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Monthly Archives: September 2011

Aspartame and other Artificial Sweeteners. Are these substances dangerous to us?

Sugar as a commodity has been a major factor in power control throughout the ages. If you do a history report on sugar, you’ll find it related to some of the greatest empires of the ancient world and is a staple ingredient in commercialized, industrialized business even before the industrial age. Like no other drug or substance in the world has sugar silently accosted our subconscious to the point where we believe in its necessity as a marker of quality of life and prestige. Sugar’s supply and demand were indirectly responsible for the African continent slave trade, the powerhouse international corporation East Indian Trading Company, and the rise and fall of ancient kingdoms. In a way, it was the first real drug whose importance equaled silk and spices in the colonial importation to Europe. Even Chinese emperors, known throughout the ages for their exclusionary cultural practices but leniency in trade matters, made official trips to India in the 7th century Indian subcontinent to obtain sources of this white gold.

In modern times, the natural sources of sugar have not dwindled, but the introduction of other types of “sugars” usually classified as artificial sweeteners has decreased the world need and monopoly of the sugar trade by creating sugar “substitutes” chemically made and most of them discovered by accident as leftovers of chemical reactions that were meant for anti-cancer, anti ulcer, or industrial components (see coal tar and saccharin). Most of these “artificial” sweeteners were found by some chemist who licked their fingers and made the assessment and by business gurus who saw how this could change world economics while lining their coffers. Indeed, the result of these “discoveries” have only led to new monopolies. Consider that Brazil is the highest producer of sugar in the worlds up to 28% of the world yield and 25% of the world’s exported sugar. In ancient times this would have been the foundation of a kingdom, yet Brazil is still lagging some 3rd World countries in GDP and leads in population poverty and mortality rates. It is a by product of the remnants of colonialism that makes clean water hard to come by for Fiji Islanders, African countries stripped of economic wealth without growth to show for it, and sugar now no longer the commodity giant it was in past ages.

One of the first artificial sweeteners created, saccharin, was a derivative of coal tar and it’s history is basically two scientists, one who became rich for marketing and the other forgotten except in patents. Since its creation there had been a technological rush to find a more suitable form (saccharin is not useful in baking and is not a stable crystalline nature like sucrose aka table sugar).

Aspartame is the result of years of chemical study and grants and research papers. Also known as Nutrasweet, it is in every diet drink, every packet of chewing gum, and found in little colored packets in diners across the US, When it was first created in a lab of G.D. Searle company the world of doctors thought they had finally found a no calorie sugar substitute (aspartame is not really no calorie, because it is 300 times sweeter than sugar less can be use so we say the calories are negligible). However, when researchers began using it to replace caloried sugar in diabetic patients many began developing signs of diabetes much faster than control groups. Dr. H.J. Roberts was the premiere diabetes researcher at the time and his findings are fantastically ignored by the FDA. His 1038 page research and Congressional testimony are hallmarks in the fight against aspartame.

If all that sounds a little outdated here is a recent study done. A 2005 study by the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio showed that increased weight gain and obesity were associated with increased use of diet soda in a population based study. The study did not establish whether increased weight gain leads to increased consumption of diet drinks or whether consumption of diet drinks could have an effect on weight gain.

But hell with statistics right? They may not be for everyone. Why is Aspartame so dangerous? The answer is not that aspartame itself is a dangerous chemical to the body. Quite the opposite, chemicals like glutamate and aspartic acid (one of the main amino acids in aspartame) cross brain and blood barriers because they are one of the many essential components in the production of certain amino acids. No the real danger lies in how they are situated together.

Table sugar (sucrose) is a crystalline structure with a fairly high temperature before it breaks down and denatures. The problem since the invention of saccharin is that these “artificial sweeteners” do not have the same bonding nature and so degrade at lower temperatures. For instance, aspartame will break down into its constituents and amino acids at 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Ask yourself what the normal body temperature of a healthy individual is. When the constituents are broken down, aspartame gives off 3 products: Aspartic acid (40%), a methyl ester (10%), and phenylalanine (50%). The normal amount of aspartic acid in our bodies at a given time is fractional when compared to amounts of aspartic acid recieved from the breakdown of aspartame in normal human consumption leading to an overabundance of excitatory chemicals that interact between the blood and brain barrier. Phenylalanine is a nuerotoxin, and those with phenylketonuria (an inability to break down phenylalanine) must avoid products containing phenylalanine at all costs. For normal people phenylalanine lowers the threshold for excitation which depletes serotonin levels. Low serotonin levels have been linked to manic depression, bi-polarism, and other psychiatric complaints.

The biggest health concern is the 10% methyl ester. When broken down the methyl esters become methanol, then formaldehyde and formic acid. Formaldehyde is the chemical used to embalm corpses for dissection (any doctor who has worked in an anatomy lab can attest to it’s smell) and formic acid is the active substance in ant and bee stings. Both are toxic substances to the body and are mutagenic in certain animal studies. The methanol breakdown occurs in the eyes and may be a factor in diabetic symptoms of vision blindness and not solely due to blood glucose ratio.

Interesting fact. The FDA at first were not fully on board with G.D Searle’s research into aspartame. They actually intended to indict G.D Searle for fraud and faulty research regarding aspartame (they apparently found various problems with the research, record keeping, mis labeling, and miscontrolled subjects leading to disinformation in their research). However the CEO at time was a savvy guy named Don Rumsfeld. He made sure that the FDA approved aspartame while avoiding audit. When Searle was sold to Monsanto (who now currently owns the patent on aspartame and is its worldwide producer) Rumsfeld made, according to some sources, 12 million dollars (in 1984 money, which is (I’m told) a lot of money).

I will continue this subject later, because I have a lot to say about the subject, but my advice is to CEASE AND DESIST BUYING CONSUMING FOR YOUSELF OR YOUR CHILDREN ANY PRODUCT WITH ASPARTAME AS ONE OF THE INGREDIENTS INCLUDING: ALL DIET DRINKS, NUTRASWEET, MOST CHEWING GUMS (bubbalicious and old high fructose corn syrup gums like Big League Chew are safe), and ANY LOW CALORIE FOOD WITH SUGAR SUBSTITUTES.

Don’t be fooled, diet drinks lead to more weight gain and obesity.

 
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Posted by on September 29, 2011 in Health Restorations

 

Massages… A Life saver?

In America, massages are seen as a luxury for the upper class or for those on vacation. Some will go see their massage therapist after a particularly tough work week. Some masseuses charge upward of $100 per hour and come with amenities like ambiance in the form of aromatherapy candles, “specialized” techniques like deep tissues, Thai and Swedish styles. Very often, when getting a massage the question arises: Do I want a male or female doing my massage. Many times (an this is just an observation and not a sweeping statement) that males will choose female masseuses and females will also choose female masseuses. The reason for this is not that American’s don’t like a good strong massage from a male, because truth be told, the women may be just as strong and adept at inducing deep muscle stimulation as a male.

The real reason, I believe, is a cultural phenomenon and says much about the machismo evident in our society. There cannot be denied that there is a sensual, sexual aspect of massage because when you break down the act to its purest forms of intent you find that massage uses human touch (and the sensitivity of one human being to another) to alleviate pain. The border between pain and pleasure is a thin line, and one can find that a painful experience can become a pleasurable once the act becomes predictable and familiar. I believe massage is related to the importance of the human touch in the lives of human. When you massage a person, you willingly transfer energy to the person, and if the intent is to alleviate pain then your skill and sensitivity to the person’s body will determine how effective you are in taking away pain.

Did you know that without human touch, a baby will not thrive no matter how well fed. We need this interaction with other people the way a remote control needs a battery to operate. There is also evidence that interaction with others is not just important for animals, but plants too. Everybody has heard of the farmer who sings to his plants. In an energetic sense, plants grow and reach out to the interaction of the world around them, as if they are yearning to reach out and interact with the activity of the outside world. Humans are the same and without the social interaction we crave we might as well be vegetables.

In China and other Asian countries the act of getting a massage is viewed from a different cultural perspective. Instead of being seen as a luxury that should be enjoyed only by those who can afford it, massage parlours in Asian countries are seen as commonly as coffee houses in America and are patronized by the rich and poor alike. Because the service of massage is so used in asian countries, the going rate is a fraction of that, so that a middle aged man could get a massage everyday and not feel burdened by money. In the Chinese enclave you can find massage parlors that charge $15 for an hour.

Some people cannot take to being massaged, especially people with autoimmune disorders or fibromyalgia patients. However, for the poor and working class, my belief is that a hard physical worker should not feel ashamed of getting a massage for themselves after a hard day, and the view of massages and masseuses in our society is that of luxury. For example, Jose is 50 years old with wife, family, children, and even a few grandchildren. Jose is a construction worker who works from 8-5 everday moving heavy doors, screwing and unscrewing, drilling, and tiling. Though he feels aches and pains he never goes to a masseuse. First of all it is a luxury that cannot be afforded and furthermore, getting massaged is not in-line with the machissmo culture. Years pass and Jose suffers from heart problems, circulatory problems in his legs, and back pain. Now we move our attention to Wing. Wing is a 50 yo construction worker as well, let’s even say they work at the same construction company and have similar duties, but after work Wing goes to get a relaxing $20 massage ($15+tip) and then comes home to be with his family. If all other factors are accounted for then who do you think lives longer, or a better question would be who has a better quality of life?

In the example provided above, do you think the minor weekly stress relief Wing receives as a result of having a cheap massage parlor around, would be enough to account for the great disparity in mortality rates, quality of life, systemic diseases like heart disease, metabolic syndrome, diabetes, hypertension, etc? Of course other factors are to be considered when making a statistical sweeping gesture, but this is just a mental exercise. And theoretically the one with the less stress will experience less somatic problems. Massages help the circulation to the muscles and joints, as well as being a medium for the transfer of energy that is all too important for life to evolve and interact. Just like a flower needs the touch of a bee to pollinate, we need the energetic interaction that comes from physical touch.

There is something magical that passes between sentient beings that touch and are touched, something magical that we describe as something plain and ordinary and without value, but in reality is crucial to the ambulance of our beings. I may be no great scientist, I am not a quantum physicist, but it doesn’t  take a scientist to notice that a masseuse “gives” something to the person being massaged and that person in turn “receives” something. For some of us it is more difficult to receive than to give.

 
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Posted by on September 6, 2011 in Health Restorations

 

Drastic Weather changes affect physiology

Ever wonder why people with arthritis hate cold days, or why joint pain flares up when you’ve been doing everything to keep the pain down. Well climate and weather have a lot to do with how your body responds to injury. Scientists will tell you that a bar of iron is not exactly the same bar of iron when the temperature is 0 degrees C than it is at room temperature. Take the temperature up high enough and the bar becomes liquid. Freeze it again and now the bar is nothing like it was before it melted. In the presence of cold temperatures molecules tend to gather more closely together and when heat is applied the tend to vibrate and the molecules tend to move away from each other. In other words things tend to contract to cold and expand in the presence of heat. This is true of muscles as well.

At the beginning of this year, three of my cousins and I took a trip across the country, stopping by in the grand canyon. When we reached the scenic area I noticed my bag of Lays potato chips had blown up as if it had been inflated. The reason for this is that as we got higher and higher in altitude the atmospheric pressure drops and this difference between the outside and the inside of the bag of chips was enough to blow up the chips. Without realizing this, atmospheric pressure has an affect on your muscles as well. This is important to note because the pressure in meteorology is an important factor in humidity.

Lately we have experienced fluctuating weather patterns. Not just locally but all over the world. Unusual tidal waves, earthquakes (NYC), increasing magnitude of hurricanes and tornadoes have been experienced throughout the world. More than ever we share a global climate, and the global climate has not been stable. Whether or not his is a result of global warming seems to be more and more of a political debate and a result of belief systems. But what is obvious is that the climate has been going from one extreme to another.

These unstable fluctuations of polar opposites can take it’s toll on muscle sprain/strains, fibromyalgia, joint pain, can increase the intensity and amount of headaches. For a person without injury or chronic pain that can mean unusally tight musculature, neck mid and low back subluxations, increased neck and shoulder pain, malaise, and fatigue. For a person with any injury whether it be caused by a car accident, sports trauma, chronic condition or otherwise, the weather can play an important factor in day to day pain managament.

So if you’re wondering why your carpal tunnel syndrome has been giving you more pain lately you may want to consider the factor that weather plays on your muscles.

 
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Posted by on September 1, 2011 in Health Restorations