Monday, April 19, 2010

Agave Nectar Dangers; facts and myths

The people claiming that fructose is worse than sucrose are ignorant and plain wrong. HFCS is typically 42% fructose, mostly glucose; some is 55% fructose.

Is blood sugar no longer an important issue? Diabetes statistics would seem to insist that it is still relevant. In that regard alone, fructose (with a Glycemic Index rating of 20, versus 100 for 100% sucrose white sugar) is far better than sucrose in terms of not provoking high blood sugar and the resulting insulin reactions.

And the repetition that agave nectar production is analogous to HFCS production is mind numbingly simplistic and misleading. In terms of agave production, taking inulin that's made of chains of fructose, adding non-GMO "plant enzymes" to free the fructose, then heating and filtering is not really that unnatural a process; in fact, in some ways quite similar to human digestion. HFCS production involves converting 100% sucrose corn syrup into fructose and then adding pure corn syrup to achieve the 42% or 55% fructose syrup (the rest of the 100% in each form is pure corn syrup as sucrose). There is no corn used to make agave nectar, and sugars are not converted into other forms or blended.

Studies showing that getting 25% of daily calories, around 500 calories, solely from fructose is related to obesity begs the question of why getting nearly all of our carbs from a single sugar, rather than from a mix of sugars along with fiber and starches, is anything other than a fast food worst case scenario. This is not relevant to those taking a little agave nectar in place of other sweeteners. Trying to frighten people who now won't even take a piece of whole fruit or a couple of calories worth of fructose in a chewable or liquid dietary supplement (this is actually happening!) is in my opinion both cynical and misleading. That is not honest nutrition. Common sense should be more common.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

To My Canadian friends and colleagues

Thanks for your hospitality last week while I was in Edmonton, Calgary and Winnipeg. Everyone was very friendly and courteous. I appreciate your being willing to share your time with me and to discuss nutritional issues.

If any of you will be in Vancouver at Expo West in May, please come see me on Friday morning for the organic program
and also at the Puresource booth. I look forward to seeing you!

Neil to be on radio in Las Vegas, also streaming live on Internet

Monday, April 19, 2010

8 am Pacific, 10 am Central time


Neil to speak at organic program in Vancouver, BC

Canadian Health Food Association's Expo West trade show

Expo West, Organic Program, Friday, May 14th, 10:30 am – Noon


By Neil E. Levin, CCN, DANLA

The method by which similar types of crops are grown - organic, conventional or genetically engineered (GE, biotech, GMO) – can produce food with different nutritional profiles. Are organics really no more nutritious than conventionally grown crops? Do currently grown biotech foods really provide more nutrients than similar types of conventional foods? What do we know about the heavy metal content of foods grown by different methods? Are USDA food nutrient tables even accurate in this era of changing agricultural practices? Learn the secrets of how our foods are changing, for better or for worse.

Neil to Speak to Health Journalists: Assessing claims of functional foods and nutritional supplements

The Association of Health Care Journalists meeting in Chicago on April 24, 2010

"Health Journalism 2010"
Program: "Assessing claims of functional foods and nutritional supplements"

• Neil E. Levin, C.C.N., D.A.N.L.A., programs chair, American Nutrition Association; nutrition education manager, NOW Foods

• Marilynn Marchione, medical writer, The Associated Press

• Bruce Silverglade, legal director, Center for Science in the Public Interest

• Moderator: Bianca Alexander, chief executive officer, Conscious Planet Media

Neil will be giving a presentation in the Oak Park, Illinois area on 4/28/2010

Less of You to Love: A Nutritionist's Secrets for Successful Weight Management

Lecture presented by Neil E. Levin, CCN, DANLA

•Principles for gradual & sustainable natural weight loss

•What to eat: Including the one essential metabolism boosting component of every meal

•When to eat: How often and how many meals a day

•How to eat: Conscious eating and digestive tips

Wednesday, April 28th - 7:00pm Meet & Greet, Lecture 7:30pm

LOCATION: Concordia University, Christopher Center, 7400 Augusta St., River Forest, IL 60305

Call 708.246.FOOD (3663) or email for tickets

Admission $20 - Free for ANA Members & Concordia Students / Employees

Lecture presented by the American Nutrition Association® with the cooperation of Concordia University

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Risk factors in developing Type 2 (adult-onset) diabetes

Improper diet and lack of exercise are major risk factors in developing Type 2 (adult-onset) diabetes. Prolonged stress and too high proportions of carbohydrates (carbs) in the diet also contribute to blood sugar problems. The problem carbs are excess levels of sugars – especially simple sugars - and starches. Complex carbs from vegetables, whole fruits, whole grains and beans are used to fuel brain activity and other body functions without excessively elevating our blood sugar. Fiber content will also help the ability of food to make us feel full. Fiber also helps to slow the introduction of other carbohydrates into the bloodstream, reducing blood sugar “peaks” after a meal. Another bonus of whole foods is that fiber can absorb cholesterol-containing bile salts, a key way to dump excess cholesterol from the body.

Eating a diet composed largely of processed/refined foods means that the carb level is probably too high while nutrients that help us to deal with blood sugar (B vitamins, fiber, chromium, etc.) are stripped from our food supply. This leaves us defenseless against weight gain, abdominal obesity, high blood pressure, high blood sugar and elevated stress hormones.

Many of us are literally drowning in excess empty calories that affect our metabolism. But skipping meals doesn’t help, nor does eating meals that lack adequate protein. Both habits discourage calorie burning.

Spikes in blood sugar are the main enemy of dieters and those with blood sugar control issues. Elevated blood sugar triggers the release of the hormone insulin, which can cause low blood sugar (hypoglycemia), which makes us fatigued after a meal. If this happens too often it can create insulin resistance, eventually causing a loss of blood sugar control that can result in Metabolic Syndrome. This is a pre-diabetes condition defined as a combination of two or more of these symptoms: insulin resistance, glucose intolerance, abnormally high insulin levels, high triglycerides, low high-density lipoprotein (the "good" cholesterol), and hypertension (high blood pressure). Metabolic Syndrome increases belly fat and is a step towards developing adult-onset diabetes.

Your options are greatest when you first discover that your blood sugar has gone out of balance. If you wait until after you're on insulin or other medications, any natural means for improvement in blood sugar control could cause a dose of medicine to become an overdose. It is very important that your physician knows if you are going to try to control your blood sugar naturally, and that you test your blood sugar levels every time before taking medication in order to avoid dangerous interactions.

Going on a low-carbohydrate (low-carb) diet is the next step. The worst carbs are the simple sugars, found in processed foods, sweets, table sugar and soda pop. Processed grains and starchy vegetables are sometimes a problem, especially in excess. Flours (especially white flour) are more of a problem than whole cooked or sprouted grains. Even carrot juice is high in sugar!

If you tend to have weight gain and blood sugar problems in middle age, the good news is that you are genetically programmed to survive a famine. The bad news is that it's a prolonged feast which can kill you! Portion control and exercise are important for your health. Controlling stress will also help your sugar balance.

The balance of nutritional components within a meal regulates fat storage and fat burning. Try to balance each meal using the ZONE diet, where at least 30% of the calories in every meal are from protein, about 30% from healthy fats and about 40% from complex carbohydrates such as whole grains, fruits or vegetables. This balance will minimize blood sugar increases. Blood sugar spikes can lead to more fat storage and less fat burning, especially without enough protein to start the calorie burning cycle after a meal.

To improve the insulin response that moves sugar out of the blood and into cells for fuel instead of turning into fat, supplements of Omega-3 fish oil (or flax oil for vegetarians), Alpha Lipoic Acid and Chromium may be helpful. Phase 2®, from a white kidney bean extract, will block some digestion of starches to sugar and therefore effectively lower your carb and calorie intake. Antioxidants of all kinds are very protective for people having blood sugar issues.

Take a good multiple vitamin with a fat-containing meal to enhance absorption of the fat-soluble nutrients. If you take green foods or other nutritionally dense dietary supplements, also take them with a meal to help increase the total nutritional value of that meal.