♥ Daily Dose | Stevia and Sugar Substitutes

Question: What’s your take on Stevia as a sugar substitute? I use a flavored coffee creamer (French vanilla or Irish cream) in my coffee and would like to add some kind of sweetener. From John S., San Ramon, CA

Answer: First, the flavored coffee creamers are already sweetened.  The primary ingredients of commercial creamers are oil, sugar and artificial flavor/color. See my post on Creaming Up Your Coffee for healthier alternatives.

SteviaSecond, almost all of my patients with type 2 diabetes are hooked on calorie-free sugar substitutes, struggling with their weight and have cardiovascular disease. Coincidence? Maybe not. Studies on artificial sweeteners show these compounds contribute to weight gain, sugar cravings and obesity. Also, compared to people who avoid diet or regular soft drinks, diet soda drinkers also appear to have elevated risks for:

  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Heart disease 
  • Metabolic syndrome (the name of a cluster of risk factors that occur together and increase your risk for coronary artery disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes)

But It’s “Natural”…

Stevia leaf
For centuries, stevia was used medicinally as a cardiac stimulant.

Stevia is a plant native to South America, also known as sweetleaf or sugarleaf, and is processed to produce a calorie-free sugar substitute. Because it’s derived from a plant, food companies market stevia as a “natural” sweetener to appeal to dieters, diabetics and health-conscious individuals who presume it must be healthier and safer than those originating in a lab. But unless you are eating stevia in its whole-leaf or crude form (which is NOT FDA-approved due to possible health effects), it isn’t all that “natural”.   Continue reading “♥ Daily Dose | Stevia and Sugar Substitutes”

Frankenfood: Eating GMO Foods

GMO greenhouseGMO stands for genetically modified organisms which are specifically, genetically modified (GM) or ‘biotech’ crops, used to produce genetically modified foods. These GM plants are created in a laboratory by altering their genetic material (DNA). Scientists can introduce various modifications into the genes of crops, dairy products and animals.

So why and how do GMOs get into your food? Are they safe to eat? Here are some tips to avoid them if you choose to keep them off your plate.

How Crops Are Modified

Genetic modification (GM) is usually accomplished by adding one or more genes to a plant’s genome using genetic engineering techniques. GMO foods are generated using various methods to transfer foreign cells into animals and plants, such as: 1) Gene guns (particle guns) which inject cells with genetic information or 2) Bacterial carriers (a benign bacterial or viral infection).

Why Foods or Food Crops are Genetically Modified

Foods are modified to:   Continue reading “Frankenfood: Eating GMO Foods”