Archive for December, 2011

New Years Resolutions

© 2011 Nancy Appleton PhD & G.N. Jacobs

Resolutions, we’ve all made them. Usually, they last two weeks. So how do we give ourselves the best chance of meeting the next batch due in just a few weeks?

Perhaps the problem is that we attach too much to New Years as a time of new beginnings. We get too worked up over the change in calendar, which could put so much pressure on “I resolve to eat better and exercise” or “I resolve to read more books.” The pressure can cause us to freeze up and fail the resolution.

One possible way to give yourself a chance is to shift the New Years metaphor to some other date. Start the regimen in March quietly and without fanfare and maybe you’ll last long enough to change a few bad habits. My son, a writer, for the past two Novembers has tried to write a 50 thousand word novel in thirty days. He got close both times glad to take a half-loaf victory until he came across a suggestion to shift adherence to the challenge to August from another writer. Apparently, this writer admitted he enjoyed the fall TV schedule too much.

But, deferring the promise to yourself until an easier time with less pressure may not be enough to make things work. Some of us still need to figure out a way to eat less sugar and exercise more, right now. In almost no cases do I recommend anything like going cold turkey when it comes to such difficult things as cutting down on sugar, losing weight or becoming healthier. Few people can just quit sugar or any of the other harmful addictive foods in their diet. This is how New Years resolutions crash and burn.

My favorite trick is the half as much as yesterday approach, which I first discussed in my first book Lick the Sugar Habit. Take stock of your sugar intake today and then eat half as much tomorrow. Repeat the process the day after that. In a purely, mathematical sense using half as much sugar means you’d never completely cut out sugar. But, in the real world there is a fuzziness in measurement that means eventually within a week or so you’ll be eating so little sugar that making the last jump to eating no sugar becomes easier.

I used a similar technique when I first got my kids off sugar. Many years ago we were traveling in England and I told them they could have one sugar filled item per day. Of course, I’d already dumped the cakes and colas that were waiting for us at home. My children went with the new regime without complaint and three weeks later we came home to house where the only sugar my kids ate came from outside the house.

Lastly, it is real important to seek help from other people trying to deal with your resolutions. When all else fails talking to other people with the same concerns can help when making major life changes. This is how Alcoholics Anonymous and other support groups work. People contemplating that piece of cheesecake can sometimes only be talked down by a friend. In my area of expertise, nutrition, I’ve dealt with many support groups that can help people from eating too much. My favorite is Food Addicts in Recovery because they seem to specialize in sugar addiction, but I’ve seen equally good results from Overeaters Anonymous and Food Addicts Anonymous. I don’t have as much experience with the for profit weight loss programs like Jenny Craig and Nutrisystem, but I support anything that comes with a support system.

A person with the right plan and support can do anything, so whether waiting for an off month to start, using some variation of the half as much plan or reaching out for the right help any reasonable resolution is achievable. Do your best.


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© 2011 Nancy Appleton Ph.D. & G.N. Jacobs

Children’s chewable and gummy vitamins may possibly be the worst thing for your child. We’ve been told for years that our children may need the supplements to make up for shortfalls of key nutrients in their diets. Considering how difficult it may be to convince kids to eat their greens parents believed what they were told. The problem seems to be a whole lot of sugar and other sweeteners on the label.

I have long held the position that the last thing anyone wants to do when taking nutritional supplements is to cut the vitamins and minerals with sugar. Sugar affects the precise mineral balance of the body causing the body’s systems to stop working properly. As you may remember from Lick the Sugar Habit and Suicide by Sugar, I highlighted the Calcium-Phosphorus Ratio calculated from the levels on the basic blood test as the most common indicator of a lack of homeostasis. No vitamin, mineral or medicinal herb will ever work for you when you take it with sugar.

As a result, sugar and similar sweeteners have been linked to obesity, diabetes, asthma, diarrhea and many other ailments. So let’s take a look at a random sampling of a few children’s vitamin labels. A few of these ‘healthy’ supplements are eye opening in terms of how much sweetener has been jammed into those tiny chewables. Just so you know, many food and supplement producers will use the legal requirement for a label to list in descending order of quantity using up to four different types of sweetener to create a label that might read like this (Primary Food or Nutritional Item, Sucrose, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Corn Syrup, Maltose, Lactose, Dextrose…) when the real truth in the label is (SUGAR, Primary Food Item…). The first label is thought to sell the product better, because no one says they want to eat that much sugar.

Disney Princess Gummies – The key offenders on this Nutrition Facts Label are many – corn syrup, sugar, grape juice concentrate, modified corn starch, purple berry color concentrate (maqui berry concentrate and sugar), maltodextrin and farther down the list, mannitol. Just so you know, the manufacturer that paid for Disney’s brand likenesses had to pay $2 million to the Federal Trade Commission for false claims of promoting healthy brain and eye development.

Flintstones Complete Gummies – Perhaps these vitamins are less horrible for your children; glucose syrup and glucose being the only recognizable sweeteners found on this particular label. But, any sugar in the mix is the problem.

Gummi King Sugar Free Multivitamins – A vegan friendly line that lists at the top of the label maltitol and maltitol syrup. PETA supports this brand with an endorsement as being animal friendly.

Centrum has possibly the worst offender with their Centrum Kids Complete Multivitamins. This label list has sucrose (sugar), microcrystalline cellulose, mannitol, pregelatinized cornstarch, mono- and di-glycerides, aspartame, cornstarch, dextrose, dried corn syrup, hypromellose, lactose, maltodextrin, medium chain triglycerides, modified cornstarch and tocopherols. Additionally on this label you will find a few chemicals not from the sugar and other sweetener family that also kill you eventually, including sodium benzoate and propylene glycol alginate.

Sodium benzoate is a preservative found in soda that can turn into benzine, a highly flammable carcinogen. Bon appetite! Propylene Glycol Alginate is anti-freeze, typically a sweet tasting, but lethal kissing cousin to alcohol that requires medical attention within minutes. Sometimes HFCS is made from corn with chemicals like glutaraldehyde, an embalming fluid, linked to headaches, burning eyes and asthma. Mercury is also used in the production process and one estimate puts the mercury contamination of HFCS at somewhere between one half and one third of all the produced sweetener.

Lastly, I wanted to remind the reader that sugar alcohols like mannitol and maltitol are sweeteners somewhere between sugars and alcohol that won’t get you drunk, but can still affect your health in many ways including gas, bloating and diarrhea. So before you deal with the recent possibility that the vitamin supplements themselves may be harmful or at least not as beneficial as advertised, we have to get the sugar out of the supplements. Don’t give your kids those Flintstones!












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Morning Coffee

© 2011 Nancy Appleton Ph.D. & G.N. Jacobs

 There was an old cartoon about how in the old days we would meet over coffee and cigarettes to discuss our problems, but now coffee and cigarettes are our problems. Forty years of propaganda has had an affect on smoking, but we really love our coffee a fact that has kept Starbucks in business. This is despite a similar wealth of studies about caffeine being unhealthy to drink.

Caffeine may help give you osteoporosis and several other diseases of the modern age like diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Additionally, too much caffeine can have mental and emotional effects like increasing anxiety and aggression and the drink is quite addictive.

Metabolically, the culprit is caffeine’s effect on the body’s sugar cycle.  Catecholmines are released raising the heart rate and excess sugar into the bloodstream. This leads to both high blood sugar and low blood sugar because the pancreas can overreact to wipe out the excess. The high part of the cycle is why we drink coffee and then we crash when the blood sugar becomes too low. Type-2 diabetes results when the pancreas quits working after sustained abuse in this cycle.

Bone loss occurs in this process because calcium is pulled from bones to even out the acidity of too much sugar in the blood. The pH returns to an equilibrium at the expense of the bones. Supplements don’t help because the body is completely out of homeostasis, just as if sugar had replaced the caffeine in the diet. The patient is simply chasing an imbalance with more imbalances.

Some studies suggest that 3 cups of regular coffee can pull 45 ml of calcium from the bones. The body excretes the excess into the urine never to return until the patient stops the cycle by eating healthier and exercising more. Over time this daily dose will weaken anybody’s bones.

Caffeinated coffee has also been shown to raise cholesterol across the board leading to concerns about heart attacks and strokes. The testing suggests that a half-cup of regular coffee may be the upper limit before the effects kick in.

Caffeine also raises blood pressure. One study hooked drinkers up to automatic monitoring devices and let them drink their normal coffee intake. The heavy drink segment (3 to 6 daily cups) showed dramatic rises in blood pressure, but only during morning hours where most of the coffee was consumed.

Entomologists fed caffeine to insects and discovered that insects get just as irritable and anxious as humans suggesting that caffeine evolved as a natural pest repellent. We refer to ‘coffee jitters’ and tell people to drink more decaf when dealing with those who can’t relax. Naturally, this hyper state can lead to anxiety even panic attacks. Panic has long been recognized as precursor to rage and aggression can increase with long-term coffee usage. Hospitals that remove caffeine from the vending machines notice decreases in damage from angry patients and guests.

Lastly, we want to warn people that the cheaper methods for making decaf coffee may also be part of the problem because instead of using water the manufacturer uses chemical stripping agents that may still be in the coffee grounds in trace amounts. Many of these chemicals may cause cancer or other such problems. Reading labels, or better, yet, drinking less coffee, can solve this issue.


Carmel, Harold, “Caffeine and Aggression” HOSPITAL AND COMMUNITY PSYCHIATRY. June, 1991;42(6):637-638.

Conway, Claire, “Truth and Consequences of Coffee” STANFORD MEDICINE. Winter 1991;24-26.

Fried Roy E. et al., “The Effect of Filtered Coffee Consumption on Plasma Lipid Levels: Result of a Randonized Clinical Trial” Journal of the American Medical Association. Feb.12, 1992;267(6):811-815.

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