Artificial Sweeteners Not so Sweet

By Carol B. Blair, BS, DiHom, CNC

SodaArtificial sweeteners are the rage because people think they can use all they want without gaining weight. However, studies show that these artificial sweeteners actually increase the appetite as well as the risk of metabolic syndrome and obesity. In addition to that, they come with a number of side effects. Let’s briefly discuss two of the most common artificial sweeteners: Splenda and Aspartame.

Splenda (aka Sucralose) is the newer of the synthetic chemicals which is made from sugar and covalently-bound chloride. A 2009 study showed it is absorbed by fat because our body has no way of breaking down the covalent bond; therefore, the body attempts to store it in the least harmful place–-fat cells. It also reduced good intestinal bacteria by 50%! Since good gut bacteria are strongly linked to the immune system, you are setting yourself up for health issues by consuming Splenda. Among its other many side effects were decreased red blood cells, migraine headaches, heart palpitations, wheezing, and reduced sperm production. At higher doses, it caused brain lesions and spontaneous abortions in rabbits.

One of the most dangerous products on the market is the sugar with Splenda that is being fed to kids!

Aspartame (aka NutraSweet and recently renamed AminoSweet), has been around longer but it isn’t any safer. In fact, it was once listed by the Pentagon as an agent for chemical warfare! The FDA receives more complaints about aspartame than all other additives combined.

Due to the fact that aspartame creates excitotoxicity (nerves fire excessively), most of the complaints are neurological–migraine headaches, mood disorders, and even hallucinations. Brain lesions have also been found in animals fed aspartame. In fact, I had a customer a few years ago who had been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (with brain lesions) but when she got off the diet soda that contained aspartame, all of her symptoms went away. She was actually suffering from aspartame poisoning!

So if you want to keep your weight down and your health up, do yourself a favor and avoid the artificial sweeteners.  Instead, look for those sweetened with Xylitol and/or stevia. You could also buy unsweetened flavored sparkling water and just add the amount you need.

August 19, 2014 at 2:00 pm Leave a comment

Maintaining Hydration

By Laurel Sterling, RD

115525692In the summer, we tend to be outside more with physical activities, mowing lawns, gardening, parties, going for walks, and just plain having fun! We must remember not to ignore or dismiss our thirst mechanism. Typically when people think they are hungry, they actually are more than likely thirsty. Many times headaches are the result of dehydration, and one can feel dizzy, shaky, and lethargic when they are dehydrated. Sweating, stress, illness, and medications are ways we can lose our precious electrolytes.

Our bodies are made up of about 70% mineral water. It is recommended to drink at least 8 glasses (64 oz) of water a day or half your body weight in ounces. Water increases your body’s efficiency by eliminating toxins, assists in weight loss, helps prevent muscle and joint pain, bloating and constipation, and it maintains healthy skin. Remember, for every one caffeinated product you drink, you will need to drink TWO 8 oz. glasses of water to offset it because caffeinated products are diuretics.

A simple way to maintain proper hydration would be to just drink more good ol’ water, but those who are very active outside in the heat may need additional support.

There are some great drinks like Vita Coco 100% Pure Coconut Water that contain electrolytes to assist in rebalancing the body. Also, one could use E-lyte which is an electrolyte concentrate. This product can be diluted in water or other broths. Use caution with this product with children, those with high blood pressure, and people that are on a sodium-restricted diet. Other options are ConcenTrace Trace Mineral Drops that would be added to water.

August 12, 2014 at 2:00 pm Leave a comment

Keep Kids on Track Over the Summer

By Laurel Sterling, RD

MotherDaughterGardeningSummer time is a time of the year that schedules change for many of us, and it is easy to get off track in many areas of our lives. We stay up later with the sun being out longer so our sleep is off. There are wonderful parties, picnics, and BBQs that we attend and as a result our eating is not as optimal as it could be.

For our children, we tend to have them involved in activities and camps over the summer to keep them busy and out of mischief. I feel this also is a perfect time to get them more involved in things like gardening, cooking, juicing, etc.

My 6-year-old daughter Lily LOVES to help out in the kitchen. This is a great time of year with all the fresh herbs, fruits, and vegetables to get children more interested in juicing and cooking. At my house, we have cilantro, basil, and several mints growing in our herb garden right outside our kitchen door. Lily loves to make up her own juice recipes. Some are amazing and others….well…..let’s just say we are still experimenting with them!

Using more fresh herbs, fruits, and vegetables from your own gardens really gets kids connected to where there food comes from. They can see the entire “Farm-to-Table” process right in their own backyard! My daughter picks blackberries from the bushes in our yard, and we use the berries to make smoothies with a protein powder. Vega Bodacious Berry and Lifetime Life’s Basics Plant Protein Mix Natural Vanilla Flavor are my two favorite protein powders to use. They are loaded with so many vitamins, minerals, healthy fats, fiber, and more! These are a great way to sneak in additional nutrients that may be lacking from your child’s diet. You can also add Nature’s Way Liquid Coconut oil to your smoothie for some healthy additional fats, which are great for increasing cognition. Don’t we all need some of that?!

So let’s keep those kids on track, get them more involved with cooking, and make them healthier at the same time!

More great tips are available on

August 5, 2014 at 2:00 pm Leave a comment

Bioavailable Collagen for Sore Joints

177440151An estimated 50 million US adults report sore joints or changes in range of motion related to overexertion, which can impact physical activity and quality of life. While certain conventional approaches can provide relief, often a more natural approach is preferred. OsteoVantiv contains undenatured type-II collagen and THIAA from hops provides the following advantages:

  • Novel combination of UC-II—undenatured type-II collagen—and THIAA to help revitalize healthy joint function and support an active lifestyle.*
  • Clinically-effective daily dosage of UC-II, which has been shown in research to support healthy joint function with no significant adverse effects.
  • New and improved, enriched form of THIAA—a revolutionary iso-alpha-acid designed to provide powerful joint support without gastrointestinal (GI) side effects.
  • UC-II (40 mg) has been shown to be more than twice as effective as glucosamine (1,500 mg) with chondroitin (1,200 mg) in providing joint relief.
  • In a 17-week study of 106 healthy subjects who experienced joint discomfort upon physical activity, UC-II positively influenced knee extension.
  • UC-II also demonstrated the potential to lengthen time of strenuous exertion without discomfort that occasionally arises from such activities.
  • Contains a new and improved, enriched form of THIAA—a revolutionary iso-alpha-acid designed to provide powerful joint support without GI side effects.*
  • THIAA selectively modulates kinase activity in favor of joint health.*


*This statement has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

April 3, 2014 at 10:00 am Leave a comment

NEEDS Staff Pick – Magnesium for Muscle Pain

By Carol Blair, DS, DiHom, CNC, Wellness EducatorJIG-5000-120

One product that I find to be very effective is Jigsaw magnesium. It was developed specifically for muscle pain and especially for fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, etc.  Of course, the magnesium also has beneficial effects for the cardiovascular system and reducing insomnia.

The dosage is four (fairly small) tablets, to provide 500 mg of Albion chelated magnesium in sustained-release form, to reduce the risks of diarrhea and provide more sustained muscle pain relief. Jigsaw magnesium also contains 1,550 mg of malic acid in the form of dimagnesium malate.  This form of magnesium helps the magnesium get into the muscles better making it ideal for the indications above.

There is also a small amount (200 mcg) of 5-MTHF, the active form of folate that helps support methylation and also supports the functions of another cofactor, B6; magnesium does not work without B6. The bioavailable form, P-5-P (5 mg), is being used and this plays a role in dopamine and serotonin production.

These bioavailable forms are especially important when the liver isn’t functioning up to par or for certain genotypes who cannot convert them to the active forms.

March 31, 2014 at 10:00 am Leave a comment

Tackling Inflammation with Supplements

178574086By Jennifer Morganti, ND

You can’t feel it and you can’t see it, but inflammation has an insidious and damaging effect that can cause some serious health issues. Inflammation is at the root cause of joint pain and arthritis, atherosclerosis, Alzheimer’s Disease, autoimmune diseases, intestinal conditions, and a long list of other problems. The typical American diet, lacking omega-3 fatty acids and chockfull of sugar and bad fats, fans the fire for inflammation, along with food allergies and toxic burdens. Addressing these concerns by eliminating junk foods, identifying food allergies, and detoxing are all important steps to start dampening inflammation. There are also some key supplements you can incorporate to see a big boost in your health.

Curcumin, derived from the Indian spice turmeric, is one of the top-selling anti-inflammatory supplements, and with good reason. A variety of research has shown that it reduces key inflammatory substances, such as COX-2 and certain cytokines that cause pain, in a method similar to anti-inflammatory medications without the side effects. It crosses the blood-brain-barrier and has been shown in animal studies to aid in digestion of amyloid plaques, the offender implicated in Alzheimer’s Disease (AD). As possible proof, in India, where curry consumption is significant, there are much lower rates of AD than in the U.S.

Magnesium is another key nutrient for lowering chronic inflammation, supported by the fact that it lowers C-reactive protein (CRP). CRP is a marker for systemic inflammation, and is an important predictor for cardiovascular disease such as atherosclerosis. In a large study, people who had low magnesium intake (from food and supplements) were found to be 40% more likely to have elevated CRP levels. It is not clear how magnesium minimizes inflammation; however, scientists do know that magnesium is a co-factor critical to many biochemical pathways, so it may be that optimal functioning of metabolic pathways keeps inflammation in check.

One last, but possibly most important recommendation is omega-3 oil. The American diet is typically severely deficient in this type of fat, and overloaded with omega 6, 9, and bad fats such as saturated and trans fats. This resulting imbalance has an exponentially-damaging effect by constantly pushing a pro-inflammatory system. The only way to rebalance the system is reduce the dominant fats, and increase omega-3 intake. Fish oil is the most common source of omega-3, but there are other sources such as flax seed oil and krill. People with omega-3 deficiencies commonly experience dry skin, dry scalp, eczema, psoriasis, arthritis, or heart disease.

By addressing inflammation through diet, lifestyle, and supplementation, you could potentially be aiding in the prevention of dozens of health ailments.

November 19, 2013 at 2:09 pm Leave a comment

Understanding GMOs – Part 2

By Nancy Gardiner, Supplement Educator124580433

October is Non-GMO Month. NEEDS wants to educate you about why you should be concerned with GMOs. Yesterday, supplement educator Pamela Walker discussed Non-GMOs and I will expand upon it in my blog.

Why should you not eat genetically modified organisms (GMO)? According to the American Academy of Environmental Medicine (AAEM) (2009), “Several animal studies indicate serious health risks associated with GMO food.” The AAEM has asked physicians to advise all patients to avoid GMO foods ( Jeffery M. Smith of The Institute for Responsible Technology adds, “The biggest areas of risks being infertility, immune problems, accelerated aging, faulty insulin regulation, changes in major organs, and the gastrointestinal system.”

I have been a health supplement educator for 17 years, involved in conventional farming for 14 years, and organic farming for the last 13 years. In that time period, I have noticed some of the changes mentioned in the above quote by Jeffery M. Smith, author, politician, and advocate against GMO foods.

Labeling of GMO foods is the only way to have a choice when deciding what to bring home to cook for dinner tonight. There are a couple of websites where you can get information on labeling efforts; and are dedicated to organizing the efforts to have foods labeled. Until the powers that be are convinced that the fair and just way to deal with this issue is a well-informed consumer, a list of Non-GMO verified products can be found at

October 25, 2013 at 10:00 am Leave a comment

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