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Manufacturers of artificial sweeteners would like us to think that they’ve discovered the perfect loophole for enjoying the sweetness of sugar without any of its health risks. As we’ve covered in previous articles, though, nothing could be further from the truth.

The first commercially available artificial sweetener, saccharin, was shown to cause cancer in rats.[1] It was banned as a food additive in 1981, but then deemed not hazardous to humans and unbanned in 2001.[2] It’s worth noting that in these later vindicating studies, researchers do not rule out the carcinogenicity of saccharin; they merely claim that large quantities need to be consumed in order to cause cancer in humans.

Aspartame hit the market next, but it was found to be so toxic that it’s commercial release was delayed for over a decade. Despite its current widespread distribution and use as an artificial sweetener, studies continue to demonstrate that aspartame induces oxidative stress, damages cell membrane integrity, deregulates cellular function, and leads to systemic inflammation.[3]

You’d think that over time, manufacturers would get better at making safer sweeteners, but sucralose seems to be even worse than its predecessors. Studies have linked its consumption to leukemia,[4] severe bowel and kidney issues,[5] cancer and other toxicity-induced cell disorders,[6] neurotoxicity,[7] thyroid dysfunction,[8] and many other health problems.

But at least artificial sweeteners are safe for diabetics and help you lose weight, right? On the contrary, studies have demonstrated that consuming artificial sweeteners can be just as harmful as sugar (if not worse) in these scenarios. One study even found that people who consume artificial sweeteners are up to 67% more likely to develop type 2 diabetes.[9]

Why artificial sweeteners are so disruptive

Researchers are fascinated by what makes artificial sweeteners such risky substances. The states that they trigger—systemic inflammation, oxidative stress, cellular dysfunction—are primary indicators of disruption on a fundamental level. Perhaps one of the only reasons they’re still deemed “not hazardous to human health” is because it can take a long time for these fundamental markers of imbalance to tip over into full-blown disease—so manufacturers can still get away with calling their products “non-toxic.”

Ever since they first began studying artificial sweeteners, researchers have searched for a specific metric for discussing their disruptive effect—some sort of mechanism that could underly all the markers of imbalance mentioned above. A new study has provided a suitable answer by demonstrating that artificial sweeteners are toxic to beneficial gut microbes.

Microbiome dysregulation can easily lead to primary imbalances like inflammation and excessive oxidative stress. By viewing it as a mechanism through which artificial sweeteners exert harmful effects on the body, we can more precisely understand the toxicity of these substances.

The study in question used a modified form of bioluminescent bacteria that literally glows when exposed to substances above a certain level of toxicity. They exposed the bacteria to aspartame, sucralose, saccharine, neotame, advantame, and acesulfame potassium-k, as well as ten different sport supplements containing these artificial sweeteners. In all cases, the bacteria “became toxic” with a mere 1 mg/ml concentration of artificial sweetener.[10]

The researchers believe their results provide “further evidence that consumption of artificial sweeteners adversely affects gut microbial activity, which can cause a wide range of health issues.” They hope these findings help us understand “the relative toxicity of artificial sweeteners and the potential of negative effects on the gut microbial community as well as the environment.”[11]

There’s no good reason to use artificial sweeteners

The action steps for protecting yourself and your microbiome should be pretty clear in this case: just stop consuming artificial sweeteners. They are toxic substances with well-documented risks and no advantages whatsoever over conventional sugar.

Even if conservative estimates about their toxicity are correct (meaning that you’d have to consume a very large quantity to be at risk of negative health effects like cancer), the bioaccumulation of toxins over time can still pose a danger. Why take the risk? The study cited above demonstrates that consuming these sweeteners can compromise the integrity of the microbiome long before the development of more severe associated diseases.

There are far healthier sweetener choices anyway. Honey is a perfect example, and just might be nature’s perfect sweetener. Stevia is another safe alternative, though evidence suggests that it should still be used in moderation.

The best approach, however, is to break your addiction to sweet substances altogether—using any sugar substitute doesn’t address this inherent dependency issue. Remember that finding overall balance with your dietary habits is as important as the specific foods and substances that make up your diet.

Regardless of how you choose to find balance, though, do your best to minimize artificial sweetener consumption; your gut flora will thank you.

 


References 

[1] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1637197/

[2] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3185898

[3] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28938797

[4] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27078173

[5] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2210518

[6] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10882819

[7] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24699280

[8] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28040879

[9] https://www.purdue.edu/newsroom/releases/2013/Q3/prof-diet-drinks-are-not-the-sweet-solution-to-fight-obesity,-health-problems.html

[10] https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/10/181001101932.htm

[11] Ibid.

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Approximately one fifth of the American population consumes diet soda on a daily basis.[1] The majority of individuals do so under the assumption that diet soda is significantly healthier than its sugary counterparts.

This is certainly the story that soft drink manufacturers have fed to us—but a growing body of research demonstrates that it’s a bald-faced lie.

As the lie of sugar’s healthfulness became more and more difficult to maintain, manufacturers turned to artificial sweeteners (despite early research that revealed the dangers of this laboratory chemicals from the very beginning).

The calorie-free nature of these chemicals is also a powerful leverage point, which allows companies to advertise diet soda as an ideal way to lose weight while protecting yourself against the dangers of conventional sugar.

This claim holds less and less water with every new study that’s published, but diet soda makers continue to whitewash their products nonetheless. Meanwhile, an increasing number of leading health experts warn that limiting artificial sweetener consumption may be just as important for your health as limiting sugar consumption.

Saccharin (the first artificial sweetener to hit the market) was found to cause cancer in animals not long after its commercial release

Diet soda myths

There’s a number of persistent myths out there about diet soda…let’s put them to rest.

Artificial sweeteners are safe and non-toxic. Nothing could be further from the truth. Saccharin (the first artificial sweetener to hit the market) was found to cause cancer in animals not long after its commercial release, aspartame was found to be so toxic that its release was delayed by nearly a decade, and sucralose (the newest artificial sweetener on the block) can lead to leukemia,[2] severe bowel and kidney issues,[3] cancer and systemic toxicity,[4] neurotoxicity,[5] inhibited thyroid function,[6] and many other conditions.

Yet more research has shown that daily consumption of diet soda is linked with an increased risk of depression (even more so than drinking regular soda),[7] that long-term diet soda consumption is linked with kidney dysfunction, that diet soda drinkers are more likely to experience a heart attack or stroke,[8] and that drinking diet soda increases the risk of developing asthma and other respiratory problems (the more you drink, the higher the risk).[9]

Daily consumption of diet soda is linked with an increased risk of depression

And shockingly, that still only scratches the surface of the dangers these chemicals carry. While they’re all pretty nasty, aspartame in particular has been linked with a dizzying list of side effects and health conditions, including memory loss, hearing loss, visual problems, fibromyalgia, weight gain (more on that in a bit), multiple sclerosis, fatigue, birth defects, lymphoma and other cancers, ADHD, Parkinson’s, and more (in addition to the health issues mentioned above).[10]

Diet soda DON’T help you lose weight. Artificial sweeteners may carry the dangers presented above, but at least they’re more waistline-friendly than sugar, right? Wrong.

According to researchers, the intense sweetness of artificial sweeteners profoundly confuses the body and drives metabolic systems haywire. Hormone responses that normally signal hunger and satiety are upset, and thus diet soda drinkers tend to overeat.

It’s clear that the way to lose weight is to change the fundamental habits that led to the excess weight to begin with, not simply to replace sugar with something equally sweet, addictive, and unhealthful.

Diet soda is NOT safe for diabetics. Artificial sweeteners in diet soda may not spike blood sugar levels, but this absolutely does not mean that they’re safe for diabetics. As mentioned above, these chemicals wreck just as much havoc on metabolism as sugar (if not more).

Artificial sweeteners still trigger insulin in a way that causes your body to switch into fat storage mode, which leads to weight gain and metabolic dysfunction.

One study actually found that people who consume artificial sweeteners are 36% more likely to develop metabolic syndrome (the precursor to diabetes) and 67% more likely to develop full-blown type 2 diabetes.[11]

Just say no

You’d think that, with all of the overwhelming evidence against diet soda and artificial sweeteners in general, people would stopped consuming it by now. In fact, there’s more than enough data to warrant banning them from commercial distribution (more than one team of lawyers has certainly tried to do so).

There’s more than enough data to warrant banning artificial sweeteners from commercial distribution

But the propaganda of soft drink manufacturing giants is strong—Coca-Cola is arguably one of the most widely distributed and universally recognized brands in the world. And the legal teams behind these companies appear to be just as entrenched; an artificial sweetener ban doesn’t seem like it will happen anytime soon.

The responsibility therefore falls on us to remove these toxic beverages from our lives. As is probably obvious from the discussion above, they’re just not worth whatever enjoyment they provide—and they’re certainly not a weight loss or diabetes-friendly solution.

If the thought of exiling fizzy, sweet beverages from your diet is unbearable, know that there are other options. Making your own sparkling water (with a Soda Stream or similar device) and then adding plant-derived flavorings is a great alternative, and kombucha is even better (thanks to its probiotic content).

 


References

[1] https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/products/databriefs/db109.htm

[2] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27078173

[3] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2210518

[4] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10882819

[5] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24699280

[6] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28040879

[7] http://www.newswise.com/ee/blog/entry/diet-soda-linked-to-depression-coffee-tied-to-lower-risk/

[8] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22282311

[9] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22142454

[10] http://www.fda.gov/ohrms/dockets/dailys/03/jan03/012203/02p-0317_emc-000199.txt

[11] https://www.purdue.edu/newsroom/releases/2013/Q3/prof-diet-drinks-are-not-the-sweet-solution-to-fight-obesity,-health-problems.html

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monsanto-evil

Industrial society has not been kind to our planet. The greed of capitalism, politics, and power dynamics have all but conquered the world, leaving a wake of environmental degradation, sickness, and suffering. The future doesn’t look very bright.

The ecological recklessness of our world’s corporatocracy is tragic, sick, and insupportable—but this doesn’t mean that every large commercial entity is willfully acting in an evil and malicious way. More often than not, ignorance and incompetence are to blame, more so than malevolent conspiracy.

But there ARE Companies for which greed-fueled, destructive decisions are the rule rather than the exception, and which seem to have nearly no redeeming qualities.

Perhaps the prominent example of this breed of company is Monsanto, an entity routinely referred to as “the world’s most evil corporation.”

In making this statement, it’s imperative that you look at the facts and make your own decisions. The rallying cry of natural health and earth-friendly communities everywhere is that Monsanto products should be boycotted without exception.

Read through this primer on the company’s history, and you’ll probably understand why.

A long line of profitable poisons

Monsanto is most well-known for its glyphosate-containing pesticide RoundUp—currently the most widely used pesticide in the world—as well as their genetically modified seeds and agricultural products. But the company’s foray into the world of GMO agribusiness is only its most recent controversial product line.

Here’s some examples of some of their other past (and current) projects.

Sweeteners (and military meddling)
Monsanto got their start manufacturing saccharin (Sweet ‘N Low) for Coca-Cola. Despite the fact that their own internal studies demonstrated that it’s massively toxic (and despite being sued by the government for covering up this information), they proceeded to saturate the market with this poisonous sweetener.[1]

The same goes for aspartame, a later “innovation” that actually was originally developed as a chemical weapon. And if that’s not bad enough, they introduced their new poison to the world in partnership with I. G. Farben, the infamous corporation that produced Zyklon-B for the gas chambers of World War II.

During WWII, they were also running the uranium research that was used to build the atomic bomb during the Manhattan Project.[2]

Home care products
Through another shady partnership with G. D. Searle (known for its falsified studies and deep political ties), Monsanto expanded into widespread distribution of a suite of toxic home care products that had been developed over decades—including detergents, soaps, and industrial cleaning products.

The environment is still suffering from the introduction of all these products into society, and we’re still struggling as a culture to break our addiction to these miracle home products of the past. Luckily, it’s just as easy to make your own non-toxic versions.

PCB’s
This era of the company’s history also saw the creation of PCB’s, which were hailed as “wonder chemicals” with “limited applications,” but which have now been banned after fifty years of use, and are widely considered “one of the greatest chemical threats on the planet.”[3]

It’s hard to deny the facts: there just seem to be no moral boundaries that Monsanto isn’t willing to cross in the pursuit of profits and power.

Pathological lies

It would be much easier to maintain a shred a trust in Monsanto if they admitted when research reveals toxicity with their products, or at least admitted wrongdoing (and showed remorse) for past products that have been proven beyond any shadow of doubt to be harmful.

But of course, Monsanto continues to claim that none of its current offerings are toxic—just like they did with all of their past monstrosities, including those that are now banned (like PCB’s and dioxin). They’ve routinely dodged investigations, denied allegations, and weaseled their way out of lawsuits throughout their entire history, never fessing up to any wrongdoing or oversight.

The Monsanto website even features a Myths about Monsanto section called “Just Plain False,” where representatives “debunk” all the horrible accusations leveled against the company. For example, they deny any evidence suggesting that GMO foods are unsafe, that Monsanto sells “terminator seeds” that become sterile after one generation, and even that the company has “undue” influence in government.[4]

Volumes could be written about each and every one of these claims—but suffice it to say that there’s ample evidence demonstrating that Monsanto is lying.

Because here’s the thing: the company has a long history of not only toxin production, but also propaganda and whitewashing. When they partnered with Disneyland in the 1950’s to build an exhibit called “The House of the Future,” they openly claimed that all the house’s materials were completely biodegradable, even though it was built entirely out of toxic and enduring plastics (which they knew very well are anything but biodegradable).

So what do you think?

Believe it or not, this primer still barely scratches the surface of Monsanto’s toxic endeavors over the years—and it accounts even less for the rampant cronyism and political maneuvering that the company uses to get whatever it wants, whenever it wants.

So should you boycott Monsanto products and projects? The choice is yours, but here’s our personal decision: to whatever degree possible, we’re steering clear of anything with which this frightening and powerful company has ever been involved. The world deserves better.

 


References

[1] http://www.naturalnews.com/054760_Monsanto_Dirty_Dozen_chemicals.html

[2] http://www.globalresearch.ca/the-complete-history-of-monsanto-the-worlds-most-evil-corporation/5387964

[3] Ibid.

[4] http://www.monsanto.com/newsviews/pages/myths-about-monsanto.aspx

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gmo_foods

GMO’s are sweeping across the food industry like a plague.

Despite a public outcry against GMO food—as well as a mountain of evidence suggesting that it’s extremely detrimental to our health—its prevalence in our food system continues to increase. Current estimates that 70% of the food in grocery stores is genetically modified.[1]

Recent initiatives in Colorado and Oregon put forth a ballot measure that would have required the labeling of all GMO foods.

Even though 85% of the participants in a recent survey say that they’re concerned about GMO’s,[2] the measures were defeated in both states. You can bet that had something to do with the $21 million pro-GMO propaganda campaign launched by a coalition comprised of the usual suspects, including Monsanto, DuPont, and Coco-Cola.

It was agonizingly close in Oregon (a mere 0.3% margin, and ballots were even recounted), which speaks to the growing awareness around GMO foods.

For the time being, though, our food supply is still being polluted with mutant products that undermine health and decrease life expectancy. Animal studies have even demonstrated that just a 33% GMO diet can cause life-threatening diseases, with 50% of males dying prematurely and 70% of females dying prematurely.[3]

If you can’t beat them, avoid them

Because GMO foods aren’t going anywhere anytime soon, we simply need to learn how to avoid them.

Doing so is just a matter of knowing which products are most suspect, learning the secret code of industrial food ingredients, and paying close attention to everything we purchase.

Here’s the top 10 GMO offenders that you should banish from your life and your dinner plate…

Corn is the #1 GMO offender. GMO corn is literally designed to release bug-fighting toxins all the time—which is an excellent trick for warding off insects, but it also happens to be terrible for your health.

It’s also drenched in enough pesticides to kill regular corn, and withstands the chemical malaise only because it’s been modified to be pesticide-resistant. But, in case you were wondering, your body was not designed for the regular consumption of insect-killing chemicals.

And I’m not just talking about corn-on-the-cob. Anything made from corn poses the same dangers: high-fructose corn syrup, maltodextrin, tortilla chips, and even meat from animals fed with GMO corn.

Your only safe bet is to purchase only organic corn products (and only organic, grass-finished meat).

Soy is another highly dangerous GMO food that’s in everything. Even organic soy has phytoestrogens that can be harmful to the body, so it’s generally a good idea to avoid soy altogether.

If a product contains soy in any form, just don’t buy it!

Sugar is another favorite of GMO food manufacturers. As though sugar wasn’t already a strong enough health destroyer, GMO sugar beets were introduced into the market in 2009, thus taking the health-sapping potential of sugar to another level entirely.

Sugars should be avoided in general, but if you simply must have sweeteners, try to use raw honey instead. And remember: a staggering array of packaged products contain sugar, so always read ingredient lists.

Aspartame is a GMO sweetener that’s used in many diet sodas and other “zero-calorie” products. Representatives of companies that use aspartame in their products often argue that it’s a simple and “natural” amino branch chain that is completely safe for human consumption.

You could technically call it natural…but here’s the reality behind their claims: much of the aspartame on the market is now made by growing it on the feces of GMO bacteria.

It doesn’t get much grosser than that!

That description—even without the GMO warning—should be enough to convince you to avoid this synthetic abomination. In case you need some more convincing, though, just know that aspartame is a powerful neurotoxin that wreaks havoc on the entire neurological system and central nervous system.[4]

And by the way, it also converts into formaldehyde when exposed to temperatures over 86 degrees Fahrenheit.

Here’s a great way to ensure that you avoid aspartame (or whatever other toxic laboratory creation that Monsanto would love for you to buy): just avoid all artificial sweeteners.

Canola oil is a toxic, polyunsaturated fat that is manufactured from rapeseed, nearly all of which is GMO.

Unfortunately, canola oil is one of the cheapest on the market, so it is ubiquitous in restaurants and the food industry. If possible, ask restaurants what kind of oils they use.

At home, use organic, unrefined coconut oil and grapeseed oil for high-heat cooking and olive oil for low-heat cooking.

Cotton oil is largely a Chinese import, and is almost always genetically modified. While cottonseed oil isn’t widely used for cooking, it still manages to work its way into every nook and cranny of the food industry (it’s in everything from animal feed to cosmetic products).

And while we’re on the subject, it’s worth mentioning that much of the US’s non-organic cotton is also GMO—a whopping 94%, according to the USDA.[5]

With an increasing number of studies linking GMO’s to cancer, neurological damage, infertility, behavioral issues, hormonal imbalance, and nutrient deficiencies,[6] do you really want GMO cotton that close to your skin, day after day? Better to stick to organic cotton.

Dairy. Bovine growth hormone is a GMO that is in 30% of milk in the US. This is most likely why milk has been linked to a rise in ovarian cancer and reproductive issues, and why it leads to massive hormonal imbalances in children.[7]

While more and more health experts are recommending against milk in general (especially non-organic), raw milk is still a healthful (but hard-to-acquire) dairy product.

Perhaps what’s best is to make your own milk alternatives from almonds or cashews—it’s absolutely delicious, and it’s one of the only ways to ensure that you know exactly where your milk came from.

If you’d rather purchase your milk alternative, always choose organic, and make sure that it hasn’t been irradiated.

Papaya. An increasing percentage of papaya, along with some other exotic fruits, are GMO. Genetic modification—as well as other harmful practices like irradiation—increase shelf-life and thus allow these far-flung fruits to be more easily and profitably transported to market.

Once again, just make sure that you always buy certified organic fruit, and you’ll be just fine.

Zucchini and yellow squash are sometimes sometimes modified to resist certain viruses. A relatively low percentage of zucchini and yellow squash on the market are currently GMO, but it seems that this percentage will continue to trend upwards.

The same rules apply: always buy organic produce.

Fighting against GMO’s

Becoming more conscious about what ends up in your own grocery basket is the first step toward playing an active role in the fight against GMO’s.

Here’s how else you can help: support local farmers, farmer’s markets, and coops, grow your own produce, and vote YES on all GMO labeling measures in your state.

Let’s regain control of our food system, so that it once again can serve as a provider of health and vitality, rather than an engine of profit and greed.

 


References

[1] http://www.realclearpolitics.com/2014/11/19/mixed_results_for_gmo_ballot_measures_346144.html

[2] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11890465

[3] Ibid.

[4] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1474447/

[5] http://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/ucm352067.htm

[6] https://www.realfoodgirlunmodified.com/what-is-gmo-3/gmo-free-living/

[7] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15531686

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