The Debate over Sugar Substitutes

sweet n lowThe first artificial sweetener, Saccharin, was actually discovered in 1876 by accident when a research team was researching something totally unrelated. However, it didn’t make it to market until the 1950s when it was hailed as a boon for those trying to loose weight as they could give up table sugar (sucrose) and its calories. Being 300 to 500 percent sweeter than sucrose, it only took a drop in your coffee rather than several teaspoons to get the desired sweetness – that is if you could get past the bitter aftertaste.

Cancer Scare

A study in 1960 claimed that high levels of saccharin caused bladder cancer in rats. In 1977, Canada banned its sale based on the U.S. animal research. The U.S. however, rather than banning the substance, delayed the ban and instead called for a warning label on the substance packaging and directed that more research be conducted.

Eventually, further research showed that the cancer danger did not translate to humans. Based on critical differences between species that take place in the bladder, the threat of cancer to humans was misplaced. However, the damage was done and several countries still ban the substance.

Other Sugar Substitutes

Since the appearance of saccharine, there have been numerous artificial sweeteners created. The sugar substitutes Sucralose (Splenda), and aspartame (Equal, NutraSweet), are artificial sweeteners. The more recent to market stevia (Truvia) and mogrosides (Nectress, made from monk fruit) are derived from plants and are considered to have a natural basis, rather than something created in a laboratory. Although Truvia and Nectress are naturally derived, they are generally lumped in with artificial sweeteners simply because they are not “sugar.” Most sugar substitutes are many times sweeter than regular table sugar. Stevia, for instance, is 250 times sweeter than sucrose.sweeteners

Other substitutes include maltitol, sorbitol, xylitol and many others. Maltitol and sorbitol are often present in mouthwash, toothpaste and foods that are “no sugar added.” Xylitol is what is usually added to sugarless gum because aside from having no calories, it also prevents cavity causing bacteria from sticking to teeth.

Sugar Substitute Debate

Few people would argue about the benefits of non-caloric sugar substitutes. Although mostly touted as a weight loss tool, they are highly beneficial to diabetics as it allows them to enjoy sweets without worrying about sugar levels in their blood.

To date, the biggest debate over sugar substitutes is about their safety for human consumption. Detractors question the ability of the human body to process food products containing ingredients created in the laboratory, or overly processed natural products, without there being negative health consequences.

So far, medical information has not proven any derogatory or cancer causing effects of sugar substitutes. Aspartame has been the most widely studied and tested of all food ingredients up to this point. Time after time however, peer reviewed articles and independent government regulatory bodies continue to find that aspartame is safe.

Possible Cause of Weight Gain

Although attempts to show that sugar substitutes are the cause of disease, there is growing belief that it may actually cause weight gain rather than help people to loose weight.

diet cokeThe epidemic of obesity in the U.S. that is contributing an upswing in coronary heart disease, may bear out this belief. Although people have the capacity to consume fewer calories with the proliferation of sugar free, calorie free, sweeteners, they are apparently consuming more, leading to obesity and resultant heart disease.

The effects of sucrose (table sugar) on the body are well documented, but the effects of sugar free sweeteners are not. Current research is showing that sugar free sweeteners produce the same responses as sucrose, but without the same results. Sweetness triggers an increase in insulin production, along with hormones that trigger a feeling of fullness and reward, along with the release of dopamine. When the promised calories repeatedly don’t come along, the body stops responding the way it should, thus increasing the desire for more food that will produce the desired results.

At Miami Integrative Medicine we can help you better understand how food and nutrition can affect your health and wellness. With the right diet and moderate exercise, you can reduce or eliminate your need for sweeteners of any kind. With the combination of general internal medicine, complementary medicine and effective cardiology, good health can be achieved. Contact us today for a consultation. Dr. Bordenave, a triple board certified physician in Internal Medicine, Cardiology and Integrative Medicine, will be pleased to have you visit.

Published by Axiom Health Care Marketing



runnerA large part of cardiovascular disease could be avoided simply by following a healthy lifestyle, diet, and stress reduction; something that most of us, unfortunately, don’t follow in today’s world.

Learn About Acupuncture

old chineseThe practice of acupuncture is carried out most often by placing very small needles into the skin to stimulate certain places in the body. Acupuncture originated with the Chinese and has been a part of traditional Chinese medicine for many centuries.

The Flow of QI

The earliest written record of the use of acupuncture is dated as far back as 200 BCE, but there are other indicators and artifacts that put the practice of acupuncture as far back as the Stone Age. One explanation for the practice is that Han Chinese doctors noticed that soldiers who were wounded in battle by arrows became cured of other afflictions.

Acupuncture is used to correct the flow of QI. Traditional Chinese culture believes that every living creature has QI, a natural flow of energy throughout the body. QI is often interpreted as “natural energy,” “energy flow,” or “life force.” A literal translation is “breath,” or “air.”

This idea that there is a vital energy throughout us is not confined to the Chinese. Many other cultures, such as the Hindu, Hawaiian, Hebrew and Tibetan Buddhism hold similar beliefs. The idea is represented in Western culture in the popular Star Wars movies as “the force.”

It is believed that an imbalance in the flow of QI is what causes pain, illness and disease. QI flows through meridians in the body and the practice of stimulating specific parts of the body, acupuncture points, fixes the imbalance and allows QI to flow properly.

There are meridians for the different parts of the body, such as one for the lungs, one for digestion, heart, hands, feet, head, etc. Placing acupuncture needles along a specific meridian will allow QI to flow and relieve the illness.

Science Meets Chinese Medicinelower back

For decades, science has been trying to determine if acupuncture actually works, and if it does, how it works. Studies have come up with mixed results. Normal testing procedures are difficult to use because of the nature of acupuncture and coming up with a placebo. Finding an explanation for such things as acupuncture points, meridians and QI is also eluding researchers.

However, research is showing some glimpses into how acupuncture might work. Studies conducted with animals and humans shows that multiple biological responses take place when acupuncture is used. Responses have shown locally, near the application site and at a distance from the site through sensory neurons within the central nervous system. This leads to pathway activation that affects physiological systems in the brain and periphery.

There is a great deal of evidence that shows that opioid peptides are released by acupuncture. Acupuncture’s analgesic effects are partly explained by their release. It is also thought that acupuncture stimulates the hypothalamus and pituitary gland. It has also been documented that secretion of neurohormones and neurotransmitters, and changes in blood flow regulation are altered. In addition, immune function changes have also been noted with the use of acupuncture.

Uses for Acupuncture

Despite the inability of science to produce unequivocal proof that acupuncture works, it has been gaining popularity, not only among patients, but also among the medical community. The medical community, on the whole, is beginning to see the benefits of holistic medicine as a part of complementary medicine practices to help patients achieve health and wellness.

It is accepted that acupuncture is effective in treating nausea and vomiting in adults after they have had chemotherapy or surgery. It is also effective in treating post-operative dental head shotpain. Use for relief of osteoarthritis pain in the knee is highly successful with acupuncture. Relief of pain is one of the main uses for acupuncture, including pain from migraines and low back pain. It is also used for many other medical problems such as asthma, epilepsy, heart disease, addiction and insomnia. A list of diseases that are treatable with acupuncture has been created by The World Health Organization.

Acupuncture has very few, to no, side effects and is safe when sanitary practices are followed. Use of needles is regulated by the government. Acupuncture should not be used as an alternative therapy to the exclusion of contemporary medicine, but should be used as part of an integrative medicine plan. Following general wellness practices, eating a good diet and practicing relaxation techniques can help you live a happier, healthier life.

Dr. Jorge Bordenave of Miami Integrative Medicine invites you to learn more about acupuncture and integrative medicine to see how a more natural approach can help your feel your best. Give us a call today.

Published by Axiom Health Care Marketing