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Sweet ‘n Sad: Artificial Sweeteners Linked to Depression Risk

A study from the American Academy of Neurology has found a link between sweetened drinks and a higher risk of depression, with diet soda being the highest risk. Conversely, unsweetened coffee got kudos for appearing to decrease the depression risk.

“Sweetened beverages, coffee and tea are commonly consumed worldwide and have important physical — and may have important mental — health consequences,” said study researcher Honglei Chen, M.D., Ph.D., an investigator in the Epidemiology Branch at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.

Researchers studied the drinking habits of 263,925 people between 50 and 71 years old for a year. After a decade they checked back in with them and found 11,311 participants were diagnosed with depression. Frequently consuming sweetened drinks was linked to a modestly higher risk of depression.
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Natural Fructose in Fruit is Fine; It’s the High Fructose Corn Syrup That Gets Us in Trouble

Remember a time when you were eating, but never felt full and ended up eating more food? This could be caused by the consumption of fructose. As reported by Medical News Study, researchers found glucose and fructose have an influence on parts of the brain that control appetite.

The study, which was published in the Journal of the American Medical Assocation (JAMA), found that fructose produces hormones in the brain that will leave you feeling hungry. However, the study did find that glucose will leave you filling fuller and satisfied. Glucose is a type of sugar you get from food, which your body takes and turns into energy.

Since fructose makes your brain think you are still hungry and causes you to eat more, could there be a link between fructose and obesity?

Our resident dietitian, Mary Hartley RD, comments on the study’s new findings, saying, “Excessive fructose intake may have a link to obesity, but it is too early to tell. It is very difficult to single out a particular nutrient to blame. In addition, obesity is a multifactorial problem and contributing factors are not the same for all people.”
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Diet Pepsi’s New Sweetener is Still No Reason to Drink Diet Soda

There’s a new Diet Pepsi in several cities around the U.S., which now lists a new ingredient on the cans and bottles. It’s called acesulfame potassium, also known as Acesulfame K or Ace K.

This quiet change is apparently not going to change the taste of the soda, but is meant to add shelf life by allowing the “fresh” taste and flavor to last longer. The project’s goal is to give the old/current base sweetener (aspartame) a jump kick because of its sensitivity to heat and susceptibility to breaking down. Ace K has proven to be less sensitive to heat.

So what exactly is Ace K? Acesulfame potassium is another form of an artificial sweetener that is calorie free and about 200 times as sweet as everyday table sugar. Due to its slightly bitter aftertaste, it is often mixed with other artificial sweeteners (in this case it was mixed with Diet Pepsi’s aspartame). It’s often found in many baked goods, processed foods and other soft drinks similar to Diet Pepsi.

“Aspartame breaks down during storage especially when the temperature is high (that’s why you can’t bake with it) and so this is a good move on Pepsi’s part,” said our resident dietitian, Mary Hartley, RD. “The move has nothing to do with the safety of aspartame, which has been found to be safe in scientific studies time and again.”

That might be one positive factor, but is it enough to make it OK to be consuming the other harmful ingredients listed on the back?
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Pepsi Special Aims to Make the Japanese Skinnier with a High-Fiber Additive

Pepsi-Cola isn’t exactly in a healthy industry. Over the past years, big soda companies like Pepsi and Coke have been scrutinized for contributing to the obesity epidemic. In light of this, Pepsi just announced a new fiber-infused flavor, “Pepsi Special,” that claims to reduce fat levels in the body. The product is only sold in Japan.

Pepsi Special contains dextrin, “a type of ‘functional fiber,’” explained our resident dietitian, Mary Hartley, RD. “This is a fiber isolated or extracted from a plant (or, in some cases, manufactured) added to a food. Dextrins are true soluble fibers that can help improve digestion. They act as ‘prebiotics,’ undigested fibers that feed the friendly bacteria in the colon.”

Benefits of dextrin include stabilizing blood glucose, regulating insulin, reducing risk of heart disease, and reducing cholesterol and fat cell levels in the body. Dextrin can be found in glue products as well, but it’s not safe to consume in that form. There are a number of foods and medications that contain dextrin and have for about half a century, notes Hartley. “Most people eat some dextrins every day without noticing a change in weight,” she said.

Will drinking the new Pepsi product make you skinnier? Probably not.

“Pepsi Special is a gimmick. It is just another product to increase market share,” calls out Hartley.
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Kids Sell Halloween Candy for Cash at Dental Buy Back Programs Across the Country

Last Halloween, Judah Hansen didn’t have much to show for all of his trick or treating except for $22 in cash. It’s an annual tradition for the Kansas nine-year-old. He and his parents visit a dentist’s office the morning after Halloween to sell his candy. The dentist offers a dollar per pound of candy to keep the sugary treats out of his patients’ mouths. “I’d rather get money and have some candy instead of having a bunch of candy and not being able to eat it all,” Judah told us.

According to a new survey from the American Dental Association (ADA) and Popcap Games, the average child receives 90 pieces of candy during Trick or Treating. I know that my own daughter, Judah, and their peers don’t need all of that.

The ADA survey points out that Judah’s mom and I are not alone. Seventy percent of parents surveyed agreed they’d like their kids to receive less candy. The most shocking stat – 89 percent of kids said they would still like Halloween if they didn’t focus as much on the candy and did more so on the other fun activities and traditions.

“Even when Judah was a toddler, we ended up with a ridiculous amount of candy after Halloween,” Judah’s mom Lacy told us. We didn’t want it around the house for that long as it posed several weeks of temptation for us and he was constantly asking, ‘Can I have some candy?’ When buyback became an option, we jumped on it.”

So if parents don’t want the kids to have it, and the kids don’t care either way – why do we keep buying it? Marketing, of course. Since the candy manufacturers aren’t about to let us off the hook, neither are our dentists, it’s kind of a perfect match.

Candy buy back programs have grown in popularity over the last few years. Starting November 1, you’re bound to find at least one dentist in your community trading cash, toys, or prizes for candy.

Dr. Mitchell D. Scheier in Havertown, Pennsylvania is buying back candy for $1 per pound. It’s the fifth year for Dr. Scheier & Associates’ Halloween buy back program, paying out to 100 people last year. They donate the candy they collect to the troops.

“We do this one, to help limit the amount of sugar our young patients consume during a holiday surrounded by candy and two, to offer our soldiers a sweet reminder of home during this time of year,” said Dr. Scheier.
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