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Our Little Rant by Eightball & Thundercloud
From InfoAve Premium Issue #133 - May 8, 2006

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Sweet Sorrow

After we published "A Killer On The Cob Rant" we realized that we must have struck a chord with our readers because we received hundreds of comments and questions related to that "rant".

Although this topic is certainly not computer-related, as one reader wrote: "the sick and dying make for a tenuous audience". Indeed!

As most of you know, it's hard to avoid high fructose corn syrup in your diet. It's in virtually every processed food imaginable. And, if you've read "A Killer On The Cob" you know that the reason it's in everything is because it's cheap. And, the price of HFCS is kept artificially low (through subsidies funded by you and I - the American taxpayer) and sugar prices are kept artificially high (through tariffs), So it's not likely that food processors are going to remove HFCS from their products anytime soon unless forced to by consumers like you and I.

Even now, many food processors are beginning to see the backlash from the more health-conscious consumers who rightfully question the ubiquitous use of HFCS in American food. Some food processors, rather than doing the right thing and removing HFCS altogether, are trying to placate those who object to the use of HFCS by introducing "organics". The problem with organics is that they're not well regulated and they may not really be "organic". Just because the label says "organic" does not mean it does not contain HFCS or other questionable food additives. But most organic products, fortunately, have abandoned HFCS and replaced it with "certified" organic cane sugar.

Now, before you all fire up your email programs and flame me for promoting sugar, I'm not. But, I would much rather eat products sweetened with cane or beet sugar than I would products loaded with HFCS. The long term consequences of eating HFCS are not yet fully known. But we're already seeing the health problems caused by HFCS which was introduced into the American food supply in the 1970's and its use has continued to grow by leaps and bounds until today when HFCS is used in almost everything: salad dressings, bread, popsicles, soda pop, ketchup, pickles, and almost everything else.

Research shows that HFCS is not metabolized by the body as "sugar" but more like a fat. It's broken down in the liver, is known to cause metabolic problems (metabolic syndrome) and is a major contributor to the epidemic of Type II Diabetes which has been sweeping America since the 1980's. And, it can help make you fatter than if you had eaten products made with sugar because unlike sugar HFCS does not trigger the "full" feeling that sugar does - so you eat more of the foods sweetened with HFCS than you would have eaten foods sweetened with sugar.

But the Corn Producer's Association and other pro HFCS groups insist that HFCS is just another form of sugar and is harmless. The tobacco industry in the late 1950's and early 1960's countered all research showing tobacco products caused numerous health problems were just so much hogwash. Hmmm. Tobacco was BIG business back in those days and it took the government many years to finally admit that the research was correct. Funny thing though, as far as I know, you can still buy cigarettes almost anywhere these days, even though they can kill you. If they cause cancer why doesn't the government just ban them like they did cyclamates? That's easy to answer. The answer is money. And that's the same reason why you aren't going to see an end to HFCS-contaminated food until the consumer uproar is so great that the government and the producers of food products have no other choice but to admit that the research is correct and get HFCS out of our food supply (in the United States). But, that's not going to happen for a long, long time. It will probably never happen in most of our lifetimes. Money, money, money. In money we trust or so it seems.

Almost everyone who wrote us asked what they could do about HFCS. You can try to buy products that don't contain HFCS (nearly impossible in the U.S.A.) and write to the largest food processing companies like Kraft, Heinz, Smuckers, Coca Cola, Pepsi, and others and tell them you're not as stupid as they think you are - and try to eat as many natural unprocessed foods as possible (fruits, vegetables, grains, etc.) as you can.

A new study shows the United States, though the the wealthiest and arguably the most technologically advanced, ranks well behind two dozen other countries in life expectancy. And a startling new study shows that Americans are decidedly less healthy than their counterparts in England. While the English exercise slightly more than Americans, other habits, like smoking are about the same.

"Americans reported twice the rate of diabetes compared to the English, 12.5 percent versus 6 percent. For high blood pressure, it was 42 percent for Americans versus 34 percent for the English; cancer showed up in 9.5 percent of Americans compared to 5.5 percent of the English.

The upper crust in both countries was healthier than middle-class and low-income people in the same country. But richer Americans' health status resembled the health of the low-income English.

"It's something of a mystery," said Richard Suzman of the U.S. National Institutes of Health, which helped fund the study.

Health experts have known the U.S. population is less healthy than that of other industrialized nations, according to several important measurements, including life expectancy. The U.S. ranks behind about two dozen other countries, according to the World Health Organization." ( Study Shows Americans Sicker Than English by CARLA K. JOHNSON and MIKE STOBBE, Associated Press Writers; Click Here).

Those of you who read "A Killer On The Cob" should find no mystery at all that Americans are sicker than the English. The English have no (or very little) HFCS in their food supply and America is virtually drowning in it. While we can't blame all our health problems on HFCS I believe it certainly accounts for many of our health problems and why the richest country on earth is not even close to being the healthiest. American food is virtually dripping with HFCS while you'd be hard pressed to find it in any other country.

Want to lose weight? Many of us are, for cosmetic or health reasons, watching our weight and many of you wrote and asked about artificial sweeteners like aspartame (NutraSweet), Sucralose (Splenda) and acesulfame K or acesulfame potassium (Sunnette, Sweet One, Sweet 'n Safe). There's not much good news about these chemical compounds - but one, aspartame, is decidedly worse than the others.

Because so many of you asked us to do some research on these artificial sweeteners and because of the huge interest generated by "A Killer On The Cob" Rant - we've taken a great deal of time to research the "Big Three" artificial sweeteners and tell you what we found out. We're also going to introduce you to a new but controversial natural sweetener that contains no (or negligible calories) that you're going to be hearing a great deal more about in the coming months and years.

Aspartame (NutraSweet)

First let's discuss the number one artificial sweetener in the world. It's called aspartame and mostly marketed under the brand name "NutraSweet".

A neat little paragraph that sums up aspartame and references some prestigious sources:

"NutraSweet, the "good stuff" of (the) sentimental adverts, is a truly insidious product. According to independent trials, aspartame intake is shown by animal studies to alter brain chemicals affecting behavior. Aspartame's effects on the brain led Richard Wurtman, an MIT neuroscientist, to the discovery, as recorded in _The New England Journal of Medicine_ (No. 309, 1983), that the sweetener defeats its purpose as a diet aid, since high doses may instill a craving for calorie-laden carbohydrates. One of his pilot studies found that the NutraSweet-carbohydrate combination increases the "sweetener's effect on brain composition." Searle officials denigrated Wurtman 's findings, but the American Cancer Society has since confirmed the irony-after tracking 80,000 women for six years-that "among women who gained weight, artificial sweetener users gained more than those who didn't use the products," as reported in _Medical Self-Care_ (387). (Since his battle with G. D. Searle, Wurtman founded Interneuron Pharmaceuticals, Inc., the producer of a sports drink that enhances athletic performance, and a weight loss drug marketed in over 40 countries. Wurtman's share of the company, established in 1989, was worth $10 million by 1992." (See "Nutrapoison" by Alex Constantine )

According to numerous sources and independent sources, NutraSweet (aspartame) causes a plethora of health problems even at very low doses. If you want to embalm yourself before death simply increase your intake of aspartame. Clinical trials and chemical research shows, without a doubt, that aspartame is broken down in the human body into its constituent amino acids and methanol. The body then further converts the methanol into formaldehyde which is then stored mostly in the brain, kidneys and liver. Formaldehyde, besides being the one of the principle ingredients of Formalin (an embalming fluid) is a deadly poison. The manufacturer of Aspartame (Monsanto/G. D. Searle) counters the contention that aspartame is eventually broken down into methanol and then formaldehyde in the body by saying you get methanol from fruit juice too. What they fail to mention is that you get 1000 times more methanol from aspartame than you do fruit juice; and other naturally occurring micronutrients in fruit juice prevent the tiny amount of methanol present from breaking down into formaldehyde in the human body. And aspartame has an ironic side too - it may actually cause you to gain weight by increasing the craving for carbohydrate-laden foods.

Aspartame is under the gun in Europe. A document from the European Parliament says (that) "the use of aspartame increases the exposure to its metabolites methanol/formaldehyde and phenylalanine and is reported to provoke i.e.. headaches, nausea and allergic reactions, especially in the case of vulnerable persons. Its widespread use should therefore be re-evaluated by the Commission and the relevant scientific committees, taking into account all available data and respecting the precautionary principle. A historical evaluation is required as there seems to be evidence that original studies did not prove the safety of aspartame. " ..

According to the Organic Consumers Association: "Aspartame Disease has been declared a global plague by world expert H. J. Roberts, M.D., F.A.C.P.,F.C.C.P., who has treated aspartame victims in the trenches of medical practice for 20 years. In the l980's a medical publication selected Dr. Roberts as the best doctor in the US. He is listed in Who's Who in America, Who's Who in The World and Who's Who in Science and Engineering. As a diabetic specialist he realized aspartame was a toxin when his diabetic patients began going blind, becoming confused and blood sugar would not stay under control. He says in a position paper on aspartame and hypoglycemia that aspartame can precipitate diabetes and even interacts with insulin."

And, according to Guardian Unlimited,2763,1667734,00.html "A member of the parliamentary select committee on food and the environment yesterday called for emergency action to ban the artificial sweetener aspartame, used in 6,000 food, drink and medicinal products. The Liberal Democrat MP Roger Williams said in an adjournment debate in the Commons that there was "compelling and reliable evidence for this carcinogenic substance to be banned from the UK food and drinks market altogether". In licensing aspartame for use, regulators around the world had failed in their main task of protecting the public, he told MPs.".

Apparently Europe and Great Britain are on the verge of banning aspartame. Perhaps the clout of Monsanto's and other related industries' lobbyists' is not so strong across the ocean. They still have plenty of clout in the U.S.A. though. There is no credible evidence or even rumors that the FDA is  re-examining aspartame let alone considering banning it.

Aspartame is currently the most widely used artificial sweetener in the world. From no-sugar chewing gum to diet breads and every diet-thing in between, you'll probably find aspartame in it. It's big business and big business employs big lobbyists who sway the opinions of our elected politicians. Most would call it bribery, but in Washington, D.C. it's called "lobbying". Washington is the only place in the world where bribery is an accepted and even honored practice.

Sucralose (Splenda)

Moving right along to the number two artificial sweetener: sucralose (Splenda). Sucralose is marketed under the brand name "Splenda" by McNeil Nutritionals, LLC and its advertising slogan is "It tastes like sugar because it's made from sugar." Indeed, sucralose is a chlorocarbon (read about chlorocarbons here ) . It's sugar with some of its hydrogen and oxygen molecules replaced by chlorine atoms. In other words sucralose is natural sugar manipulated by a complex chemical process so that what comes out is not recognized by the body as sugar and therefore has no calories. The ideal no-cal sweetener?

What is sucralose (Splenda)? According to James Bowen, MD: "Sucralose is a molecule of sugar chemically manipulated to surrender three hydroxyl groups (hydrogen + oxygen) and replace them with three chlorine atoms. Natural sugar is a hydrocarbon built around 12 carbon atoms. When turned into Splenda it becomes a chlorocarbon, in the family of Chlorodane, Lindane and DDT, " Dr. Bowen continues - "Splenda/sucralose is simply chlorinated sugar; a chlorocarbon. Common chlorocarbons include carbon tetrachloride, trichloroethylene and methylene chloride, all deadly. Chlorine is nature's Doberman attack dog, a highly excitable, ferocious atomic element employed as a biocide in bleach, disinfectants, insecticide, WWI poison gas and hydrochloric acid.

"Sucralose is a molecule of sugar chemically manipulated to surrender three hydroxyl groups (hydrogen + oxygen) and replace them with three chlorine atoms. Natural sugar is a hydrocarbon built around 12 carbon atoms. When turned into Splenda it becomes a chlorocarbon, in the family of Chlorodane, Lindane and DDT.

Dr Bowen states: "Any chlorocarbons not directly excreted from the body intact can cause immense damage to the processes of human metabolism and, eventually, our internal organs. The liver is a detoxification organ which deals with ingested poisons. Chlorocarbons damage the hepatocytes, the liver's metabolic cells, and destroy them. In test animals Splenda produced swollen livers, as do all chlorocarbon poisons, and also calcified the kidneys of test animals in toxicity studies. The brain and nervous system are highly subject to metabolic toxicities and solvency damages by these chemicals. Their high solvency attacks the human nervous system and many other body systems including genetics and the immune function. Thus, chlorocarbon poisoning can cause cancer, birth defects, and immune system destruction. These are well known effects of Dioxin and PCBs which are known deadly chlorocarbons."

"Just like aspartame, which achieved marketplace approval by the Food and Drug Administration when animal studies clearly demonstrated its toxicity, sucralose also failed in clinical trials with animals. Aspartame created brain tumors in rats. Sucralose has been found to shrink thymus glands (the biological seat of immunity) and produce liver inflammation in rats and mice.

"In the coming months we can expect to see a river of media hype expounding the virtues of Splenda/sucralose. We should not be fooled again into accepting the safety of a toxic chemical on the blessing of the FDA and saturation advertising. In terms of potential long-term human toxicity we should regard sucralose with its chemical cousin DDT, the insecticide now outlawed because of its horrendous long term toxicities at even minute trace levels in human, avian, and mammalian tissues...."

Splenda/sucralose is slowly overtaking aspartame as the number one artificial sweetener in the United States. This is due perhaps to growing awareness of the public to the dangers of aspartame and the public perception that sucralose is safer and tastes better than aspartame.

Is sucralose better than aspartame? That remains to be proved. There have been no studies done on the long terms effects of sucralose in the human diet. So, if you want to be a guinea pig keep on consuming sucralose and see what happens?

Acesulfame Potassium (Ace K, Acesulfame K, "Sunette", Sweet & Safe" "Sweet One")

Acesulfame potassium sold as "Sunette", "Sweet & Safe" and "Sweet One" is a calorie-free sweetener that has been used in foods and beverages around the world for 15 years. The ingredient, which is 200 times sweeter than sugar, has been used in numerous foods in the United States since 1988. And while acesulfame potassium (ace-K, for short) has been around since 1988, it wasn't until 2001 that it received approval for use in soft drinks and other beverages.

"....Every step of the way this sweetener has met with opposition from the CSPI, which publishes the Nutrition Action Healthletter. In 1996, CSPI petitioned the FDA to reject the use of ace-K in soft drinks and to withdraw all previously granted approvals for use in foods. The group asserted that the additive causes cancer in animals and may increase cancer in humans. CSPI's Senior Scientist Myra Karstadt indicates that "Hoechst's [the manufacturer] studies of acesulfame's carcinogenic potential were poorly designed, poorly executed, and poorly reported." CSPI's web site, lists several U.S. cancer experts who also criticize Hoechst's studies..."(see,2001,1261.html )

"...acetoacetamide, a breakdown product (of acesulfame potassium), has been shown to affect the thyroid in rats, rabbits, and dogs. Administration of 1% and 5% acetoacetamide in the diet for three months caused benign thyroid tumors in rats. The rapid appearance of tumors raises serious questions about the chemical's carcinogenic potency...."

While it is unlikely that sucralose or ace K are as toxic as the Monsanto's aspartame, it is clear from the hazards seen in pre-approval research and from their chemical structures that years or decades of use may contribute to serious chronic immunological or neurological disorders. It, therefore, is important that people who have any interest in their health stay aware from the highly toxic sweetener aspartame and other questionable sweeteners such as sucralose (Splenda), and acesulfame-K (Sunette, Sweet & Safe, Sweet One).

Hope on the horizon?

There are two natural sweeteners that may eventually replace the "big 3" artificial sweeteners now being used by food processors who make "diet" or "dietetic" products. These are "stevia" (Sweetleaf, steviocide) and tagatose (Naturlose).


Stevia is available in the United States right now at GNC stores and most health food stores and "organic" grocery stores. It is made from a plant that grows wild in Central and South America. If produced on a mass scale it could be made very cheaply and in great quantities. The big problem is that the FDA has yet to approve stevia as a food additive and has approved it only as a dietary supplement. So when you buy stevia you'll never see the words "sweet" or "sweetener" on the container. Yet, you can visit and read all about stevia and how to use it in drinks and recipes. I've tasted stevia and, um, well, it has a decidedly bitter aftertaste to me, but your taste buds might be different.  Stevia has been used as sweetener in South America for centuries and it has been approved for use in Japan for over thirty years. In fact, Diet Coke in Japan is made with stevia. Celestial Seasonings tea and Lipton tea have both petitioned the FDA to approve stevia for use in their products. Many health organizations have petitioned the FDA to approve stevia and want the FDA to list stevia as GRAS (generally regarded as safe) since it's been used for centuries by humans (in South America). Wouldn't you know that the major complainant against stevia has been the maker of aspartame who claims that stevia has "contraceptive" qualities and is used in South America for birth control. There seem to be a lot of people being born in South America so I'm not sure how valid that claim is. But Stevia seems to be a lot safer than any of the alternative artificial sweeteners. Anyway, the FDA may someday approve stevia for use as a sweetener in food products and beverages. But, there are powerful forces at work to keep stevia off the market as a food additive. Right now stevia is expensive and frankly, I'm not impressed with the taste although many others swear by it.

Tagatose (Naturlose)

According to its patent-holder, Spherix "Naturlose is our brand name for tagatose, a naturally occurring ketose that is found in some dairy products and other foods. We have patented the use of it as a low-calorie, full-bulk sweetener, and also the process to make it starting from whey, a dairy by-product. Naturlose has been determined to be a Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS) substance in the U.S., with the FDA permitting its use in foods and beverages. Naturlose has also been determined GRAS for use in cosmetics and toothpastes, and in drugs."

Right now a form of Naturlose is in stage III testing as a drug for the treatment of type II diabetes and has shown some promising results in prior stages of testing.

Unfortunately, the company who has been licensed to manufacture tagatose has ceased production. Here is the statement from their Web site:

Tagatose production has been put on hold

In March 2006 the Board of Directors of SweetGredients decided to put the tagatose project ”on hold”.

While progress has been made in creating a market for this innovative sweetener, it has not been possible to identify a volume potential justifying continued investments.

Therefore, SweetGredients has decided to close down the manufacturing of tagatose in Nordstemmen, Germany.

SweetGredients has an existing stock of tagatose, thus product is still available.

"Tagatose production has been put on hold - In March 2006 the Board of Directors of SweetGredients decided to put the tagatose project ”on hold”. While progress has been made in creating a market for this innovative sweetener, it has not been possible to identify a volume potential justifying continued investments. Therefore, SweetGredients has decided to close down the manufacturing of tagatose in Nordstemmen, Germany. SweetGredients has an existing stock of tagatose, thus product is still available..."

So, it looks like you won't be seeing tagatose in your local grocery store anytime soon.

I hope that this article helps you decide and to become more aware of what's in the food you eat. Americans are becoming more and more subjects of big corporations and the almighty dollar and it may well be affecting our health in many negative ways. Until our government stops protecting big business at the expense of our health we'll never really know the dangers that hide in the foods we eat. There's nothing wrong with businesses making profits and there's nothing wrong with big business, that's not my point. But when profits become more important than the health of the people then something has gone terribly wrong. In America, we've replaced sugar with HFCS because HFCS is cheap and makes baked goods look better. Despite the overwhelming evidence that HFCS causes health problems, contributes to obesity and is certainly at least partially responsible for the epidemic of type II diabetes, you'll find it very difficult to find any mainstream news organization taking on the HFCS industry. Certainly there's a story there. A story that anyone who lives in the United States should find immensely interesting. But, so far, only a couple of news stories have been presented by the news media and these were short "fill" pieces and not well-researched or given the attention they deserved.

The only thing you can do as a consumer is to write the food companies whose products you buy and tell them what you think. It's unlikely that you or I will change anything. It's all about profits, money and power. But, remember the tobacco industry in the 1950's and 1960's had all kinds of evidence that smoking didn't cause any negative health effects and it took the government a long time to reach the conclusion that all the clinical studies and scientific research that had been going on behind the scenes for years and hidden from the public, was correct and only then did the government start warning the citizenry about the dangers of smoking. Why did the government wait so long?  I think it was to give the tobacco companies like Philip Morris (now call Altria), time to diversify so that tobacco was only a small part of their holdings and therefore only a small part of their income. Today, Philip Morris owns Kraft Foods the world's largest food processing company.

As far as sweet sorrow is concerned, stay away from HFCS, aspartame, sucralose, and ace K as much as you can. Eat natural foods, drink water, unsweetened iced tea (or use sugar or stevia to sweeten it). And be aware that America is not a as healthy as it should be. We should be one of the world's healthiest countries with one of the world's longest life spans, but we're not. Dozens of countries are more healthy than we are; dozens of countries have life-spans longer than ours; dozens of countries provide their citizens with better health care and better access to health care. But, we're not even close. I think this has a lot to with the food we eat. What do you think?

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