Jillian Michaels is a very gifted lay person and TV personality but she isn't a nutritionist nor a scientist and she actually doesn't have a degree in anything. Unfortunately her information is not accurate according to the NIH. There is a lot of misinformation out there that is being circulated without any scientific proof to back it up. The same problems she indicated have also been linked to stevia but until long range double bind studies are done there is no proof that any of these claims are true. Personally I would not consume a lot of artificial sweeteners because I believe as nurse that you should use moderation in all things and eat things that are actually know to be healthy like lean meat, fruits, and veggies.
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Q: I'm a sugar substitute addict — I use Splenda in my coffee in the morning and have a Diet Coke every day after lunch. Is it okay to do this, since I'm not consuming the regular sugar I would otherwise?
JILLIAN SAYS: Props to you for weaning yourself off sugar — I have a massive sweet tooth myself. But it’s also very important to limit your intake of sugar substitutes. As you may have noticed, some of the recipes in my old books contain Splenda. But as I’ve gained knowledge and experience in the realm of health and wellness, I’ve become passionate about putting only natural foods (and organic ones, whenever possible) into my body. While the Food and Drug Administration doesn’t ban saccharin (Sweet'N Low), aspartame (Equal, the sweetener in Diet Coke), or sucralose (Splenda), I could go on and on about research I’ve read on them. Studies indicate that they actually raise your risk of metabolic syndrome, and they are linked to cancer and cognitive dysfunction, to name a few negative associations. At the end of the day, it is best to avoid them whenever possible.
There are a few low-calorie sugar substitutes out there that are nontoxic. For no- or low-calorie sweetening, xylitol and stevia are better, more natural options. Xylitol is a naturally occurring sweetener that's extracted from the fibers of certain fruits and vegetables, and stevia comes from a South American plant.
I use xylitol all the time — usually one packet at a time in my coffee or tea. It’s nontoxic, but because it's a very mild sugar alcohol, you could have digestive problems if you use a lot of it. I’ve never had a problem, though. You can find xylitol at Whole Foods, other health food stores, and online. Make sure you get the crystalline version — the recipes on my site use that form because it’s easily exchanged for sugar. One cup of crystalline xylitol is equivalent to one cup of sugar in volume and sweetness (though xylitol has two-thirds the calories and much less of an effect on your blood sugar). In addition, crystalline xylitol is heat stable, so you can sub it in for sugar in any recipe.
Believe me, I know it can be tough to break a Diet Coke addiction — it almost killed me to give the stuff up. But I feel so much better now that I'm not drinking that poison every day. I guarantee you will feel a difference when you get off those chemicals!
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