Archive for February, 2012

High Fructose Corn Syrup

We probably all know that this one is bad by now… what we may not know is why. High fructose corn syrup is one of the major suspects for the growing rates of obesity and diabetes that you see mainly in the US and (surprisingly) Mexico. Yes, statistics say that the US, Mexico, and the UK are the top three most obese countries in the world.

I live in Canada, and thank goodness that we’re number 11.

HFCS is frequently used in place of sugar or honey. It is in yogurt, cereal, granola bars, baked products (including bread), pop and other beverages, canned fruits, and candies of all sorts.

Now, if I take another look at that list… the first thing that comes to mind is the fact that they are all processed foods. So again, the foods that are the problems, and the ones we need to stay away from, are the processed foods – the foods that are made to our convenience.

Before I get to how high fructose corn syrup can cause weight gain, I must first explain something else – the hormone called leptin.

When you have eaten enough, your fat cells release leptin, which tells your brain that you aren’t hungry any more. If you starve yourself on a diet or other, or if you wait until you’re famished before you eat – your leptin levels go down, and your hypothalamus hasn’t sensed any leptin. Then your body tries to stimulate a nerve that runs from your abdomen to your brain, which tells you that you are hungry. You eat, and your leptin levels come back up to tell your brain that you are full.

Now I can explain how HFCS is a factor in increase of obesity.

High fructose corn syrup causes insulin resistance because it is a sugar (and is in fact metabolized faster than other sugars), and insulin resistance in turn causes leptin resistance. When you become leptin resistant, your brain does not detect the release of leptin, even though it was there, so it is continually believing that you are hungry. The result – our vagus nerves tell you that you are hungry all the time, and you continue to gain weight because you are taking in more energy than you need to use. And what happens when we eat more than you burn? We get obese.

Something interesting I discovered when I found out which countries are the most obese (per capita), was that during the rise of obesity (1985-2010), diabetes, and cancer, the amount of food additives used rose as well, along with consumption of processed foods, soft drinks and candy.

*I decided to do part three before part two, Splenda, because I’m still gathering some information.

Ok, scratch hydrogen peroxide. It worked for about a week… then on my next breakout, I used it again for 2 weeks and the acne didn’t get any better. I stopped using it three days ago, and switched to tea tree instead, and the acne has already started to fade.

So, my mistake – hydrogen peroxide isn’t such a great idea for acne.

…But I have been using tea tree oil for years, and it still works!

can get it from a pharmacy or walmart - no perscription


There has been quite a debate between the food industry, FDA, and scientists about whether or not  aspartame poses a threat to the general public. Several scientific studies have shown that it can cause brain tumours, but the doctors will tell people it can’t (similar to the way doctors will tell women to take soy if they are infertile, even though it may cause infertility and menstrual problems). The FDA even avoided allowing the industries to market aspartame for 16 years. It was approved after a new director was put in charge and the old one removed. A while later, the new director left the FDA.

That in itself is shocking evidence against Aspartame.

Now, remember my last post on why people get type 2 diabetes? Remember how certain foods make the pancreas release insulin? Well, aspartame, just like sugar, does the same thing. Only, in this case whether you are diabetic or not, it may still cause damage.

Aspartame is a chemical made up of 3 molecules – aspartic acid, phenylalanine, and methanol.
That’s right – aspartame is made out of 10% methanol – poison. Methanol causes damage to our eyes. One can of aspartame-sweetened pop contains about 14 mg of methanol. The maximum amount that we are supposed to consume in a day is 7.8 mg. One can see right away that this is a problem in the long run.

Phenylalanine can be a problem for some people who cannot metabolize it, and besides, is also a neurotoxin. In addition to that, it and aspartic acid may trigger the release of insulin from your pancreas, and if we intake too much aspartame, then starts the cycle of how you get type II diabetes.
Another possible threat is cancer. A scientific study was done in 2010, in which rats were fed aspartame for their entire lives. The results were some uncommon brain tumours, increased cancer risk, and things called carcinomas – spreading tumours.

And one more thing – many people use it because it contains virtually no calories or fats, so then they will lose more weight than if they were just using sugar. This is a common myth, since it triggers the release of insulin, which leads to fats and sugars being stored in cells (and if you are eating too much or not exercising enough, not being burned off) and then you start getting overweight. So contrary to popular belief, sugar is better for us than sugar substitutes. I might even venture to say that honey, molasses, and white sugar are the best forms of sugar to consume, if we will consume it at all.

aspartame side effects

where I got the bulk of information

aspartame in pop and aspartame safety

Falafel Patties

Last week my mom and I made falafels – it was the first time I had ever had them, and I honestly didn’t think I’d like them. But when I tried a bite, they were so good I wanted to eat the whole batch!

We got the recipe from a Janet and Greta Podleski cookbook called The Looneyspoons Collection. Their cookbooks are awesome – we can read them for fun because they’re packed with jokes and interesting tips!

Here is the recipe:

FULLafel Patties

1 (19 oz/540 ml) can of unsalted chickpeas, dried and rinsed

1/2 cup diced red onion

3 tbsp each minced fresh cilantro and parsley

2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice

2 tbsp all-purpose flour (we used corn starch because mom is gluten-intolerant)

1 tbsp tahini

1 tsp minced garlic

1 tsp ground cumin

1/2 tsp each ground coriander, chili powder and salt

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

2 tbsp olive oil (for cooking with)

Add all the ingredients except the olive oil to the bowl of a food processor. Pulse on and off, occasionally scraping down sides of bowl, until mixture is the consistency of very thick cookie dough. Transfer mixture to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour (it will firm up).

Using about 2 tbsp “dough” per patty, form mixture into 15 balls. Using your hands, flatten balls slightly to form 2-inch patties.

Heat 1 tbsp oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add half the patties to the skillet. Cover and cook for about 3 to 4 minutes per side, until patties are lightly browned and heated through. Be careful not to burn them. Remove patties from skillet and keep warm. Cook remaining patties in remaining 1 tbsp oil. Patties will firm up a bit if left to cool slightly before serving. Serve warm.

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We also made our own tahini paste a couple of days ago using sesame seeds from the Bulk Barn. The seeds were about $3 for 4 cups, and the other ingredients are worth pennies. When you buy tahini paste at the store, it can be as much as 5 or 6 dollars for much less than 4 cups. So while making your own food takes time and effort, in all honesty, it tastes better, it’s less expensive, and it is much healthier!