If you want to live a long, healthy life, do this one simple thing...
Stop using sugar and artificial sweeteners.
That's it. It's really that simple. And I've given that advice for years.
But it doesn't seem to stick. Over the past weeks, I've gotten several e-mails from readers asking which sugar alternatives are safe...
Again, I don't recommend consuming any artificial sweeteners. However, you should know that all of them have some dangers...
Aspartame, a main ingredient in Equal, is a common sugar substitute found in ice cream, diet soda, mints, hard candy, and chewing gum. And yes, it's dangerous... Aspartame increases inflammation, damages healthy gut bacteria, and causes headaches. It also lowers your sex drive.
Saccharin is in artificial sweeteners like Sweet'N Low, as well as low-calorie or zero-calorie foods like jams, salad dressing, sugar-free gum, and many "diet" processed foods. Research shows saccharin disrupts gut bacteria and leads to high blood-sugar levels. It even causes you to gain weight compared with healthier, higher-calorie alternatives.
Sucralose is the sweetener in Splenda. Like sugar, sucralose causes a rapid increase in blood sugar. Elevated blood-sugar levels trigger the production of fat, increase inflammation, and raise blood pressure.
The only sugar replacement we're even somewhat interested in is stevia, which is a natural, plant-based sweetener. It's in brand-name sweeteners Truvia and Pure Via.
A study from the University of Florida points out that stevia helps reduce blood-sugar spikes after eating. It also increases the body's sensitivity to insulin, meaning you can better control the breakdown of sugar in your body.
But we don't recommend stevia, either...
The problem with stevia is its effect on blood pressure. Some research suggests that stevia lowers your blood pressure. This leads to dangerous levels if you're already on medication that lowers your blood pressure.
Meanwhile, genuine white sugar , is one of the "white killers" that regular readers know to avoid at all costs. (Other big ones include white rice and white flour.) White sugar triggers chronic inflammation. And we know that contributes to things like cancer, diabetes, and heart disease.
I've said it before, but I don't mind repeating myself: Stick to fruit for your sugar fix. The fiber in the fruit helps to slow the absorption of sugar... And you'll get all the health benefits of fruits, too.
Personally, I also like to satisfy my sweet tooth by using raw honey as a sweetener.
Now for this week's Q&A... As always, please keep sending your questions and comments to [email protected].
Q: How about an exercise that doesn't hurt knees! – R.H.
A: Walking! That's one of the simplest exercises you can do that's also easy on your knees. In fact, if your knees are already aching, walking could help.
A recent study from medical journal Arthritis Care & Research saw that just 45 minutes of walking a week helped with knee pain – a much more achievable goal for folks in a lot of pain.
A 2014 study from Boston University found that 6,000 steps per day is the magic number to keep osteoarthritis at bay. This was the amount discovered to have the most health benefits (like minimizing knee pain).
If you want something even gentler, I recommend water exercises. The water increases resistance, making simpler exercises more strenuous, yet the buoyant water also reduces the stress on your legs.
Q: Doc, I was looking for your piece on allergies and how to stop them. Can you direct me to it? – L.P.
A: Here's what I shared in my Retirement Millionaire newsletter last month...
Allergy season is upon us. Some of my team is already feeling the pain from it. Lots of folks just reach for medication – with all their associated warnings and side effects. But for years I've recommended using a neti pot.
My neti pot is one of my favorite tools for sinus relief... A 2004 study published in the journal Current Opinion in Otolaryngology & Head and Neck Surgery concluded that nasal irrigations – like using a neti pot – are an effective and underutilized method of treatment for nose and sinus conditions.
A neti pot looks like a smaller version of a teapot with a spout that's shaped to fit into your nostril. (Here's a good one from Walgreens.) Pouring a saline solution through your nose can flush out pollen and nasal congestion.
Put in some lukewarm sterilized or distilled water (never use tap water), and add a saline packet – which generally comes included as part of the neti pot purchase. Then, lean over the sink and pour the mixture into one nostril. It may take some head angle adjustment, but the water will begin to flow out of your other nostril. After pouring half of the mixture through, blow your nose and switch nostrils.
This flushes the pollen out of your nasal passages before it can cause an allergic reaction. Do what I do and use the neti pot once a day during peak allergy season. It's also one of the first things I reach for if I feel a head cold coming on – I can often knock it right out with a little rinse.
You can read more ways to combat your allergies here.
What We're Reading...
- In case you missed it... Can you be 'fat' and 'fit'?
- Something different: A ketchup shortage is hitting the U.S.
Here's to our health, wealth, and a great retirement,
Dr. David Eifrig and the Health & Wealth Bulletin Research Team
April 9, 2021