Sugar Sham by Linda Frisch

When's the last time you looked up the definition of sham? How about artificial or brainwashed? Everyday is spent educating patients about the devastating health hazards of using artificial sweeteners. Not only are they "using," many are addicted and their health is in serious decline.

Daily we see dizziness, headaches/migraines, abdominal complaints, seizures, ADD/ADHD, sleep problems, foggy thinking, memory loss, muscle tremors, edema, skin rashes, blood in the stool, insulin resistance, rising blood pressure, weight gain, respiratory issues, joint pain, numbness and tingling, and this is just the tip of the iceberg. What is more startling and of greater concern, younger and younger patients are developing auto-immune disorders, Type II diabetes, heart disease and cancer in epidemic numbers. Could it be plausible that toxic chemicals being ingested day in, day out are causing the health crisis of man, woman and child? We believe the answer to be unequivocally yes!

The question begging to be asked: What's it going to take before mainstream America realizes they are being deceived by the food industry? Not only has the general public been brainwashed about the safety of artificial sweeteners, too many health care professionals have bought into the sham as well.

Why are we willingly accepting these fabrications as truth? Sugar Blues, by William Dufty came on the scene in 1975 warning the public that sugar was the culprit behind much of our health woes and weight gain. He exposed the history of sugars use in our food industry and its relationship to declining health. Dufty's fanaticism about sugar contributed to societies panic and desperate search for an alternative. At that time, saccharin was the only artificial sweetener available for human consumption. Today we must ask ourselves, is sugar (sucrose) truly the evil one? Let's take a closer look at the top three artificial alternatives and high fructose corn syrup.

Coming on the scene in 1879, saccharin was discovered while researching toluene derivatives. It is a white, crystalline coal tar compound that is about 500 times sweeter than cane sugar. Commercialized not long after its discovery, by 1912 it was banned as a result of possible health risks. In 1914 the sugar shortages of World War I created a demand for artificial sweeteners. Abandoning previous health concerns for economic growth, the ban was lifted. World War II had a similar effect and by 1945 saccharin made its claim to artificial fame. By the 1960's it was the sweetener of choice by the diet soft drink industry. In 1971, saccharin was quietly removed from the GRAS (Generally Regarded as Safe) list by the FDA. And yet, saccharin is still used by the food industry and public today. We know saccharin by its pink packet, Sweet'N Low.

Discovered in 1965 and approved by the FDA in 1974, aspartame (better known as Nutrasweet®, Equal®, Sugar Twin® or the blue packet) took the world by storm. Today there are more than 6000 products containing aspartame. This artificial sweetener is 200 times sweeter than sucrose and the most controversial to date. It is responsible for 80% of the complaints to the FDA regarding food additives according to Dr. Joseph Mercola, author of Sweet Deception.

It is scientifically known as 1-aspartyl 1-phenylalanine methyl ester. When one studies and understands the breakdown of aspartame, it will bust the truth wide open about its toxic effects in the human body. According to Mercola's research, aspartame is completely metabolized. There are greater than 816 published studies on aspartame indexed in the National Library of Medicine. While the manufactures of aspartame hold to their position that aspartame is safe, we believe otherwise. When words like wood alcohol/paint remover and formaldehyde turn up in a discussion regarding the breakdown of aspartame, it doesn't take much to realize these are poisonous toxins and should never be ingested. Yet, many continue gulping and gobbling down beverages and man-made foods sweetened with aspartame believing they are making the safer choice. Brainwashed once again!

With increasing controversy over the safety of aspartame, Splenda® (the yellow packet) comes to the rescue. Really!?! After being denied approval for eleven years, the FDA suddenly approved sucralose in April 1998. Like the two previous artificial sweeteners, the latest sweet savior, sucralose, was also discovered by accident. This time chemists were trying to create a new insecticide. After experimenting with hundreds of chlorinated sugars, three chlorine ions were exchanged for three hydroxyl groups on a sugar molecule creating "1,6-dichloro-1,6-dideoxy-beta-D-fructofuranosyl-4-chloro-4- deoxy-alpha-D-galactopyranoside" to be renamed sucralose crafting a name that sounds natural…like sucrose (commonly known as sugar). Sucralose is 600 times sweeter than sucrose. Quoted from Sweet Deception, "McNeil Nutritionals has gone to great lengths to suggest that Splenda is natural and safe by using the slogan, 'Made from sugar, so it tastes like sugar.' But after the sugar has been treated with trityl chloride, acetic anhydride, hydrogen chlorine, thionyl chloride, and methanol, in the presence of dimethylformamide, 4-methylmorpholine, toluene, methyl isobutyl ketone, acetic acid, benzyltriethlyammonium chloride, and sodium methoxide, it is anything but a sugar molecule. Nowhere in nature is there any form of sugar that remotely resembles the resulting chlorinated hydrocarbon known as sucralose. This product is not natural, nor is it a real sugar. It isn't even close." The ultimate brainwashing is currently taking society by droves. It's simply a matter of time before sucralose catches up with aspartame's devastating outcome. Will you be the next victim to suffer the wrath of artificial sweetener symptoms?

Not being considered as toxic to the human body as the previous three artificial sweeteners, high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) was developed in the 1960's. With the US subsidizing corn growers, farmers were producing more corn than they could sell. Scientists discovered that treating corn syrup (being manufactured from the excess of corn) with an enzyme called glucose isomerase, which converts some of the glucose in corn to fructose, makes the corn syrup sweeter. Unfortunately this technique was cost prohibitive for over a decade.

By 1971, two Japanese scientists found a way to reuse the critical enzymes allowing refiners to convert corn to a blend of glucose and fructose at a much lower cost. Bingo! The corn refining industry was off and running. It didn't take long before the food industry wasreplacing sucrose with HFCS and saving a ton of money to boot. Besides being a cheaper alternative to sweetening foods and beverages, it dissolves quicker than sucrose, it doesn't spoil easily (prolonging the shelf-life of these man-made products), and it makes foods softer and chewier. Great for the food manufacturers, but terrible for mankind! Criticism of HFCS and its relationship to the obesity epidemic runs the gamut. Recently the corn growers and manufacturers of HFCS have ramped up their ad campaign debunking the bad rap they are receiving about HFCS being tied to obesity. Some experts who blast HFCS recommend saccharin, aspartame and sucralose in its place as a safe alternative. This is nothing short of ignorance.

As if all the previous data isn't convincing enough, consider this truth: more and more of ourfood manufacturers are combining artificial sweeteners and HFCS to save a buck or create a more palatable product. We haven't even scratched the surface of what will come from this irresponsibility on the part of those we put our trust in.

Once again, the question we must ask ourselves: Why are we surrendering our long-term health to this sham? Could it be that we are out of control sugar-a-holics and we'll overlook the truth to satisfy our addiction? Take a look around. If the obesity epidemic hasn't gotten your attention, surely the demise of your health or someone you love has you wondering.

Are there healthier options? Absolutely! Stevia, is a South American herb, officially known as rebaudina Bertoni, estimated to be 200 to 300 times sweeter than sucrose. Stevia has finally been given the thumbs up by our FDA in December 2008. To date, most every toxicity test imaginable has been performed on stevioside with no negative abnormalities. European markets have safely used Stevia for decades with no known adverse side effects. It has finally received the stamp of safety approval by pharmacologists and toxicologists alike in the United States. We will begin seeing foods and beverages flood the market touting this new "safe" sweetener under names such as Truvia and PureVia.

We continue recommending honey, molasses, and pure maple syrup as safe sweeteners. As for our old familiar friend, sucrose, maybe it's not the villain after all. The definition of sucrose is and has always been: a pure crystalline disaccharide extracted from sugar cane or sugar beets consisting of glucose and fructose joined together in the molecule. We wouldn't ecommend eating it at every meal, because we do believe sugar overall weakens the immune system, but a little won't hurt every now and then.

Fruit: that wonderful food found in nature would always be an excellent choice to satisfy the sweet tooth. Let's not forget dark chocolate. 70% cocoa or higher is another great satisfier.

For most of us, the celebrations of life include sharing a meal and dessert with those we love and enjoy being with. Life without treats? We certainly hope not!

Life is about choices, you make the call!