More about carbohydrates for a healthy brain

Are carbohydrates important?

Absolutely. You can never go without carbohydrates. Just as your brain and body needs fats, proteins, vitamins and certain minerals, so too do you need carbohydrates. No living thing can live without carbohydrates. Carbohydrates (including the natural sugars found in fruits and cane sugar) are important in creating a quicker source of energy for the brain and body. Without energy and your organs can quite literally collapse, your muscles cannot perform work, and your brain will not be able to fire electrical signals properly. Energy is an essential part of life. Yet at the same time you should not rely on carbohydrates as the only food type to eat. Otherwise, you will not feel completely full and you will not have all the other critical nutrients your brain and body needs, such as vitamins, minerals, and some protein. Should you end up being completely reliant on carbohydrates, you will likely find yourself having a constant urge to eat more food. This is the body's way of saying to you that it needs other nutrients, not just some carbohydrates. But if you make the unfortunate mistake of satisfying this hunger by eating more carbohydrates, you will get fatter as the huge amounts of sugar entering your bloodstream from this type of food must be processed, and if it cannot be removed from the body quickly enough, must be stored as pure fat in the body (also known as triglycerides).

If this carbohydrates-to-fat biochemical process continues, diabetes and heart disease will occur despite whatever regular exercise you may do.

Be careful about going on a so-called sugar-free diet. While the foods supplied in the diet may contain no sugar, a sugar-free diet can still contain lots of rice or pasta. A reduction in sugar is important, but so too are all forms of digestible carbohydrates (e.g., rice and pasta). The only exception to this are those indigestible carbohydrates called fibre.

How do I lose weight?

Now that you know the secret to gaining weight for most people (either eating more protein and doing lots of strength work to build up muscles, or consuming too much carbohydrates), you have the power to control your weight. That's right. If other people are giving you subtle hints that you are overweight (e.g., struggling to get into an elevator with you as the only person in it), we have good news for you! There is a way for you to lose weight. The critical thing to remember is that because carbohydrates are not fats (sugar is also a form of carbohydrate and will often be classified as a non-fat) does not mean you will not get fat. The body will convert carbohydrates into sugar and if there is too much sugar in your blood, the body will convert this sugar to fat and store it underneath the skin in various parts of your body. This is how you gain weight. If you remember this simple fact and do the opposite to eating more and more carbohydrates, such as eating more vegetables, some protein, a little fruit, and extra fibre, you can do something about reducing your weight by a considerable margin. (5)

Similarly, if you exercise less of the strength-based activities and instead do more swimming and running for a stronger cardiovascular system, as well as eat appropriately covering all the essential food groups but never focusing on one type, you will lose weight.

As fitness experts agree, muscle is heavier than fat.

Don't be fooled by all the diet guides and gurus that say you must eat less fat, meat and diary products and consume more supposedly "fat-free" bread, rice, and pasta for a healthy life. The idea was first promulgated by Ancel Keys in the 1950s and supported by the US government through hundreds of millions of dollars in research trying to prove the merit of this dietary approach.

The truth is, there is little scientific evidence to support this "low-fat and high carbohydrate in your food" doctrine. In fact, the likelihood of you losing weight on this diet is about the same as finding a hot-looking genie coming out of a bottle and granting you the three magical wishes you have always wanted — one of which would obviously be to lose weight, right? Don't be fooled. You are better off eating plenty of fibre (a non-digestible carbohydrate and hence cannot be converted into sugar) and less of the digestible carbohydrates from pasta and rice. This should be combined with quality fruits and vegetables (usually comes with plenty of fibre, but not too much of the fruit as this contain sugars known as fructose, and avoid sugars extracted and refined from vegetables such as corn to create corn syrup). Furthermore, you should eat some quality plant and fish fats (not too much and especially not those at the top of the food chain as these will accumulate the most contaminants) for some fat-soluble vitamins (e.g., virgin cold-pressed olive oil and some of the other plant-based oils and nuts are a good source), and adequate proteins to repair and build the body from certain plant-based foods (such as beans, soy products, quinoa etc,) or fresh clean and young fish (or other reasonable proteins if fish is too expensive and/or not readily available, such as quality low-fat A2 milk from certain types of Jersey cows, or just go for a biodynamic and organic milk or yoghurt variety).

Remember, protein and fibre will give you that feeling of fullness in the stomach so you won't eat a lot of food. And that means one thing, less calories going into the body.

Do not under any circumstances completely eliminate all carbohydrates from your food. You need energy to survive. Always eat some carbohydrates as a valuable source of energy. Only eat more carbohydrates (e.g. wholemeal breads, pasta etc.) if you are highly active (e.g. running a marathon or something). For everyone else, less carbohydrates is essential. (1)

There is one more thing to consider when losing weight: do not forget the psychological component. Be positive in your thinking and never compare yourself to other people. If you do, you will not make the effort to lose weight (or you will constantly be striving to lose weight because you think you are always fat when in reality you are not) because you will create a self-defeatist and destructive view that you can never be as good as other people. Stop this type of thinking right now! Believe with all your heart and mind that you are the best person you were able to be now, but see yourself as becoming a better person in the future. To see how you are improving yourself, create a plan, stick to it, and make sure it is a realistic and achievable plan. Record on the plan moments where you can observe yourself at different times and compare them to what you look like today. Take a long-term view to sticking to the plan and you will see the improvements from your past. You are definitely heading in the right direction. Beyond that, eat better foods, exercise a little more (and make sure it is enjoyable), make yourself look good, learn a new skill etc. Just try a variety of different things and see the kind of improvements you will make in your life. If you should make any comparisons, do it on yourself by looking back in your own life and see how much you have improved. Do not ever worry what other people think or say and what they are doing. This is your life and do what it is you believe will make a difference for you and other people.

By changing the way you think about yourself, you will soon realise you will not have a weight problem. It is all in the mind. Be positive and choose the right foods and some exercise and people will notice improvements in the person you are.

16 February 2005

You may be surprised to hear that many of the processed foods are classified as healthy, especially the ones you find in the supermarkets. For example, you might think a can of tomato soup will have less sugar than a chocolate bar. Just because tomato is used in healthy low calorie foods, does not mean that it is. It depends on what else gets added to the tomatoes. The truth is, when it comes to tomato soups from the food manufacturers, they can have as much if not more sugar than a piece of sweet pastry. You must look at the ingredients list and check the amount of carbohydrates the food contains. The lower the number for a given standard serving or 100 grams, the better. Otherwise, if sugar appears early (or high up) in the list, it usually means a fair bit of sugar has been whacked on. Certainly 30 grams of sugar per 100g of food is too high. Always look at the total amount of carbohydrates. A high quantity of carbohydrates will often indicate lots of sugar or other digestible carbohydrates. And if you must have some sugar, try the more natural forms in low concentrations from naturally dried and some fresh fruits (grapefruit juice is better than, say, mango juice).

Of course, when eating out, it is usually difficult to see the ingredients list used to make the food you see on your dinner plate. How much sugar has been added to your prepared meal? In this situation, your best guide are your tastebuds. While not all sweet-tasting foods are necessarily high in sugars, on the whole, and especially if the food you are eating should have basic ingredients with little or know sugar (such as breads), they should taste savoury. Certainly an ordinary bread that isn''t a hot-cross bun or croissant should ever taste sweet. For example if you visit Soul Origin food shops and try a Benedict roll for breakfast thinking it might be healthy, think again. Apart for the heavy application of mayonnaise sauce (high in calories), the bread itself is unusually sweeter than it should be. It is not marked as a sweet bread, but for some reason it has a subtle sweet taste. Well, that is wrong. Used by a number of the cheaper food chains, such as McDonalds, again sugar (and a bit of salt) added to bread is designed to make you want to eat more of the bread next time. It all adds to the overall taste and enjoyment of eating the food.

Take great care what you eat food prepared by other people and food manufacturers. You may never know the exact sugar amounts you will be eating.

Is fruit good for me?

Yes and no. You definitely need to eat some fruits to get the vitamins and minerals your body needs. At the same time, you must be careful in the amount of natural sugars from fruit you may consume. There is a reason why fruits are generally sweeter. It is about getting animals to consume the fleshy part and move the seed to another location, then hopefully drop the seed on the ground. It is a reward mechanism developed by plants to encourage animals to play their part in helping plants to propagate more plants elsewhere. However, the assumption here is that animals will exercise enough to burn off the extra calories (e.g, doing a lot of flying around in the air, as well as escaping predators) after they have eaten enough fruits. Humans, on the other hand, have no substantial predator, and many prefer to lounge around in front of a TV, smartphone and/or games machine. Eating too much fruit in this situation can potentially be a problem.

Because of this sweetness in fruit, drinking highly concentrated and pure forms of fruit juices can be a heavy source of high calories for your body.

Please keep in mind that natural fruit sugars are still highly digestible and absorbed by the body, especially fructose. On a continuum of energy absorption rates, refined sugars are the most easily digestible carbohydrates you can consume. Natural fruit sugars are chemically a little different. They take a little longer to absorb into the body. Combine this with the extra vitamins, minerals and naturally filtered water available in the fruits and you have a much better chance of burning off this energy through the various metabolic processes taking place in your body. But would, say, eating too many mangoes give you too much sugar and so make you fat? It depends on what else by way of nutrients are in the mangoes to help you use up the sugar more quickly in the body, what else you eat with the mangoes (do you add cream or is it part of a healthy salad?), and whether you exercise. Apart from the extra and beneficial nutrients, if you don't exercise and you consume lots of sugary and digestible carbohydrate foods with your mangoes, you will get a bigger hit of sugar into your blood stream than just having a mango or three. But if all you are eating is say a mango and perhaps a wholemeal sandwich and plenty of fresh, clean water for the day, you won't get fat. It doesn't matter how large the mango is (let's face it, you won't find a watermelon-sized mango in the supermarket). One or two will not kill you. Just look at the rest of the food you consume for the day and ask yourself how sweet this is going to taste and, therefore, how much extra sugar you will likely get. If you are not sure, go for foods with a low GI and with no added sugar on the ingredients list.

NOTE 1: There is news of food manufacturers adding large amounts of fructose to their foods to increase the taste and appetite (i.e. make you consume more and buy more of the same food) while giving the impression to the comsumer that fructose coming from fruits is presumably a healthier alternative than refined sugars. It is a profit-motivated choice by the manufacturers. Like ordinary sugar, you should avoid consuming too much fructose. Fructose is essentially sugars that get converted into fat. Wherever you see on the ingredients list of any food type of terms like sucrose, fructose, syrup, sugar and so on, you'll know extra sugar has been added. Try to reduce your intake of natural or man-made sugar to a minimum and exercise to burn off excess energy if you think your intake of sugars is higher than expected.

NOTE 2: Now that more consumers are becoming savvy in the way foods branded as "fat-free" can actually make you fat thanks to the generous additions of hidden sugar, food manufacturers are trying to get ahead of the game with claims in their advertising that there is no sugar but later mention how it contains natural sweeteners, as if sugar is not a natural sweetener in itself. Fructose is a natural sweetener. Yeah right. Where do you think the sweetness is coming from, sunshine? People's imaginations? Or the fructose from fruits? Or is it corn syrup? They are all still sugar no matter what you call it. The term "natural" does not necessarily make it any healthier unless there are clear health benefits to the individual consuming the food. Getting fat by consuming these natural sweeteners is definitely not one of them.

Can weight loss pills help?

New scientific research into fat-busting pills are showing some promise. In particular, one type of pill being developed can alter the way fat metabolises in the body. The Baker Heart Research Institute in Melbourne is testing a new drug to mimic the effects of exercise by increasing a specific chemical in the blood produced during exercise. This chemical has the ability to increase fat metabolism creating the effect we understand as "fat burning". More details can be found at Professor Mark Febbraio is believed to be heading the study at the institute at time of writing this article.

No matter how effective the pills might be in reducing fat and lowering your weight, you still have to do some exercises. Science might find ways to wither away your fat and reduce your weight, but the world will not benefit from people who are too tired and skinny to do anything useful. You have to move around, and sometimes with a little strength (i.e., kick some ass as they say). Therefore, muscles need to develop and grow to a certain and reasonable extent (well, not hugely like you might see in those body builders, but learn to be modest and reasonable). You need some muscles to help your body cope with any minor stresses of life (like someone giving you a push). Otherwise your body will look like one of those very skinny aliens in those genuine UFO reports looking like they would have difficulties coping with a variety of different gravity environments on different life-bearing worlds (unless the aliens are happy to keep on floating around in a beam of light all their lives, as are often seen underneath their UFOs by witnesses!).

Beyond that, any form of pill-popping solution will have to be based on natural chemicals found in plants. In which case, the term pills may be unnecessary, as the day will come when popping a piece of genetically-modified (and properly tested) fruit into our bodies will be the way to deliver virtually all the medicine and nutrients we ever need for a healthy and long life.

In fact, food is essentially a pill in its own right. So why would you need to consume a pill manufactured in a laboratory?

NOTE 1: It is claimed by some dieticians that people who can't use up the energy produced from eating large amounts of digestible carbohydrates may be described as having the "dinosaur genes". As for those people who can exercise and eat less quantities of carbohydrates, any loss in weight may be attributed to the so-called "mammilian genes". So does this mean that if you have the "dinosaur genes", there is nothing you can do to reduce weight? Are we dictated entirely by our genes, or can the environment play a role as well? The truth is, you are not always dictated by your genes. What you do now will eventually influence your genes and change future generations through your children in how they can control their weight. You think you have got the "dinosaur genes"? You can have the "mammilian genes" by working at it and slowly changing your genes through microevolution. It is up to you to make the effort. It might take longer to burn off the energy, but that will change over time. Having these genes should not be seen as an excuse to not exercise and continue eating excessive amounts of digestible carbohydrates. Eat the proper foods now and exercise (even just a little bit of extra exercise, such as walking that extra kilometre) and take a longer term view and the results will speak for themselves, not just for you in a few years time, but also for your children who come into the world already benefiting from your microevolutions.

NOTE 2: There is believed to be approximately one in ten people (notably women) unable to control their weight due to a hormone imbalance in their bodies (e.g. Polycystic Ovary Syndrome or PCOS). If you are eating vegetables, fruit and protein and very little fat and digestible carbohydrates and you are doing plenty of exercises and still can't lose weight, consult your local doctor. He/she may be able to check for additional things such as imbalances in hormone levels, cyst growths on the ovaries, the amount of insulin and sugar levels in the blood (e.g. diabetes) etc.

NOTE 3: If the reason for your excessive or lack of weight is due to cancer and regular checkups with your doctor show there is no remission despite eating lots of fresh and organic fruit and vegetables and trying other forms of natural therapies, then more powerful treatments such as a dose of the new EBC-48 cancer fighting drug directly into the tumour may help. Otherwise radiation (radio or the more harmful gamma ray) therapy may be necessary. If in the end the doctor cannot help, the option of euthanasia should be seriously considered in any responsible and compassionate society as the best and painless way of moving on to the next life.

Plums — the great new diet pill of the future?

A freakish (and scientifically non-reproducible) event in the aligning of certain genes when establishing a new plum variety resistant to the bacterial spot disease by scientists at the University of Southern Queensland has created a new genetically-modified fruit containing unusually high levels of anthocyanin — a powerful antioxidant chemical. It is in the anthocyanin side of things where the excitement lies for the scientists. Because this specific chemical responsible for the plum's unusually dark colour has achieved the legendary status of a "superfood" (and is now seen by more and more scientists as a medicine) with the potential for the Queensland government to earn millions of dollars in royalties from the sale of this new tree variety.

Leaving aside the potential profits, what makes this particular plum variety special to the scientists, and potentially the human race?

Apparently this plum, named the Queen Garnet, was fed to obese rats to see what would happen when the chemical was induced through the food at a much higher level as naturally provided in the plums (since some reports coming from researchers in South America were suggesting some health benefits from the chemical). After a short period of time, scientists noticed how the chemical had caused the little critters to return to their normal weight range. Or was it the sorbitol, the active ingredient in plums that give them their legendary laxative effects, that was helping to reduce weight? At the moment, scientists believe it is anthocyanin. At any rate, the time frame for this extraordinary outcome in weight loss was within a couple of weeks without any change in their diet (and presumably eating the same quantities too). The amount of plums given to the rats in this experiment would be equivalent to about one to three plums per human, depending on rate of metabolism, if a similar trial with humans was established today.

The diet used on the rats had initially made the rats obese. It contained high amounts of carbohydrates (including fructose) and fats. As soon as scientists added the plum juice, not only was weight loss possible, but highly probable after the scientists observed the remarkable results. As Professor Lindsay Brown from the University of Southern Queensland in Toowoomba said, the unhealthy diet created all the familiar diseases of "...high blood pressure, a fatty liver, poor heart function and arthritis" commonly found in obese humans. However, adding plum juice from this new genetically-modified plum variety virtually eliminated the obesity problems for the rats. As Professor Brown said:

"We gave plum juice to obese rats with the same health problems humans have from being overweight. They had high blood pressure, a fatty liver, poor heart function and arthritis. When we put the plum juice in their food it all came back to normal without changing their diet."

In fact, the experiment was repeated several times with some slight variations just to see what would happen. Interestingly, the results would still be reproduced reliably. It means we can safely say that whatever chemical(s) in the new plum variety are doing, there is a high probability that humans will also benefit from weight loss simply by eating these plums — the world's most natural and potent weight loss pill! This is exactly what humans need right now: a little sorbitol on the side for a good biological clean out, and a bit of anthocyanin for a good tune up of our bodies for greater health, and so save the government billions of dollars in the health budget. In fact, it would probably be cheaper for the government to supply each family with one free plum tree of this variety to grow in their backyards rather than trying to look after people in hospitals once they have the diseases. What more could we ask of scientists and mother nature?

While no clinical study has been made with humans to determine if the same results occur (it is about time it did, and certainly it is an area we could ask scientists to do further work), scientists are heralding the discovery as the potential to reduce "lifestyle diseases" for humans in a natural and low cost way. No more artificial pills from pharmaceutical companies to combat obesity. The power to improve health at a lower cost now lies in the hands of consumers.

There is perhaps only one drawback in this method. It has to do with how long it will take to achieve the results. Rats have a shorter lifespan and show biological results quicker than in humans. So it is likely returning to normal health for humans (with no signs of diabetes, obesity etc.) using this plum variety may take up to 2 years. Add some exercise to the mix and it is possible to reduce the timeframe needed significantly.

Assuming anthocyanin is the sole cause of this weight loss (presumably no such benefit has been seen in other plum varieties), this chemical is actually a rather common pigment found in various fruits. As Queensland Department of Primary Industry scientist Kent Fanning put it, anthocyanin is said to be responsible for "the blue of blueberries, the red of strawberries, the red of raspberries" (and anything with purple in the vegetable, as can be found in sweet potatoes, cabbage, and a new variety of purple-coloured carrots). For some time the chemical had come under increasing scrutiny by a growing number of scientists because of its proclaimed health benefits where it seems it can reduce inflammation and improve the function of the gastrointestinal system together with all the subsequent benefits to the rest of the body, especially in terms of improving liver and pancreas function, reducing cardiovascular disease, and eliminating practically every other known lifestyle disease caused by our fatty and sugary diets. As Fanning put it in his own words:

"The potential benefits relate to protection against some forms of cardiovascular disease, improved liver function and improved pancreas function [and] what we call lifestyle diseases [that] are prevalent in the Western society."

Furthermore, the incredibly high levels of antioxidant from one of these plums is enough for one day's intake.

Now, for the first time, the new plum has raised the levels of this anthocyanin chemical to a point where scientists can clearly observe improvements to the health of rats, and hopefully for humans once the tree is grown and sold to the public and clinical human trials get underway.

Further details are available from this document released by the University of Southern Queensland, and a video to support the discovery.

How to use prunes to lose weight

Until the new plum variety reaches local shops, if you want to lose weight right now, consider consuming adequate quantities of dried prunes and a glass of water roughly 30 minutes after your dinner, especially if you have eaten food containing high levels of digestible carbohydrates and/or too much fats. Combined with some exercises and the right diet on other days (e.g. plant-based high-protein foods), you can reduce the time your body digests and absorbs the sugar from digestible carbohydrates by moving the food through the body more quickly. The best and most natural way of doing this is by consuming prunes (or try pure beetroot juice or something similar). Because throughout evolution our foods had varying levels of nutrient quality and sometimes we would go without food during periods of famine. As a result, our intestines have become long to help extract every possible nutrient and other energy sources from the foods. But now that our foods are of a much higher quality, we don't need a long intestinal tract. Together with the extra sugars and other digestible carbohydrates being put into our foods by food manufacturers, we need even less of our intestinal tracts. Therefore, the best way to reduce our sugar intake when we are overweight is to consume fruits such as prunes to force the rest of our food to pass through the body quickly with less time to absorb all the energy. Do it at night and by morning you can pass out the food, leaving your body extremely clean and fresh for the rest of the day. However, never apply this method all the time or if you are already thin and within the healthy weight range no matter who in the beauty or fashion industry may say otherwise. Too much of this technique can result in the loss of essential nutrients from your food and this will affect the healthy functioning of your brain and body. For the healthiest foods, always allow the most time for the body to absorb all the nutrients it can get. For less healthy foods (especially too many desserts from your friends), try this body cleansing technique and get back to a healthier diet.

Avoid artificial sweeteners

As the name implies, artificial sweeteners are man-made substances developed in a laboratory by chemists during the 20th century to act as an effective replacement of natural sugars, giving the same level of sweetness using much less of the artificial version. It is mainly in the quantity of these artificial substances, being much less than for a similar amount of the natural sugar version, which makes it possible to consume less calories than if you took the natural form in a quantity that achieves the same sweetness level.

The question is, should you consume artificial sweeteners as a complete replacement of natural sugars knowing the calorie intake is less?

The answer will depend on the way you think and what your consuming habits are like. If are thinking the artificial sweeteners will reduce your calorie intake, this is true except it could also mean that you might be tempted to eat any amount of sweet foods. Not a good idea. Should you fall into the trap of thinking, "I can have an extra 1 or 3 slices of that cake and my waistline will be okay" and actually go ahead and do it regularly and become accustomed to eating more sugary foods, you will not benefit from consuming less calories. Quite the contrary. Eating more sugary foods may well reach the same calorie intake as you did when you were kind of more in control and able to eat just one slice of the cake.

However, even if you are able to control your desire to eat sugary foods without changing your eating habits, there is another problem you need to be aware of. Let us explain what we mean by this.

While these chemicals do help to reduce calorie intake during the moment of eating a sweet food, if you consume on a regular basis these artificial chemicals (even if you eat small portions and only 1 piece of cake for dessert), your body will, over time, get confused about what's happening with your food resulting in changes to your rate of metabolism as well as changes in the type of signals sent to your brain. Eventually the brain realises the body is not getting enough calories and soon it will make you think that you have to eat more food because the body is not getting enough energy it needs. Just like not having enough nutrients by way of vitamins and minerals, as well as protein, a lack of energy can also cause the body to think it must consume more food. The brain will create the impression that you are fasting for a period of time and force you at some point to eat more food. But because the body does not care where this food must come from, this may cause you to eat more artificially sweetened foods. Or you may inadvertently consume other forms of carbohydrates such as rice, bread and pasta resulting in extra sugar entering your bloodstream and eventually get converted to fat. Then the idea of losing weight through artificial sweeteners is counteracted by your action to eat more food.

We recommend that you keep it simple and choose the natural forms of foods covering all the critical food types to give the body everything it needs. And if you enjoy eating sweet foods, learn to control your desire to consume lots of food, especially of the sugary and high carbohydrate variety. When you do have to eat (we all do it and should be enjoyable or pleasant), take a balance by consuming smaller amounts of a more well-rounded, balanced and nutritionally-dense diet covering all the essential nutrients you will need. If you are feeling a little more peckish, add more fibre in your diet.

Finally, you should drink plenty of the cleanest and freshest water you can find. Do not go for the water containing artificial sweeteners commonly found in Sports drinks. The word "Sports" is a marketing term used by various food manufacturers to make people think it equates to healthiness and a fit body. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Unless you are an athlete running extremely low on energy (in which case go for the drinks that contain natural sugars, not the artificial variety), or certain minerals, vitamins and other nutrients that may come with the drinks, avoid these sorts of energy drinks altogether. You really don't need them. The presence of these fancy, often brightly-coloured liquid products (ask yourself what else is artificial, such as the colourings and flavourings that get added to the drinks) is just part of the food manufacturers' marketing strategy to make more profit from your unhealthiness, lack of control, curiosity to try something that looks brightly coloured, and willingness to find things that pleases you all the time (i.e., eating sweet things). Defy this trend. You choose the quality of life and health you want. Focus on savoury foods of the healthy kind. You are the one in control of your life, not the food manufacturers. Choose the right foods that truly helps your body and brain.

In the end, you should not need to consume artificial sweeteners.

Not sure if certain foods contained in a can or packet sold by a food manufacturer contains artificial sweeteners? Check the list of ingredients (get a magnifying glass if you have to) and look for one with the following chemical name:

There are other artificial sweeteners out there. The above list is not exhaustive, but it shows the most common ones in use by food manufacturers.

An important strategy to reducing weight: substitute sugary foods with something healthy, savoury and with more fibre that you enjoy just as much, if not more

This is the key. Exercise a little, but at the end of the day, find the foods that are more savoury, healthier, and you can enjoy eating. The choices you make now will have drastic effects in terms of improving your health and reducing weight and keep it in the healthy range for longer sooner rather than later.

As an example, we all know how awesome the taste of condensed milk is (God bless the genius who invented it). Do not be surprised to find some people happy to literally drink half a small can of condensed milk in one sitting just to get the taste (and there is only so much of it you can consume before you decide this is way too much). Unfortunately, we all know how bad condensed milk is. The hit of sugar is so massive that you will get fat if you repeat the process a couple of more times. So how do you substitute the flavour of condensed milk with a healthy alternative? Firstly you have to try a variety of different foods to see what is healthier and could be used to substitute your cravings for condensed milk. Eventually you may hit upon the right substitute. And secondly when you do try different foods, you may discover new taste sensations from healthy foods that may well sway you away from condensed milk.

If you want to know a healthy substitute for condensed milk that has the remarkably similar taste without the tons of sugar, then try drinking Babushka's Probiotic Kefir Yoghurt made with coconut milk. It does have a small amount of "natural sweetener" called Erythritol, but nothing like the large quantities of sugar you find in condensed milk. The main ingredients are milk powder, cocunut milk, inulin (citrus fibre), whey protein, and then the sugar. And the rest is the Kefir cultures containing all the good bacteria your body needs. And what about the taste? You would swear the taste is exactly like condensed milk. For a healthy alternative having virtually the same flavour as condensed milk, it is amazing how a healthy alternative can make such a massive difference to your body.

So go ahead and try different foods, and see which ones you like. Focus on the healthier foods and you will benefit from your choices in ways you have not expected in your life.