Nutrition Headlines

Recently In The News

Mars announces support for “Added sugars” line on nutrition facts panel – Consumers need to know how much added sugar is in their food and beverages in order to make healthy food choices.  The only way, or the best way, is to have an “added sugars” line on the Nutrition Facts Panel.  By having this as a separate line from just “sugars” as it is now, this will allow consumers to distinguish those sugars from the naturally occurring sugars in fruit or other milk ingredients. 

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Mars, while an unlikely ally, has come out in favor to have a line for added sugars on the Nutrition Facts Label.  The Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee recommends that Americans limit their consumption of added sugars to 10 percent of calories, or about 12 teaspoons a day.  The committee concluded that added sugars are linked to a higher risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke and tooth decay.  Not rocket science, but apparently proof was necessary to be able to make some changes in the Dietary Guidelines.  (FYI there are many “scientists” that won’t agree there is a link between sugar and obesity.)

As the Committee is pushing to have the “added sugars” added on the Nutrition Facts Label, they are also pushing to have the sugar listed in teaspoons, not just grams.  No one understands the metric system.  I’ve made many a poster trying to show how much sugar is in various products to make it more understandable.  Teaspoons are the easiest way for people to understand.  The Beverage Association would have you think otherwise.  John Oliver wants people to use circus peanuts to visually show people how much sugar is in a product.  One circus peanut has ~5 grams of sugar.  A 64 oz bottle of Clamato has 16 circus peanuts.  A 20 oz bottle of soda, ~14 circus peanuts.  #showusyourpeanuts  - is the hashtag John Oliver wants us to start using to get law makers to tell us what we’re really eating.  Not sure if the humor of it will shine through, but whatever it takes!

If you haven’t see the clip from John Oliver’s “Sugar” episode, it’s a must watch:

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Sugar

Interestingly enough Mars is also helping in the fight to get junk food out of schools.  They even have one of the strongest policies when it comes to shielding kids from junk-food marketing.  I hope other companies will follow their lead.  And in an ideal dreamy world, maybe they can stop making so much junk food. 

Panera removes Dyes, Additives from Foods – Yellow #5, Yellow #6, Red #40, and other artificial food dyes shouldn’t be in the food supply in the first place.  But kudos to Panera for getting rid of them.  They have a whole list for you to look over and see what’s “not in their food today” and what’s “being removed from our food”.  Here's the link:

The Center for Science in the Public Interest’s Executive Director states that, “just because something is artificial or its name is hard to pronounce doesn’t mean it’s unsafe.  Some of the additives Panera is ditching are perfectly innocuous, such as calcium propionate or sodium lactate - So those moves are more about public relations than public health.”He goes on further to claim that Panera should have also made clear that these improvements won’t be happening at the soda fountain.  The sodas they sell will still include Pepsi and Diet Pepsi which now will have Acesulfame Potassium and they will also still sell Mountain Dew, which contains brominated vegetable oil as well as Yellow #5.  But as Jacobson points out, if what you’re eating at Panera is a 1,000 calorie panini that has a day’s worth of sodium, with a 460 calorie soda, the food additives should be the least of your concern.  I agree whole heartedly CSPI.   

PepsiCo Reformulates Diet Pepsi Without Aspartame – Yes, the good news is that now people will be consuming less Aspartame.  Three top-quality studies have found that aspartame causes cancer in animals, so the less that people consume the better.  Not to mention that maybe this will drive other food and beverage companies to abandon it as well.  Consuming less aspartame being better for us, obvious.  What’s not as obvious?  The fact that PepsiCo added not one artificial sweetener in their newly formulated drink, but two.  Why?  I ask why??  Sucralose, the first of the two additives, is a safer sweetener, but is still on the CSPI’s watch list, meaning that it may pose a risk AND needs to be better tested. 

Center for Science in the Public Interest: Chemical Cuisine

Acesulfame Potassium on the other hand is on their “Avoid” list, meaning it is unsafe in amounts consumed or is very poorly tested and not worth any risk.  It has been poorly tested, however, the tests that were done in the 1970s suggest that ace-K might pose a cancer risk.  So why did PepsiCo switch from one “Avoid” sweetener to another “Avoid” sweetener?  No clue, I have NO clue.

People ask me all the time in my office what they should drink.  My answer is simple. Water. Water. Water.   I tell them to either try seltzer water or make their own infused water with fruit to help refresh themselves.  Soda is never a recommendation I would make, diet or not.

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Don’t Count on supplements to lower your blood sugar – Blood Sugar Manager.  Blood Sugar Defense.  Blood Glucose Success.  GlucoMiracle.  Supplements with names like that better make promises they can keep!!  But can these supplements really help keep your blood sugar under control??  In order to see if they work, the main ingredient is put to the test against a placebo, to see if it will lower the hemoglobin A1c (A1c shows your average blood sugar over the past three months.)  Most of these tests were done in people with type 2 diabetes who were also taking drugs to help lower their blood sugar.  That’s not the same as if they were testing the supplement by itself or in people with prediabetes.  But here are the results on some common supplements patients ask me about all the time.

Cinnamon – There were 5 good studies.  People with type 2 diabetes took a daily dose of 1,000 mg (⅓ teaspoon) to 4,500 mg (1 ¾ teaspoons) of cinnamon or a placebo.  Verdict:  A1c levels in the cinnamon takers were no lower.

Chromium – There was a study in 1997 with 150 people with type 2 diabetes in China that took 200 or 1,000 micrograms of chromium picolinate that did have lower A1c levels after four months than those taking the placebo.  Since then, however, chromium (including picolinate) hasn’t had success in 7 of the 8 studies.  There were a total of 476 people with type 2 diabetes that took 400 to 1,000 mcg a day or a placebo for at least three months.  Verdict:  A1c levels in the chromium takers was no lower.

Gymnema Sylvestre – No good studies have compared gymnema with a placebo on A1c levels in people with type 2 diabetes.

Fenugreek – Only one good study has looked at fenugreek and A1c in people with type 2 diabetes.  46 patients got 6.3 grams (about 2 teaspoons) of powdered fenugreek seeds every day.  Twenty-three people received the placebo.  After 12 weeks, average A1c levels fell from 8.0 to 6.6 in the fenugreek takers, but from just 8.6 to 8.2 in the placebo takers.  Verdict:  No research has been published since this study 7 years ago.  It’s worth studying more!

Bitter Melon – There has only been one trial that lasted long enough to see an impact.  Verdict:  after three months, A1c levels were the same in both groups.

Lipoic Acid – 921 men and women with both type 1 and type 2 diabetes received 600 mg of lipoic acid or a placebo every day (in two studies.)  After two years in one study and four years in the other, A1c levels were no lower in the lipoic acid takers than in the placebo takers.

Believe me, I know the idea of taking a supplement to control your blood sugar levels seems tempting.  But the bottom line is that losing weight is the best way to get your blood sugars down.  And don’t forget your diet.  What you eat and the frequency of your meals makes all the difference too.  Nothing beats diet AND exercise – The Diabetes Prevention Program proved that.

There you have it.  Just some of the most recent nutrition headlines.  As I learned years ago, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. 

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