Kuro5hin.org: technology and culture, from the trenches
create account | help/FAQ | contact | links | search | IRC | site news
[ Everything | Diaries | Technology | Science | Culture | Politics | Media | News | Internet | Op-Ed | Fiction | Meta | MLP ]
We need your support: buy an ad | premium membership

[P]
On Demagoguery and Fear of Synthetic Foods

By glasnost in Technology
Mon May 06, 2002 at 01:32:01 AM EST
Tags: Culture (all tags)
Culture

I use a product called "Splenda." Splenda is the brand name for a synthetic sweetener called "sucralose", which is derived from normal sugar. I'm not writing this to sell you Splenda. I receive no kickbacks from the Splenda corporation (as nice as that'd be). But I do think it makes a wonderful prototypical example of how culture interacts with science and technology - specifically, food science and technology.


As far as I know, Splenda is the only artificial sweetener that has the following properties, all together:

  1. Tastes good. I can't tell it apart from sugar.
  2. Non-calorific.
  3. Doesn't promote tooth decay or halitosis (bad breath).
  4. No aftertaste whatsoever.
  5. Efficient (high taste/mass ratio, and hence value/price ratio.)
  6. Survives baking/cooking.

Recently I decided to read up on Splenda. Because of the above attributes, all I had ever seen were raves advocating Splenda's use. My own experience (a year's worth of satisfied use) didn't leave me questioning these reviews. But I took it as a challenge to find some dissenting opintions, and after some digging online, I did find negative reviews of Splenda.

Most notable was a review (more like an advisory page, really) from Dr. Ian Mercola, who is well known for his unconventional health views (http://www.mercola.com). He always makes an interesting read and isn't afraid to question the health establishment and standard folk wisdom, for which I tip my hat to him.

But in this case I think he's wrong. In his page devoted to Splenda, he warns against the synthetic sweetener, and concludes that it must be avoided at all costs (apparently without exception). He bases this conclusion upon some anecdotal evidence, the lack of long-term studies of Splenda's effect in humans, and an observation about the chemical structure of sucralose.

I believe that it is a mistake to completely eliminate a useful substance based on these reasons, and I warn the reader against being swayed by scare tactics such as Mercola's page.

Let me explain why his page constitutes "scare tactics", however.

Anecdotal evidence always looks convincing, especially when you only give anecdotes supporting your conclusion1. Splenda is used happily by hundreds of thousands (millions?) of people in many countries, where it has been approved for consumption by national boards of health over and over again (not that I trust national boards of health that terribly much, but this does seem to indicate that there's nothing horribly, overtly wrong with Splenda). Dr. Mercola has about 10 anecdotes. What one can derive from these anecdotes posted by Mercola is that some people are probably allergic to Splenda. But some people are allergic to peanuts. Some people are allergic to milk. Some people are even allergic to flour. If we collected anecdotes of peanut allergy (for instance) on a single page, we could produce a feature just as scary as Mercola's which concludes that peanuts must be destroyed at all costs (airlines apparently took this route in reality, so now I can only get empty-calorie pretzels or snack mix on planes, as opposed to the more useful protein-containing peanuts.2)

Here's an opposing anecdote: I've used Splenda for a year with no observable ill effects. Recently I stopped using it, just to see if I could detect any changes. As of yet, I've noticed no difference.

As for the chemical structure: sucralose is produce by chlorinating standard sugar molecules. This creates an altered molecule which is not absorbed or metabolised by the body. Mercola (and others) make a big show of putting "chlorine" in big bold scare letters. After all, chlorine is that poisonous stuff you put in your pool to kill bacteria - you sure wouldn't want to eat it (even this is a specious argument - you put antibiotics in yourself precisely to kill bacteria.)

But let's take a step back. Chlorine is also half of the ubiquitous and innocuous table salt (NaCl). In fact, you wouldn't want to eat Na (Sodium) by itself either, as it is explosive upon contact with water. But NaCl is a vastly different beast than Na or Cl alone. The list goes on and on-- Hydrogen is explosive Oxygen is corrosive and flammable. Together they form H2O, which is clearly safe.

I can't actually believe that Dr. Mercola doesn't understand some basic chemistry and physics. It appears that what he is doing is much more sinister: using the ignorance of the consumer to further his own agenda. Other anti-Splenda crusaders who do the same are just as guilty of deception.

Mercola also mentions in passing that the chemical structure of Splenda "looks like a pesticide", which is about as close to a rigorous argument as "it contains a component which is by itself dangerous, and hence must be dangerous in total." In general, this is a "whole = part" fallacy.

Finally, Mercola notes that there are no long-term studies of the effect of Splenda. This is true, of course - Splenda hasn't been around long. Perhaps there is some subtle effect of Splenda over a large number of years, but other than allergies, it would be just that - subtle.

There are plenty of foods that people have always been eating, but only recently received long-term effect studies. Sugar is an example of one of these (which Mercola oddly calls "perfectly safe" in his piece3), which we now can associate with the widespread occurrence of diabetes in industrialized nations. In other words, if we waited for detailed, long-term effect studies for every food, we'd have a pretty pathetic diet left. Life does not wait for rigorous scientific analysis.

Long-term effect studies are a funny thing. They require a large sample set (number of participants) and an equally large control set to make any sort of case for some substance having an effect over time. In a posteriori studies (ones which use existing data), which are easier to do, there usually isn't a clear case for causality (the substance in question causing an effect) instead of correlation (the substance in question merely coinciding with the effect). It is not enough to simply consume some substance for a long time to get the benefit of a "long-term effect study". If this were so, we'd essentially have such data for every food that's been a part of our diet throughout history. But we don't. An actual rigorous scientific study is very controlled and very specific, and actually does take as many years as "long-term" is judged to last. Every variable must be taken into account to a reasonable level of confidence. It is not an easy thing to do. In sum, demanding a long-term effect study for every food is unreasonable.

It might be useful in this situation to compare the potential dangers of Splenda against things like alcohol use or even consumption of sugar over the long term. If you're worried, moderation is key. Consumers must weigh the utility of using Splenda against the lack of long-term studies, as they must do whenever there aren't such studies available (or known to them).

Long-term effects studies are never demanded for foods we've been eating all along - even when we find out later that these foods do have detrimental long-term effects. The only explanation I can find for this extra attention paid to synthetic foods is purely psychological - worriment over humans "playing God" with our food. Many have an innate feeling (perhaps more subconscious than outright) that it's somehow immoral to apply science and technology to food. There's also the bonus that if something goes wrong with a synthetic food, there's someone to blame. It's extremely easy to point the finger at the person or corporation who created it, and people are very eager to shift the blame for their own carelessness onto someone else. But there is no scapegoat for foods which have been around for hundreds or even thousands of years.

Splenda, and other "engineered" foods are not necessary bad. They may not even be more bad than good. And they're not something to be afraid of. I'd be surprised if Splenda had no negative effect 4, since pretty much everything does, taken in excess. In fact, it is well known that a diverse diet and moderation is the foundation of health - any component of a "healthy" diet can become unhealthy in excess (for example, this and this recent research seems to indicate that vitamin C becomes harmful at and beyond dosage levels that many medical professionals advocate). In sum, pages like Mercola's and others simply appeal to the emotions. They are pure sophistry. Accurate information and education (this includes proper context and philosophical perspective for the information) would allow consumers to make informed choices on their own, and would do them a much more useful service.

Footnotes:

1. Some have pointed out that I started this article with an anecdote. However, I disagree: for familiarity, I was simply associating myself with a product which is widely known to have the listed properties. In any case, my own experience is not meant to be taken as universal "evidence." - otherwise Mercola's handful of anecdotes would constitute greater "evidence." Real evidence cannot even really be considered purely a function of some large number of anecdotes, as anecdotes typically fail to satisfy the criteria for rigorous scientific experimentation. It is not hard, reading through Mercola's anecdotes (or anecdotes in general), to see this.

2. Previously this paragraph ended with a comment about fanatics being responsible for the removal of peanuts entirely from many airlines' menus. I retract this statement. In fact, the airlines themselves are more to blame for a poor solution implemented to address valid objections (especially that small children do not know their allergies and may react very severely.) I believe a better solution would have been to keep the item in question at least available upon request, which jibes with my general sentiment that one needn't ban something entirely in order to solve a problem which arises with a minority.

3. Perhaps Dr. Mercola is referring only to allergenic effects, and I am not aware of any caused by plain cane sugar. Still, in this case it seems that Mercola has no good substitute to call upon, which leaves a "hole" in people's diets that will be replaced by something. See this article for more about sugar.

4. In fact, Mercola's anecdotes did convince me that there is like some set of people who are violently allergic to Splenda. I doubt it is as large a proportion as many other common food allergies, since nobody else seems to have discovered this in small to medium-sized studies and through widespread use.

Also troubling is the possibility Mercola raises that the manufacturer may have lied about absorption rates. For such conduct, reprehension is certainly in order. But of course, counter-evidence is required.

Dr. Mercola also makes other very valid observations, like the lack of biochemical studies and environmental studies of the substance sucralose and its byproducts. Again I believe a valid point is that we simply cannot evaluate every possibility before acting, especially when there is immediate utility to be had. I would expect such analysis to be ongoing and done eventually, however. Perhaps as a medical professional, Dr. Mercola is in a good position to conduct such research himself, or at least have the means to set it in motion.

Sponsors

Voxel dot net
o Managed Hosting
o VoxCAST Content Delivery
o Raw Infrastructure

Login

Related Links
o Splenda
o review
o http://www .mercola.com
o 1
o 2
o 3
o 4
o this
o this [2]
o this article
o Also by glasnost


Display: Sort:
On Demagoguery and Fear of Synthetic Foods | 148 comments (133 topical, 15 editorial, 0 hidden)
H2O, clearly safe? (5.00 / 10) (#1)
by Logan on Sun May 05, 2002 at 02:53:30 AM EST

Together they form H2O, which is clearly safe.
Think again.

Logan

oh geez (none / 0) (#9)
by paxus on Sun May 05, 2002 at 05:12:32 AM EST

that DHMO site is such trash. Even if you can get past the references to "gay bath-houses" and other opinionated BS, you realize the site has very little to make it credible.



"...I am terrible time, the destroyer of all beings in all worlds, engaged to destroy all beings in this world... " - Lord Krishna, Bhagavad Gita
[ Parent ]
umm (none / 0) (#24)
by zephc on Sun May 05, 2002 at 07:44:59 AM EST

you DO realize its a joke site right?

[ Parent ]
Nah... (none / 0) (#120)
by Qwaniton on Mon May 06, 2002 at 07:34:16 PM EST

He's just slow on the uptake. Slow like molasses at .00000000001 degree Kelvin on a cold winter morning in the vast vacuum of space.
I don't think, therefore I
[ Parent ]
actually (none / 0) (#37)
by mikpos on Sun May 05, 2002 at 01:02:22 PM EST

If I remember right, if you drink a lot of H20 (distilled H20) -- 20L or so in a short period of time IIRC -- ion concentration would get so low that you would die. Mind you I think I'm remembering this from a "suicide guide" from the BBS days, which isn't terribly credible :)

With my puny 2 undergraduate chemistry classes it at least sounds plausible, though.

[ Parent ]

oops, typo (none / 0) (#40)
by mikpos on Sun May 05, 2002 at 01:04:31 PM EST

H20=H2O

[ Parent ]
No, that's bang on the nail. (5.00 / 1) (#80)
by Subtillus on Mon May 06, 2002 at 12:28:29 AM EST

I just finished my first year undergrad and I happened to take some Physiology, It's usually caused by an obsessive compulsive disorder, because we have stuff built in to mkae us stop otherwise.

[ Parent ]
Chlorine / Chloride / organochlorine (4.85 / 20) (#3)
by Blarney on Sun May 05, 2002 at 03:46:18 AM EST

Mercola (and others) make a big show of putting "chlorine" in big bold scare letters

Considering that organochlorine compounds in general have a nasty habit of being poisonous, Mercola is making a quite reasonable inference about the possible health effects of consuming sucralose. While many chlorinated pharmaceuticals are in common use, these substances are known to be somewhat toxic and therapeutic doses are adjusted accordingly. The difference between a drug and a poison is the dose you take - nothing else. Nutritional supplements do not face the (very expensive, approx $10^8) testing that pharmaceuticals do, and it is doubtful that safe doses have ever been measured.

Chlorine is also half of the ubiquitous and innocuous table salt (NaCl). In fact, you wouldn't want to eat Na (Sodium) by itself either, as it is explosive upon contact with water. But NaCl is a vastly different beast than Na or Cl alone.... I can't actually believe that Dr. Mercola doesn't understand some basic chemistry and physics.

It's rather arrogant of you to slam Dr. Mercola's chemical knowledge - he's almost certainly had quite a few chem courses while becoming a licensed Osteopath. Sure, he's a bit cranky at times and has some bizarre opinions on health (like most Osteopaths), but that's no reason to assume he doesn't know any chemistry. I don't want to pull the classical fallacy of argument from authority, but I would like to point out that I am currently studying for a Ph. D. in chemistry and have already earned a Masters. My chemical advice is probably correct here - though I welcome any comments and corrections.

You see, there are more than 2 chemical forms of chlorine. There's the quite nasty Cl2 gas you've mentioned, and there's the fairly innocious Cl- that you have mentioned to be present in table salt. There's also OCl- present in bleach, there's ClO3- and ClO4- which are used in explosives. These are all different oxidation states of the chlorine atom, 0, -1, +1, +5, and +7!

Organochlorine compounds, which contain a covalent bond between carbon and chlorine, have a very different chemistry from all the ionic chlorine compounds I have discussed above. They don't biodegrade to any significant degree (though sunlight can take them apart given sufficient time) - hence they have just about zero calories when ingested. I'm sure that some of them taste pretty nice, too! After all, I've always thought that the organochlorine solvent methylene chloride(MeCl2) smells pretty nice. Still, I treat this perfumed liquid as the known toxin and possible carcinogen that it is, and hardly ever handle it outside of a properly ventilated fume hood.

Organochlorines are assumed to be nasty things until proven otherwise, with good reason. Have you ever read Silent Spring? Perhaps you should. Everybody loves DDT! And let's not forget the somewhat overblown, but fundamentally justified panics about dioxin and polychlorinated biphenyls. More friendly organochlorines! These days, organochlorine compounds are on thin effing ice with environmental scientists. In fact, it is common research laboratory practice to separate the organochlorine waste for special disposal - it is processed in a special incinerator and the chlorine eventually becomes your old friend, Cl- from table salt.

In conclusion, I think that sucralose should be considered toxic until proven otherwise by rigourous safety trials - and this will not happen, because it would cost too much money. If you don't believe the "sophist" Dr. Marcola and would like to prove it, and if you will come to the state of Michigan sometime, I will happily consume 100 grams of sucrose in your presence every day for a week provided that you consume 100 grams of sucralose daily yourself - though perhaps I should not make this offer, as I do not really want to kill anybody over a K5 article.

lots of good info (4.00 / 3) (#10)
by glasnost on Sun May 05, 2002 at 05:20:53 AM EST

I found this comment pretty informative. However, I stand by my original position regarding the kind of objection Mercola presents: namely one lacking enough information to educate the consumer as to why there might be a problem.

I purposely didn't directly criticize Mercola's knowledge of chemistry, precisely because there isn't enough information in his writings to determine how knowledgeable he is. In fact I said I couldn't believe he wasn't competant in these matters.

I think I raised quite a few valid points about how people react to anything manmade which is meant for ingestion, regardless of whether it turns out the example substance of sucralose happens to be mostly good or mostly bad.

[ Parent ]

Synthetic food: neither rare nor especially feared (4.80 / 5) (#16)
by Blarney on Sun May 05, 2002 at 05:34:43 AM EST

We eat synthetic food every day. Do you know what "red", "yellow", and "blue" taste like? If you live in an industrialized country and are not a health nut from birth, odds are you know these tastes very well. These are "synthetic foods", and hardly anyone fears them.

The only difference between "artificial flavors" and "natural flavors" is whether they have been synthesized from petroleum-derived chemicals or from biologically-derived chemicals (soybean proteins are quite often used as precursors). But it's all really made by chemistry - all completely synthetic. I have heard from somebody who worked at a flavor factory that they even have their synthetic foodstuffs declared kosher! A rabbi shows up and verifies that the chemical apparatus is regularly cleaned with live dry steam. Amazing if true!

Everything works nice and smoothly in Flavor Alley - and the main reason for this is that nobody is particularly scared of the esters and ketones that they use as food additives. Despite being synthetic, and being generally toxic if taken in sufficiently large amounts (though their strong flavors would prevent most people from voluntarily ingesting an unsafe amount) most of these compounds are in fact present in natural foods - their extraction would be prohibitively expensive, so they are synthesized instead. Synthetic "red" is much cheaper than strawberries, and almost as good to most customers.

Sucralose is not an imitation of natural food in any manner - it is a chemical designed to taste, look, and cook like sugar, and to be entirely chemically incompatible with biological metabolism. However, it does belong to a very suspect class of chemicals. Organochlorines are not generally used as flavorings, food colorings, or other additives - because people fear them. This is not so much a specific fear of "synthetic food" as it is a fear of a class of chemical compounds, many of which are known even by laymen to be quite poisonous.

[ Parent ]

Which raises the question... (none / 0) (#32)
by dennis on Sun May 05, 2002 at 11:26:41 AM EST

...is Splenda an organochlorine? I looked at Mercola's page and it tells exactly what the stuff is, but everything I know about organic chemistry comes from reading Stephenson's Zodiac (which gives a neat explanation of toxic waste chemistry, along with some wild speculations - highly recommended).

[ Parent ]
Re: Chlorine / Chloride / organochlorine (none / 0) (#139)
by phliar on Tue May 07, 2002 at 06:12:29 PM EST

Considering that organochlorine compounds in general have a nasty habit of being poisonous...
My first reaction to the chlorination was "Yikes!" (Ok, I'll admit that a large part of my covalent chlorine bias comes from reading "Zodiac" by Stephenson.) However, I'm not a chemist so I decided to defer any judgement.

They don't biodegrade to any significant degree ... hence they have just about zero calories when ingested.
Is it the C-Cl covalent bond that is hard to break? I don't know any chemistry beyond what I took as an undergraduate. What is the mechanism by which we taste sweet things?
I'm sure that some of them taste pretty nice, too! After all, I've always thought that the organochlorine solvent methylene chloride(MeCl2) smells pretty nice.
Again: Yikes! In the undergraduate lab we had all kinds of death notices about methylene chloride. Carbon tetrachloride too -- in my days as sysadmin flunky that's what I'd use to clean the read/write heads of those magnetic tape drives.


Faster, faster, until the thrill of...
[ Parent ]

Saccharine please! (3.00 / 1) (#5)
by xriso on Sun May 05, 2002 at 04:58:35 AM EST

Yes, I've heard of the study, and I've also heard of the response to that study.
--
*** Quits: xriso:#kuro5hin (Forever)
No thanks. (1.00 / 1) (#38)
by physicsgod on Sun May 05, 2002 at 01:03:33 PM EST

Saccarine has a rather funky aftertaste, kinda like sucking on a sugar-coated wingnut.

--- "Those not wearing body armor are hereby advised to keep their arguments on-topic" Schlock Mercenary
[ Parent ]
Interesting article +1 but... (2.85 / 7) (#6)
by m0rzo on Sun May 05, 2002 at 04:58:43 AM EST

I'd rather not pump my body with anything created in a science laboratory.


My last sig was just plain offensive.

are you sure? (5.00 / 2) (#12)
by glasnost on Sun May 05, 2002 at 05:27:15 AM EST

Would you care to elaborate on this? Didn't penicillin come out of a laboratory? It seems you are just promulgating anti-technological superstition.

[ Parent ]
Penicillin (5.00 / 1) (#29)
by p0ppe on Sun May 05, 2002 at 10:41:25 AM EST

Penicillin might have come out of a laboratory, but is wasn't created there. Pecicillin is actually mold based and can be found in the right types of soil.


"Democracy is three wolves and a sheep voting on what to have for dinner."
[ Parent ]
good point. (2.00 / 1) (#104)
by garlic on Mon May 06, 2002 at 10:11:23 AM EST

Excellent point! Now the next time I'm sick I'll just go eat some dirt out of the back yard and that will cure me! Or, I could eat some moldy bread and that will certainly make me healthier.

HUSI challenge: post 4 troll diaries on husi without being outed as a Kuron, or having the diaries deleted or moved by admins.
[ Parent ]

"can be found in the right types of soil" (none / 0) (#109)
by p0ppe on Mon May 06, 2002 at 02:35:28 PM EST

"can be found in the right types of soil", not any soil.

Check your facts before you decide to share your wisdom.


"Democracy is three wolves and a sheep voting on what to have for dinner."
[ Parent ]
a little clearer, with less mocking tone. (none / 0) (#129)
by garlic on Tue May 07, 2002 at 09:42:44 AM EST

My point is that there is no useful amount of pennicilin in the soil or moldy bread. It only becomes useful after it comes out of a laboratory.

HUSI challenge: post 4 troll diaries on husi without being outed as a Kuron, or having the diaries deleted or moved by admins.
[ Parent ]

Medicine vs Food (none / 0) (#49)
by dennis on Sun May 05, 2002 at 01:41:58 PM EST

I definitely wouldn't want to eat penicillin every day. If I've got a bacterial infection to fix that's a different matter.

It's all about relative risks. If I've got an infection, that's a higher risk than taking a short run of antibiotics. If I'm healthy, eating a bunch of oddball chemicals with unknown long-term effects is higher risk than eating the foods our bodies have been adapting to over the last million years or so. A good example is margarine, composed of a fat unknown in nature, and hailed as a healthy alternative to saturated fat when it was introduced...now known to be the unhealthiest fat you can eat.

[ Parent ]

They why were you using... (none / 0) (#108)
by Rocky on Mon May 06, 2002 at 02:33:11 PM EST

...that Swedish contraption the other night?

If we knew what it was we were doing, it would not be called research, would it?
- Albert Einstein (1879 - 1955)
[ Parent ]
Um, there is nothing wrong with artificial stuff (none / 0) (#143)
by BLU ICE on Wed May 08, 2002 at 12:47:19 AM EST

As some artificial medicines can be dangerous, there are many natural herbs that have the potential to kill you.

"Is the quality of this cocaine satisfactory, Mr. Delorean?"
"As good as gold."

-- I am become Troll, destroyer of threads.
It's like an encyclopedia...sorta: Everything2

[ Parent ]

NaCl isn't that safe... (4.20 / 5) (#8)
by gordonjcp on Sun May 05, 2002 at 05:12:00 AM EST

After all, common salt isn't exactly wonderful for you. Yes, you need it to maintain the electrolytic balance in your body, but only in very very tiny amounts. Plus, it's not just *what* a compound consists of, is how it's put together. Consider the following:
2Na + Cl2 [heat] ==> 2NaCl , common salt
2H2 + O2 ==> 2H20 , water
These will mix to form - salty water. However, if you combine them in a different way, you'll get dilute hydrochloric acid, and sodium. Which will make a nice big bang....
Likewise, it can be hard to tell which compounds are going to turn out to be highly poisonous. Look at the alcohols, for example. They're all extremely poisonous apart from ethanol, which *is* poisonous but acts on the body in a very specific way (get drunk). Methanol, or Butanol, will kill you.
Incidentally, does anyone else wonder why the alcohol with *two* carbon atoms has this effect, and all the others are poisonous? Why two?

Give a man a fish, and he'll eat for a day. Teach a man to fish, and he'll bore you rigid with fishing stories for the rest of your life.


Methanol is special..... (5.00 / 1) (#19)
by Blarney on Sun May 05, 2002 at 05:44:18 AM EST

Methanol is actually metabolized to formaldehyde, which is the actual toxin. None of the other alcohols can be metabolized this way.

As a matter of fact, the higher alcohols - isopropanol, butanol, pentanol - have approximately the same toxicity as ethanol. If you drink 6 ounces of isopropanol, you will feel just about as crummy later as you would if you drank 6 ounces of ethanol - same symptoms of poisoning. You might even puke after drinking it, and you might develop a headache, nausea, disorientation, good stuff like that. However, you will not get drunk, so there's really no point drinking the crap.

[ Parent ]

just to elaborate (none / 0) (#55)
by demi on Sun May 05, 2002 at 02:03:19 PM EST

it's acetaldehyde that causes the hangover and sickness, which like formaldehyde from methanol, is created by the action of alcohol dehydrogenase. You body has in place a mechanism for the disposal of carboxylic acids, alcohols, and aldehydes, but faced with large concentrations of any of them, needless to say the enzymes are overwhelmed.

It's all part of a regulatory system that allows small concentrations of simple 2-carbon compounds like acetone (nail polish remover) to exist in your body too.



[ Parent ]

Chemistry (5.00 / 2) (#22)
by Torako on Sun May 05, 2002 at 06:57:04 AM EST

Actually, that doesn't prove a lot. Look at this:

HCl + NaOH => NaCl + H2O

Your "dilluted hydrochlorid acid and Sodium" will just react to, you guess, salty water. It's not NaCl that's bad to you in certain amounts. (HCl + H2O => H3O+ + Cl- would be rather bad though)

Actually, I think it's all about the amount of a certain stuff you eat or drink. Just the right amount of sugar and salt is healthy, just don't overdo it (And don't forget to brush your teeth).

[ Parent ]

Yeah, I know... (none / 0) (#23)
by gordonjcp on Sun May 05, 2002 at 07:41:57 AM EST

It was just an example. It's kind of like people who say "herbal remedies are much better because they're natural and made of plants". Now, I happen to like alternative medicine, but, on the other hand, Hemlock is also a plant.

Give a man a fish, and he'll eat for a day. Teach a man to fish, and he'll bore you rigid with fishing stories for the rest of your life.


[ Parent ]
Ah but (2.50 / 2) (#26)
by greenrd on Sun May 05, 2002 at 09:47:22 AM EST

Herbal remedies are better (in cases where they work - and even in some cases where they don't work!) because they tend to have such a low rate of reported ill-effects.

By stark contrast, iatrogenesis (illness or death caused by the medical profession) is one of the leading causes of death in the Western world.


"Capitalism is the absurd belief that the worst of men, for the worst of reasons, will somehow work for the benefit of us all." -- John Maynard Keynes
[ Parent ]

even more widespread cause of death (5.00 / 1) (#43)
by glasnost on Sun May 05, 2002 at 01:15:32 PM EST

I'm willing to bet that death by natural causes is the top killer. Damn that mother nature!

[ Parent ]
Y'know, you're right. (none / 0) (#73)
by gordonjcp on Sun May 05, 2002 at 09:49:41 PM EST

I'll probably die when I'm in my fifties. Bugger, time for a mid-life crisis. Being 28 and single sucks.

Give a man a fish, and he'll eat for a day. Teach a man to fish, and he'll bore you rigid with fishing stories for the rest of your life.


[ Parent ]
Indeed (5.00 / 1) (#58)
by Rk on Sun May 05, 2002 at 02:26:03 PM EST

But herbal remedies also have a notoriously low rate of reported positive effects. Just because a plant is edible doesn't mean it cures cancer. Why would a plant need to develop a cure to cancer anyway? It's not like it's going to need chemotherapy. Some herbs, like digitalis, are poisonous when taken in overdose. In fact, practically all substances that have any kind of effect whatsoever on the human body, and some that don't, are dangerous when overdosed.

If herbal remedies are so great, why aren't all the evil pharmaceutical corporations making a fortune selling herbal remedies... quite simply, because, even if a herbal remedy is effective, the refined, purified active content, synthesised artificially, is always going to be more effective. And it avoids the possibility of side effects from other ingredients that are non-essential to the healing effect, that may have a detrimental effect on ones health. Poisonous plants aren't uncommon, you know. And why use 'natural' (that word again) remedies when those evil, artificial ones are more effective? For every ailment treatable with some kind of herb, there are bound to be many that are not.

[ Parent ]

Nope (4.00 / 4) (#65)
by greenrd on Sun May 05, 2002 at 05:34:27 PM EST

If herbal remedies are so great, why aren't all the evil pharmaceutical corporations making a fortune selling herbal remedies...

Because herbal remedies are not patentable, and therefore not monopolisable, and therefore not profitable - and therefore must be marginalised and ridiculed.

Herbal remedies are just one example. The medical industry is largely in thrall to patent-based medicine. Health education? Prevention? Yes, they exist - but the budgets for those kind of programmes are miniscule.


"Capitalism is the absurd belief that the worst of men, for the worst of reasons, will somehow work for the benefit of us all." -- John Maynard Keynes
[ Parent ]

Really not patentable? (4.66 / 3) (#106)
by Shpongle Spore on Mon May 06, 2002 at 01:09:03 PM EST

While I don't disagree with you that herbal remedies have a lot of advantages over their pharmaceutical cousins, the patent argument strikes me as a little too simplistic to cover all cases.

IANAL, bit it seems to me that the isolated and synthesized active chemical(s) would be patentable and hence profitable, maybe even cheaper than new synthetics because it wouldn't take nearly as much work to "discover" them. OTOH the synthesized form would still face some serious competition from the natural form, both because of perceived benefits (natural vs. artificial) and because the natrural form would almost certainly be much cheaper. This may be the real reason drug companies stay away from herbal remedies in most cases.

One area where you're probably right on the money is supplements (as opposed to herbs) like like amino acids and vitamins. These are typically very fundamental biological molecules that are widely available in foods or even produced within the human body. I really can't imagine anyone being able to get a patent on the chemicals themselves, and even a patent on a new manufacturing process would be almost worthless since even expensive supplements are far cheaper than prescription drugs.

There's even evidence the pharmaceutical companies actively try to get supplements taken off the market. A contaminated batch of tryptophan caused all tryptophan products to be banned in the US, probably because somebody thought it had too much potential to compete with prescription antidepressants. I have no doubt that pharmaceutical companies will try to get other supplements banned as opportunities arise.
__
I wish I was in Austin, at the Chili Parlor bar,
drinking 'Mad Dog' margaritas and not caring where you are
[ Parent ]

Tampering Fear (3.33 / 3) (#14)
by Korimyr the Rat on Sun May 05, 2002 at 05:32:19 AM EST

 I think the root of this and other fears about artificial foods comes from a pretty steady barrage of fictional works about how technology goes horribly wrong whenever we tamper with Nature's exclusive domain.

 I mean, if artificial people are all malevolent and dangerous in some way or another, artifical corn must be even more deviously engineered to mess with us, right?

 As the idea of synthetic foods gets older, and we get more accustomed to it, these fears will go away. I don't know very many people who worry about the artificial sweeteners in diet soft drinks anymore.

--
"Specialization is for insects." Robert Heinlein
Founding Member of 'Retarded Monkeys Against the Restriction of Weapons Privileges'

good point (3.50 / 2) (#18)
by glasnost on Sun May 05, 2002 at 05:39:49 AM EST

I agree, there is a lot of this type of thing out there.

I don't think it will go away. The philosophy that mankind is doomed to produce things that are only damaging, whereas nature produces only things that are good and sustain us, seems to be a matter of preference.

What seems to happen is that we forget certain things are heavily modified by mankind or engineered completely anew, and simply accept them as normal. Meanwhile, we continue to attack anything new, complete with superstitious vitriol.

[ Parent ]

Diet Soft Drinks... (4.50 / 2) (#20)
by Kasreyn on Sun May 05, 2002 at 05:48:18 AM EST

Now there's an idea that's up there with the "Veggie Whopper" and "Slim-Fast Shake" (insert needed intellectual property mark here) for all time ridiculousness.

It's like people think they can have their cake and eat it too. How odd.


-Kasreyn


"Extenuating circumstance to be mentioned on Judgement Day:
We never asked to be born in the first place."

R.I.P. Kurt. You will be missed.
[ Parent ]
Oh dear, you choose the worst possible example. (4.50 / 2) (#69)
by Tezcatlipoca on Sun May 05, 2002 at 08:00:36 PM EST

Corn of the "artificial" variety is reducing the amount of genetic variation in places where it is a native plant (Mexico).

Not only that, buth the big companies go to places like Mexico that has enormous amounts of species of corn, develop the engineered kind and resell it back to the place from where they got the genes in the first place.

The original varieties are dying, the farmers are complaining, but obviously these companies can get quite some support form different goverments.
---
_._ .....
... .._ _._. _._ ...
._.. ._ _ . ._.. _.__

[ Parent ]

Subsidised gennie corn (none / 0) (#93)
by Korimyr the Rat on Mon May 06, 2002 at 02:51:51 AM EST

That's disgusting. I may not think engineered corn is a bad thing, but replacing a variety of native species with it?

Diversity in food is a good thing. Otherwise, we might as well just eat nutrient paste. Or monkey chow.

--
"Specialization is for insects." Robert Heinlein
Founding Member of 'Retarded Monkeys Against the Restriction of Weapons Privileges'
[ Parent ]

In the future (none / 0) (#144)
by BLU ICE on Wed May 08, 2002 at 12:51:15 AM EST

I think we will be eating nutrient paste.

"Is the quality of this cocaine satisfactory, Mr. Delorean?"
"As good as gold."

-- I am become Troll, destroyer of threads.
It's like an encyclopedia...sorta: Everything2

[ Parent ]

Paste vs. Chow (none / 0) (#147)
by Korimyr the Rat on Wed May 08, 2002 at 05:24:13 AM EST

I'd prefer the monkey chow. Wouldn't want the old jaw muscles to atrophy.

--
"Specialization is for insects." Robert Heinlein
Founding Member of 'Retarded Monkeys Against the Restriction of Weapons Privileges'
[ Parent ]
Speaking of Artificial Corn and Sweetners (none / 0) (#94)
by Korimyr the Rat on Mon May 06, 2002 at 02:54:47 AM EST

Figure since every kind of soft drink I've seen is flavored with high fructose corn syrup, and corn is a sweet, tasty flavor, some company is going to eventually produce a corn-flavored soda.

I can't wait.

--
"Specialization is for insects." Robert Heinlein
Founding Member of 'Retarded Monkeys Against the Restriction of Weapons Privileges'
[ Parent ]

Oh, and if you really wanted to prove your case... (4.00 / 2) (#15)
by paxus on Sun May 05, 2002 at 05:34:24 AM EST

...you could have at least included something from here


"...I am terrible time, the destroyer of all beings in all worlds, engaged to destroy all beings in this world... " - Lord Krishna, Bhagavad Gita
Belly of the beast (none / 0) (#114)
by broken77 on Mon May 06, 2002 at 04:17:52 PM EST

And, if you want to prove Microsoft is innocent, why not simply read their "freedom to innovate" piece for all the facts, and find out that they really have done nothing wrong?

I'm starting to doubt all this happy propaganda about Islam being a religion of peace. Heck, it's just as bad as Christianity. -- Dphitz
[ Parent ]

There's another great sweetener you should try (4.87 / 8) (#21)
by sticky on Sun May 05, 2002 at 06:23:18 AM EST

It's called sugar. It's 100% natural and if you use the relatively unrefined varieties it can be part of a healthy diet.

Why the unrefined varieties? (none / 0) (#33)
by theR on Sun May 05, 2002 at 11:27:55 AM EST

What does refining do to sugar, both good and bad?



[ Parent ]
refined sugar and nutrition (none / 0) (#134)
by Xia on Tue May 07, 2002 at 02:32:08 PM EST

Some people try to avoid refined sugar for the same reasons some people eat whole wheat bread. Refining any food product tends to reduce the vitamin content severely. With flour, they often add nutrients back in (on the label it will say 'enriched'), but I don't know if that's even possible with sugar. The primary nutrient lost in refining cane sugar is iron. Molasses, the waste product from refining, contains most of the nutrients lost from white sugar. I like how it tastes, too, but it's too strongly flavored to use in many things other than bread. Also, brown sugar is just refined white sugar with some molasses added back in, but I think that probably has less nutrient value than a raw sugar that hasn't had it processed out in the first place.
Anyhow, the good part is that white sugar is a way to sweeten things without changing their flavor at all.

[ Parent ]
Ahhh the principal of proportional naturality (4.75 / 4) (#44)
by Rk on Sun May 05, 2002 at 01:19:02 PM EST

So, something that is 100% natural is twice as healthy ( if (N == 1.00) { food = gooood;}) as something that is merely 50% natural (if (N == 0.50) { food = half.gooood;}) natural but yet only half as good as something that is 200% natural (if (N == 2.00) {food = double.good;}). So, tell me, how do you measure how natural your food is? Do you do it with branch of wood, or a couple of magnets? Or perhaps with one of those thingies the scientologists sell? In any case, can you determine how natural this post is? Is it less or more than 50% natural?

I hear there is a large, French statue in New York harbour for sale. What would you give me for it? Only natural currency accepted.

[ Parent ]

BTW (none / 0) (#46)
by Rk on Sun May 05, 2002 at 01:24:24 PM EST

Yes, I know this will probably be modded down to 1 or 0 by at least one poster. You have to think about these things when you say something controversial in a forum like K5. I am hoping, however, that when the modstorm settles, the average rating will be 3.5 or higher. Well, you can always hope...

[ Parent ]
hehe (4.00 / 1) (#47)
by rebelcool on Sun May 05, 2002 at 01:30:40 PM EST

Whenever the discussion about 'real' or 'natural' ingredients comes up, i have to think...what, are there fake ingredients? Are they false?

These 'artificial' ingredients are combinations of things found on earth, which are 'natural', much in the way a cake made from 'natural' ingredients is therefore natural...so how can anything NOT be natural? Everything is made from something found in nature.

COG. Build your own community. Free, easy, powerful. Demo site
[ Parent ]

Not necessarily (none / 0) (#88)
by fluffy grue on Mon May 06, 2002 at 01:39:41 AM EST

Some foods may contain trace elements of unnilhexium. ;)
--
"#kuro5hin [is like] a daycare center [where] the babysitter had been viciously murdered." -- CaptainObvious (we
[ Parent ]
Sure (3.00 / 2) (#90)
by physicsgod on Mon May 06, 2002 at 02:06:14 AM EST

For about a minute. The longest half-life of seaborgium (106) is 20s.

--- "Those not wearing body armor are hereby advised to keep their arguments on-topic" Schlock Mercenary
[ Parent ]
Natural == Trusted (5.00 / 2) (#68)
by mmcc on Sun May 05, 2002 at 06:41:37 PM EST

    So, something that is 100% natural is twice as healthy
No. Natural things, that people have been eating commonly for a long time are less likely to harm me in unknown ways.

There's no way that I'd choose to eat any artificial sweetner, and the reason is this:

Sugar has been in common use in the western world for at least 100-200 years, longer in other places. Your artificial sweetner has been in use for 5-20 years maximium. Which one do you trust to not do your body harm? Is it not reasonable to assume that the longer it's been in use the more trustworthy it is?



[ Parent ]

Long term (none / 0) (#133)
by Cro Magnon on Tue May 07, 2002 at 02:15:02 PM EST

Especially since many harmful substances take a long time to kill you. If an artificial sweetner has only been around 5 years, it might take another 15 to discover that it is why you're getting Alsheimers.
Information wants to be beer.
[ Parent ]
RE: There's another great sweetener you should try (5.00 / 1) (#66)
by TON on Sun May 05, 2002 at 06:07:10 PM EST

It's called sugar. It's 100% natural and if you use the relatively unrefined varieties it can be part of a healthy diet.

It may be a bit unhealthy for people with diabetes. This may be more people than you realize. I've certainly been surprised over the past year to learn that a few friends/neighbors are diabetic.

"First, I am born. Then, the trouble begins." -- Schizopolis

Ted


[ Parent ]

Sugar and diabetics (none / 0) (#76)
by theR on Sun May 05, 2002 at 10:54:17 PM EST

Sugar is not at all unhealthy to diabetics except if not moderated, but the same is true of any carbohydrates, not just sugar.



[ Parent ]
Even better... (none / 0) (#92)
by Bios_Hakr on Mon May 06, 2002 at 02:30:42 AM EST

Use honey.  You cannot possibly get any better than honey.  Not only is it a natural sweetner, it will also build your immune system and help you get over allergies if you move to a new area.  DO NOT get any of that store processed crap.  Even thoes organic stores are usually crap.  Look in your local directory for a bee farm of some sort.

One of the things I remember about my time in Northern Italy was the excelent honey.

You might want to watch out when picking the stuff up if you have alergies to bees:)

[ Parent ]

WOW! (none / 0) (#128)
by gazbo on Tue May 07, 2002 at 05:34:45 AM EST

And exactly how much does a jar of placeb^Whoney cost? Could you show me some double blind trials of 'good' honey vs 'store processed crap' honey and its medicinal effects?

Tip: If you're struggling you may want to enlist greenrd - he has an alarming number of links on these subjects :-)


-----
Topless, revealing, nude pics and vids of Zora Suleman! Upskirt and down blouse! Cleavage!
Hardcore ZORA SULEMAN pics!

[ Parent ]

Taste Test (none / 0) (#148)
by Bios_Hakr on Fri May 10, 2002 at 02:04:09 AM EST

I was mostly talking about taste of the processed crap.  As for health benefits, most people will agree that having additional chemicals added to natural food is a bad thing.  Why fuck with mother nature if you don't need to.  Hell, some of the best honey I ever had was from pulling a comb out of a hive and eating the shit right there.

[ Parent ]
Interesting factoid (3.50 / 6) (#28)
by wji on Sun May 05, 2002 at 10:05:33 AM EST

The New York City school board removed all additives, colours, and (at least most) artificial flavours from their cafteria food and saw a 14% improvement in students. I haven't read the study myself, but this was referenced in a pretty decent scientific journal, not PopSci or something.

In conclusion, the Powerpuff Girls are a reactionary, pseudo-feminist enterprise.
What kind of improvement? (4.00 / 1) (#31)
by arjan de lumens on Sun May 05, 2002 at 10:51:00 AM EST

Grades? Discipline? Absence? Some physical health metric? Or something else entirely?

[ Parent ]
improvements (5.00 / 2) (#63)
by dr k on Sun May 05, 2002 at 04:53:42 PM EST

- Billy McCormick finally washed his hair, and looks like such a nice boy now
- Spontaneous combustion rates are down by 57%
- Students in Ms Johnson's class "seem a lot more polite".


Destroy all trusted users!
[ Parent ]

and this implies... ? (3.50 / 4) (#42)
by glasnost on Sun May 05, 2002 at 01:12:21 PM EST

I don't find that to be too useful of a statistic without some theoretical basis to justify a direct causal hypothesis between the increased performance and the removal of flavors and colors. Maybe the students lost interest in cafeteria food and brought food from home, which was healthier anyway? (One of a million explanations that doesn't justify the conclusion you want it to.)

[ Parent ]
Woah there 'skeptic' (3.00 / 2) (#67)
by wji on Sun May 05, 2002 at 06:08:29 PM EST

A little defensive are we? I didn't say for certain that was the cause -- I just reported the study. If you're on such firm scientific ground, how come you're so quick to condemn any study you don't like and accuse the guy reporting it of pushing a nefarious anti-progress agenda? Yes, one study doesn't prove anything. Yes, there are other plausible hypotheses. But getting high-and-mighty on someone for offering contrary evidence is hardly good science.

And as for a 'theoretical basis', how's this? Some of the food additives were bad for students....

In conclusion, the Powerpuff Girls are a reactionary, pseudo-feminist enterprise.
[ Parent ]

But you didn't... (none / 0) (#137)
by hatshepsut on Tue May 07, 2002 at 04:46:48 PM EST

...report the study, you said you heard of a study (which you didn't read). The study reference is:

Schoenthaler SJ et al. The impact of a low food additive and sucrose diet on academic performance in 803 New York City public schools. Intern J Biosocial Research. 1986;8(2): 185-195.

I can't find a copy to read either. A (highly biased) summary can be found in this article.

Based on the reference above, it would seem to me that the easiest explanation was attributable to a decrease in sugar and an increase in vitamins (they got rid of the candy machines and started serving veggies with lunch). Without reading the actual journal article, however, who can really tell?

[ Parent ]

Improvement? (none / 0) (#140)
by phliar on Tue May 07, 2002 at 06:27:57 PM EST

The New York City school board removed all additives, colours, and (at least most) artificial flavours from their cafteria food and saw a 14% improvement in students.
What does "14% improvement" mean? Improvement in what? How is it measured?

This kind of uncontrolled statistic is worse than meaningless. Perhaps that giant chemical plant in the neighbourhood was shut down at the same time. (I know, I know -- NYC is worse than any chemical plant ever built!) Perhaps the teachers felt really good about the removal, so they were more likely to work more and have higher expectations, and likewise the children felt better about it so they responded by being happier and working harder. If it's not a well-designed and controlled study it means nothing. If half the students were given the old stuff and half the new, in a double-blind manner (so even the cafeteria workers and teachers don't know who's getting what), with a well-defined and meaningful metric, that's something.


Faster, faster, until the thrill of...
[ Parent ]

Now, that is not a scientific conclusion (none / 0) (#145)
by BLU ICE on Wed May 08, 2002 at 01:09:38 AM EST

The New York City school board removed all additives, colours, and (at least most) artificial flavours from their cafteria food and saw a 14% improvement in students.

How do you know that the 14% improvement is from omitting the artificial flavors? (I may remind you that artificial flavors are exactly the same chemically as their natural cousins). I would wager that this 14% improvement is completely unrelated to the reduction in artificial ingredients. There are many factors influencing the success of students. Drug use, teacher quality,  etc, etc, etc. The change in scores is just probably from other factors affecting the students.

 A very important thing in science is to have a control group where all conditions are the same except for the ones you want to test. I don't know why this study would be featured in any reputable scientific journal because it is not a truly scientific study. Saying the 14% improvement in the students is due to less artificial food is like me saying I scored better on my last Geometry test because I watched Friends last night. It looks like to me that the NYC schools just bowed to health-nut scare tactics and rejected artificial foods with no evidence that they are harmful, and then some two-bit herbal health journal picked up the story and called it science.

 It has never been shown that these artificial foods are dangerous.(At the same time, most herbal drugs are unproven and many have been shown to be extremely dangerous, such as DHEA) BTW, did this reduction in additives accompany an improvement in nutrition, such as more fruits and vegetables? A well-balanced diet can improve scores. (At my High School, we have a horribly un-nutritious lunch menu. I guess they have to compete with Burger King)

"Is the quality of this cocaine satisfactory, Mr. Delorean?"
"As good as gold."

-- I am become Troll, destroyer of threads.
It's like an encyclopedia...sorta: Everything2

[ Parent ]

technofetishism (3.30 / 10) (#30)
by p0ppe on Sun May 05, 2002 at 10:47:24 AM EST

I've never understood the technofetishism that seems to rule the US. Why can't you leave things as they are? Splenda might be non-calorific, but why is that neccessary? Use less sugar or go for a walk and burn the extra calories you got from sugar you used. Cars aren't they only mean of transportation.


"Democracy is three wolves and a sheep voting on what to have for dinner."
naturalistic fallacy (3.83 / 6) (#34)
by klamath on Sun May 05, 2002 at 12:34:52 PM EST

I've never understood the technofetishism that seems to rule the US. Why can't you leave things as they are?
Calling it technofetishism is absurd -- the stereotypical interest of Americans in technology has nothing to do with sexual gratifification.

As for the "things as they are", what is so good about that? Just because something is traditional or "natural" doesn't make it necessarily good -- in fact, many elements of man's "natural" existence are rightly viewed as reprehensible (cannibalism, for example). Consider the invention of the printing press -- previous to that, information was copied out by hand. Surely you can't believe that the former is worse than the later, or that there is any value in continuing to use an inferior technology?

At root, this requires an assessment of the value of the particular technology involved. Is "Splenda" a good idea? Perhaps, or perhaps not. But to use that as a basis for criticising all technology is ridiculous.

[ Parent ]

Specification (3.00 / 1) (#50)
by p0ppe on Sun May 05, 2002 at 01:50:52 PM EST

I'm sorry, I wasn't being specific enough. What I meant to say is that I can't seem to understand the technofetishism that seems to rule the US when it comes to food. The need to create an artificial sweetener is to a large extent based people's will to buy "light" products. Instead of changing their habits, people simply replace some products by "light" ones. The question one should is is what is needed? Take Heinz's purple ketchup as an example. Why does it have to be purple? Why do you have to use technology to make it purple? There simply isn't a rational need to add artificial colors to it.


"Democracy is three wolves and a sheep voting on what to have for dinner."
[ Parent ]
Because. (3.00 / 2) (#91)
by physicsgod on Mon May 06, 2002 at 02:18:18 AM EST

There's a strong tradition of innovation in American culture. People are always trying to figure out a way to do something faster/cheaper/better. Regarding lite food, some people are willing to pay a premium so they don't have to spend their time exercising. And purple ketchup is a marketing ploy designed to get <8 year olds to eat more ketchup. These are some of the more extreme examples of the same trend that has brought you the light bulb, the airplane, the skyscraper, the mechanical reaper, solar panels, nuclear power, and computers.<P> This life is preferable to running around in hides trying to convince an elephant to run off a cliff, whilst simultaneously attempting to avoid becoming lunch to some hungry feline. And don't try to tell me that this is the best things can get.

--- "Those not wearing body armor are hereby advised to keep their arguments on-topic" Schlock Mercenary
[ Parent ]
Innovation (5.00 / 2) (#113)
by Korimyr the Rat on Mon May 06, 2002 at 03:35:54 PM EST

 These aren't even really extreme forms of the same process-- it's just that most of the trivial innovations have eventually faded out. The marvelous, useful inventions you describe are simply what survived over the years.

Technological innovation is similar to cultural innovation: Older music, art, and literature weren't really better than newer culture-- it's just had the benefit of time to seperate the wheat from the chaff.

--
"Specialization is for insects." Robert Heinlein
Founding Member of 'Retarded Monkeys Against the Restriction of Weapons Privileges'
[ Parent ]

That's innovation? count me out (none / 0) (#121)
by scruffyMark on Mon May 06, 2002 at 07:40:16 PM EST

People are always trying to figure out a way to do something faster/cheaper/better.

Well, what is faster than eating less sugar, cheaper than buying less sugar, or better than cutting down on sugar? Don't tell me the answer is to use more expensive, worse tasting, possibly carcinogenic chemicals in your cooking. The mysterious thing is, why are we spending so much effort to invent slower, more expensive, inferior methods of doing things?

I mean, the fact that people still are starving to death in many parts of the world, and Americans (I know, not just Americans) are spending fortunes on developing food without nutritional value doesn't seem just a little sick to you?

[ Parent ]

Depends on your objective. (none / 0) (#126)
by physicsgod on Tue May 07, 2002 at 01:04:10 AM EST

If you just want to eat a healthy diet you can cut out all the "bad" things, and constantly adjust with each new issue of JAMA.

If you want to eat a tasty diet but don't want actual sugar for whatever reason Splenda is a godsend.

As for the starving people bit, there's plenty of food. The problem lies in distribution; which is not amenable to the resources used to develop sucralose.

--- "Those not wearing body armor are hereby advised to keep their arguments on-topic" Schlock Mercenary
[ Parent ]

Real food, that's all (none / 0) (#127)
by scruffyMark on Tue May 07, 2002 at 02:47:46 AM EST

As for the starving people bit, there's plenty of food. The problem lies in distribution; which is not amenable to the resources used to develop sucralose.

What, like money? (I know, that's being obtuse)

Anyway, I'm not advocating a diet of wheat germ and raw tofu here. I just mean, eat real food. Don't use a lot of sugar, not because it's bad for you, but because your other ingredients are of good enough quality that their taste doesn't need to be buried in sugar. Same goes for fat, salt, whatever.

[ Parent ]

that's not all. (none / 0) (#136)
by physicsgod on Tue May 07, 2002 at 02:39:29 PM EST

What, like money? (I know, that's being obtuse)
That, and the work of chemists.

Anyway, I'm not advocating a diet of wheat germ and raw tofu here. I just mean, eat real food. Don't use a lot of sugar, not because it's bad for you, but because your other ingredients are of good enough quality that their taste doesn't need to be buried in sugar. Same goes for fat, salt, whatever.
That's not necessarily true. Try making lemonade without sugar. Yes, you could use honey or molasses, but that would change the flavor. Lemonade made with sugar lets you enjoy the flavor of real lemons without the pucker factor. Lemonade with sucralose lets you enjoy the flavor of lemonade without nearly as many calories.

Anyway my point was that most people have different priorites. Sure, I love good food, but sometimes I'm working on something else and eating just becomes a means to keep my stomach quiet and bood sugar up. If they could come up with Bachelor Chow, something that doesn't taste like shit, supplies ~800Cal, and keeps my stomach full for 4-6 hours, I'd pick up a case. That wouldn't mean Id never cook again, just that if I didn't want to cook for whatever reason (too sick|tired|busy) I'd have a viable meal option.

--- "Those not wearing body armor are hereby advised to keep their arguments on-topic" Schlock Mercenary
[ Parent ]

american? (3.50 / 2) (#35)
by glasnost on Sun May 05, 2002 at 12:49:32 PM EST

Splenda comes from England.

[ Parent ]
Market (4.00 / 1) (#48)
by p0ppe on Sun May 05, 2002 at 01:40:06 PM EST

But I'm pretty sure that the Us is its biggest market.


"Democracy is three wolves and a sheep voting on what to have for dinner."
[ Parent ]
I'm from the US (4.00 / 2) (#51)
by rickward on Sun May 05, 2002 at 01:50:54 PM EST

and I've never heard of it.

"Crack don't smoke itself." —Traditional
[ Parent ]

Splenda.com (4.00 / 2) (#54)
by p0ppe on Sun May 05, 2002 at 02:02:30 PM EST

Splenda.com is © 2001-2002 Splenda, Inc. Ft. Washington PA, USA.

The industrial version of it is used in:

  • Diet RC® Cola, Diet Rite® Cola
  • Log Cabin® Sugar Free Low Calorie Syrup
  • Ocean Spray® Lightstyle® fruit drinks
  • Musselman's® "No Sugar Added" Apple Sauce
  • Lucky Leaf® Lite pie fillings
ever heard of those? :)


"Democracy is three wolves and a sheep voting on what to have for dinner."
[ Parent ]
Hm... (4.00 / 2) (#62)
by rickward on Sun May 05, 2002 at 04:04:55 PM EST

Ok, yes I have. Luckily I'm buying raw food now, or at least healthier pre-prepared food like tofudogs and such. And I believe that, when I read Fast Food Nation, I'm going to eat even healthier.

Still, for now I suppose it's label-checking time.

"Crack don't smoke itself." —Traditional
[ Parent ]

perhaps (none / 0) (#89)
by glasnost on Mon May 06, 2002 at 01:46:37 AM EST

But it's pretty new here. I'm fairly sure it was approved for consumption first in Britain, Australia, and Canada. The US FDA spent a quite a while longer analyzing it.

[ Parent ]
About the peanuts (5.00 / 5) (#45)
by kestrel13 on Sun May 05, 2002 at 01:19:35 PM EST

Airlines dropped having peanuts because they didn't want to have to worry about lawsuits from someone having an allergy attack from the amount of peanut dust that would get released with everyone on the airplane opening a bag of peanuts. There was actually legislation proposed to require airlines to do this at one point, but I believe most of them have switched voluntarily. Others will serve a peanut-free flight if someone in the flight makes the request when making reservations.

Blast! (3.00 / 1) (#64)
by bayankaran on Sun May 05, 2002 at 05:18:23 PM EST

No wonder they serve stupid pretzels!!!

[ Parent ]
Peanuts are back (none / 0) (#138)
by epepke on Tue May 07, 2002 at 05:32:19 PM EST

All you could get were those pretzels.

However, I've noticed on my last few flights that they've put peanuts back in the snack mix. It isn't all peanuts, but at least there are some, so I guess they weren't too scared of lawsuits.


The truth may be out there, but lies are inside your head.--Terry Pratchett


[ Parent ]
I've never understood (5.00 / 5) (#52)
by raaymoose on Sun May 05, 2002 at 01:51:20 PM EST

Why is there such a demand for these hypocaloric sweeteners since lain old table sugar is only 15 calories per teaspoon. Even if you have 10 teaspoons of sugar a day (which is a bit excessive), it's only 150 calories. Take a 15 minute walk and it's gone.

The only people I can see that would benefit from these sweeteners are the diabetic and the ultra-lazy. Really, how hard is it to walk a few minutes a day if the sugar is putting you over your calorie limit?



soda (4.00 / 1) (#53)
by nodsmasher on Sun May 05, 2002 at 02:00:27 PM EST

your mountan dew had 150 calories a glass, thats all from suger
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Most people don't realise just how funny cannibalism can actually be.
-Tatarigami
[ Parent ]
It's not the calories (3.66 / 6) (#56)
by Silent Chris on Sun May 05, 2002 at 02:08:21 PM EST

Sugar is a complex carb, which almost instantly becomes fat if not used for its energy.  That's why if one person were to eat cookies all day long, while another ate lean meat, and they were both the same calories and same fat content, the cookie-eater would gain more weight.

IANARS (I am not a Richard Simmons) but the limited books I've read on nutrition expose the detriments of carbs.  I tend to agree.  I've been on a protein-focused, lower carb diet (along with exercise) and have lost over 20 pounds in the past 3 months.

[ Parent ]

well yes (5.00 / 2) (#60)
by raaymoose on Sun May 05, 2002 at 03:07:47 PM EST

I'm well aware of the carbohydrate metabolism and what happens to extra carbohydrates. However, 150 calories due to sucrose is not exactly going to pack on the fat even if it is all converted - provided the person who consumes it even gets a small amount of exercise.

To me it seems as though these sweeteners are just a crux to allow people to continue their unhealthy eating habits without the usual consequences. Other than the diabetic folks, these sweeteners seem to serve no real benificial purpose.



[ Parent ]
Big picture (5.00 / 1) (#70)
by nusuth on Sun May 05, 2002 at 08:02:10 PM EST

Those 150 calories will be extra, it is not like someone consumes a few teaspoonful of sugar and decides to eat less. Moreover they promote insulin secretion , which if overshoot (and usually is overshoot with fast absorbed carbs like refined sugar) leads to a feeling of hunger, hence even more calories.

[ Parent ]
Sugar != complex carbo; Sugar == *simple* carbo (5.00 / 4) (#72)
by ip4noman on Sun May 05, 2002 at 08:41:30 PM EST

Carbohydrates are polymers built up of sugars. The shorter, generally sweeter tasting, and easier to digest. Medium size are the starches (grains, potatoes, breads, pasta), and the longest are called "dietary fiber", which despite the name is basically non-digestable by humans.

That rubbish about eating meat because it's "healthier" to eat things which are difficult to digest and thus will cause one to lose weight, is just that: rubbish. The healthiest people (Chinese, Indian) are the cultures who subsist mainly on a plant-based diet. The most unhealthy and obese people with the greatest incidence of intestinal cancers and heart disease (Americans) are the ones who eat 100x more meat than these others.



--
Breaking Blue / Cognitive Liberty Airwaves
[ Parent ]
Healthiest? (3.00 / 2) (#79)
by gibichung on Mon May 06, 2002 at 12:23:23 AM EST

I have never understood why some people worship far-Eastern cultures. I guess it's easier to idealize what you've never really seen. The fact is, you're completely wrong. Average Life Expectancy:

India: 62.86 years
China: 71.62 years

America: 77.26 years

Source: CIA World Factbook.

-----
"No man is above the law and no man is below it; nor do we ask any man's permission when we require him to obey it." -- Theodore Roosevelt
[ Parent ]

life expectancy isn't the same as health (5.00 / 2) (#81)
by sesquiped on Mon May 06, 2002 at 12:36:36 AM EST

I'll bet most of the difference in life expectency among India, China, and the US is due to the availability of health care and some of the more advanced and expensive treatments and procedures. Just because we (in the US) live longer doesn't mean our diets are any healthier. You'll have to provide some more data if you want me to believe that it's the food causing Americans to live longer than Indians.

[ Parent ]
Probably true (3.00 / 2) (#84)
by gibichung on Mon May 06, 2002 at 12:53:58 AM EST

But that fact can also be turned around, just as easily, to prove ip4noman's point moot. He argues that
The healthiest people (Chinese, Indian) are the cultures who subsist mainly on a plant-based diet. The most unhealthy and obese people with the greatest incidence of intestinal cancers and heart disease (Americans) are the ones who eat 100x more meat than these others
The truth is, if you live longer, you're more likely to be struck by heart disease or cancer. I'm not trying to prove that the American diet is healither, only that the Indian diet is not the reason that they suffer from lower rates of heart disease or cancer.

-----
"No man is above the law and no man is below it; nor do we ask any man's permission when we require him to obey it." -- Theodore Roosevelt
[ Parent ]
The chinese do not have the greatest medicine (none / 0) (#146)
by BLU ICE on Wed May 08, 2002 at 01:27:32 AM EST

Most herbal remedies are unproven and some are dangerous. Many, like comfrey, can cause severe liver damage. Others like Ma Huang  can cause amphetamine-like psychosis and other problems, such as elevated blood pressure and even death. (Ma Huang contains large amounts of ephedrine, 1st cousin to amphetamine)

I'm not saying artificial drugs are all safe, but generally, herbal drugs have little effect other than the placebo. They are not tested for safety or effectiveness like conventional drugs are.The notion that herbal drugs are safe because they are natural is a fallacy. I don't know where that idea came from, but it has cost some people their lives. (Of course conventional medicine sometimes kills people. But it saves so many countless millions) Anyway, I hope you don't think I'm trolling, this is just my opinion.

Back to eastern medicine and diet: Their diets are unquestionably much better than ours. We eat too much red meat and chips. If America on a whole subsisted on a diet of mostly grains, fruits, and veggies with a couple non-red meat servings a week, I bet the average lifespan would rise by five years. However, western medicine kicks the ass of eastern medicine. Eastern medicine, like it or not, improved the lifespan of the people ancient and middle-age Eastern societies very, very little. However, our western medicine, with our sterile surgery, excellent tested drugs, and antibiotics, has increased life expectancy from around 45 to 75.  30 years!!

"Is the quality of this cocaine satisfactory, Mr. Delorean?"
"As good as gold."

-- I am become Troll, destroyer of threads.
It's like an encyclopedia...sorta: Everything2

[ Parent ]

America 77.26 years (1.25 / 8) (#82)
by Goatmaster on Mon May 06, 2002 at 12:47:02 AM EST

I assume this is an average. I'd like to see the individual country breakdown. Wonder if there's much of a difference between Brazil, Cuba, Canada and the USA.

Oh, right. You mean 'America' like the USA. Silly Usians, when will you learn, you're not the only country on the continent.


... and so the Goatmaster has spoken
[ Parent ]
Let's not make this a dumb plant debate (none / 0) (#98)
by Silent Chris on Mon May 06, 2002 at 05:47:17 AM EST

I've read all the vegetarian debates before.  I'm tired of them.  If you want to eat meat, eat meat.  If you want to stick to veggies, do so.

My point was to compare carbohydrates in things like bread (generally considered good for you, when it isn't) and meat (generally not considered good for you, but it can be).

[ Parent ]

Re: It's not the calories (2.00 / 1) (#141)
by phliar on Tue May 07, 2002 at 06:41:46 PM EST

Sugar is a complex carb, which almost instantly becomes fat if not used for its energy.
Sorry, sugars are simple carbs. Dietary sugars are things like glucose (monosaccharides, one ring) and sucrose (disaccharides, two rings). Complex carbs are things like starch, in potatoes, pasta etc. Any carb, if the body decides it doesn't need the energy now, will be converted to fat because fats are much more efficient form of energy storage. Later you do something that required energy, the body will metabolise the fat.
That's why if one person were to eat cookies all day long, while another ate lean meat, and they were both the same calories and same fat content, the cookie-eater would gain more weight.
Now this I'm very skeptical of. I won't say this is bogus, because I'm not a dietician or a biochemist. But I'd want a good argument or study to believe this. So I'll continue eating reasonable amounts of food that I think is tasty (fast-food and pre-cooked frozen dinners taste like shit), get reasonable amounts of exercise, and live a happy life instead of worrying about all this stuff and dying of stress!


Faster, faster, until the thrill of...
[ Parent ]

I'm hypoglycimic... (5.00 / 2) (#71)
by khym on Sun May 05, 2002 at 08:36:22 PM EST

And I use sugar substitutes all the time, since my pancreas overreacts to pure sugar all the time. I used to use Equal, but have switched to Saccharine because it (to me) tastes closer to sugar. Now that I've heard of Splenda, I'll give that a try.

--
Give a man a match, and he'll be warm for a minute, but set him on fire, and he'll be warm for the rest of his life.
[ Parent ]
Try stevia (5.00 / 1) (#105)
by bobjim on Mon May 06, 2002 at 11:42:49 AM EST

Stevia's a South American plant whose leaves are around 30 times as sweet as sugar. Steviosides (one of the sweet chemicals in stevia) are 300 times as sweet as sugar. It's hard to find depending on where you are - it's banned as a food additive by the FDA (although it can still be sold as a food). And the situation in Europe is worse. However, it's almost certainly safe - steviosides aren't metabolised by humans - and it's been used by native people in Paraguay for hundreds of years with no bad effects. Japan uses it extensively (the figure I've heard repeatedly is that it makes up 40% of their sweetener market) and there have been numerous safety studies.

In fact, stevia may actively help hypoglycaemia - several studies have reported that consumption of stevia lowers and balances blood-sugar levels.
--
"I know your type quite well. Physically weak and intellectually stunted. Full of resentment against women." - Medham, talking about me.
[ Parent ]

damm right (4.00 / 1) (#100)
by auraslip on Mon May 06, 2002 at 06:38:36 AM EST

fat people* need to fucking lose weight#, or stop caring.

*not people that have a medical condition

#not dieting
124
[ Parent ]

why no-calories food? (4.75 / 4) (#59)
by rohrbach on Sun May 05, 2002 at 02:42:57 PM EST

eating is about getting the nutrition into ones body. so why eat food without any calories at all? it's simply unnatural; i think of it as eating plastic until you're no longer hungry.

personal anecdote:
i am from europe. i am 195cm tall and weigh about 75kg (you might call that "a little skinny"). i love cakes. i once was in the US and took part at a company dinner. for coffee they served different cakes, with cherries, buttercream and so on. i liked the taste, and just because a few guys and me stayed at the buffet talking when the rest headed outside for the sightseeing tour, i ate about 9 pieces of different cake. this stuff could be eaten like nothing. it didn't really fill my stomach if you know what i mean. after asking one of the US guys at the location about what a strange cake it might be, he told me "oh, it's zero-calories, zero-fat". for me a pretty disgusting thing. i rather stick to the tasty stuff we got over here, where you eat a piece of cake and you feel that you've eaten it. yummy.

--
Give a tool to a fool, and it might become a weapon.

Think again (none / 0) (#75)
by theElectron on Sun May 05, 2002 at 10:28:58 PM EST

eating is about getting the nutrition into ones body. so why eat food without any calories at all? it's simply unnatural; i think of it as eating plastic until you're no longer hungry.

Ever heard of diabetes?

--
Join the NRA!
[ Parent ]

Diabetes (none / 0) (#112)
by Korimyr the Rat on Mon May 06, 2002 at 03:25:46 PM EST

Yes, but what percentage of diet soda drinkers (and other artificial sweetener users) are actually diabetic, and how many are just misguidedly using the sweeteners to limit caloric intake?

--
"Specialization is for insects." Robert Heinlein
Founding Member of 'Retarded Monkeys Against the Restriction of Weapons Privileges'
[ Parent ]
Calorie restriction (none / 0) (#99)
by cyberdruid on Mon May 06, 2002 at 05:48:45 AM EST

It's simply very healthy to eat less calories (down to about 30% less than RDI) than your body asks for, as long as you get all the nutrition you need.

[ Parent ]
Gut reactions are typical (3.66 / 3) (#77)
by CaptainSuperBoy on Sun May 05, 2002 at 11:14:59 PM EST

People have these sorts of gut reactions to all sorts of things, and I'm pretty sick of it.  I heard of Splenda a few months ago and I decided to look it up.. and I found these sites acting like it was some kind of poison!  This is pretty typical of people who oppose synthetic and GM foods, as well as the larger group of what I'll call 'emotional oppositionists.'

This is the same type of reaction that you get from the animal rights people and the environmentalists.  It's bad enough that they have to throw out scientific evidence in favor of anecdotes, what bothers me is how emotional people get over this sort of thing!  They must realize that spewing FUD all over the world won't do any good.  They may sign up a few people who were looking for some evil product to hate.. they won't convince me until they can just be rational about it!  I don't really go for arguments like, "But it's unnatural!  It must be bad for you!"

There is a whole group of people, who for whatever reason feel a need to oppose things, and do it emotionally.  There are some valid concerns about GM foods, but a lot of the opposition is pure FUD.  There's opposition to soy, for whatever reason.

About Dr. Mercola.. he's a religious nut, look here: http://www.mercola.com/article/vaccines/index.htm I haven't even got into the whole vaccine thing.. an entire legion of parents who coincidentally link vaccines with developmental disorders is bad enough.  Now we need an industry of "doctors" supporting their misguided beliefs about correlation vs. causation?

--
jimmysquid.com - I take pictures.

Fucking Dentists! (none / 0) (#85)
by rigorist on Mon May 06, 2002 at 12:55:00 AM EST

The article you link to is by a dentist.

What is the deal with dentists? Why do so many of them seem to get caught up in weird pseudo-science crap?

[ Parent ]

100% agree (none / 0) (#97)
by bani on Mon May 06, 2002 at 04:31:24 AM EST

I agree. Next to chiropractors and osteopaths, dentists are #3 in the list of "most likely to get caught up in antiscience-bullshit".

[ Parent ]
One point...I didnt finish the article... (2.00 / 2) (#78)
by PsychoFurryEwok on Sun May 05, 2002 at 11:21:37 PM EST

...because of time, but I did notice the mention of Splenda in the first 3 paragraphs. Splenda has been known to cause multiple diseases as well as cancer...you might want to include that in your luist of 7 things. ;-)

Any references? (none / 0) (#87)
by fluffy grue on Mon May 06, 2002 at 01:33:17 AM EST

This is kind of the whole point to the article - the guy can't find any actual evidence that these things happen, even though a lot of people seem to claim it out-of-hand.
--
"#kuro5hin [is like] a daycare center [where] the babysitter had been viciously murdered." -- CaptainObvious (we
[ Parent ]
My mother knows... (none / 0) (#123)
by PsychoFurryEwok on Mon May 06, 2002 at 08:27:00 PM EST

...she's real into that health stuff. She's studying to become a nutritionist. She had me read this article and some ebooks. Lemme see if I can find them for you.

[ Parent ]
Scared women (3.00 / 1) (#86)
by rigorist on Mon May 06, 2002 at 12:58:36 AM EST

Check out "Dr." (Is he an MD? and is he licensed to practice anywhere?) Mercola's anecdotes. Looks like every one of them is from a woman. Read into that what you will.

mercola = D.O. (osteopathy) (none / 0) (#96)
by bani on Mon May 06, 2002 at 04:28:35 AM EST

AFAIK osteopaths are not licensed to diagnose any disease, perform any surgical procedure, or prescribe any medication for any condition.

Osteopaths are pretty similar to chiropractors. They make a living popping peoples joints.

Go to a real medical doctor FIRST for your medical problems. Only go to an osteopath if your medical doctor recommends it.

[ Parent ]
DO is a real doctor (none / 0) (#103)
by nosilA on Mon May 06, 2002 at 09:47:32 AM EST

D.O.s can perform surgery, prescribe drugs, etc.  The are sometimes regarded as not as good as MDs, but in reality they have about the same training.  The difference is that DOs look at the "whole body" when diagnosing a disease, and rely on using their hands for diagnosis before turning to tests.  Some universities have both MD and DO programs, some only have one or the other.  DOs are regulated by the AMA just like MDs

Fundamentally, they are the same thing, and if you walk down the halls of a medical office building you will see DOs listed on the doors - it's not too uncommon.

-Alison
Vote to Abstain!
[ Parent ]

"Real" doctors (none / 0) (#142)
by phliar on Tue May 07, 2002 at 06:53:31 PM EST

The difference is that DOs look at the "whole body" when diagnosing a disease, and rely on using their hands for diagnosis before turning to tests.
Funny, I think that's what your GP should be doing!

One of the reasons I so dislike the US health-care system: we pump shit-loads of money into specialists and into the last 6 months of life, into heroic technological feats. Some years ago I happened to get a specialist who was also a GP and a bit of a freak about all this: I just wanted my blood tests, my prescription and a quick exit. She made me lie down, examined me, asked about my diet and exercise regimen, and told me what I needed to fix in my life, beyond the blood tests and the prescriptions. It was amazing. Sadly she got married and moved away.


Faster, faster, until the thrill of...
[ Parent ]

Not quite (none / 0) (#107)
by epepke on Mon May 06, 2002 at 02:28:16 PM EST

Osteopaths started off like chiropractors, with the even sillier theory that subluxations of the veins were the cause of all disease. However, they officially abandoned that theory in 1949 and since have become more acceptable. Nowadays, they're almost orthodox. Osteopathy schools are easier to get into and have somewhat lower standards that MD schools. (MD schools are easier to get into than veterinary schools, which seems odd until you think about it: treating multiple species who cannot talk.)

Of course, that doesn't mean that he isn't a raving nutter.


The truth may be out there, but lies are inside your head.--Terry Pratchett


[ Parent ]
mercola "unconventional"...? (4.50 / 2) (#95)
by bani on Mon May 06, 2002 at 04:15:30 AM EST

...understatement of the century!

He rants against vaccination, advocates "thought field therapy", promotes quackery "cancer cures", rants against the use of fluoride for the prevention of cavities, promotes faith healing. And thats just for beginners.

There is very little that mercola advocates that isn't completely fraudulent or complete quackery.

mercola is the alex chiu of the medical world.

hrm... (5.00 / 3) (#101)
by auraslip on Mon May 06, 2002 at 06:56:57 AM EST

I've smoked cigaretes for a year, and have had no Ill affects.

I've lived next to a chemical factory for a year and have had no ill affects.

I've eaten meat thats been suped up with hormones and antibiotics, that have been fed GM meal, that was grown in heavily polluted area and has been sprayed with pesticides, for most of my life, and have had no ill affects.

The point is, just because you have no ill affects after a year doesn't mean that it won't cause or HELP cause long term affects. Toxins(anything that causes harm to your body?) build up in your body, producing long term effects (most of the time).
 and if this splenda IS a toxin then the effects might not be seen for 30 years, when you have a case of skin cancer that you attribute to the whole in the ozone layer.

124

On chlorinated/brominated substances. (5.00 / 2) (#102)
by RofGilead on Mon May 06, 2002 at 08:43:23 AM EST

 Many, many organic chemists handled chloroform and other chlorinated/brominated chemicals routinely for decades.  We didn't realize that they were carcinogenic for a long period of time.
 What ended up being discovered is that adding a chlorine or bromine tends to make them carcinogenic.  This isn't always the case, but until there is good evidence (long period of time), I wouldn't recommend ingesting a new chlorinated chemical.
 Would I rather risk getting too many calories or getting cancer?  Personally, I'd rather get too many calories, as you can always exercise them away.  I can't jog away a harmful genetic mutation!

 Just my two cents.

-= RofGilead =-

---
Remember, you're unique, just like everyone else. -BlueOregon

Carcinogens (none / 0) (#111)
by Korimyr the Rat on Mon May 06, 2002 at 03:23:07 PM EST

Cancer is only a serious health problem in the developed world-- because the developed world has removed most other "natural causes" deaths that would have occured before cancer sets in.

Especially with the new studies indicating that heated carbohydrates (the only kind most people I know eat) are also carcinogenic, I'm coming more and more to the conclusion that cancer is simply a naturally occurring condition-- with a few behaviors or substances that aggravate our propensity towards it.

This would move cancer strategies away from finding out what causes cancer, to making the human body more resistant to cancer, and by finding better, less destructive methods of treating it.

--
"Specialization is for insects." Robert Heinlein
Founding Member of 'Retarded Monkeys Against the Restriction of Weapons Privileges'
[ Parent ]

Well.. (4.00 / 1) (#122)
by RofGilead on Mon May 06, 2002 at 08:12:18 PM EST

Before making beliefs about cancer, it would probably be best to collect statistics on how many people die from cancer-caused conditions as not, per age level. If you made a graph where it was age on the x column, and two bars for cancer death/non-cancer death, it would probably be useful in supporting or contradicting your belief. Just a thought. I still believe it is best to avoid strongly carcinogenic substances, as there isn't a magic bullet solution for cancer yet. Unfortunately, I'm also a smoker. :)

-= RofGilead =-

---
Remember, you're unique, just like everyone else. -BlueOregon
[ Parent ]
cancer stats (none / 0) (#132)
by christfokkar on Tue May 07, 2002 at 02:14:51 PM EST

Good idea.  I did some web research on cancer stats for another thread.  I would say that reduction in other death rates accounts for some of the increase.  The OP is greenwashing, and I'm glad you called him on it.

The most interesting statistic I found is that childhood cancers have risen by 1/3 since 1950.  This is difficult to dismiss no matter what logic you use.  

The book Living Downstream makes a compelling argument that petrochemicals are to blame for the increase in cancer statistics.  I read part of it last year, too long ago to cite directly, but I stopped reading it because it became redundant.  I was convinced by about the third or fourth chapter.

At this point, I can smell cancer when I walk into an office building.  All the plastic, paint, and chemicals...it's like standing in a gas station, sometimes just as intense.  It's really not hard to trust your senses, although modern society has gone to great lengths to convince us that we don't need to bother.

[ Parent ]

I avoid anything like this (4.00 / 2) (#110)
by 0xA on Mon May 06, 2002 at 02:46:36 PM EST

You know, I think it is about 50/50 when it comes to this stuff, who really knows for sure?

Anecdotal evidence always looks convincing, especially when you only give anecdotes supporting your conclusion.

True but allow me to indulge in this for a moment. How may commonly used chemicals and food additives have been declared safe and found not to be. While not many food additives come to mind (I could look for some but I'm lazy), I'm thinking PCBs, DDT, Agent Orange etc. Things get recornized as dangerous after the fact all the time. Maybe Splenda is okay, maybe not, I don't know. I don't want to fnd out the hard way.

I have a serious problem with MSG, it makes me really sick. You refer to Mercola's actedotes giving you the impression that some people likely have an allergic reaction to this stuff. The same if often said about MSG but I don't like it when people say that. To me an allergy means you react to the presence of a substance in food, the air etc. The compounds that are commonly refined to create MSG are vegetable protiens like soy, peas or corn. I can eat soy or peas but if I eat something with soy protiens or hydrolized pea protien I will get sick. The problem comes from the proccess that is worked on the food, not the food.

What does that have to do with Splenda? Fuck all really. Given my experience with MSG over the past few years though I am immediately suspicous of any engineered food adative, the stuff scares the hell out of me. I won't go as far as to suggest that this stuff be banned, I would rather not eat it though. That is harder to do than you think, the laws regarding labeling of food products is really lax. It is legal to refer to MSG in food labels as "Seasoning" or "Natural Flavors". What will the regulation be for Splenda? "Chemicaly mangeled sweet stuff" or "natual sweetener"?

That is the problem I have with engineered food products, it is hard to find out when you are eating them.

Do some research (none / 0) (#115)
by bill_mcgonigle on Mon May 06, 2002 at 04:41:07 PM EST

I did a quick search on Grateful Med a year or more ago for 'sucralose', and came up with a few studies showing sucralose to cause enlarged thyroid glands in lab rats. (IIRC).  That was enough to make me wait and see.

Still, the author should have done the same and included it in his article.

A few things (5.00 / 1) (#116)
by broken77 on Mon May 06, 2002 at 04:58:06 PM EST

First, I wanted to mention that there was a thread just a few days ago, where I was talking about soy, and in that process, wrote a brief defense of Dr. Mercola (which by the way, is Joseph Mercola, not Ian, which can plainly be seen on his site and I'm sorry, this is a poor thing to overlook). I'm no "Mercolite", don't get me wrong. I just feel I need to defend someone that has a vast amount of knowledge beyond anyone here, for starters, and who is sticking his neck out and pointing out a lot of very important issues related to health. Considering that the health of USians is declining immensely (rising cancer rates, a major surge in autism recently, rising Alzheimer rates, ad infinitum), it surely must be linked to our environment, our diet, or both. I am inclined to believe the Dr.'s view, in that the biggest contributor is our diets. I could give examples of why I believe this, but don't even think it's necessary. I mean, what doesn't make sense about eating naturally, with no food additives, and no hormone-injected meats?

Also, I want to address a couple comments that I find disturbing, as well as add my own commentary, all in one shot. I'm seeing some off-the-cuff criticism that seems really silly, and seeing as how this article was not just a kudos for Sucra, but a bash on Dr. Mercola for his "quackness", I want to address them each in turn:

  • bani:
    • He rants against vaccination: He's not the only one. Surely you were aware of the growing controversy surrounding vaccinations. He's no Ted Kasczinsky (sp?) here, raving about the dangers of modern technology. There's a whole army of people that are questioning vaccinations.
    • advocates "thought field therapy": I find it hard to believe that you can't see the potential benefit and reality of this. The chinese have used acupuncture and acupressure for ages. It is essentially the same thing (also do some reading on yoga sometime). In case you were unaware. The body is one big bio-electric system. If energy patterns get disrupted, things go wrong (both emotionally and physically). This is something I like to call "lost wisdom" in the Western World. Other peoples and cultures have known this for millenia. I feel sorry for you if you think all this is complete nonsense.
    • promotes faith healing: I am also distressed about this. Anyone who would promote healing based in any certain religion upsets me. Religion is dogma, plain and simple. But realistically, I think we all know that there really is something to the healing power of prayer. It's not God that heals a person, however, it's yourself. And you don't need religion for this, only positive thinking.
    • I don't want to address the other issues, except to say that, again, he's not the only person advocating against these things. And why is this such a bad thing? Isn't it possible that there is something dangerous in these practices/substances, and we need "quacks" to bring the issues to the surface, because nobody who is pro-establishment would dare question them?
    • There is very little that mercola advocates that isn't completely fraudulent or complete quackery: What a gross over-statement and simplification. I could come up with plenty of examples, but don't really feel the need to do so.
    • mercola is the alex chiu of the medical world: Alex Chiu has no training of any kind, whatsoever. Dr. Mercola is a licensed Doctor. Also, he's not offering a cure for eternal life, or a fountain of youth. He's offering sound health advice. I see a big difference there.
  • rigorist: I can hardly even believe this comment. If this comment were all I had to go by, I wouldn't think your were much of a rigorist. If you had simply gone to his web site and clicked on "About Dr. Mercola" you would have seen his credentials, and where he practices. This is just so elementary.
Basically, what I want to say is, I think it's just as bad to condemn someone as a "mere quack" for making claims that you don't believe in, ignoring all the things they point out that may have real validity and importance. By doing this, you're battling straw men. You're doing a great disservice to the person, and potentially a great disservice to society by helping to squelch unpopular ideas. You don't like what he says? No problem. Just don't take his advice. The people that run our lives don't need any more help doing that, thank you very much. I also want to comment on how ironic I think it is, that on this site in particular, I will see people talk about corporate control over every aspect of our lives, about conspiracy and governments, about military coups, money and power, etc. etc., but when it's something related to health or science, all of a sudden there are no conspiracies anymore?

On a side-note. I'm surprised nobody has talked about the sketchy history of aspartame (NutraSweet). Just give Splenda a few years, and we'll see what kind of muck comes to the surface after all the hype settles down. Who knows, maybe it's crystal clean. But I've yet to know of a chemically processed food that hasn't ended up causing problems in the long run. Also, for those of you who are interested, you may want to check out a little-known natural sweetener that hasn't gotten any hype (because of no marketing and advertising forces, really), but I enjoy, called stevia. It's a plant leaf. No calories. Has an interesting taste, some might actually compare it to the taste of NutraSweet, so it might scare you away if you hate that taste. But it appears to be a healthy alternative.

I'm starting to doubt all this happy propaganda about Islam being a religion of peace. Heck, it's just as bad as Christianity. -- Dphitz

Mercola is licensed (none / 0) (#117)
by rigorist on Mon May 06, 2002 at 06:25:23 PM EST

Yup

I don't know why I could not find that link last night, though. I though I looked all over that site. Geez!

But I also found he was a defendant in a defamation action. And, did you know vaccines cause AIDS? And his use of multi-colored text on his site is very irritating.

[ Parent ]

Responding... (none / 0) (#118)
by broken77 on Mon May 06, 2002 at 06:50:18 PM EST

I don't know why I could not find that link last night, though. I though I looked all over that site. Geez!
No problem. Sorry if I came across too harsh.
But I also found he was a defendant in a defamation action.
Yes, this is true. But if you do a little more research you'll find that it's basically groundless. And the last I read of it, the charges were actually dropped, AFAIK... Many people have lawsuits brought against them at one point or another. Especially if they go against the grain. My dad, for example...
And, did you know vaccines cause AIDS?
This is one of the things that he says that I take great exception to. If he didn't make such ridiculous claims as this, people might respect him more. I wish he could see that... Also, FYI, I mentioned this already in the defense I wrote the other day.
And his use of multi-colored text on his site is very irritating.
You got that right! But at least he has the decency to have a consistent layout through the entire site, use a white background and a non-annoying font, and be consistent about his usage of blue and red bolded text.

I'm starting to doubt all this happy propaganda about Islam being a religion of peace. Heck, it's just as bad as Christianity. -- Dphitz
[ Parent ]

Don't trust one man's opinion (4.00 / 1) (#124)
by CaptainSuperBoy on Mon May 06, 2002 at 11:13:39 PM EST

You are not only trusting one man's opinion - you're saying that he knows more than anyone here could possibly know!

Some of your statements are wrong. I don't know if you are consciously lying, making up facts, or parroting back pseudo-science.

Cancer rates are not rising. Some specific cancer rates are rising, most are falling.
We don't know if autism rates are rising
A causal link between vaccines and autism has never been proven. All the anecdotes in the world can't go against decent science.

Sadly, many quacks such as Mercola see a market in parents of children with developmental disorders. Autism used to be blamed on parents. Now many people are placing the blame on vaccines, an equally ridiculous target. It must be a terrible thing to go through to watch a normally developing child suddenly regress, and it is easy to plant a seed in parents' heads blaming some environmental factor.

Your inaccurate statements reflect a sense of panic, that the whole world is going down the tubes. People have this conception that we are profoundly unhealthy, even as life expectancies climb and cancer survival rates rise. Why not worry about a real problem instead of chasing phantoms like evil vaccines and harmful sweeteners?

--
jimmysquid.com - I take pictures.
[ Parent ]

I hardly know what to say... (4.00 / 1) (#135)
by broken77 on Tue May 07, 2002 at 02:39:05 PM EST

You are not only trusting one man's opinion - you're saying that he knows more than anyone here could possibly know
  1. I am NOT blindly trusting his opinion. You're merely assuming that I am. I wrote this in defense of the man, who I feel is being unfairly bashed and labeled as a quack. But I'll say something else on this matter. Read this comment I just wrote. Please realize that he is grabbing this information from other sources. Look at the articles that refer to actual scientific studies. There are gobs of references to other sources, journals, studies, etc. I am relying on one man to provide me with information in the medical world, just like I rely on slashdot to find me information about what's going on in the tech world. I don't hold slashdot responsible for the accuracy of the information in the articles that they link to. But having said that... Yes, I trust his medical opinion more than I trust, oh, say, yours.
  2. Anyone who commented on this article, who has a medical degree, please stand up and raise your hand.
Cancer rates are not rising. Some specific cancer rates are rising, most are falling.
I should have been more clear. I didn't think it was necessary, but I suppose so. Look at the chart you just linked to. Cancer rates have been steadily rising since 1973. It looks like there was a slight decrease between '98 and '99. First off, that slight decrease could be attributed to a variety of factors. Second, I don't care about that! My point was, that over time, especially in this past century, our health is getting steadily worse. And there has got to be a shared cause for that. In my eyes, it's environment, health, or both. And I would submit to you that it's most likely health. There are a number of reasons I think this, but I don't care to spend all day explaining!
We don't know if autism rates are rising
As long as you realize that Dr. Mercola is not the only one suggesting this, I'll leave this one alone.
A causal link between vaccines and autism has never been proven. All the anecdotes in the world can't go against decent science.
I'll give you that one. But that doesn't mean we have to write off the possibility. But I also want you to be aware, you're getting this information from the "National Immunization Program". They are going to give whatever information they need to in order to convince you that vaccines are the right thing to do. They make money on doing just that. And, if you want to prove Microsoft is innocent, why not simply read their "freedom to innovate" piece for all the facts, and find out that they really have done nothing wrong? Why would only get your information from the organization that is trying to defend itself from criticism and inquiry? Yes, you should get their take on the situation, but take it with a grain of salt for God's sake!
Sadly, many quacks such as Mercola see a market in parents of children with developmental disorders. Autism used to be blamed on parents. Now many people are placing the blame on vaccines, an equally ridiculous target. It must be a terrible thing to go through to watch a normally developing child suddenly regress, and it is easy to plant a seed in parents' heads blaming some environmental factor.
Time will tell, right? I still don't believe you have the right to call the man a quack at this point. As long as you do, I can't take you seriously. Just because you disagree, doesn't make the other person an idiot. Radical ideas have always been challenged with major opposition. Yes, David Koresh had radical ideas too, I'm aware of that line of reasoning. So don't bother pointing it out to me.
Your inaccurate statements reflect a sense of panic, that the whole world is going down the tubes.
This is what bothers me the most. What inaccurate statements? What, about cancer and autism? Sorry, but that is only a small part of my entire post. You're being pedantic, and picking at a couple of small things, instead of looking at my thesis as a whole. I think I did a decent job of clearing that up just now (above).

A sense of panic? I'm not the least bit panicky. But I do have an overly developed drive to seek the truth. I'm a very curious and inquisitive person, constantly searching for answers. And I believe that a large part of the time, I am being lied to by my government, their related organizations, and big corporations who want to sell me something. I think I have plenty of reasons to believe this way. Some anecdotal, some proven, some irrational maybe, but some blatantly obvious yet still covered up. So I tend to lean towards sources that aren't affiliated with any of these things. Can you not understand that?

People have this conception that we are profoundly unhealthy, even as life expectancies climb and cancer survival rates rise.
Even though cancer rates have risen steadily in the last 30 years only to drop slightly recently (see above)? Even though obesity rates have skyrocketed in the past few decades? Even though diabetes is skyrocketing? Even though almost nobody (including children, and myself) gets enough exercise? Frankly, I don't see where you're coming from with this. The reason we live longer is because we have the technology to do so. It doesn't mean we're any more healthy for the years that we're on this earth.
Why not worry about a real problem instead of chasing phantoms like evil vaccines and harmful sweeteners?
First of all, I'm not chasing the evil vaccine phantom. That's someone else's battle. I don't believe I gave you any indication that this was a major issue for me. It is a potential issue, but I have yet to show you my thoughts on this. Stop projecting onto me. Second, while I'm hardly chasing the evil sweetener "phantom", I wouldn't use that term at all. It's not a phantom, it is reality. Read some information about NutraSweet and tell me what you think. Monsanto is poisoning us for profit. Why shouldn't I want to fight this? If they dumped toxic waste into the river near your house, wouldn't you want to fight them? What if they dumped it into the river somewhere in Arkansas (assuming you don't live in Arkansas), would you still want to fight it? Now, transposing that analogy onto the current situation, if they are poisoning the people of this country in general, wouldn't you want to fight it? Next part of the reasoning process... If some other mega-corporation comes out with a chemically created sweetener (frankly, I don't care that it was once just plain sugar), wouldn't you question it, knowing that if it was unhealthy, that wouldn't stop them from marketing and selling it?

I think that now, you've not only unfairly judged and labeled Dr. Mercola, but also myself. That upsets me a bit. But whatever, I can't force you to respect my views.

I'm starting to doubt all this happy propaganda about Islam being a religion of peace. Heck, it's just as bad as Christianity. -- Dphitz
[ Parent ]

Forgot (none / 0) (#125)
by CaptainSuperBoy on Mon May 06, 2002 at 11:26:39 PM EST

And to think I forgot this one!

Note: The Japanese Pokemon seizure thing has been debunked.

--
jimmysquid.com - I take pictures.
[ Parent ]

snopes sucks (5.00 / 1) (#130)
by christfokkar on Tue May 07, 2002 at 01:30:59 PM EST

Later, researchers who studied the Pokemon phenomenon reported in the Southern Medical Journal that only a small fraction of the 618 children treated were actually diagnosed with photosensitive epilepsy.

Oh yeah?  I read the article, it also contains these gems:

Hayashi et al...found 12 affected children with no history of epilepsy.  Eleven of the 12 had photosensitivity or epileptic abnormalities on electroencephalogram.

Tobimatsu et al studied 4 children who had been affected by Pokemon and diagnosed photosensitive epilepsy in all 4.

Really, a small fraction?

The article concludes, rather tepidly, that the Pokemon seizures were "mass hysteria."  Mass hysteria is a real thing, but it tends to happen in places where people are in the same room as each other.  The researchers conveniently ignore this fact.  More accurately, they fail to differentiate their discussion of the original 618 from the ones who came later (and largely reported only minor symptoms).

The researchers' main thrust is that the reported symptoms were not consistent with grand mal seizure.  However, they failed to point out that the symptoms (blurred vision, vomiting) are precisely consistent with photosensitive epilepsy.

The article also says this:

Indeed, the incidence of photosensitive epilepsy is estimated at 1 in 4000.  Such an incidence cannot explain the number of children affected.

Actually, it explains the incidence precisely.

God, I wish somebody would debunk Snopes already.  Oh wait, I just did.

Myth:  Snopes is a reliable source of factual information

Status:  FALSE


[ Parent ]

I think I just discovered something (none / 0) (#131)
by broken77 on Tue May 07, 2002 at 01:49:24 PM EST

Do you realize the format of his web site? Generally, what he does, is comb medical and alternative journals, magazines and web sites, and releases the information to his list subscribers once or twice a week. Basically, condenses what he considers to be interesting material into a compressed format. Many email lists do similar things on a variety of subjects. Think of him as a slashdot for medicine and alternative medicine. He reposts the article, and generally makes a short (or long) comment about the article at the end. Sometimes he adds emphasis to the articles with bold blue or red text. Did you realize this? That the article you just linked to wasn't written by him, but someone else, and he just thought it was something his readers would at least want to read about? And, let's look at his comment regarding the article:
Yet another reason to severely restrict the television viewing of you and your children. I really think it is healthy to keep it below five hours per week. We don't need to watch TV every day. Give yourself a break from it and you might be surprised at what you will be able to achieve. It will create more margin in your life in which you can invest in relationships, a far better investment than TV.
Gee, that sure is horrible advice, eh? He should be crucified for giving us such advice.

I'm starting to doubt all this happy propaganda about Islam being a religion of peace. Heck, it's just as bad as Christianity. -- Dphitz
[ Parent ]

Tastes the same? (none / 0) (#119)
by scruffyMark on Mon May 06, 2002 at 07:33:21 PM EST

If you can't tell the difference between sugar and Splenda, then you deserve the Splenda.

On Demagoguery and Fear of Synthetic Foods | 148 comments (133 topical, 15 editorial, 0 hidden)
Display: Sort:

kuro5hin.org

[XML]
All trademarks and copyrights on this page are owned by their respective companies. The Rest 2000 - Present Kuro5hin.org Inc.
See our legalese page for copyright policies. Please also read our Privacy Policy.
Kuro5hin.org is powered by Free Software, including Apache, Perl, and Linux, The Scoop Engine that runs this site is freely available, under the terms of the GPL.
Need some help? Email help@kuro5hin.org.
My heart's the long stairs.

Powered by Scoop create account | help/FAQ | mission | links | search | IRC | YOU choose the stories!