltose, occurring widely in nature as in chicory and roasted malt and can be up to 90 percent as sweet as table sugar. It has a pleasant sweet taste with no aftertaste and has less laxative effect than sorbitol or mannitol.
Mannitol is a monosaccharide polyol with about 70 percent the sweetening power of table sugar.
(also known as Neosorb, Sorbofin, glucitol)
Sorbitol occurs naturally in many edible foods and berries. It is not absorbed as readily sugar by the body even though the body uses it in much the same way as sugar. Sorbitol has a mildly sweet taste, about 60 percent as intense as cane sugar.
Xylitol is a monosaccharide polyol derived from fruits and vegetables such as lettuce, carrots, strawberries and from fibrous plants.
(also known as Palatinit, Diabetisweet [when mixed with Ace-K] and Isomaltitol)
Isomalt is a fairly new sugar substitute discovered in the early 1950s. Isomalt is produced by the enzymatic rearrangement of sucrose followed by hydrogenation. It consists of a mixture of approximately equal parts of glucose-sorbitol and glucose-mannitol. It is 50 percent lower in calories than table sugar and only about 50 percent of it is metabolized by the body.
HSH (Hydrogenated Starch Hydrolysate):
HSH is made from corn. The corn kernels are steeped, ground and degerminated from the hull. Fiber and gluten are removed, leaving the liquid starch. The starch is then partially "hydrolized" into thick syrup. With the aid of a catalyst, these extra hydrogen atoms are fused into new molecules that change the syrup into HSH.
Lycasin is the product name of hydrogenated starch syrup, which is a mixture of various sugar alcohols, mainly malitol (50-55%) and maltotriitol (20-25%). Its relative sweetness is about 0.6 compared to sugar.
Lactitol is a sugar alcohol which is produced by the hydrogenation of lactose. Its relative sweetness is 0.3-0.4 compared to sucrose. Lactitol is most often used in ice cream and confectionery, but is one of the most problematic of the polyols for causing abdominal discomfort and/or laxatives effects.
(also known as glycerine, or glycerin)
Glycerol is a thick sugar alcohol, previously called glycerine, with a low relative sweetness of 0.6. Glycerol is found in all fats and is used in confectionery and ice-cream. It is derived from vegetables or coconut, is not actually a carbohydrate and is not classed as one. For the majority of people, it causes little or no insulin reaction, making it useful for low-carbohydrate diets.
Full-Calorie / Nutritive Non-Sucrose Sweeteners:
(also known as "Litesse")
Polydextrose is formed by condensation of glucose and sorbitol in the presence of citric acid, and consists of glucose units mainly bound by 1,6 bonds. Only a small proportion of polydextrose is metabolized in the body. Polydextrose is used as a bulking agent in low-calorie and low-carbohydrate products and in confectionery.
(also known as Levulose)
The sweetest and most soluble is found in fruits and vegetables. The fructose is absorbed more slowly than glucose in the bloodstream. Unlike glucose, fructose is metabolized in the liver, meaning it does not require a large initial insulin response to move from the blood directly into the cells for metabolism. For this reason, some diabetics find it useful in controlled amounts. However, fructose is a full-dose carbohydrate and always must be used carefully, because it has the same caloric and carbohydrate value as other sugars. Foods with added fructose should be avoided by those on most low-carbohydrate plans.
We got requests for very specific recipes over the last couple of weeks and a little searching and a little experimenting netted us four exceptional recipes we wanted to share with all of you. So here are two great (and somewhat unique) desserts and two very low-carb entrees.
Refrigerator Banana Cheesecake
Just a Simple Shopping Trip...
So, I'm sitting at my desk pondering what to write about for the newsletter this week... I've had a few ideas rolling around in my head, but haven't pinned anything down yet. One might wonder if fate had decided to lend a hand when my wife came into the room reminding me we had to get to the store this evening.
We usually go to a grocery store right down the street from our home, but since I mentioned I needed a few eclectic supplies for my work assignment, we opted for a trip to the local Super Wal*Mart instead.
Upon entering the store, a decision was made to split up and make more efficient use of our time. She went to the grocery section, and I darted off to electronics. I — being a "get-the-goods-and-go" man — got the items I needed rather quickly, and ventured back to the food section to locate my spouse.
In my search, I did what all husbands do while looking for their wives — I walked down the long main aisle, bobbing my head from side to side. The further I got, the more 'dizzy' (hey, head-bobbing will really take it out of you!) So I stopped for a moment.
I happened to be at the end of the packaged cereal aisle, and as I peered down past "carb-central", what did I see? Not to be overly crude, but I saw a woman that made Jabba the Hutt look a bit like Twiggy...
Now I am hardly in a position to judge anyone. I am simply making an observation. For some reason unknown to me, I walked down that aisle. (Okay, who am I kidding? It was something like staring at a car wreck — you know you shouldn't stare, but you cannot help yourself.) I passed her, her "enabling" thin husband, and her short, overly round son.
She was probably around 35 years of age — as was her husband. Her son I estimated to be no more than 5. And as I passed, I surreptitiously glanced into her cart (what can I say, I'm a snoop!) and saw no less than 4 boxes of sugared cereals (Captain Crunch and Lucky Charms were on top), Entenmann's chocolate doughnuts, 3 loaves of store brand white bread, peanut butter and jelly swirl... and well, you get the idea.
As I reached the end of the aisle, I found myself standing there quietly transfixed in my thoughts. I peered back at her as she walked away from me, with only pity in my heart. I felt sorry for her, though I knew that if she'd been aware of that pity, it would have angered and embarrassed her... I've been there. We don't want pity.
But I know — addiction is a powerful thing. It's sneaky — never giving hint of its true nature.
I felt a sorrowful pang for her son — his very life being shortened by the lessons and addictions he's being taught at this tender age. Of course, we shouldn't dismiss the emotional damage inflicted on a child who grows up heavy. Children are cruel about such things. At that moment though, the thought passed through my mind that perhaps in a few years, the overweight kids will be in the majority at school. I brushed the thought aside — still clinging to a hope that society will surely wake up before it comes to that. We will, right?
As I continued my trek through the store, I began seeing its "inhabitants" in a new, analytical way. All of a sudden, this vision of an addicted society was everywhere... Each person I spied was yet another pushing a cart laden with carbs and sugar. And for many of them, pushing the cart as much for physical support as to contain their purchases. "Am I the only one seeing this?" I wondered... I used to be one of these people, and I never saw it.
As I rounded the aisle bordering dairy and grabbed two packages of unsalted butter, I stopped short. In front of me stood what looked at first like the "exception to the rule." As I moved closer, I could see she was bone thin. I approached her slowly — trying not to look like some ogling weirdo as I was now immersed in this "hyper-aware observation of America" mode.
My first thought was the expected one — "Eat something for heaven's sake! Eat a sandwich! Lick a stamp! Anything! "
So many eating disorders... so little time.
When I was within only a few feet of her, I began to notice her pallor. Her eyes are a bit sunken in; her hair dark, flat, dull. A woman so young, yet looking so lifeless. As I passed her, I slowed to a stop. Thinking back on it now, it was terribly rude and likely a bad idea. But when I get into these analytical moods, I tend to leave my smart social graces in the car.
Was I at all surprised to see the contents of her cart? It contained a plethora of low-fat cookies, fat free candies, and Healthy Choice frozen meals. There was the obligatory skim milk and bananas. And at the edge of her cart sat her fat-free butter replacement for baking — along side two 5-pound bags of sugar. Ah... she'd be baking some fat-free sugar-laden delights later!
First she glared at me for my inappropriate staring (I deserved it); then she noted the two pounds of real butter in my hands and her look changed a bit. I had the distinct impression she was feeling sorry for me. I imagined her thought process and reasoned she figured I was looking into her cart to see what I should have been buying to be thin and "healthy" like her. A moment later, we went our separate ways and I mused about how she might be "concerned" for me...
She was thin alright — and because she was the metabolic type to stay thin even with the daily deluge of sugar, she will continue to see her diet as successful.
If you've got a nuclear-powered metabolism... well, good for you! However, it doesn't change the fact that sugar is an anti-nutrient. No one can continue to eat something that robs from you more than it offers up in return and not expect to show the effects. She judges her success by her thin rail-like frame. Her pale and patchy skin, her lifeless hair — what does she attribute these to? Perhaps it's genetics, maybe pollution, possibly chemicals in the drinking water? It can't be her diet, right? She adheres to the food pyramid. And eats nearly fat-free...
Both women I studied in the store that night — and so many other people — have the same addiction. Obesity is simply a visible side effect of a much greater problem, nothing more. It is the effect, not the cause. Different people showing different symptoms from the same disease.
Welcome to my world — where a simple trip to the store turns itself into yet another character study of the human experience... Oh, and I finally did find my wife.
Breakfast Ideas. . .
We received thirteen letters in only a weeks' time from visitors asking for breakfast ideas — usually because they were tired of eggs, or because they were short on time. Here's only one of the letters, and our answer with suggestions. We hope it can inspire even more ideas!
My biggest problem is breakfast. What to do about breakfast? I really do not care for eating an Atkins Bar or another such bar for breakfast unless that's all there is. Can you give me some suggestions which taste good and are easy to fix?
Sure, hopefully, I can lend a hand there...
We've gotten really creative with breakfasts. First, we don't restrict breakfast to only classic breakfast foods. We often have leftover this-and-that from the previous night's dinner.
We also use weekends to make up grab-from-the-fridge things. Some of these ideas translate just as easily to quick lunches and some as you'll see, are very brown-bag-able.
A few we do often are:
I hope this has given you some additional ideas!
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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