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.
Here's just a few of the e-mails from readers asking which sugar alternatives are safe in the past couple of weeks...
Does your warning about "fake sugars" apply equally to stevia? – M.D.
I've read [information that] indicates that aspartame is safe – safer than real sugar. – M.H.
Does the artificial sweetener Truvia have the same adverse effects as do others? – L.A.
Again, I don't recommend consuming any artificial sweeteners, but you should know that some are more dangerous than others...
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, causes weight gain, and leads to high blood-sugar levels.
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...
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 blood-pressure-lowering medication.
I've said it before, but I don't mind repeating myself. If you've got a sweet tooth, stick to fruit. 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 like to satisfy my sweet tooth by using raw honey as a sweetener.
In this week's video update, my researcher Amanda Cuocci talks more about the dangers of artificial sweeteners... including one that is feeding a rise in a deadly superbug.
Q: Can you clarify for your readers? I understand that not all [probiotic] brands are good. – M.H.
A: Longtime subscribers know I prefer getting benefits from whole foods instead of pills.
However, probiotic pills can contain more strains of bacteria than probiotic foods. And as they contain just the bugs and not a bunch of fillers or potentially dangerous chemicals, I'm more inclined to take this type of supplement. Just make sure to follow these rules for choosing a probiotic supplement...
1. Check the expiration date. Because probiotics are alive, they won't last in a box in your medicine cabinet forever. They will run out of food quickly and start to die off. Taking them by the expiration date gets you the best benefit.
2. Don't fall for the gummies. Independent research firm Labdoor conducted an in-depth review of 30 kinds of probiotics. It found gummy and chewable products contained about 92% fewer bacteria than the regular pill forms.
3. Look for a supplement with more than one type of bacteria. Both lactobacillus and bifidobacterium have dozens of species. Because our individual bodies have unique mixtures of gut bacteria, some types will help you more than others. Combinations of different species offer more diverse possibilities.
Q: You mention that yogurt is a great source of probiotics, among other benefits, but I just can't acquire a taste for it. That said, I love frozen yogurt. Are the benefits still there? Please say yes! – M.T.
A: I wish I could tell you the same benefits apply to frozen yogurt. The truth is that much of the bacteria in it doesn't survive. And you won't get as much of the good bacteria as you would in regular yogurt. It's hard to know exactly what's in frozen yogurt because there are no standard federal regulations for production.
Frozen yogurt is also often packed with sugar. So if you don't like yogurt, don't swap in frozen yogurt thinking you'll get similar benefits.
Instead, try other foods high in probiotics or look into probiotic supplements if you're not able to get what you need.
Q: I am a person that was with the understanding that a credit card had to be used regularly to facilitate in having a good score. That keeping them with a zero balance was not a good practice. I am very grateful for this proper understanding. Practical information like this that addresses economic myths and truisms is such a great help.
I hope this Sunday publication continues in this direction. Thank you all. – S.B.
A: I'm happy to hear you're enjoying The Sunday Refresh. For readers who haven't heard of it, The Sunday Refresh is a free weekly newsletter from two members of my team – Laura Bente and Amanda Cuocci.
In a recent issue, Laura and Amanda debunked three credit myths your bank wants you to believe. One of those myths, as you mentioned, is the belief that you need to keep a balance on your credit card in order to have good credit. If you haven't already, click here to subscribe.
Q: I know that Doc wrote a book called The Living Cure. I also know that this book is available for sale on Amazon. Here's the deal. I do not like Amazon and prefer not to support them or to shop there. Can I buy the book anywhere else at a comparable price, perhaps even from you? Please let me know.
Also, does Doc have any type of a "teaser" description available about the book? I would like to send it on to a couple of people, to get them interested in ordering the book. – J.K.
A: The Living Cure is for sale on my publisher's website, including a summary of the book, which you can find right here.
And if you want to buy it straight from us, click here to buy it now.
- Something different: Why doesn't dried meat kill you?
Here's to our health, wealth, and a great retirement,
Dr. David Eifrig and the Health & Wealth Bulletin Research Team
April 13, 2018