Saturday, November 10, 2018

Are Artificial Sweeteners 'Dangerous Poisons'?


Image created and owned by @MRSPORTOFFICIAL


I started this mostly to be a beauty blog. But, I knew I'd post about whatever was on my mind. Lately, that seems to be more health-related. Writing about any popular health topic intimidates me. There's SO much debate about nutrition science these days. On one hand, there's one group willing to accept that all 'chemical' ingredients in food are evil. On the other hand, there are factions dedicated to dismantling conclusions even when the supportive evidence is there. Ultimately, I think nothing is as a black and white as any side would like it to be. While I do have an advanced science degree, I'm not a physician or nutritionist. I also don't have formal training on meta-analysis. But, I do have training in experimental design and scientific review. So, this is really about organizing my thoughts after reading from trusted sources (ie the people who have the expertise to review all of the available empirical evidence from many studies and determine what the data is really saying).

All that said, I think a lot about what I'm putting into my body (obviously). I don't follow any of the popular diets. I mostly still just follow try to Michael Pollan's advice. I do drink diet sodas from time to time (not daily, but maybe a few times a week). I really like them. And I've been made to feel guilty about drinking them by all of the talk about their toxicity. I was inspired finally look into the subject more and write this post when some recently saw me drinking and diet soda and said, "You get to choose: you either drink the full sugar ones and pick diabetes, or you drink the diet ones and pick cancer." Ok? Well, NO, not really... At least to that second part...

Artificial sweeteners are non-saccharide (non-sugar) food additives that are highly sweet but don't contain a significant amount of calories. The FDA has approved 5 artificial sweeteners: Acesulfame potassium (Sunett), Aspartame (NutraSweet or Equal), Sucralose (Splenda), D-Tagatose (Sugaree), and Saccharin (Sweet 'N Low). Aspartame is what is used in most of the popular diet sodas (including my beloved Diet Coke❤️). I'm also a fan of adding Jordan's Skinny Syrups to my coffee. I just checked the one in my kitchen and it contains acesulfame potassium and sucralose. 

The FDA also sets an acceptable daily intake (ADI) for each sweetener, which is the maximum amount considered safe to consume each day during a person's lifetime. The ADI is set to be about 100 times less than the smallest amount that might cause health concerns, based on studies done in lab animals. The FDA has set the ADI for aspartame at 50 milligrams per kilogram (mg/kg) of body weight. Supposedly a can of diet soda contains about 180 mg of aspartame. That means a person who weighs 150 lbs can consume 16 cans of soda a day.  Furthermore, they'd need to drink over 1600 cans a day to reach the amount that might cause health concerns. And further still, the FDA describes aspartame as “one of the most thoroughly tested and studied food additives the agency has ever approved”.

"You get to choose: you either drink the full sugar ones and pick diabetes, or you drink the diet ones and pick cancer." Ok? Well, NO, not really... At least to that second part...


Saccharin is the one that is likely to blame for the origin of the controversy. It was originally listed as a carcinogen in the 1980s. But, this was all based on studies in rats and it turns out that some rats are just more likely to get bladder cancer. And, for what might be my favorite fact from researching this post: feed rats large amounts of vitamin C, and they get bladder cancer. Studies in actual humans found no link between saccharin and bladder cancer and the FDA reversed their stance on it in 2000.

If you want to dig deeper than FDA approval, there are great posts on the topic at Science-Based Medicine (SBM). One from 2011, Artificial Sweeteners: Is Aspartame Safe? and an update from just a few days ago, Update on Low Calorie Sweeteners. In brief, rigorous studies don't show that artificial sweeteners cause cancer or weight gain-- instead they support their long established safety. I'll admit the news about artificial sweeteners destroying your gut bacteria had me spooked. But, SBM points out that these scary headlines are based on studies in animals. Extrapolating observations in animal studies to humans (or even from studies a very small sampling of humans) to the general population is just premature and hasn't worked out so far:
At this point there is no clear evidence that low calorie sweeteners (LCS) have an adverse effect on our gut microbiota leading to any adverse health outcome. Anyone quoting the basic science to suggest that there might be should be referred to the utter lack of correlation between the basic science and clinical outcomes on all the other false fears about LCS.
To wrap this up, I will tell you that I'm going to continue to drink diet coke a few times a week and not feel guilty about it. Also, next time someone gives me grief and accuses me of choosing to get cancer from them, I'm going to ask them if they regularly consume alcohol. Cause, newsflash guys: there's good evidence that even small amounts of alcohol can increase risk of some cancers.



XO

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Healthy Treat Comparison: Chocolate VitaTops vs Rule Breakers




This post is in no way sponsored. I have no affiliation with either company that makes these snacks. I'm just a person with a sweet tooth who thinks a lot about what I eat. Because I workout in the evenings, I don't have too many qualms about getting some chocolate when the 3pm slump hits. That said, I don't exactly want to be hitting up the vending machine for M&M's. So, I've been trying out better options. Here the two favorites I've come across lately and how they stack up:

Classic Deep Chocolate VitaTops

  • Taste - These are pretty underwhelming in the taste department. They taste like whole wheat bread at times. But, they're MUCH better when eaten frozen. Grab one right from the freezer and it's definitely a tasty way to get a chocolate fix. 
  • Texture - The texture is good. They are quite cake-y.
  • Calories - 100 calories per Top
  • Ingredients - Not too bad, but a little odd. The list is long. These are advertised as 'healthy' but not 'natural' or 'real'. So, the ingredient list fits that, in my opinion.
  • Price - Typically ~$1.50 per Top
  • Availability - These are super easy to find. I've seen them in just about every major grocery store. (In the freezer section πŸ˜Š). 


Rule Breaker Snacks Deep Chocolate Brownies

  • Taste - They taste great. They are very chocolate-y and very sweet. Both flavors are consistent throughout every bite.
  • Texture - The texture is amazing. They are so soft and moist. They are like soft-baked cookies--but, better than any of the usual store-bought kinds.
  • Calories - 230 calories per brownie
  • Ingredients - Ingredients are an important aspect of these snacks. Their number one ingredient is chickpeas (yes!). They are also vegan and free of the top 8 allergens (including eggs, gluten and nuts).  I' d say you really know what you'r eating with these. But, they do list a few ingredients that I don't exactly have in my kitchen. Nonetheless, I'd say even really conscious-eaters would be happy with these.
  • Price - Typically ~$3.75 per brownie
  • Availability - These I haven't seen in stores in my area. But, according to their website they're in a lot of stores throughout the Eastern US. You can order theses from Amazon or RuleBreakerSnacks.com (always free shipping).

TheπŸ†WINNERπŸ†

Depends what you want from a chocolate snack! VitaTops are cheaper, easier to find and can't beat the calorie count. RuleBreakers win in the taste department and has the better ingredient list. 



XO

Saturday, October 27, 2018

My Favorite Apps for Health & Organization





What is it? - Evernote is an app that keeps notes organized. 

Why I love it - The app syncs between your devices. So I can jot things down on my computer and then its available on my phone later or vice versa. This is also my go-to for jotting down random information or capturing random photos. Whenever I hear the words, "Here's your confirmation number", this is where it goes.


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What is it? - Pocket is an app to save articles you want to read later.

Why I love it - At the risk of stating the obvious, since the internet was created a link list has been a necessity. It also removes formatting from webpages so reading is easier.



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What is it? - Clue is a period tracker app.

Why I love it - This app is smart (as you can see they partner with Oxford, Sanford & Columbia!). It allows you to track your cycles and your symptoms. Information is analyzed to help you better predict your cycle. They are also committed to female reproductive education. Their website is a source of great articles on the subject and the app pops up facts occassionally as you use it. The female body is amazing and there's a lot to learn about it. It also never ceases to amaze me how many of my female friends don't know all the different ways their menstrual cycle can manifest itself. We all need this!


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What is it? - An app that allows you to track your daily meal intake and activity.

Why I love it - The platform is cleanly designed and super easy to use. The barcode reader is a must if you are an adventurous eater who tries new products as soon as they hit the shelves. I also love the macro breakdown (you can view it daily or weekly) and the same for calories.


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What is it? - Feedly is a smart reader that organizes content from websites of your choice.

Why I love it - There's obviously endless amounts of content on the internet. I use this to keep up with my favorite websites in one place.




XO

Morning Beauty Routine Quiz: I'm the Snoozer πŸ’–



I took one of those quick (read: pointless but fun) beauty quizzes. This one was from Refinery29 -- Discover Your Morning Routine. My results were bang on. I got "The Snoozer." I love the snooze button and I'm not interested in a big morning beauty routine. Here's what I do:

1. Wash my face with CeraVe Foaming Facial Cleanser. It's gentle and fragrance-free.



2. Apply 5 drops of Maelove Glow Maker Serum. It has Vitamin CEFerulic Acid and Hyaluronic Acid. I'm thinking of adding niacanamide for my darker spots at some point. But, for now, this stuff has improved my skin tone immensely. You also can't beat what you get for the price -- this stuff was developed my MIT scientists and only costs $28.



3. Finish off with some Supergoop! Unseen Suncreen. It's so lightweight that it's fine with my oily skin. I'm way better about sunscreen after getting lax in my 20s. I'm also becoming more conscious of blue light from electronic screens and this fits that too.



That's it!

You'd probably expect that someone who spends an inordinate of time thinking about skincare would also have a Kardashian-level make-up game. But, I don't. I only wear make-up for higher-level work meetings and special occassions. I think even luxury brands are ultimately detrimental to my complexion. It clogs my pores and it removing it often gets irritating. Plus, why do we think we need it?  But, I should dedicate a whole post to this topic in the future...


XO

Are Artificial Sweeteners 'Dangerous Poisons'?

Image created and owned by @MRSPORTOFFICIAL I started this mostly to be a beauty blog. But, I knew I'd post about whatever was ...