The Link Between Artificial Sweeteners and Neurotransmitter (Dys)Function

The Link Between Artificial Sweeteners and Neurotransmitter (Dys)Function

Aspartame is a widely used artificial sweetener. Since its discovery in 1965, it has been used in thousands of food products as a non-caloric sweetener. Aspartame is about 200 times sweeter than sucrose (table sugar). However, aspartame is not the only artificial sweetener found in foods; others include saccharin, neotame, acesulfame potassium, and sucralose. More than 6000 new products that contain artificial sweeteners were launched in the United States between 1999 and 2004, including soft drinks, baby food, Pedialyte, frozen foods, chewing gum and many (many) foods aimed at weight loss and blood sugar management (see other posts on the effects of artificial sweeteners and blood sugar and weight gain). (more…)

Mocktails – Cocktails Without the Kick (i.e., Alcohol)

Mocktails – Cocktails Without the Kick (i.e., Alcohol)

One of the hardest things for many people trying to live a healthier lifestyle is what to do in social situations when alcohol is available. As a society, we love our booze and it alcohol has become an integral part of many social gatherings and situations. So much so, that it is often deemed odd to not have a drink in hand and many of these events.

Have no fear – we have come up with several ‘mocktails’ that will ease the pressure to drink and allow you to enjoy a refreshing (and hydrating) beverage to boot – Cheers! (more…)

Antioxidants Role in Health – Part 6: Green Phytonutrients

In Part 5 of this series, we introduced you to the Orange and Yellow Phytonutrients, many of which have been shown to help improve vision and eye health. Many of the foods that contain green phytonutrients also help improve eye health. In addition, the green phytonutrients convey a wide variety of unique health benefits.

Eye Health

Lutein and zeaxanthin are green phytonutrients that have been shown to maintain good vision while reducing the risk of cataracts and macular degeneration. While these two nutrients are widely found in various supplemental formulas, they are also plentiful in foods, including kale, spinach, leafy greens (turnip, collard, and mustard), romaine lettuce, broccoli, green peas, kiwifruit, and honeydew melon.

Cancer Risk Reduction

Another key group of green phytonutrients are the indoles, which includes indole-3-carbinol and diindolylmethane. These compounds are not only potent antioxidants, they have also been shown to convey significant protection against a variety of cancers. In fact, these indoles have been shown to significantly reduce the risk of breast and prostate cancers while reducing the risk of tumor growth in most types of cancer, including melanoma.

Indoles seem to exhibit their cancer-protection by altering estrogen metabolism to produce less-carcinogenic metabolites. It also seems to directly inhibit the growth of reproductive cancer cells. Indoles are readily found in a variety of vegetables, including broccoli, cabbage, brussel sprouts, bok choy, arugula, Swiss chard, turnips, rutabaga, watercress, cauliflower and kale.

Chlorophyll is another potent antioxidant that is found in all green vegetables. Chlorophyll has also been shown to have anti-cancer properties. Research has shown that chlorophyll can bind to potential carcinogens and interfere with how they are absorbed in the human gastrointestinal tract; these  studies suggest that these effects help lower the risk for certain types of cancers, including liver and colon cancer.

Another group of antioxidants that have been found to reduce the risk of cancer are the Blue & Purple Phytonutrients; these will be the subject of our next post.

References
  1. Hsu, J; Dev, A; Wing, A; Brew, C; Bjeldanes, L; Firestone, G (2006). “Indole-3-carbinol mediated cell cycle arrest of LNCaP human prostate cancer cells requires the induced production of activated p53 tumor suppressor protein”.
  2. Kima DS, Jeong YM, Moon SI, Kwon SB, Park KC (2011).” Indole-3-carbinol and ultraviolet B induce apoptosis of human melanoma cells via down-regulation of MITF” Pharmazie.Dec;66(12):982-7.
  3. Kundu A, Quirit JG, Khouri MG, Firestone GL (2017). Inhibition of oncogenic BRAF activity by indole-3-carbinol disrupts microphthalmia-associated transcription factor expression and arrests melanoma cell proliferation. Mol Carcinog.;56(1):49-61.
  4. Kundu A,Aronchik I,Quirit JG, Firestone GL (2014). The antiproliferative response of indole-3-carbinol in human melanoma cells is triggered by an interaction with NEDD4-1 and disruption of wild-type PTEN degradation. Mol Cancer Res.;12(11):1621-1634.
  5. http://lpi.oregonstate.edu/mic/dietary-factors/phytochemicals/chlorophyll-chlorophyllin
What a Healthy Plate Should Look Like

What a Healthy Plate Should Look Like

Rarely does a day go by when I am not asked what a ‘healthy’ diet is? Some people ask in the hopes of finding the magic combination of foods to achieve a health goal; others ask so they can justify how they want and/or like to eat and/or proselytize how one diet or way of eating is better or worse than others. But most people are just confused about what a health meal really looks like, and it’s no wonder with all the (mis)information out there. (more…)