News on Health & Science

Sweeteners Make You Fat

A new study says that artificial sweeteners don’t work. T.V. Jayan reports

In the battle against the bulge, low or no-calorie artificial sweeteners may not have much of a role to play, contrary to what conventional wisdom says. In fact, they might even be counter productive, as the latest research shows.
…………….CLICK & SEE.
Scientists seem to have got the first glimpse of what artificial sweeteners could do to a living organism’s metabolism when they tried out saccharin-laden yogurt on laboratory rats. The researchers   Susan Swithers and Terry Davidson, both psychologists at Purdue University in the US   found that replacing sugar with saccharin in the animals  diet did reduce a few calories (equivalent of that contained in sugar), but the rats ended up hogging more, gained more weight and put on more body fat. More importantly, the animals failed to cut back on subsequent meals accordingly, the researchers say in a paper that’s appearing today in the journal Behavioral Neuroscience.

Swithers and Davidson found that as compared to rats that ate yogurt sweetened with glucose (a sugar with 15 calories per teaspoon    the same as in table sugar), those given yogurt sweetened with zero-calorie saccharin consumed relatively more calories. The rats in all groups were fed yogurt six days a week for five weeks.

In nature, sweetness is normally linked to food that is rich in calories. This association is ingrained in most animals very early in life, the first such experience being that of breast milk. With the growing use of non-calorific sweeteners, millions of people are being exposed to sweet tastes that are not associated with calorific or nutritive values. The scientists suspect this type of exposure may be partly impairing our body’s energy regulation.

By breaking the connection between a sweet sensation and high-calorie food, the use of saccharin changes the body’s ability to regulate intake, the scientists argue. This breakdown of self-regulation may partly be responsible for the ballooning obesity levels, which has coincided with the use of artificial sweeteners.


Sweet tasting substances are known to be strong elicitors of a number of reactions involving the hormones, body temperature and metabolic activity. The moment one pops a chocolate into the mouth or takes the first sip of a sugar-laden drink, a series of reactions sets in motion inside the body. The first one is what scientists call the cephalic-phase reflex. It ensures that gastric acids (that will eventually digest the incoming food) are released the very moment one begins to chew the food. Cephalic-phase reflexes make the system anticipate and prepare for the arrival of nutrients in the gastrointestinal tract so that it can increase the efficiency of nutrient utilisation and minimise the damage that could be caused to the internal environment by the onrush of high-calorie food. Ingestive and digestive reflexes gear up for that intake but when false sweetness isn’t followed by lots of calories, the system gets confused. This may make people eat more and expend less energy than they would otherwise.

The Purdue University researchers designed three different experiments to check whether saccharin changed the animals    ability to regulate their intake. They used different assessments  calorific intake, weight gain and the animals    ability to cut the flab later. The experiments also measured changes in the core body temperature. Normally when we prepare to eat, the metabolic engine revs up. However, the rats that had been trained to respond using saccharin (which broke the link between sweetness and calories) showed a smaller rise in the core temperature than those eating a sweet-tasting, high-calorie meal. The authors of the study think that this blunted response both led to over-eating and made it harder for the animals to burn off sweet-tasting calories.

The data clearly indicate that consuming food sweetened with no-calorie saccharin can lead to greater weight gain and adiposity than consuming the same food sweetened with a higher-calorie sugar,  they claim.

The study looks very sound, says Anoop Misra, an internal medicine specialist at Fortis Flt Lt. Rajan Dhall Hospital in New Delhi.   It certainly goes against the tide.

But Misra thinks there are several caveats here. One, the study was conducted in rats and the response of human beings may be different. Besides, lab animals are not bothered about obesity or the richness of the food they eat, while a human being — in fear of becoming overweight — would probably be conscious of the calories consumed. Thus, automatically, there would be a check on the quality and quality of the food eaten. Three, for someone who is determined to shed those extra pounds, artificial sweeteners are not the only way out. Such individuals may also go for walks or hit the gym, he suggests.

Swithers, too, agrees.   certainly wouldn’t say that artificial sweeteners are completely bad. From our perspective though, such products might actually contribute to weight gain because they interfere with an automatic process,  she told KnowHow. They may be useful for weight loss only if people use more conscious, cognitive methods like calorie counting, she says.

At this point, our data are derived only from animals, so it is difficult to predict how changes in their consumption would affect human obesity,  she adds.

…Spare the sugar, fuel the fat: Psychologists Susan Swithers and Terry Davidson

Moreover, as Misra points out, the study was conducted using saccharin, an artificial sweetener that is rarely in use today. Swithers, however, does not think the results with other artificial sweeteners such as aspartame, sucralose and acesulfame K would be dramatically different. The good news, she says, is that people can still count the calories to regulate intake and body weight.

But most dieters lament that counting calories requires a more conscious effort than consuming low-calorie foods. Swithers couldn’t agree more.

Click to read->Artificial sweeteners can be fattening

Sources: The Telegraph (Kolkata, India)

News on Health & Science

So Sweet (Stevia Rebaudiana)

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Sugar leaf is not just a great sweetener , it is full of antioxidants too, reports T.V. Jayan

Calcutta researchers have turned a sweet plant even sweeter. Stevia rebaudiana or sugar leaf   as it is locally known in India   has of late become a craze among farmers in different parts of the country. That’s  because powder made from its leaves is a natural sweetener that’s up to 300 times sweeter than table sugar. It is a boon for diabetic patients as it does not spike blood sugar levels. Moreover, being a natural product, it is considered safer than artificial sweeteners such as saccharin and aspartame.

.Stevia can now graduate from being called a mere sweetener to being known as a nutraceutical or an externally supplied dietary supplement, thanks to a team of scientists at the Indian Institute of Chemical Biology (IICB), Calcutta. The IICB team   led by Sharmila Chattopadhyay   has discovered that stevia leaves also contain considerable quantities of antioxidants, compounds that help the body fight ageing-related cell damage and the formation of free radicals implicated in several diseases such as cancer, atherosclerosis and diabetes.

Our study shows that an extract of stevia contains as many as six or seven flavanoids, in trace to significant quantities,  Chattopadhyay told KnowHow. The study appeared online recently in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry published by the American Chemical Society.

Flavanoids are a class of plant polyphenols that exhibit antioxidant properties. What is most significant about the flavanoid composition of stevia is that it packs in a little of all the major flavanoids that would otherwise be available from eating a broad spectrum of cereals, vegetables and fruits. For instance, antioxidant compounds such as apigenin and luteolin are predominantly found in cereals and aromatic herbs. Similarly, two others such as quercetin and kaempferol    also found in the stevia extract   are more common in vegetables and fruits. However, their percentage could be lower than in the individual vegetables, fruits or cereals, says Chattopadhyay.  Nonetheless, we have been able to establish the health-promoting potential of the plant,    she says.


Products extracted from stevia are yet to gain popularity in India.   This is because India hasn’t approved its use as a food additive yet,   says Bhupinder Sheth of Herboveda India, a Noida-based firm that supplies stevia powder to pharmaceutical companies in the country.

Click to learn more..………..(1).………..(2)

Sources:The Telegraph (Kolkata, India)


Which Foods Really Cause Flatulence?

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Certain foods are common causes of flatulence, and temporarily avoiding these foods can help you determine if they âre a problem for you. According to the Mayo Clinic Health Letter, the following foods are likely to cause gassiness:

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*Dairy products, which contain sugar lactose that causes gas

*Vegetables, including onions, radishes, cabbage, celery, carrots, brussel sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower and legumes

*Fruit sugar, which is especially high in prunes, raisins, bananas, apples, apricots and fruit juices from prunes, grapes and apples


*Fatty foods and carbonated drinks

*Additionally, artificial sweeteners such as sorbitol, mannitol and xylitol may also cause flatulence.

Food manufacturers have begun to develop products that promise to not cause flatulence. For instance, in 2006 a flatulence-free manteca bean was grown in the UK.

Sources: January 4, 2008

Herbs & Plants


.Botanical Name : Stevia rebaudiana

Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Order: Asterales
Tribe: Eupatorieae

Family: Asteraceae

Stevia is a genus of about 150 species of herbs and shrubs in the sunflower family (Asteraceae), native to subtropical and tropical South America and Central America. The species Stevia rebaudiana Bertoni, commonly known as sweetleaf, sweet leaf, sugarleaf, or simply stevia, is widely grown for its sweet leaves. As a sugar substitute, stevia’s taste has a slower onset and longer duration than that of sugar, although some of its extracts may have a bitter or liquorice-like aftertaste at high concentrations.

With its extracts having up to 300 times the sweetness of sugar, stevia has garnered attention with the rise in demand for low-carbohydrate, low-sugar food alternatives. Stevia also has shown promise in medical research for treating such conditions as obesity and high blood pressure. Stevia has a negligible effect on blood glucose, even enhancing glucose tolerance; therefore, it is attractive as a natural sweetener to diabetics and others on carbohydrate-controlled diets.However, health and political controversies have limited stevia’s availability in many countries; for example, the United States banned it in the early 1990s unless labeled as a supplement. Stevia is widely used as a sweetener in Japan, and it is now available in the US and Canada as a dietary supplement, although not as a food additive. Rebiana is the trade name for a stevia-derived sweetener being developed jointly by The Coca-Cola Company and Cargill with the intent of marketing in several countries and gaining regulatory approval in the US and EU.

Description:Stevia rebaudiana is member of Compositae. Stevia rebaudiana is a tender perennial plant. Stem is weak and leaves are arranged alternately. Flowers are small and white and arranged in indeterminate heads. Seeds are minute.


History and use:
For centuries, the Guaraní tribes of Paraguay and Brazil used Stevia species, primarily S. rebaudiana which they called ka’a he’ê (“sweet herb”), as a sweetener in yerba mate and medicinal teas for treating heartburn and other ailments.

In 1931, two French chemists isolated the glycosides that give stevia its sweet taste.[6] These compounds were named stevioside and rebaudioside, and are 250–300 times sweeter than sucrose (ordinary table sugar), heat stable, pH stable, and non-fermentable.

In the early 1970s, Japan began cultivating stevia as an alternative to artificial sweeteners such as cyclamate and saccharin, suspected carcinogens. The plant’s leaves, the aqueous extract of the leaves, and purified steviosides are used as sweeteners. Stevia sweeteners have been produced commercially in Japan since 1977 and are widely used in food products, soft drinks (including Coca Cola), and for table use. Japan currently consumes more stevia than any other country; it accounts for 40% of the sweetener market.

The Chinese American herbalist, Dr. Tei-Fu Chen, perfected a non-chemical method to extract the sweet chemicals from stevia; this method remains the primary technique used today. Dr. Chen’s company, Sunrider, processes, manufactures, and markets stevia products.

Today, stevia is cultivated and used in food elsewhere in east Asia, including in China (since 1984), Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, and Malaysia. It can also be found in Saint Kitts and Nevis, in parts of South America (Brazil, Colombia, Peru, Paraguay, and Uruguay) and in Israel. China is the world’s largest exporter of stevioside.

Stevia species are found in the wild in semi-arid habitats ranging from grassland to mountain terrain. Stevia does produce seeds, but only a small percentage of them germinate. Planting cloned stevia is a more effective method of reproduction.

Stevia has been grown on an experimental basis in Ontario, Canada since 1987 for the purpose of determining the feasibility of growing the crop commercially. In the United States, it is legal to import, grow, sell, and consume stevia products if contained within or labeled for use as a dietary supplement, but not as a food additive. Stevia has also been approved as a dietary supplement in Australia, New Zealand[10] and Canada. In Japan and South American countries, stevia may also be used as a food additive. Stevia is currently banned for use in food in the European Union It is also banned in Singapore and Hong Kong.

Rebiana is the tradename for a patent-pending, calorie-free, food and beverage sweetener derived from stevia and developed jointly by The Coca-Cola Company and Cargill. In May 2007, Coca-Cola announced plans to obtain approval for its use as a food additive within the United States by 2009. Coca-Cola has also announced plans to market rebiana-sweetened products in 12 countries that allow stevia’s use as a food additive. The two companies are conducting their own studies in an effort to gain regulatory approval in the United States and the European Union.

Health controversy:
A 1985 study reported that steviol, a breakdown product from stevioside and rebaudioside (two of the sweet steviol glycosides in the stevia leaf) is a mutagen in the presence of a liver extract of pre-treated rats — but this finding has been criticized on procedural grounds that the data were mishandled in such a way that even distilled water would appear mutagenic. More recent animal tests have shown mixed results in terms of toxicology and adverse effects of stevia extract, with some tests finding steviol to be a weak mutagen while newer studies find no safety issues.

Other studies have shown stevia improves insulin sensitivity in rats and may even promote additional insulin production,[ helping to reverse diabetes and metabolic syndrome. Preliminary human studies show stevia can help reduce hypertension although another study has shown it has no effect on hypertension. Despite these more recent studies establishing the safety of stevia, government agencies have expressed concerns over toxicity, citing a lack of sufficient conclusive research.

Whole foods proponents draw a distinction between consuming (and safety testing) only parts, such as stevia extracts and isolated compounds like stevioside, versus the whole herb. In his book Healing With Whole Foods, Paul Pitchford cautions, “Obtain only the green or brown [whole] stevia extracts or powders; avoid the clear extracts and white powders, which, highly refined and lacking essential phyto-nutrients, cause imbalance”. However, this statement is not backed by published scientific evidence, other than the general findings about refined foods being less beneficial.

In 2006, the World Health Organization (WHO) performed a thorough evaluation of recent experimental studies of stevioside and steviols conducted on animals and humans, and concluded that “stevioside and rebaudioside A are not genotoxic in vitro or in vivo and that the genotoxicity of steviol and some of its oxidative derivatives in vitro is not expressed in vivo.” The report also found no evidence of carcinogenic activity. Furthermore, the report noted that “stevioside has shown some evidence of pharmacological effects in patients with hypertension or with type-2 diabetes” but concluded that further study was required to determine proper dosage.

Indeed, millions of Japanese people have been using stevia for over thirty years with no reported or known harmful effects. Similarly, stevia leaves have been used for centuries in South America spanning multiple generations in ethnomedical tradition as a treatment of type II diabetes.

The FDA & Stevia

Use & Medicinal Valueof Stevia: Stevia – The Sweet Herb Stevia rebaudiana is popularly known as Sweet Herb. It is native to North Eastern Paraguay where it is used in folk medicine. Dr.Moises Santiago Bertoni (1887) reported about new species of stevia. He named Stevia rebaudiana in the honor of Paraguay chemist Rebaudi. In 1908, it was Rasenack who reported to the scientific community about presence of sweeteners in the plant. In 1931, Briedel and Lavieille continued the work of Rasenack and succeeded in isolating Stevioside.

In 1970, use of chemical sweeteners was prohibited in Japan. Stevia ahs been used as sweetener in Japan for over 25 years. It is estimated that 50 tones of Steviosides are consumed annually in Japan. Further stevia holds 50% of the sweeteners market in Japan. China is not lagging behind. Her stevia is widely used in food stuffs, beverages and pickles.

Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in late eighties banned stevia for it use as dietary supplement or sweetener. In 1991 after so much argument, FDA lifted ban on stevia and allowed the import and sale in United Stats of America. Today stevia and Steviosides are sold as dietary supplements. Experts are of the view that status of stevia as dietary supplement is appropriate and more scientific studies are required to give it status of a drug

In 1908 crop of stevia was raised for the first time. In 1918, a botanist (name not confirmed) from America introduced the people with amazing properties of the stevia. In 1932 G.S. Brady, American Trade Commissioner discussed the commercial viability of the plant. It can be said with certainty that stevia was brought in the limelight by work of Bertoni. During World War II, stevia was grown in England as a sugar substitute.

As far as traditional medicinal use of Stevia is concerned, it is has been used in Brazil and Paraguay. The Guarani community used stevia for imparting sweetness to teas.

In addition, Stevia was used for cardiac edema, obesity, high blood pressure and gastritis. Herbalists in Brazil describe stevia as hypoglycemic, antihypertensive, diuretic and cardiac tonic. They use the plant for the treatment of obesity, fatigue, dental caries and high blood pressure

Nutritional and Medicinal Uses of Stevia

The Bittersweet Story of the Stevia Herb

Guide to Using Stevia in Cooking and Natural Medicines
Stevia, The Sweet Herb

Learn More About Stevia

Stevia: The ‘Holy Grail’ of Sweeteners?

The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.


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Healthy Tips

6 Smart Holiday Diet Tricks

Survive the holidays without damaging your diet.

When the winter holidays arrive, sometimes there’s no way to avoid being stuck in the house with lots of family and friends  and food everywhere. Here’s how to cope:

1. Hang with the kids. If all the adults are circling the food table, spend time with the children. At most ages, kids are more likely than adults to be doing something active. Their energy and playfulness can help distract you from food.

2. Appoint yourself activity director. Take the lead in suggesting non-eating activities that the family can do together, from playing Scrabble or charades to building a snowman.

3. Grab a water bottle. When there are lots of high-calorie beverages around, it helps to have an alternative. Keep a glass or bottle of water handy.

4. Keep “free” snacks and beverages on hand. Satisfy your munchies with very low-calorie treats like carrots, celery, sweet peppers, sliced jicama, and diet drinks. That way you won’t have to rely on your willpower to steer clear of all those diet-busting rich foods.

5. Be helpful anywhere but in the kitchen. This is a tough one, especially if you’re at the in-laws’ house. But it’s easy to nibble when you’re surrounded by food preparation. Volunteer for other duties: cleaning up, setting the table, being bartender, running errands — anything that doesn’t involve food.

6. Get lost. If the sight and smell of all that food become just too much for you, excuse yourself and get out of the house. Take a stroll or go for a drive.

Source:Raeder’s Digest