Monday, July 19, 2010

NutraSweet - Day 2

The majority of NutraSweet is composed of phenylalanine.  Phenylalanine is an essential amino acid (i.e., our body cannot manufacture it independently and it must be obtained).  Phenylalanine is one of the most abundant amino acids and its primary food sources are meat and cheese.  Phenylalanine is involved with the central nervous system -- it can also elevate mood, decrease pain, aid in memory and learning.  

Fifty percent of aspartame is phenylalanine.  That means that one 12 ounce can of diet soda may contain 90 mg of phenylalanine. 

Phenylalanine is normally found in the brain but excessive levels can be dangerous and can lead to schizophrenia, depression, and higher risk of seizure.  In large quantities it may interfere with the production of serotonin and cause amino acid imbalances.

The best information I could find on the adult daily requirement of phenylalanine is 14 mg per kilogram (or 950 mg for 150 lb person).  Simple math implies that a 150 lb individual could have 10 cans of diet soda a day without consuming "excessive" amounts.  That being said, most individuals consume multiple sources of the amino acid (for example: meat, cheese, other sugar-free products). 
I scanned nearly six websites for the most recent stats on how much soda U.S. consumers are drinking.  The middle of the range is 4-6 cans of soda a day.  It is highly likely that many people are hitting the maximum daily intake of phenylalanine. 

Typically, amino acids are consumed in combination and not in isolation.  When phenylalanine is consumed in isolation there is a much higher likelihood that it will cross the blood brain barrier.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

NutraSweet - Day 1

The most commonly used artificial sweetener is aspartame (Equal and NutraSweet).  It is the sweetener in most diet drinks, gum and sugar-free products.  Over the next few posts I will break down the main components in aspartame and their possible side effects. 

Forty percent of aspartame is aspartic acid. 

Ideally, aspartate acts as a neurotransmitter in the brain. However, as with other excitotoxins, too much aspartate in the brain can be harmful to some brain cells when they become over stimulated or over saturated. Slow damage of neurons can lead to Parkinson's disease and memory loss as well as many other neurological problems.

The blood brain barrier, which normally protects the brain from excess aspartate as well as toxins,
1) is not fully developed during childhood,
2) does not fully protect all areas of the brain,
3) is damaged by numerous chronic and acute conditions, and
4) allows seepage of excess glutamate and aspartate into the brain even when intact.

The large majority (75 percent or more) of neural cells in a particular area of the brain are killed before any clinical symptoms of a chronic illness are noticed. 

Possible symptoms may include: headaches, migraines, nausea, fatigue, sleep problems, vision problems, depression, and memory loss.

Source: Mark D. Gold, Steven Wm. Fowkes and Ward Dean, M.D.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Have 6 minutes?

Here are some healthy vibes...about six minutes worth (turn your speakers on).

Lance Armstrong was diagnosed with stage III testicular cancer when he was 25.  The cancer had spread to his lungs, abdomen and brain.  Because he ignored warning signals (for three years) his chances of survival dropped as low as 40%. 

After surgery and chemo the cancer went into remission. 

We all know what he has accomplished since then...

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Vegetable Soup

My husband probably thinks I am crazy because I made vegetable soup on the 4th of July.  I cannot explain why this sounded so good to me, but I did not fight the urge!   I have no doubt the grill will be put to good use tomorrow...

I have made this recipe twice and it is great because it is easy to prepare and there are usually leftovers.  Leftovers double as a quick mid-week meal and a freezer store-for-later meal.  There is a link below for fabulous dinner rolls too.

The Best Vegetable Soup
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups chopped onion
1 cup thinly sliced celery
2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
Coarse salt and pepper
3 - 14.5 oz cans of low sodium vegetable or chicken broth
1 -28 oz can of diced tomatoes, with juice
1 tablespoon of tomato paste
8 cups of vegetables (choose your favorites: potato, green beans, peas, corn, zucchini, carrots)

Heat oil in large stockpot over medium heat. Add onions, celery, Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper.  Cook, stirring frequently for five to eight minutes. 

Add broth, diced tomatoes with juice, tomato paste and 3 cups of water.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 20 minutes.

Add vegetables to pot, and return to a simmer. Cook, uncovered, until vegetables are tender, 20 to 25 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, as desired. Let cool before storing.


Favorite dinner rolls (and favorite recipe blog):

H2O options

Here is one great thing about improving the water flowing through 70% of our bodies...we can make a big difference without spending a ton of money.

There is part of my personality that wants "the best" solution that solves "100%" of my H2O dilemma...but I have to remind myself that stressing out about it is not exactly "healthy."

So, I make small steps and learn along the way. One thing I know for sure is that I will eventually buy my Alka-Life 3000 SL (and I will be grateful).

Bottled water
Bottled water is usually classified by its source (spring, spa, geyser, public water supply, etc.), by its mineral content, or by the type of treatment it has undergone (steam-distilled, reverse osmosis, etc.). 

Artesion: Well water

Bottled drinking water: Fit for human consumption with about 25% coming from a municipal source (i.e., the same water supply that flows through our taps).

Deionized: Removal of electrons which removes nitrates, calcium, magnesium, and heavy metals.

Mineral water: Water with at least 250 parts per million of total dissolved solids.  Be aware, mineral type will vary between brands.

Natural spring water: This really means that the mineral content has not been altered.  It may or may not have been treated or filtered.

Steam-distilled: Distillation vaporizes water by boiling it.  When the steam rises, it leaves behind most of the bacteria, viruses, chemicals, minerals, and pollutants.  The steam is then moved into a condensing chamber, where it is cooled and condenses to become distilled water.  As mentioned in prior posts, if you are concerned about the lack of minerals try this Liqumins ConcenTrace Trace Mineral Drops, Low Sodium, 8-Ounce Bottle.

On a personal note...
I have been drinking steam distilled water for over ten years.  It is delivered to my home in five gallon containers twice a month because I got tired of lugging gallons home from the grocery store.  Most big name water distributors (e.g., Sparkletts) sell distilled water.

With my recent pH awareness, I discovered that my steam distilled water was acidic (sigh...).  Therefore, I now add these drops and create wonderfully alkaline steam distilled water.  The bottle lasts awhile because one glass of water only requires a few drops.

Hydrate and hydrate well...happy 4th!