[COLUMN] News Capsules


Artificial sugars or sweeteners are very popular. Questions about their safety with long-term use still float around. The claim that Saccharin caused cancer years ago was debunked.

From trusted scientific sources: “While sucralose itself and other non-nutritive sweeteners have not been shown to raise blood sugar, maltodextrin, which is found in Splenda and some Stevia blends, can cause spikes in blood sugar in some people. Any spike in blood sugar is particularly dangerous for those with diabetes.”

Studies in mice suggest an association between consuming high dose of sucralose and cancer. The recommendation is “never use Splenda for cooking or baking,” since cooking with sucralose may create potential carcinogens called chloropropanols.

While there are no long-term studies on Stevia, there is no evidence that suggests it increases risk of diseases among consumers. The USDA considers highly purified Stevia as “generally safe.” Both Splenda and Stevia may interfere with the user’s healthy gut bacteria.

Zero-calorie sweeteners have been found to cause people who use it to eat more calories over time, leading to weight gain, and the suggestion that they may also interact with medications for diabetes T2 and high blood pressure, which have not been confirmed.

The consensus is that between Splenda and Stevia, stevia has fewer potential adverse health effects so far, but long-term studies are needed for confirmation. It is prudent to use it in moderation anyway. And for those who use it only for one cup of coffee or tea a day, a teaspoon of brown or raw sugar might be a wiser option.

Fruits and veggies

Adults need seven to 13 cups of produce to obtain the full benefits from vegetables and fruits. Less than 25 percent consume five or more cups a day. One company, the vendor of Balance of Nature, is taking advantage of this. Its claim that six capsules a day would satisfy the minimum daily requirement is questionable.

There is no healthier and safer way (and a lot cheaper also) to enjoy fruits and vegetables of your choice than to eat them fresh and not in capsules, which are processed powder.

It is most unfortunate that the trillion-dollar food supplement industry is not regulated to protect the public, and all products not vetted, throwing the unsuspecting consumers into the lion’s den, and enriching shrewd and merciless, some dishonest, entrepreneurs.

Caveat emptor, indeed!

Bad for babies

The American Academy of Pediatric strictly recommends no fruit juices for babies, absolutely no fruit juices at all, before age one, and very limited, if at all, for toddlers and older children, according to Farida I. Chua, MD, pediatrician based in Northwest Indiana and Las Vegas.

This is a major shift from the recommendation of the AAP a couple of decades ago. The academy today even recommends doing away with the beloved sippy cup for children, which is a contributing factor in childhood obesity and T2 diabetes…. There is no evidence of any health benefit of fruit juices in infancy and the high sugar load in them is harmful, stated Dr. Farida.

Dr. Steven Abrams, Chair of Pediatrics at Dell Medical school at the University of Texas, Austin, said “offering babies juice could keep them from getting enough breast milk or formula – and the needed protein, fat and other nutrients they contain….once babies start eating solid foods, they should have whole fruit that is mashed or pureed, rather than juice.”

It is best for children to develop the habit of eating fruits and vegetables, drinking water and milk at their early ages, instead of sugary fruit juice mixes.

Also, sippy cups (non-restricted sipping of sugary drinks also leads to high risk of tooth decay) are bad for children; drinking from a cup is what the Academy recommends. If sippy cup is used, it should only be filled with water and or measured milk at a fixed schedule of feeding.

Red meat and longevity

A clinical investigation published in the British Journal of Medicine (BMJ) reveals “the more red meat you eat, the greater your risk is of dying from one of 8 diseases.” The research involved 536,000 men and women, ages between 50 and 71, whose diet and health were tracked for 16 years. Findings: High red meat consumption increased the rate (by 26 percent) of dying from cancer, heart disease, respiratory disease, stroke, diabetes, infections, kidney disease and liver disease, according to BMJ.

The study also pointed out “those who ate the highest proportion of white meat had a 25 percent reduced risk of dying from various causes.”

Which fish is better?

As far as nutrition and health are concerned, there is no argument that eating fish is healthier instead of red meat. Studies showed that any kind of fish consumed at least twice a week reduces various health risks and that eating red meat often, especially processed meats, is associated with higher risk for major illnesses, including cancer and a shorter life span.

The oily darker fleshed fish like herring and salmon are loaded with heart-healthy polyunsaturated, omega-3 fatty acids. Mackerel, anchovies, shad, trout and sardines, and other fish also have these wonderful cardio-protective fatty acids. The giant or large varieties of fish, like king mackerel, shark, swordfish, large albacore tuna, contain more methyl mercury and therefore are NOT recommended for consumption.

But these good fats are not the only reason why fish is better for us. U.S.-FDA dietary guidelines encourage adults to partake at least eight ounces of a variety of fish and seafood every week, about two meals’ worth to benefit from the “total package of nutrients in fish.” This includes lean protein, vitamin Bs, A and D, and minerals like iodine, selenium, zinc, and iron.

Several independent studies have shown that individuals who eat fish regularly are less likely to die of a heart attack compared to those who do not eat fish. A Harvard clinical review “concluded that eating one to two servings of fish rich in omega-3s every week cut the risk of dying of a heart attack by one-third (33 percent).”

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The opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by the author do not necessarily reflect the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints of the Asian Journal, its management, editorial board and staff.

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The main objective of this column is to educate and inspire people live a healthier lifestyle to prevent illnesses and disabilities and achieve a happier and more productive life. Any diagnosis, recommendation or treatment in our article are general medical information and not intended to be applicable or appropriate for anyone. This column is not a substitute for your physician, who knows your condition well and who is your best ally when it comes to your health.

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Philip S. Chua, MD, FACS, FPCS, a Cardiac Surgeon Emeritus based in Northwest Indiana and Las Vegas, Nevada, is an international medical lecturer/author, a Health Advocate, and Chairman of the Filipino United Network-USA, a 501(c)3 humanitarian foundation in the United States. Websites: FUN8888.com and philipSchua.com; Email: [email protected]


Dr. Philip S. Chua

Philip S. Chua, MD, FACS, FPCS, Cardiac Surgeon Emeritus in Northwest Indiana and chairman of cardiac surgery from 1997 to 2010 at Cebu Doctors University Hospital, where he holds the title of Physician Emeritus in Surgery, is based in Las Vegas, Nevada. He is a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons, the Philippine College of Surgeons, and the Denton A. Cooley Cardiovascular Surgical Society. He is the chairman of the Filipino United Network – USA, a 501(c)(3) humanitarian foundation in the United States.

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