Apr
05
2014

Yes, There Are Healthy Sugar Substitutes

It is true that sweets are not good for you because they lead to fat accumulation and to diabetes. I explain how this works later in this blog. But who says you cannot sweeten your life with healthy ingredients? Not all sugar substitutes are the same; some are awful, some are in between and one is good (see below).

General information why sweets and starches are bad for you:

There is a triple whammy from sweets that you don’t really want:

a) First, sugar gets absorbed really fast through the gut wall and arrives in your blood stream within 15 to 20 minutes. Starches can be just as powerful in terms of blood sugar surges, but it takes perhaps 30 to 40 minutes for the peak of blood sugar to occur. The end result is the same: whether you load up with a pizza, a doughnut or drink a large, sugar-loaded soda drink, your pancreas reacts the same way. It produces a lot of extra insulin to bring the blood sugar level down. When you do this day after day your pancreas gets used to overproducing insulin and you develop insulin resistance meaning that your insulin receptors that are on every cell surface get tired and become less sensitive to insulin. Due to insulin resistance the muscle cells and the liver cells do not take up sugar (in the form of glucose) as easily as before.

b) Second, because excess sugar cannot be stored as glycogen (the storage form of glucose in the liver and the muscles), the liver converts excess glucose into triglycerides and oxidized fatty acids get taken up by white blood cells called macrophages. These attach to the inner lining of the arteries and lead to atheromatous plaques, the first stage of hardening of the arteries.

c) Third, glucose is an oxidizing agent that will oxidize LDL cholesterol. This makes the LDL particles much denser and forms the so-called very dense LDL lipoprotein fraction (VDLDL) that can be detected in special blood tests (Ref.1).

Not surprisingly people who consume sugar, sweets, soft drinks and starches on a regular basis will have very dense LDL particles (=VDLDL, also called “pattern B-LDL”). The treatment for this is to quit sugar and starchy foods.

I have explained in more detail what sugar does in this blog.

Yes, There Are Healthy Sugar Substitutes

Yes, There Are Healthy Sugar Substitutes

The food industry’s answer to low carb diet drinks and low sugar foods:

Many years back the food industry decided to offer alternative diet drinks that would not contain sugar, but instead have aspartame in it.

Dr. Blaylock has researched excitotoxins like MSG and aspartame (NutraSweet) and urges you in this link to abandon both. I agree with him. But while we are at it, don’t take other artificial sweeteners like sodium cyclamate in Canada (Sweet’N Low). Are you thinking of taking sucralose (Splenda) instead? Think again. What the industry seems to have forgotten is that it was originally developed as an insecticide. This website states that sucralose was actually discovered while trying to create a new insecticide. A researcher tasted it and found it exceedingly sweet. I have done the experiment myself in Hawaii where small ants are ubiquitous. I thought I take a package of Splenda from a coffee shop and do the experiment: In the beginning the ants were reluctant to eat it, but after a few hours they came and took it in. One day later there were only shrivelled up dead ants left in the area where Splenda had been sprinkled. Proof enough for me that Splenda was developed as an insecticide!

In the Splenda marketing scheme they decided to first introduce Splenda gradually into diabetic foods as a sweetener, then later sell it to the public at large. Don’t fall for it. It was a side product of insecticide research, and insecticides have the undesirable quality of being xenoestrogens, which block estrogen receptors in women. As a result of that estrogen can no longer access the body cells, including the heart. The final consequence for a woman is a higher risk for cardio-vascular disease. This can cause heart attacks, strokes and cancer. In men estrogen-blocking xenoestrogens can cause breast growth and cause erectile dysfunction.

The natural sweeteners:

One wonders why the food industry did not choose healthy sweeteners like stevia that has been used for decades in Japan and South America.

Other sweeteners like xylitol, sorbitol, maltitol, mannitol, glycerol, and lactitol are sugar alcohols. Contrary to what many believe they have calories, but much less than sugar, so they are perceived as “safe” as a dietary supplement for weight loss. These alcoholic sugar compounds still produce partial LDL oxidization; interfere with weight loss and still lead to a certain insulin response.  Stevia, a natural sweetener from a leaf of South America is safer and without any calories.

The key is that stevia will not oxidize your LDL cholesterol and will not cause a hyperinsulinism response following a meal. It is metabolically neutral. It is the ideal sweetener for people who desire to lose some weight. It is also safe as it is no excitotoxin. The FDA has recognized stevia as “generally recognized as safe” (GRAS).

What about fructose, agave syrup, honey, brown rice malt syrup, fruit juice concentrates, refined fructose, maple syrup?

The problem is that they are all sugars, which cause a full insulin response leading to obesity, diabetes and hardening of the arteries. This causes heart attacks and strokes. These natural sugar products also oxidize LDL cholesterol, which initiates plaque formation as discussed above; this is the first step leading to hardening of the arteries. It took the medical profession 30 years of observing that a low fat/high carb diet makes us fat and causes heart attacks, leads to strokes and causes diabetes. Let’s not make the mistake of trusting the food industry and mindlessly swallow so-called natural other sugars and sugar substitutes like xylitol, sorbitol, maltitol, mannitol, glycerol, and lactitol. You may want to chew the odd gum with xylitol, as this will prevent cavities in your teeth. But otherwise it is much safer to just stick to Stevia to sweeten your tea, coffee or food. There are brands that are less bitter than regular stevia products, like stevia from New Roots in Canada and stevia from KAL in the US (no, this is not a commercial, it is based on my own observations).

Conclusion:

Sugar is an emotional topic that can get people caught up in heated discussions. The sugar industry and the sugar substitute industry have also powerful lobby groups that provide the Internet and the popular press with conflicting stories to convince you to buy their product. This blog was meant as a no-nonsense guide to get you removed from the high-risk group of candidates for heart attacks, strokes or diabetes. Let’s not forget the metabolism behind the various sugars and starchy foods described above, which I have explained in more detail in my recently published book (Ref.2). Forget the emotions of severing yourself from your favorite fix and stick to a tiny amount of stevia that can replace the familiar sweet taste that you have become accustomed to from childhood onward. At least this is what I do. The only alternative would be to take the plunge and cut out any sweet substance altogether, which I am not prepared to do. If you can do it, by all means go ahead.

More information on carbohydrates: http://nethealthbook.com/health-nutrition-and-fitness/nutrition/carbohydrates/

 

Reference:

1. Life Extension: Disease Prevention and Treatment, Fifth edition. 130 Evidence-Based Protocols to Combat the Diseases of Aging. © 2013

2. Dr. Ray Schilling: “A Survivor’s Guide to Successful Aging“, Amazon.com, 2014

Last edited Nov. 7, 2014

Jul
27
2013

Flossing and Brushing Saves Your Heart

It was not until about the mid 1990’s when it became apparent that gum infections and severe tooth decay could cause inflammation in the blood measurable by using the CRP marker (C-reactive protein). As this link shows Dr. Joseph Muhlestein at the University of Utah demonstrated in 1996 that chronic gum infection could cause a heart attack. He isolated the bacterium Chlamydia pneumoniae in 79% of patients undergoing coronary bypass surgery, while samples from heart transplant patients isolated this bacterium in only about 5%. The new thinking was that bugs that multiply in diseased gums could migrate into the blood and cause platelets from the blood to clump together and block coronary arteries causing heart attacks. Harvard University researchers have confirmed this. In the past it was known that a bad tonsillitis with an aggressive bacterium, Streptococcus viridans, could cause subacute endocarditis, a dangerous infectious disease of the heart valves, which can be responsible for sudden death in younger persons. Neglected cavities in teeth can also harbor this bacterium. Another study in 2009 showed that two particular strains of bacteria in infected gums, Tannerella forsynthesis and Preventella intermedia, were associated with an increased risk for heart attacks; but it was more the overall burden of bacteria in the infected gums than the specific bacteria strains that mattered most.

Flossing and Brushing Saves Your Heart

Flossing and Brushing Saves Your Heart

 

Preventing heart disease by brushing and flossing

With this background it is easier to understand that we need to take good care of our teeth and gums, if we want to maintain good health. As a start most people should see their dental hygienist (who usually works in a dentist’s office) twice a year. The dental hygienist will probe the depth of gingival pockets with a periodontal probe. A normal depth measures up to and including 3 mm. Deeper pockets than that usually indicate that the patient did not floss regularly. One needs to floss at least once per day, better twice per day and it should not bleed after flossing (initially when a person flosses for the first time the gums tend to bleed a bit).

The hygienist will do scaling of plaques on the tooth enamel. Any cavity that is detected will be brought to the attention of the dentist. At the end of the scaling procedure fluoride is applied, which puts a coating on the tooth surfaces to prevent tooth decay.

When deeper pockets (6 mm or more) are detected a trial of subgingival root brushings has shown to have a very beneficial result within only 14 days.

Periodontal pockets were improved and bacterial counts of periodontal infections were shown to have improved as well.

Oral care and cavity prevention in the population

It has been accepted for quite some time that a combination of brushing and flossing are the best methods to control dental plaque, which is the precursor for cavities.

In order to test the knowledge of adults in families with small children these authors from the School of Public Health of the Maryland University investigated Maryland’s adult population knowledge regarding caries prevention. It turns out that there were deficiencies in knowledge about the prevention of dental caries and the importance of fluoride to create strong, decay resistant enamel.

A randomized, prospective study is planned in Hong Kong which will start teaching oral hygiene to kindergarten children aged 3 and will be reinforced several times later to instill good dental hygiene behaviors into these children’s health routine as outlined in this link. Not only is it important to teach brushing and flossing, but also food habits with cutting down on sugary and starchy snacks as these foods make the saliva acidy promoting caries producing bacteria in the plaque.

This English study shows that a primary school based caries prevention program reduced caries by 35% when sugar intake was limited in the interventional group and brushing of teeth was done twice per day along with flossing.

An addition to flossing for those with narrow tooth intervals or those with braces is a waterpik system. This can be used to clean food residues from the spaces between your teeth and from gum pockets. Flossing once or twice per day is still needed to remove plaque to avoid tartar build-up. Before bedtime it is advisable to floss first, then use a waterpik, then use your electric toothbrush with a fluoridated toothpaste. During the day use the waterpik after meals followed by brushing with an electric toothbrush with non-fluoridated toothpaste.  Water Picks are also called “water flossers”; they are easier on your gums.

Other measures helpful in preventing tooth decay

Xylitol is a natural sweetener originally derived from birch. Sugarless gum often is sweetened with Xylitol. This study has shown that chewing Xylitol containing gum can effectively reduce caries. This paper describes that the increased saliva production from chewing gum provides a slightly alkaline environment for teeth. This helps to clear out sugar faster from the oral cavity after a meal, inhibits bacterial growth, neutralizes the pH in plaque that is on the acidy side after sugar consumption. The authors concluded that chewing Xylitol gum is a useful addition to the other known preventative measures of dental decay prevention, such as brushing and flossing teeth.

The techniques the dentist is using to treat plaque and dental decay have been refined by a new technique describe in this Australian publication as a minimum intervention caries prevention program.

The four methods used in minimum intervention dentistry are described here.

1. Recognition: to recognize potential caries factors early through lifestyle factor analysis and saliva testing.

2. Reduction: alter the diet and lifestyles to increase the pH of the saliva, which will reduce the risk factors for caries.

3. Regeneration: to arrest and reverse minimum lesions at the earliest stage. Use agents such as fluorides and casein phosphopeptides-amorphous calcium phosphates to achieve this.

4. Repair: when a cavity is present, a technique of “conservative caries removal” involves using bioactive materials to allow healing of the dentine layer of the tooth.

Reduction of cariogenic bacteria

I already mentioned above that alkalization of saliva by chewing Xylitol gum could significantly help prevent tooth decay. It does so by raising the pH, while chewing on sugary foods or starchy foods lowers the pH (making it more acidy). Growth of caries producing bacteria, which are called “cariogenic bacteria” is stimulated by acidy saliva and inhibited by alkaline saliva. For this reason people whose diet consists of a lot of vegetables and greens will have more alkaline saliva and are less prone to develop cavities. The worst foods to get cavities are sugar in its many disguises and starchy products (candies, bread, rice, potatoes, pasta, bagels, cookies, cakes).

What can cause bacteria from the mouth to appear in the blood? One common condition is periodontitis, which is a chronic inflammatory condition of pockets of the gums around the teeth. This originates from neglecting your teeth and not flossing. Smokers are more afflicted by this as well. Dental procedures called scaling and root planing are often done for chronic periodontitis. This study from January 2013 shows that there is about the same amount of bacteria that leak into the blood following these procedures when compared to flossing.

Sometimes a dentist will recommend using a short-term antibiotic to reduce the leakage of bacteria into the blood, particularly with people who have heart valve problems or had porcine heart valve replacement in the past. This publication from 2009 also describes that dental flossing causes bacteria to be shed into the blood (bacteremia).

Conclusion

Dental self-care should be taught to children at an early age to educate them to brush their teeth twice a day and floss them at least once per day. At the same time they need education what causes cavities in terms of food intake and that fluoride can help make teeth more cavity resistant. They should avoid sugar in pop, candies and cookies etc. Parents best teach by example! Regular visits to the dentist’s office will safe money on the long term. Regular scaling by a dental hygienist every 6-month will remove plaque from which cavities develop when bacteria thrive in them and produce acids that affects the enamel. Minimum intervention dentistry discussed above (4 methods used) can prevent your teeth from decaying. Regular flossing will keep your gums healthy and reduce the colonization of the mouth with bad, cariogenic bacteria. With all this in place you likely will keep your teeth for a long time and not need dentures or tooth implants because of lost teeth. At the same time you will prevent your immune system being overwhelmed by mouth bacteria, which could have lead to a heart attack had you neglected your teeth. As mentioned in the beginning, a CRP blood test is a useful tool to rule out chronic infection.

More information on:

1. Tooth decay: http://www.nethealthbook.com/articles/dentistry.php#Tooth_Decay

2. Heart attacks: http://nethealthbook.com/cardiovascular-disease/heart-disease/heart-attack-myocardial-infarction-or-mi/

Reference: http://www.webmd.com/heart-disease/features/your-guide-gum-disease

Last edited Nov. 7, 2014

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