Weight Loss Products: Their Dangers and Benefits


Posted by Mia Ponzo | Posted in Complementary Alternative Medicine, Information About Herbs, Natural Alternative Diet, Natural Beauty, Natural Health, Natural Weight Loss | Posted on 25-09-2015

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weight loss

Since practically everyone is concerned with their weight these days we need to be aware of what is going on in the world of weight loss products. Your awareness is imperative so that you don’t get caught in the scams that are out there, and it is important that you have as much information on the various products that are available in the market, with some of the products being safe and useful, and others being useless or downright dangerous.

Considering the vast amount of weight loss products out on the market today, we will not be able to touch on all of them, but over the next few weeks we will certainly delve into many of them, and attempt to be as thorough as possible, so that you will be able to make your own informed choice, either to use or not to use the particular weight loss product that you were pondering.

I am going to begin with the so-called “natural” products that are being marketed as “safe”, “natural”, “healthy”, and more.

Caffeine Products

There are many products on the market now that contain caffeine. The idea is that caffeine is supposed to help people to lose weight. One of the ideas is that it should help people to be more active, pick the heart rate up, gets the metabolism going, suppresses the appetite, and often acts as a diuretic (increases urinary output). In reality though, caffeine actually slows weight loss down in many (if not all) cases. There is evidence that it makes people crave high carbohydrate foods, and raises certain hormones in the blood that make weight loss more difficult. While many of the concoctions being sold for weight loss contain chemical caffeine, many of the caffeine containing weight loss products are actually herbal, either in part or in whole. Herbal dietary aids such as Yerba Mate, Guarana, black tea, green tea, and coffee (of all types) contain fair amounts of caffeine, and while caffeine isn’t considered a seriously dangerous ingredient, nonetheless, it is probably not ideal. After all, anything that artificially speeds up the systems in your body isn’t the best choice. If you want to speed up your metabolism in a safer way, just exercise!

weight loss 2

Ephedra Products

Ephedra is the herb that has been in the news lately. It seems like people everywhere are talking about it. Some say it’s very dangerous, and others say it’s very safe. The bottom line is that, even though it’s an herb, it is a strong herb, and must be taken with extreme care. This means that products containing ephedra should definitely NOT be sold over the counter. This is not to say that ephedra doesn’t have plenty of benefits, because it does, and is a very valuable medicinal herb. But this herb should be taken under professional medical guidance only. Ephedra also goes under the Chinese herbal name “Ma Huang”. It is extremely great for dealing with asthma, or other allergic manifestations, but as beneficial as it is for some, likewise, its misuse could cause problems, even death. For this reason, using ephedra as a stimulant (as is done with dieters) is really not a good idea at all. Some people use it to make them feel more energetic, stronger, and it speeds up the metabolism to some degree. It speeds up everything in the body though, and thus, people who are suffering from high blood pressure and several other medical problems shouldn’t take it at all.

It used to be quite simple to buy ephedra-containing products over the counter, but due to a few deaths, ephedra is becoming more and more controlled. This is actually a good thing, as ephedra use was getting out of hand. But, I will repeat that ephedra use, when it is extremely moderate is a natural medicament and has been used for centuries, and as such is safe. It’s just the indiscriminate use as a weight loss panacea that made ephedra get its bad name as a dangerous supplement. Indeed, when used in that way, it is certainly a perilous endeavor.

power pops


This is one of the most up and coming new weight loss gimmicks around. It is advertised practically everywhere. It usually comes in an all natural form, and is generally considered safe (so far). What it is said to do is to stave off hunger pangs. Apparently it was discovered by the Kalahari tribesmen, who used to chew it in order to help them to avoid feeling hungry on their long desert treks. Since it has been used for thousands of years it seems to be safe, although the quantity that these tribal men use is much different than the daily usage of some dieters, so beware. It is probably best to use it sparingly, and to try and fend off hunger by eating healthy, filling choices. It is important to buy from a reputable company though, because apparently there have been some hoodia scams out there in the market, where people were selling something similar to hoodia instead of the real thing.

curb bites

With the above-mentioned natural weight loss aids less is more. That is what I always say, and that is the best policy to keep, particularly when it comes to natural things like herbs. So, even with things like caffeine-containing drinks, don’t overdo. Take it easy, and remember to check out what you are talking for weight loss. Don’t just walk into a store or a person’s house and let them pressure you into taking something that may or may not make you feel comfortable. But, in moderation, and for the right purpose, the above-mentioned items are safe, particularly when taken under supervision. Consult a medical practitioner before beginning any questionable product.

(To be continued….)

Email me: miaponzo@yahoo.com


Dangerous Artificial Sweeteners


Posted by Mia Ponzo | Posted in Natural Alternative Diet, Natural Health | Posted on 06-09-2015

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There are so many sugar substitutes out in the market today that it’s difficult to choose one, or even to decide if we want to risk the use of any of them at all! It’s certainly not easy to decipher all the hype that the various companies bombard us with all the time in the media. So, what do we do? Well, the best way to protect ourselves is with knowledge.

Right now, here in Kuwait, you can buy three well-known brands of artificial sweeteners off the shelf in almost any of the local supermarkets. Also, since diabetic and weight-loss products have become so popular here in Kuwait, there are other sweeteners that can be found in the ingredients lists of many prepared foods. For better or for worse, these sweeteners can be both helpful and detrimental to our health, so the better we understand them, the more informed choices we can make. And, information is almost never a bad thing!


This artificial sweetener has been around for ages, more than 100 years, to be exact. It has had bad hype and good hype, but how safe is it really? While it went through a ban several years ago, due to studies that seemed to show that it was a carcinogen (caused cancer) in animals, its reputation has been vindicated since, with multitude studies that seem to show that saccharin is safe after all. In fact, saccharin is the most tested additive in the world and probably the most widely used around the world right now. Although, there are some researchers who still claim that scientific studies have shown saccharin to be dangerous even in humans, so it looks like the jury is still out in the matter of the safety of saccharin.

Saccharin is mostly known around the world as “Sweet and Low” and “Sugar Twin”. It is a non-caloric, non-carbohydrate sugar substitute. It was discovered by scientists while working with “toluene”, which is a coal tar derivative. It is basically a sodium salt, and is 300 times sweeter than sugar. Nowadays, though, it is synthesized from other bases mostly. One of the drawbacks of saccharin is its bitter aftertaste. But, the benefits of saccharin are that it doesn’t get digested in the body at all, and has no impact whatsoever on the blood sugar of human beings. It is inexpensive, and has a long shelf life (unlike many other artificial sweeteners). It doesn’t degrade when heated. Thus, diabetics and others who cannot take sugar can eat foods sweetened with saccharin and have no side effects, keeping their diets and health in good stead.


Another of the most popular artificial sweeteners is aspartame, which also goes by the names of “Nutrasweet”, “Spoonful”, and “Equal”, as well as being marketed in many “sugar-free” products. Since I have recently done an entire article on this sweetener, we will not drag on about it here (if you want a copy of the article email me and I will send it to you). But basically, what you need to know is that aspartame is a chemical sweetener made of 10% methanol (Yes, can you believe it? That is wood alcohol and deadly!) It also contains 40% aspartic acid (which basically induces your brain cells to die, “excites them to death”), and 50% phenylalanine (which is particularly dangerous to people who are suffering from PKU, which is a genetic disorder causing the inability of the body to process phenylalanine). It is 180 to 200 times sweeter than sugar. One of the differences between saccharin and this sweetener is that aspartame is digested by the body, and thus, there is more of a chance that it can have a detrimental effect on it. And on the downside, aspartame has an extremely short shelf life. It also cannot be heated safely in cooking, so even if you choose to use aspartame to artificially sweeten your food, you must be very careful to use to prudently.

While the FDA gives aspartame a thoroughly clean bill, and states that aspartame is totally safe, based on studies that they have done, there are literally thousands of complaints that have been lodged with them about this sweetener. There are a host of side effects that are caused by aspartame ingestions, and these effects can be brought out even at fairly low doses. Thousands of people have connected side effects to the use of aspartame. Things like allergic reactions, certain types of brain damage, learning problems, vision problems, hearing problems, memory loss, bodily pain, headaches, dizziness, depression, birth defects, and more. It also has been linked to the mimicking or triggering of many other very dangerous diseases, such as MS, epilepsy, chronic fatigue syndrome, ADD, and more! In fact, there are over 92 documented symptoms that seem to be directly related to aspartame use!

There are others who even claim that the use of aspartame as a diet product is counter productive, actually causing people to crave food, fat, carbohydrates, and more sweetness. This problem is, apparently, even more pronounced for people suffering from diabetes (often exactly those who need artificial sweeteners the most), with aspartame seeming to be related to retinopathy, and uncontrolled blood sugar levels, which are problems with diabetics anyway, with extreme cases of aspartame use even causing coma and death!

Again here the jury is out. There are tens of thousands of reports of problems with people who use aspartame, yet there are over 100 scientific studies that seem to show that aspartame doesn’t cause any problems at all, with a few, more recent, studies showing that it does. Keep yourself posted, but better yet, just don’t use it!


Part 2

To continue with our discourse on sugar and sweeteners, today we will talk about two types of sugar substitutes, sucralose and sugar alcohols. Both of these types of sweeteners are widely used in diet foods as of late, and although they are touted as being safe and wonderful, they are not always all they are cracked up to be. Again, though, there are pros and cons about both types of sweeteners, the choice is in your hands as to whether or not you will use one or more of these in your food. But, once you are aware of the scientific information about these, you will be able to make an intelligent choice, and be less influenced by advertising and media hype.


Sucralose is one of the newest products to hit the stores. It is normally marketed under the name of Splenda, but also appears in many dietary food items as sucralose, and in Europe goes by the name of E955 (food additive). Sucralose is actually a sugar derivative, and one of the selling points that the company that makes it is always touting is that it tastes so good and natural because it is really sugar. Well, not exactly. Actually, sucralose is a chemical compound derived from sugar but replaces the hydrogen and oxygen molecules in sugar with chlorine atoms consisting of: 4-chloro-4-deoxy-galactose (4CG) and 1,6-dichloro-1,6-dideoxyfructose (1,6 DCF). (This basically makes sucralose similar to pesticides!) It is 600 times sweeter than sugar. It can apparently be used in cooking and baking as well, and has a longer shelf life than many other artificial sweeteners.

Sucralose is marketed as a sweetener that is totally non-caloric and doesn’t affect the blood glucose levels, thereby making it safe for diabetics to use and also people on diets. It is claimed that it isn’t absorbed by the body at all. This is unfortunately incorrect information, as it is indeed metabolized by the body. In some studies it has been shown that as much as 20, 30, and even 40% of it can be metabolized by the body, although there are also studies that show that sucralose is excreted from the body almost entirely in its original state, meaning that it is not metabolized much or at all. What is worse is what it breaks down into, 1,6-dichlorofructose, the side effects of which are totally unknown. There is also evidence that the use of sucralose actually causes people to gain weight instead of lose it, because it increases the cravings for carbohydrates and sweets. There is also known evidence that many of the chemicals found in sucralose have been found to be carcinogens.

Studies have found that the use of sucralose causes the thymus gland to shrink (don’t forget that this gland is of importance when it comes to our immune systems). It has also been shown in certain other animal studies to increase the size of the kidneys and liver, among other things. There are also many other symptoms that seem to be related to sucralose use including: digestive problems, headaches, heart palpitations, depression, dizziness, joint pain, weakness, tingling sensation in mouth and surrounding areas, as well as the hands and fingers, facial swelling, redness and allergic-type reactions, blurred vision, and much more.

The fact is that there are absolutely NO human studies that have been done with sucralose, and that is probably one of the reasons that its use has not been approved in many countries, even though the FDA approved its use in the USA. Keep in mind also that sucralose has been associated with many problems, including those mentioned above and more, and the full story isn’t even close to being divulged, so think more than twice before using Splenda or sucralose containing products in your diet.

Sugar Alcohols

There are several different types of sugar alcohols (also known as polyols), including Xylitol (which is from straw, corncobs, cereal, mushrooms, etc), Sorbitol (which comes from fruit and vegetables, including corn), Mannitol (occurring in seaweed, carrots, pineapple, sweet potatoes, and olives), and Maltitol, to name a few. (Others include: Galactitol, Erythritol, Inositol, Ribitol, Dithioerythritol, Dithiothreitol, and Glycerol). Technically, they are reduced hydroxel group carbohydrates that have been hydrogenated. They are less sweet than table sugar, and are often used with other artificial sweeteners in order to improve the flavor of foods. They are not absorbed by the body, contribute extremely low calories, and thus are useful for people who need to be on a low carbohydrate diet, including diabetics. But, again, there is the danger of overeating when using these products on a daily basis, so care must be taken. Also, there is the danger of higher blood sugar levels when sugar alcohols are overeaten.

Sugar alcohols (yes, they are called “alcohols”, but don’t contain ethanol, as in alcoholic drinks, it is just a name that was given due to their similarity to sugar and alcohol from a chemical point of view) have been around for a fairly long time, and have been found to be generally safe. The problem with sugar alcohols is that they cause digestive disturbances to many people (if not all). These problems include bloating, flatulence, intestinal cramping and diarrhea. Most foods that contain sugar alcohols carry a warning to this effect. This is why sugar alcohols should be consumed in very small amounts, if at all. They do have many beneficial effects as well though, including the inhibition of the growth of bacteria, which is particularly beneficial when it comes to preventing cavities in the teeth. This is one of the reasons that there are the sweeteners used in artificially sweetened gum.

While these sweeteners seem to be safer than most, you can see that even these have unpleasant side effects that you would probably not like to experience, and would better avoid. So, here as before, you have an informed choice to make. Often regular old sugar in moderation might be better than these artificial sweeteners.

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Email me: mia@yournaturalhealthonline.com