E-Mail Edition Volume 14 Number 1
Published Winter, 2017
Published by Piccadilly Books, Ltd., www.piccadillybooks.com.
Bruce Fife, N.D., Publisher, www.coconutresearchcenter.org
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by Dr. Bruce Fife
The Stevia Myth
Stevia May Not Be So Good After All
Warning: the information in this article may be objectionable to some readers blinded by marketing propaganda and misconceptions. Only those sincerely seeking the truth should consider reading further.
When I first learned about stevia years ago, I was excited. Finally, here was a sweetener derived from an herb rather than from some chemist’s laboratory. It was a product of nature and not of man, so it had to be good. Since it contained no sugar, it was believed to have no effect on blood sugar levels and could be safely used by diabetics. It was many times sweeter than sugar so you only needed a tiny amount to give foods the same sweetness as sugar but without all the calories. It seemed like a dieter’s dream.
Marketers promoted stevia as a natural, herbal sweetener that could help control blood sugar, ease sugar cravings, aid in weight loss, and improve digestive health. It had an exotic appeal because it was derived from a rare herb found only in the wilds of South America. Stevia took on the persona of a natural, wholesome sweetener that was a far healthier choice than sugar or artificial sweeteners.
I was whisked away by all the hype and believed, like many others, that stevia was a wholesome natural sweetener that promoted good health. Stevia was added to my diet at home and I encouraged others to use it in place of sugar or artificial sweeteners. I developed many recipes using it. However, I began to notice side effects with stevia that concerned me. I began to wonder if stevia was really as wholesome and healthy as promoters claim. This prompted me to look beyond the hype and delve into the science to uncover the facts. What I found shocked me! Much of the information we are told about stevia is more marketing hype than truth. The more I researched, the more I discovered that most of what we believe about stevia is simply not true—they’re myths and misconceptions created by promoters trying to sell a product.
Through my research, I have found many problems with stevia, more than I can include in this article, but I would like to highlight six major myths and give you the facts, all of which are verified by published medical studies and plain old common sense.
Myth 1: Stevia is Harmless Because it Comes from a Plant
Herbs are natural, harmless, and often beneficial right? That’s the image marketers give us and we have fallen for that lie hook, line, and sinker. Just because something comes from a plant does not make it wholesome or harmless. There are many natural substances that are poisonous or otherwise harmful. Have you ever experienced the consequences of touching the leaf of a poison ivy plant or felt the pain of stinging nettle? Many poisons, such as cyanide and ricin, are derived from plants. Many dangerous drugs also come from plants. Simply because stevia is derived from a plant does not make it harmless, let alone healthful.
Myth 2: Stevia is an Herbal Sweetener
We’ve all been told that stevia is an “herbal” sweetener. Nothing can be further from the truth. The sweetener that is sold in stores shares no resemblance to the stevia plant. In fact, these sweeteners should not even be called stevia, but by their chemical names rebaudioside A and stevioside. It’s all a part of the misconception that stevia marketers use to deceive the public.
The stevia sweetener you buy in the store cannot be called an herb or even a natural product; it is a highly processed, refined, purified chemical. The sweetness of stevia comes from chemicals called steviol glycosides. In the refining process, all of the vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, essential oils, and other plant components are stripped away leaving purified steviol glycosides. Some manufactures purify their products into individual steviol glycosides, primarily rebaudioside A and stevioside.
Stevia is no more natural than is sugar or cocaine. Sugar is extracted and refined from sugar beets. Cocaine is extracted and refined from cocoa leaves. Likewise, stevia sweetener is extracted and refined from stevia leaves. To call stevia an “herbal” sweetener is like calling sugar a “vegetable” sweetener because it comes from beets.
Like sugar and cocaine, purified stevia extract forms a white crystalline powder. It has no resemblance to the original herb in any way, shape, or form. It is more like a drug than it is an herb. It’s most potent drug-like effect is its sweetness, which is 200 to 300 times sweeter than sugar.
Myth 3: Stevia is Not Addictive
One of the major problems with sugar is that it is addicting. In fact, studies have shown that it is just as, and even more addicting than cocaine. For example, when lab rats are given free access to both cocaine and sugar, they prefer sugar over cocaine. Even rats who are already addicted to cocaine quickly switch their addiction to sugar as soon as they are offered a choice.1
People, too, become addicted to sugar. That is one of the reasons why we have an obesity epidemic. Like cocaine, sugar triggers pleasure centers in the brain that drive us to eat sweets and encourage us to overindulge. Haven’t you ever eaten a piece of chocolate and then just had to have another and another? You just had to eat more even though you knew you had eaten enough. When you ignore sound judgment and make decisions based on cravings, you are addicted.
The addiction to sugar is not isolated to just sugar, but extends to all non-caloric sweeteners as well. It is not as much a “sugar” addiction as it is a “sweet” addiction. We become addicted to the sweetness rather than to sugar itself. Non-caloric sweeteners trigger the same pleasure centers in the brain that sugar does and causes the same cravings and addictions.
Researchers tested rats using saccharine, which is completely different chemically from sugar. The results were the same. The type of sweetener didn’t matter, it was the sweet taste that triggers the powerful effect, not the type of sweetener or the specific chemical makeup of the sweetener. Stevia has the same effect. When rats are given the choice between saccharine or stevia, their preference for stevia is just as strong as it is for saccharin.2
Addiction to stevia was one of the characteristics I first noticed. People would switch their addiction from sugar or aspartame to stevia once they began using it. Instead of eating desserts and junk foods sweetened with sugar, they were eating the same types of foods sweetened with stevia. And they had the same cravings for sweets. Stevia does not curb your sweet tooth at all, it feeds it, keeping sugar cravings and addictions alive and active.
Myth 4: Stevia Aids in Weight Loss
Most people use stevia to eliminate the calories from sugar and reduce their total calorie consumption as a means to lose or maintain their weight. Yet, those people who use it are not very successful with weight loss, and those who do manage to lose weight, work very hard at it and must reduce their total calorie intake drastically, making their weight loss journey a constant, unpleasant struggle. The simple truth of the matter is that stevia and other non-caloric sweeteners do not aid in weight loss, but promote weight gain!
Studies show that when people add non-caloric sweeteners into their diets, they tend to gain weight, not lose it. This is clearly demonstrated with those people who drink diet sodas. This effect isn’t because people with weight problems tend to drink diet soda and so are more susceptible to weight gain. Even normal weight people who drink diet sodas gain weight more rapidly than those who drink the same amount of regular soda.3
Animal studies have proven that non-caloric sweeteners, in comparison to sugar, lead to greater total calorie intake, greater weight gain, and increased body fat deposition. Several large scale human studies have found the same thing.4 The type of non-caloric sweeter makes no difference; they all have the same weight promoting effect, including stevia.5
The reason for this is that sugar activates taste receptors on the tongue that relay messages to the brain and gastrointestinal tract to release hormones and prepare for the incoming sugar calories. When non-caloric sweeteners are consumed, they activate the same sweet taste receptors on the tongue and set into motion this same process. However, when the anticipated sugar calories don’t come, hunger is intensified, which encourages overeating and weight gain. There is also a metabolic effect. Sugar stimulates metabolism immediately after eating, non-caloric sweeteners do not. So after eating a meal containing non-caloric sweeteners, more of the calories are converted into fat and packed away in storage.6
Although non-caloric sweeteners all have different chemical properties, their effect on weight gain is the same. The reason has nothing to do with their chemical makeup, or whether they come from an herb or a laboratory, but has everything to do with their intense sweetness and their lack of calories. If weight loss is your goal, you would be better off consuming real sugar than you would stevia.
Myth 5: Stevia is Good for Digestive Health
The gastrointestinal (GI) tract is the home for trillions of microorganisms collectively called the gut microbiota. Some of these bacteria and yeasts are important to our health because they help digest food, produce vitamins, and support immune function, among other things. Some, however, are not so useful and if present in too large a number can disrupt the intestinal environment and wreak havoc on digestive function and overall health.
The overconsumption of sugar and sweets is believed to feed these potentially harmful microorganisms causing them to proliferate and disrupt the balance between the good and bad microbes. The theory is that replacing sugar with stevia will limit the amount of nourishment going to the bad bacteria, thus limiting their ability to grow and multiply, resulting in a healthier digestive tract. The major problem with this concept is the fact that both the so-called good and the bad microbes feed on the sugar and carbohydrates in the diet. So eliminating sugar “starves” the good bacteria just as much as the bad.
When you eat sugar, taste receptors trigger the release of hormones that prepare the GI tract for the incoming sugar calories. Non-caloric sweeteners produce the same response. After eating food containing non-caloric sweeteners, the GI tract is primed to receive an incoming load of sugar. When the anticipated sugar calories do not arrive, changes occur that cause a shift in the bacterial population in an unhealthy direction.
More than 90 percent of the bacterial species in the gut comes from just two major subgroups—Firmicutes and Bacteroidetes. The percentage of these two types of bacteria greatly influences a person’s weight. Obese people have 50 percent more Firmicutes and 50 percent fewer Bacteroidetes than normal weight people. Firmicutes are better adapted to breaking down foods and extracting nutrients, which causes a higher percentage of calories to be removed from digesting food. They also influence genes causing a higher rate of these calories to be converted into fat and stored in the body.7 For this reason, some people refer to Firmicutes as the obesity bacteria. The more Firmicutes you have living in your gut, the more likely you are to be overweight or obese.
Studies have clearly demonstrated that consuming non-caloric sweeteners increases Firmicutes and decreases Bacteroidetes populations in the gut, thus promoting obesity.8 Researchers can take fecal samples from obese mice and transplant them into normal weight mice and cause them to become obese as well. They can also cause normal weight mice to become obese by feeding them food containing non-caloric sweeteners in place of sugar. The same thing occurs in humans. All non-caloric sweeteners, including stevia, have this effect.
Stevia disrupts the normal gut environment leading to metabolic changes that promote weight gain and alters normal digestive function.
Myth 6: Stevia is Good for Diabetics because it Does Not Affect Blood Sugar
You would think that replacing sugar, that strongly affects blood glucose levels, with a non-caloric sweetener, which has little effect, would be of benefit to diabetics. For this reason, stevia has been promoted as a better choice than sugar for diabetics. While stevia has little effect on blood sugar levels directly, its long-term effects greatly increases the risk of insulin resistance and diabetes.
Most non-caloric sweeteners, including stevia, are not easily broken down or digested. This is the reason why they do not provide any calories. This may sound good to people who want to reduce their calorie intake, but it causes a serious problem. When glucose enters the digestive tract it triggers the release of hormones that aids in its digestion and assimilation, as a consequence, glucose is quickly absorbed and removed from the intestines. This is why it has such a dramatic effect on raising blood sugar levels.
Stevia, and other non-caloric sweeteners, also trigger the release of these same hormones. However, since non-caloric sweeteners do not break down, they are not readily absorbed. They remain in the digestive tract for extended periods of time and continually trigger the release of hormones needed to process glucose.9 While eating stevia does not have much of an effect on blood sugar levels, it does exert an enormous effect within the GI tract. As stevia travels down the GI tract it continues to activate glucose receptors. Consequently, it has the same effect in the GI tract as that of downing massive quantities of glucose. This huge hormonal influx and corresponding lack of sugar calories causes changes in microbiota colonies, alters pH, disrupts insulin regulation, causes metabolic dysfunction, and promotes weight gain, leading to insulin resistance and an increased risk of developing diabetes. If someone is not diabetic, stevia use can make them more susceptible to developing it, if a person is prediabetic it can push them into full-blown diabetes, if they are already diabetic, it can make their condition even worse.
never be used by anyone who is diabetic or who is concerned about
Now that you
have the facts about stevia, you can make an informed choice whether to
use it or not. This article only touches on some of the major problems
with stevia and other non-caloric sweeteners. When you look at all of
the evidence, it is revealed that stevia promotes weight gain, GI
disorders, and diabetes to a greater extent than sugar does. If you
would like a more detailed report with accompanying references to
studies, I highly recommend you read my book
The Stevia Deception: The Hidden Dangers of Low-Calorie Sweeteners.
Ketogenic Recipes: Real or Fake?
Look Out for Fake Ketogenic Recipes
In 2014 I published a book titled The Coconut Ketogenic Diet. The focus of the book was how to use a coconut oil based ketogenic diet to lose excess weight and improve overall health. Within a few weeks after my book appeared on Amazon.com, a copycat book with a very similar title and cover design was posted. Unlike my book, this other book was a cookbook devoted entirely to ketogenic recipes. The author of the book intended to make it appear like his book was a companion volume to mine.
It was a Kindle book and didn’t cost much so, being curious, I ordered a copy. It was more of a booklet than a book. It contained only 21 recipes. Shockingly, none of the recipes were actually ketogenic and maybe only half could be considered even remotely low-carb. The recipes contained grains, potatoes, honey, and other high-carb ingredients. For someone looking for ketogenic recipes this book was a total waste, and even harmful.
A ketogenic diet is one that is very low in carbohydrate, high in fat, with moderate protein. Carbohydrate and protein intake must be limited in order for the body to produce ketones—an alternative fuel to glucose. Too much carbohydrate or protein will stop ketone production. The extra fat in the diet makes up for the missing carbohydrate calories. Much of dietary fat in a ketogenic diet is converted into ketones to be used to fuel our cells, so getting adequate fat is important.
One of the advantages of ketones is that they are a much more potent and efficient energy source than glucose. It is like putting a high performance fuel into the gas tank of your car, you get better mileage, more power, with less wear and tear on the engine. The brain, in particular, runs much better using ketones for fuel and for this reason the diet is recommended for many neurological disorders. Another health issue that is greatly improved with ketones is diabetes. The underlying problem with type 2 diabetes is insulin resistance, in which the cells of the body are unable to effectively absorb glucose. Without glucose the cells cannot produce the energy they need to function and live, therefore, they began to degenerate and die. This is what leads to many of the symptoms and complications associated with diabetes. Cells, even if they are insulin resistant, easily absorb ketones, providing them the energy they need to function properly and prevent the complications associated with diabetes.
The ketogenic diet is a therapeutic diet that has been useful in treating a wide number of health problems including diabetes, obesity, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, epilepsy, autism, heart disease, cancer, glaucoma, infertility, and others. Strictly following a ketogenic diet can control or even reverse these conditions.
For this reason, ketogenic diets have become increasingly popular. There are now numerous ketogenic cookbooks available. You can go online and find hundreds of ketogenic recipes. Coconut oil is beneficial in a ketogenic diet because it promotes the production of ketones better than any other fat and increases the efficiency of the diet.
I’ve written a number of books describing how to use a ketogenic diet to overcome various health problems. Although these books clearly explain what a ketogenic diet is and provide many sample recipes to get readers started, it is always helpful to have more tried and true recipes to choose from.
Most people simply turn to the Internet for recipes. This could be a big mistake! Don’t get me wrong, the Internet is a very useful tool and you can find a lot of good information there, but it is also a source of much misinformation, especially when it comes to diet and health. The Internet is the first place most people go when looking for ketogenic recipes. Unfortunately, a large number of these so-called ketogenic recipes are not really healthy or even ketogenic. They are loaded with carbohydrate, sweeteners, unhealthy fats, and other questionable ingredients. I would never recommend these recipes for people going on a ketogenic diet.
Many of the people posting these recipes assume that ketogenic is the same thing as low-carb. Not so. All ketogenic recipes are low-carb, but not all low-carb recipes are ketogenic. I have found that many of the so-called “ketogenic” recipes on the Internet are not truly ketogenic. Using these recipes will only hamper a person’s efforts to achieve nutritional ketosis and slow their progress. If someone is taking up a ketogenic diet for therapeutic reasons, he or she needs to make sure the recipes are actually ketogenic, otherwise the results will be disappointing and in the case of someone with a serious disease, like diabetes or cancer, it could be very harmful.
With the growing popularity of the keto lifestyle, ketogenic recipes abound. You can easily find hundreds of recipes not only on the Internet but in books and magazines as well. Many of them sound delicious, like keto cupcakes or keto ice cream…really? Is there such a thing?
A large number of the proclaimed ketogenic recipes on the Internet are desserts, treats, and sweets—brownies, cookies, pancakes, waffles, syrups, cinnamon rolls, candy—all of the type of foods that cause obesity and metabolic disease. Even most ketogenic cookbooks are loaded with sweet treats. There are some books devoted entirely to ketogenic desserts with gorgeous pictures of decadent-looking cakes and candies on the cover! What a scam! Do you really think that changing a few of the ingredients in these types of foods makes them healthy? They may not use grains or sugar, but they are not exactly health foods either. All of them are sweetened with zero-calorie artificial sweeteners or sugar substitutes. All sweeteners, regardless of the source, promote sweet addiction, overeating, and weight gain. They also promote metabolic problems.
People looking for ketogenic recipes generally just assume that any recipe that is labeled “ketogenic” or “low-carb” is actually ketogenic. Nothing could be further from the truth. The term “low-carb” is relative. For example, a single slice of ordinary chocolate cake may supply 50 grams of carbohydrate. A low-carb version of the same size piece of cake may supply 40 grams of carbohydrate. Forty grams is a lot of carbs when you are on a ketogenic diet in which your total carbohydrate allotment for an entire day may be only 20 or 30 grams. But since 40 grams is lower than 50 grams, the cake is labeled as being low-carb. And many low-carbers wonder why they don’t lose weight eating these pseudo low-carb foods.
In order to make low-carb and ketogenic foods taste as sweet and tempting as full-carb versions, low-calorie artificial sweeteners of all types are added, generally aspartame, Splenda, or stevia. Many people still fear fats, especially saturated fats, so they make their recipes low in fat or use margarine or vegetable oils in place of healthy saturated fats.
If you are wanting to follow a ketogenic diet to lose excess weight, manage diabetes, control epileptic seizures, stop or reverse Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s, stop glaucoma, or achieve any of the documented benefits associated with the ketogenic diet, you MUST be eating meals that are actually ketogenic—not low-carb meals that are promoted as being ketogenic. If you are not comfortable with calculating the exact percentages of fat, protein, and carbohydrate in your meals, then you really don’t know if the recipes are truly ketogenic or not.
I believe many people fail to lose weight like they should, or see the improvements in their health like they should, when they go on a ketogenic diet because many of the foods they eat are not really ketogenic. They become discouraged and quit. Failure is not because the ketogenic diet didn’t work, it is because they used the wrong recipes.
Unfortunately, most ketogenic cookbooks contain a large portion of recipes that are not ketogenic, if they use any type of sugar substitute then the recipes become anti-ketogenic, and therefore potentially harmful as they will not provide the ketones the body needs to treat a serious health problem.
by Dr. Bruce Fife
I was frustrated while searching for good ketogenic cookbooks because I couldn’t find any where all the recipes were truly ketogenic. I realized that other people would have a difficult time as well. That is what led me to write Dr. Fife’s Keto Cookery. I wanted to provide “real” ketogenic recipes using healthy ingredients. I wanted to compile a book of recipes that could be used to bring about all of the healing properties of ketosis that I discuss in my books.
Dr. Fife's Keto Cookery contains all of my favorite ketogenic recipes that I’ve accumulated and developed over the years, nearly 450 in all—far more than I have seen in any other keto cookbook. These recipes focus on fresh, whole, natural foods, without chemical additives, harmful fats, or synthetic sweeteners. No gluten or grains are used in any of the recipes. Simplicity was also a goal. Some keto recipes in other sources require hours to prepare. Not here. These recipes are generally quick and simple, yet extraordinarily delicious. The ingredients are all common and readily available. It can be frustrating when you see a fantastic dish and when you try to make it, find that it requires galangal, kaffir lime leaves, or prik kee noo (what’s that?). These ingredients may be common in Thailand, but not other places. Many exotic herbs and spices can be ordered through the Internet, but who wants to pay $15 to ship a $5 spice? The ingredients in this book are all readily available at most grocery stores.
The recipes in my book, for the most part, use real food, not canned, bottled, frozen, or packed foods. The exceptions are generally condiments such as pickles and mustard. Each recipe is limited to no more than 15 grams of carbohydrate per serving, and generally is much less. Accompanying each recipe is a breakdown of the grams of fat, carbohydrate, and protein as well as total calories per serving, so you know exactly what you are eating. Unlike the typical ½ cup servings used in other recipe books, the serving sizes in this book are three to four times that much. One serving of a main dish would constitute an entire meal for one person. Regardless of how large a serving size in this book may be, each serving contains less than 15 grams of carbs.
Examples of some of the recipes in this book include: chicken pot pie, corned beef and cabbage, barbeque beef short ribs, sirloin tip roast with roasted vegetables, roasted rolled pork belly with mushroom stuffing, rosemary lemon pork chops, lamb patties with mushroom gravy, shepherd’s pie, low-carb turkey dressing, crispy chicken wings, parmesan chicken strips, pecan-breaded fish filets, cheese puffs, breakfast pizza, coco fries, avocado bacon wraps, and beef stroganoff.
If you are thinking of going
keto, I strongly recommend that you get a copy of this book! ♦
Below are some of the recipes found in
Dr. Fife's Keto Cookery.
Below are some of the recipes found in Dr. Fife's Keto Cookery.
Corned Beef and Cabbage
Coconut Sugar and the Ketogenic Diet
Our bodies use glucose, fatty acids (fats), and ketones as their primarily sources of fuel. We get glucose primarily from the carbohydrates in our foods. When you eat a meal, these carbohydrates are converted into glucose and released into the bloodstream. As a consequence, your blood sugar (glucose) levels rise.
If you don’t eat for a period of time or if you don’t eat carbohydrate-containing foods, your blood glucose levels become low. In order to supply the energy your cells need, stored fat is released as fatty acids. Some of these fatty acids are converted into alternative forms of fuel known as ketones. The body uses fatty acids and ketones to produce energy just as it does glucose. Ketones are of special interest because they provide much more energy than glucose and are required by the brain in the absence of glucose. Fatty acids cannot supply the brain with energy, it must have either glucose or ketones. When you go on a ketogenic diet, you severely restrict carbohydrate consumption, so blood glucose levels remain perpetually low (but not hypoglycemic), compelling the body to release fat and produce ketones. When this happens a person is said to be in ketosis, sometimes also referred to as nutritional ketosis because it is induced by the diet.
Carbohydrate consumption must be kept very low in order to stimulate nutritional ketosis. If too many carbs are eaten, the liver stops converting fatty acids into ketones and blood ketone levels fall. Blood glucose and blood ketone levels rise and fall opposite to each other. When blood ketone levels are high, blood glucose levels are low, and vice versa.
Generally, the average person can maintain mild nutritional ketosis if they limit their carbohydrate intake to less than 40 or 50 grams daily. It varies slightly from person to person. Reducing carbohydrate consumption further, increases blood ketone levels. Ketogenic diets used therapeutically to treat brain disorders such as epilepsy or Alzheimer’s generally limit carbohydrate consumption to 10 to 25 grams daily. So the less carbohydrate you consume, the higher your blood ketone levels become.
Carbohydrates are found in various quantities in foods. Starch and sugar are pure carbohydrate. Fiber is also a carbohydrate but the carbohydrate molecules are bound in such a way that our bodies cannot break them down; so they pass in and out of the body without providing any significant amount of calories, nor do they contribute to the carbohydrate load on the body. Some foods are rich in starch and sugar, such as breads and grains (wheat, rice, oats, corn), potatoes, beans, fruits, juices, and most processed convenience foods (chips, cakes, donuts, candy, soda). Most vegetables are relatively low in carbs, being composed primarily of water and fiber.
Foods high in starch and sugar raise blood glucose levels faster and higher than those rich in water, fiber, protein, or fat. High blood glucose levels can have adverse effects on health as well as prevent nutritional ketosis. A scale called the glycemic index (GI) is used to gauge how quickly certain foods raise blood sugar levels.
Foods are assigned a number between 0 and 100 on the glycemic index scale. The number assigned to each food is determined by how quickly the carbs in that food raises blood glucose. The smaller the number, the less impact the food has on your blood sugar levels.
The glycemic index values are determined experimentally by feeding human test subjects a fixed portion of the foods (after an overnight fast), and subsequently extracting and measuring samples of their blood at specific intervals of time. Glucose, taken orally, is very rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream and is assigned a glycemic index number of 100. All other foods are compared to pure glucose, with GI numbers between 0 and 100. A food that does not raise blood sugar at all has a GI of 0. Coconut oil has a GI of 0.
The presence of fat, protein, fiber, and acid (such as citric acid, lemon juice, and vinegar) in foods lower the glycemic index. Most foods are a combination of carbohydrate, fat, protein, fiber, and acid, so you can’t tell what the glycemic index is unless it has been tested. For example, when sugar (sucrose) is combined with other food ingredients such as a cream, nuts, and guar gum (a fiber used as a thickening agent), to make ice cream, the GI will be lower than the sugar alone.
Coconut or palm sugar is produced from the sap of the coconut palm. It is much like the sap of a maple tree from which we get maple syrup and maple sugar. When a coconut flower begins to bud, it is cut, causing it to drain sap. The sap is collected and dehydrated. As the water is evaporated, it forms sugar crystals rich in vitamins, minerals, and proteins. Glycemic index testing carried out at the University of Sydney has determined that the glycemic index of coconut sugar is 54, not the 35 you often see quoted on the Internet. A GI of 54 is still relatively low in comparison to other forms of sugar.
The higher the GI, the greater the impact on blood sugar levels a food has, and generally the more undesirable or incompatible it becomes to a ketogenic diet. The GI is divided into 3 major levels:
55 or less = low (good)
56-69 = Medium
70 or higher = High (bad)
Generally, foods that have a low glycemic index are more keto-friendly. In other words, they are less likely to prevent or interfere with the production of ketones. There are many types of sweeteners and they each affect GI slightly differently. Coconut sugar and maple sugar fit into the “good” category of 55 or less. Below is the GI of some common sweeteners.
When coconut or maple sugar are combined with other low-glycemic index ingredients such as fat, protein, and fiber, the resulting product can have a low-glycemic index and be completely compatible with a low-carb or ketogenic diet. Therefore, in moderation, they can be included in a ketogenic diet.
The rate at which the liver produces ketones is influenced not only by dietary carbohydrates and blood glucose levels, but also by the way certain food components are digested and metabolized. Non-caloric sweeteners like aspartame and stevia have virtually no effect on blood glucose levels because they are normally used in such small quantities that they contribute an insignificant amount of calories. However, they do affect metabolism and hormone balance which can arrest ketone production, independent of blood sugar levels. For example, just a few drops of stevia in a single meal can kick a person out of ketosis. You can eat a whole teaspoonful of coconut sugar and not get this big of an effect.
You can incorporate a small amount of coconut sugar into a healthy ketogenic diet and maintain good blood ketone levels. Like with any other food, you need to keep track of the total amount of carbohydrate you eat and make sure not exceed your daily limit, which is generally somewhere between 20 and 40 grams per day. One tablespoon (8 g) of coconut sugar contains 8 grams of carbohydrate, so about 1 gram of coconut sugar delivers 1 gram of carbohydrate.
I do not recommend eating coconut sugar often when on a ketogenic diet. But you could use a little now and then. And you must keep track of the total amount of grams of carbohydrate you consume so that you don’t overdo it. The danger of using too much coconut sugar, like any other sweetener, is that the sweet taste can become addictive. So it is best saved for special occasions.
In ketogenic diets for children, a cream drink is often added to meals to boost the fat content of the meal. This drink is typically made using heavy cream, MCT oil, artificial sweetener, and sometimes flavorings. MCT oil is used instead of coconut oil because it will remain liquid when combined with chilled cream. Some type of artificial sweetener, such as aspartame or Splenda, is added to make the beverage more palatable. The problem with this drink is that although the artificial sweeteners supply no calories, they are anti-ketogenic and will reduce the body’s ability to produce ketones. A little coconut or maple sugar can be used instead, making it far more compatible with a ketogenic diet.
Let’s look at an example using the Keto Strawberry Drink recipe below. Assume you are limiting your total carbohydrate intake to 30 grams per day. If you divide that amount equally into three meals, that allows you 10 grams of carbohydrate per meal. The Keto Strawberry Drink recipe makes 4 servings. Each serving contains 5.5 grams of carbohydrate, 37 grams of fat, and 1.5 grams of protein.
If you include this beverage with a meal, you will have to limit the rest of the meal to no more than 4.5 grams of carbohydrate; that would be about the equivalent amount of carbohydrate in 1 medium carrot or 1 medium bell pepper. So you see, you cannot use too much coconut sugar or it will quickly eat up your allotted carbohydrate for the day.
Keto Strawberry Drink
This recipe produces a high-fat, mildly sweet drink that could be used in a ketogenic diet. Only a small amount of coconut sugar (1/2 teaspoon per serving) is used so as to keep it compatible with a ketogenic diet.
Store any leftover drink in the freezer in individual serving sizes; small paper cups work well for this. Slightly thawed and stirred, this beverage transforms into a keto smoothie.
1 cup (120 ml) organic heavy cream
6 medium organic strawberries (about 170 g)
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons coconut sugar
1/4 cup (60 ml) MCT oil
Keep the cream and strawberries well chilled before making. Combine strawberries, vanilla, coconut sugar, and MCT oil into a food processor and blend. Stir in the cream and serve.
1/2 cup servings. Each serving contains 37 grams fat, 5.5 grams
carbohydrate, and 1.5 grams of protein. ♦
Eggs, Cholesterol and Cardiovascular Disease: The Real Science
Eggs are a whole food par excellence, a rich source of quality protein, vitamins, minerals, and right fats. Their amino acid protein "pattern" is best suited for our bodies.
Federal law mandates farm animal feed provide uniform vitamins, essential fatty acids, amino acids, minerals, etc. American chickens' feed is far more nutritious than most Americans' diets. The synergistic effect of such nutrient-rich eggs is of far greater value than isolated supplements, often made from petroleum.1
Unfortunately, Americans have been frightened
away from this superfood by misinformation tying dietary cholesterol to
elevated blood cholesterol and heart disease.
Studies from University of California proved there is "no correlation between cholesterol in the diet and heart attack rates." The Boston University Framingham Heart Study followed 912 patients for many years, proving there were "no significant differences in the actual blood cholesterol levels" between those who ate as many as two dozen eggs per week and those who ate none!2 Then there is also the study done with the man who healthfully consumed 25 eggs daily as reported in the New England Journal of Medicine. http://blogs.plos.org/dnascience/2015/03/05/man-ate-25-eggs-day/
In the sixties the American Cancer Society did an eight year survey of 800,000 people and discovered those "who ate five or more eggs/week...had slightly fewer heart attacks and stroke deaths than those who ate less than five eggs/week and less of those other supposedly dangerous foods." In other words, eggs appeared to protect against heart attacks!3
So who started the "eggs are bad" fallacy? Interestingly, it all began with a study done by the breakfast Cereal Institute, using dried (oxidized) egg yolk powder. This damaged food renders fats perilous to blood vessels. Subsequent studies have failed to prove any cholesterol danger from eggs.
When the pharmaceuticals created an anticholesterol drug, they (and the processed food industry) "cunningly recruited the orthodox medical community and the public in the so-called 'war against cholesterol.' It worked."4 Forty years later their sales are soaring and many people still avoid eggs like the plague. Yet heart disease is as high as ever.
Not only does dietary cholesterol not translate to high blood cholesterol, but eggs contain eight times as much lecithin, an emulsifier that helps keep cholesterol liquid and to "prevent its deposition on arterial walls."5
Unprocessed (unoxidized) eggs are satisfying, far safer than carb loading. Seed-like, this germinative food contains all essentials for organism growth, Hattersly reminds us. Unless there is an allergy to them, eggs make a meaningful contribution to a restoration regimen. Dr. David G. Williams says they are "One of the healthiest foods on the planet!"
However, frying eggs (or anything) in damaged, refined oils is very unhealthy. Scrambling exposes eggs to oxygen, can produce the dangerous "oxysterols" of powdered eggs in processed foods. This may lead to atherosclerosis and cancer.6 Best is over-easy in a little cultured raw butter, coconut or olive oil at low heat. Soft boiling is also healthy.
Our family enjoys my crème brûlée that provides
a wonderful way to get a significant amount of complete protein in your
diet. As the main dish, it may be eaten for a meatless lunch or
dinner, or as dessert for a meatless dinner. However, your family
chooses, they will enjoy it! ♦
Article reprinted with permission from the author. Eatin’ After Eden, http://eatinaftereden.com.
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Copyright © 2017, Bruce Fife. All rights reserved.