Some good news about diet soda; Pepsi has announced that starting this week, they are releasing a reformulated Diet Pepsi (in the US) that doesn’t contain Aspartame. The logo and the color of the can are the same, but “NOW ASPARTAME FREE” is noted in small capital letters across the top of the can.
It’s good news that Aspartame is being dropped by Pepsi. Aspartame has been considered by many to be toxic – do a web search yourself for aspartame toxicity or visit websites like SweetPoison.com which “provides a variety of aspartame information.” I highly encourage you to do some research yourself and if nothing else, be aware than there is a lot of controversy surrounding aspartame. I’m personally not interested in taking the risk of consuming it.
Ditch the diet soda habit.
As noted in previous posts here and elsewhere on the web, diet sodas seem to contribute to obesity and belly fat. There have been numerous studies that link consumption of diet soda to increased weight gain and abdominal fat. For example, a recent study released by the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, there is a direct relation between increasing diet soda intake and escalating abdominal obesity. I recommend that you read the studies yourself, cut back on soda, and if you *have to* have a soda, skip the diet drinks and go for one sweetened with real sugar. By the way, as noted in this article in Self Magazine – weight gain is only one of the risks associated with diet soda – many other concerns and questions about diet soda have been raised as well.
Skip the soda altogether.
This is one of the simplest things you can do for yourself to increase your health. You face the choice of either artificial sweeteners and their unknown or unwelcome side effects, empty calories soda sweetened with High Fructose Corn Syrup or sugar sweetened soda.There are so many other healthier alternatives besides soda – besides, and many studies have indicated Americans don’t drink water, so thats the best alternative.
It’s good news for your health that Pepsi is ditching aspartame. Make it better news by ditching diet soda altogether and enjoying an occasional soda sweetened with real cane sugar. Make the best choice for your body by giving up soda altogether – you won’t miss the calories, and you certainly won’t miss some of the negative effects it can have on your health.
I’ve posted in the past regarding artificial sweeteners and their detrimental effects on your health.
It’s such a tempting idea – something for nothing – all the sweetness of sugar and none of the calories or problems that come from eating lots of sugar, drinking sugary drinks, and eating sweets, etc.
It sounds too good to be true! And it is.
Research continues to show that there is a cascade of bad effects that happen when you take in artificial sweeteners.
You won’t necessarily drop over from drinking one diet soda – but if they’re bad for you why drink even one?
Consider this: most rationale people wouldn’t eat a slice of cake or a brownie baked from a mix that only had a few – maybe even only 1 or two mouse droppings – because even in that small amount, we know it is not good for you. So why include diet soda or products with artificial sweeteners in your diet at all.
A recent article published by the CBC references several researchers and several new studies that once again link artificial sweeteners to both obesity and type 2 diabetes. I think it is best to avoid soda of all types – either sugar sweetened or artificially sweetened. What is especially troubling in the CBS article is a French study that is referenced. The beverage habits of more than 66000 women were followed for more than 14 years. All soda or pop drinkers had an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes – but the diet soda drinkers had an even higher risk than regular soda drinkers.
Why risk it at all – there are plenty of other healthy options to explore, including just plain water.
Take one small step today toward a healthier lifestyle by dumping artificial sweeteners from your diet – you’ll be glad you did.
Questions or comments – use the reply form below. I’d love to hear from you.
This is a tricky subject for many people. In an attempt to be healthier and lose weight, diet soda seems like a good or at least safe choice. Many studies would suggest otherwise. If your goal is to move toward a healthier lifestyle and a sustainable healthy diet, you may want to consider ditching diet soda altogether.
Consider that if you do an internet search on “health benefits of diet soda” that in addition to not finding studies extolling the health benefits of diet soda, you will find many references to the negative impact of drinking diet soda. About the only benefit that can be pointed out is fewer calories when compared with sugar or HFCS sweetened soda. In addition, your search will also point you to sites pointing out the negative impact that any soda (diet or not) will have on your health. Your best bet is to take steps to move from soda to other beverages. If I gave you a list of things to do to move to a healthier lifestyle, I would put ditching diet soda at the top of the list.
Here are two reasons to stop drinking diet soda now:
1. Numerous studies associate diet soda consumption with a larger waist circumference. There are many studies that are finding this link, and there are several possible explanations. If you are drinking diet soda to lose weight and for a thinner waist, then this is reason enough to give it up. Many studies point to a connection between diet soda consumption and metabolic syndrome, which will increase further this effect.
2. There continue to be questions regarding the long-term safety of artificial sweeteners. Using google.com to search for Aspartame along with terms like long term effects or safety will reveal more than a million results or half a million respectively; a quick review of these links turns up enough troubling information to make me want to skip aspartame altogether – not just in soda or beverages.
As an example, check out these two studies from the US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health regarding the long term intake of aspartame on antioxidant defense status in liver and the long-term consumption of aspartame and brain antioxidant defense status. These are just two of many studies that have been done, and these focus only on the antioxidant effects of these two important organs. It’s your body, you only get one, and you owe it to yourself to do the research to understand the potential risks.
So to answer the question that I always get then: “what can I drink then?” I provide the following short list of suggestions:
coffee, tea (green or black), water, herb teas or if you really want the fizzy feel of soda, consider plain seltzer water, seltzer water with a fruit essence flavor, or mineral water. Each of these brings it’s own benefits without the risks and negative impact of diet soda.
Have questions or want to leave a comment about your experience with diet soda? Use the field below – I’d love to hear from you!
Yes – even healthier! Our previous post talked about some of the health benefits of coffee. This post contains tips for making that next cup of coffee even healthier and things you can do to maximize the healthy benefits that coffee can bring to a healthy lifestyle.
Let’s start with the coffee itself – with the methods used for it’s growth and production. If at all possible, try to go with organic coffee. While coffee growers may not be the worst offenders in terms of herbicides and pesticides, you still want to avoid these toxins whenever possible.
Always try to get whole bean and grind your own coffee. Coffee is a complex beverage; the flavor comes from hundreds of volatile compounds and oils found in roasted coffee beans. Because of the volatile nature of these compounds, they can begin to dissipate quickly once the beans are ground and exposed to air. It is these compounds that also contribute to the antioxidant qualities of coffee. Best to grind right before brewing.
Consume shortly after brewing, or carafe quickly once done. I prefer a method where the coffee is brewed directly in to a thermal carafe. Many oils and volatile compounds are released from the grounds as the coffee is brewed. These begin to evaporate or dissipate immediately after brewing. To minimize this, avoid leaving an open pot or carafe sitting on a burner or warmer for extended periods after brewing. Coffee that continues to heat or cook after brewing will undergo changes in both the taste and the antioxidant properties.
Use real cream or half and half or milk (organic of course) if you cream your coffee.
Avoid the non-dairy coffee creamers; read the labels and you’ll see a list of things you probably wouldn’t want to ingest on their own – why put them in your coffee. Choose between milk or cream depending upon your diet and your goals for fat intake.
Finally, if you do need to sweeten your coffee, try stevia or a natural sweetener, or a small amount of sugar (preferably organic). Avoid the artificial sweeteners, especially aspartame to avoid the toxin issues associated with artificial sweeteners.
Questions or comments – let me know; I’d love to hear from you.
Go ahead and enjoy some coffee today!
I’ve been meaning to post about coffee for some time now since it is something I enjoy and drink regularly. While traveling in Kenya recently, I was able to enjoy many cups of excellent coffee. So while it’s fresh on my mind, lets look at why you should go ahead and enjoy that cup of coffee and a few suggestions on how to help make it a bit healthier.
It may comes as a relief to some people that coffee can actually be a healthy drink. Coffee is naturally full of antioxidants, and several studies have recently been released pointing out natural benefits and protection that comes from these antioxidants. In addition, some studies point to some unique protective effects coffee seems to have on various parts or systems in our body.
According to recent studies, including those cited by a recent Life Extension Magazine article, these protective effects cover many diseases, including cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, liver disease, and Alzheimer’s disease. Other recent studies cited by many media outlets including ABC News also link consumption of 3 or more cups of coffee a day to increased protection from the most common type of skin cancer. It is interesting to note that the key in this particular study seems to be the caffeine, as drinkers of decaf did not seem to get the same protective benefit.
Coming up – tips for making that next cup of coffee even healthier; things you can do to maximize the healthy benefits that coffee can bring to a healthy lifestyle.
There is a difference.
On the one hand, by juice I’m referring to the jars or cartons of grocery store juice; this stuff is usually clear, filtered, strained and sweetened – often with some added preservatives and flavors as well. On the other hand, by juicing I’m referring to taking whole foods and using a Vitamix (my recommendation) or other powerful blender to make juice from whole foods. Just to be clear – I’m referring to juice that still hs the pulp or fiber from the whole food included – not strained, filtered, or extracted juice. Here are a few of the differences between the two and reasons you should be using a Vitamix.
Juice in a jar has been made, distributed, bottled, stored, distributed yet again and then purchased from your store before finally reaching your home. In extreme cases – for example in the case of orange juice – the juice may have been stored a year or more before being “enhanced” and packaged and sent to your grocer.
There is no juice fresher than that consumed right after you make it.
Clear juice in a jar or bottle has been strained and filtered to the point where virtually all of the fiber has been removed. When you make your own juice from whole foods, they still retain all of the benefit that they did before being made into juice. While it’s true that the fruit won’t crunch in your mouth like it did before being juiced in your Vitamix, you’ll still be ingesting all of the fiber and nutrition – just in pulverized form.
Fresh juice (namely juice made at home with a Vitamix) tends to have a higher antioxidant, enzyme and phytonutrient count as a result of being freshly juiced, and not strained, filtered, and pasteurized. In addition, many juices and especially juice drinks that are labeled as 100% juice or 100% natural contain additional apple or grape juice or juice concentrates as sweeteners. Stick with fresh made juice – for the freshest and most nutrition, make your own.
Juice can be an important part of a healthy lifestyle, but you’re best off when it’s your own fresh made juice. This way you control the ingredients, can certain of what is and isn’t in the juice, can avoid unnecessary sugar or artificial sweeteners, and can customize the juice to your tastes. I recommend always including some vegetables in your fruit juice for balance and nutrition.
Healthy juice is something that should be a part of your healthy diet and lifestyle all year long, but it especially makes sense during the warmer months of the year.
Juice is quick
With a high quality juicer like a Vitamix or a powerful blender, you can quickly make healthy juice from such a wide a variety of fruits and veggies. It’s easy to quickly make a drink that’s packed full of antioxidants, cool, refreshing, and filled with the flavor of all of the fresh fruits available. Typically, 30-60 seconds is all you need to thoroughly blend all your ingredients.
I recommend a Vitamix if you’re in the market for a juicer, but any powerful blender should do an adequate job of liquifying everything quickly. If you don’t already have a juicer or blender, consider a blender from Vitamix. This type of blender retains all of the pulp and fiber, and will quickly liquify all ingredients, including ice. See our special offers page or use the button to the right for free shipping if you decide to order one.
Juice is cool and refreshing when you don’t feel like eating
In the warmer months, it’s easy to fall into the trap of not eating because you don’t want to heat up the stove, kitchen, or grill. The problem is that many people tend to snack on what is convenient or what might be on the counter or in the pantry (tip – don’t even buy junk food in the first place and you won’t have it to snack on when you’re tempted).
Instead of reaching for a candy bar or chips, cookies or whatever your typical snack might be – whip up a quick juice drink and get the benefits of whole raw food.
Juice makes healthy options even easier
The next time you blend up some juice – throw in a celery stick or some kale or some fruit that has a texture you “don’t like”. I’ve posted in the past about adding some vegetables to your fruit juices balance the sugar content of the fruit.
It is easy to incorporate a stalk of celery, or some kale, or chard or fruits like mango or pineapple into any juice. Throw in a handful of sprouts or a tablespoon of chia seeds for an added nutritional boost.
Get creative – you’ll discover it’s easy to come up with healthy combinations that are quick to make, delicious, refreshing and packed with nutrition. I like to use pineapple, blueberries, strawberries or melon as the base for most of my smoothies; from there I add in some veggies, sprouts and enjoy. I find it’s nice to add a splash of icewater with some crushed ice for a nice consistency. Tip: freeze your blueberries and strawberries when they’re in season and enjoy them in your smoothies. A powerful blender like a Vitamix will have no trouble pulverizing the frozen berries.
Here are three simple things you can do today to make a positive impact on your health and improve your diet. No matter where you are in terms of a healthy lifestyle, whether you have already finely tuned your lifestyle – or if you’ve just decided you want to eat healthier.
1. Eat an apple a day.
There really was something to the old adage – “An apple a day keeps the doctor away”. We now know that apples are very effective at lowering bad cholesterol. They are also an excellent source of fiber, an important part of a healthy diet. And you can use that apple as a substitute a candy bar or cookies or some other sweet snack. Besides that – apples are cheap! You can get a whole bag of apples for the price of a few candy bars.
2. Drink an extra couple glasses of water each day
The health benefits of drinking water are many, and you can also tackle a couple of unhealthy diet habits by increasing your water intake. One great strategy is to have a glass or two of water before a meal. Another great strategy is to have water with your meal instead of soda or some other sugary or sweetened beverage. Most people could benefit from drinking more water, and by substituting water for soda you’ll get the added benefit of dropping soda. See our previous post about one of the most important things you should do for a healthy lifestyle.
3. Skip that candy bar, pack of cookies, or whatever that sugary snack is that you always pick up, take with you, or buy from the vending machine. This one is super easy – use the first two suggestions above to help get you there.
By eliminating the extra calories and substituting with water and an apple (you can use carrots, celery, or some other fruit or vegetable if you want some variety) you’ll ditch the bad calories and gain some fiber and good nutrients that you wouldn’t be getting from the processed snack. If you usually have savory snacks like chips or pretzels this still applies – skip the processed stuff for a fruit or vegetable and some water.
Stick with these every day for a couple of weeks and you’ll find that you’ve incorporated a couple of new habits as part of your lifestyle. You’ll find that you’ve added some good stuff to your regular diet and dropped a few things that really don’t add more than calories to your diet.
Juice is an easy and refreshing snack!
Many people think about juice in terms of diets or meal replacements (not a bad idea – just remember that you want to move toward a healthy lifestyle, not a quick fix).
Juice can also be a refreshing and nutritious snack with a big health benefits too.
I always like to throw a lemon in my juice. You get both numerous health benefits, and a delicious tang to boost. You’ll also find that lemon really brings out the flavor of other fruits you include in your juice. It also helps reduce the harsh flavor that you sometimes get from lots of greens. Take the outer part of the peel or rind off, but leave some of the white or pith. It contains limonene, which studies have shown to have anti- cancer effects.
I recommend a Vitamix or good blender rather than a juice extractor. You want to make sure you get all of the fiber and nutrients of the ingredients. A Vitamix will pulverize the ingredients (including ice) so that you don’t have small chunks of pieces in your juice drink. This can also make it easier to digest for some people. Use the button to the right or the link on our special offers page to take advantage of free shipping when you order directly from Vitamix.
For a refreshing snack, one of my favorite juices includes cantaloupe melon or mango, lemon, sprouts and celery in addition to the lemon. You can always throw in some apple slices too and a little ice water. Liquefy the ingredients in your Vitamix for 30 seconds and you have a cool, refreshing super nutritious snack.
Juicing is a great way to get all of the nutrients of the fruits and vegetables in a quick and delicious manner. With the right juicer or blender, the process of both making your juice and cleanup can both be done quickly – allowing for a quick nutritious meal. This is an easy and quick way to start the day. Generally, you should never skip breakfast (covered in more detail in another post), and juicing helps with that – especially if you’re short on time.
For breakfast juices I always like to include fruits and vegetables together. By using a whole food juicer or blender, you will be sure to get all of the nutrition and fiber of the foods you’re juicing. I highly recommend a Vitamix, but use a blender if you don’t have access to a Vitamix.
Fruits with vegetables are a good idea in order to get a good balance of nutrients, and to avoid a juice that’s too high in sugar (fructose or fruit sugar). Add enough water and or ice so that you end up with a nice juice, not a thick sauce.
Try experimenting with combinations of strawberries, apples and celery. Berries have high levels of antioxidants; apples and celery both contribute a healthy amount of fiber. I always like to include a lemon and alfalfa sprouts as well. The lemon really brings out the flavor of the strawberries, and the sprouts are just plain good for you! Sprouts are a great source of nutrients and enzymes that you probably wont get anywhere else in your diet.
If you have a Vitamix or a good blender, you can also throw in a handful of raw rolled oats (oatmeal) for added fiber. With a Vitamix, it takes only about 30 seconds to transform this into a delicious juice, and about another minute to clean up. That’s less than two minutes including cleanup to have a quick and healthy juice for breakfast!
Questions or comments? I’d love to hear from you.