Archive for March, 2013

Are diet drinks better for weight loss?

Are diet drinks better for weight loss?  Are they free of calories but not free of consequences?

A decade ago when sugary beverages were labelled as a culprit for expanding waist lines the discovery that you could artificially sweeten beverages without sugar sounded too good to be true. Well we should have known all along – it was! Sound similar to the ‘low fat paradigm of the 1980’s’? The influential food and beverage producers were on the band wagon immediately.  Consumers demanded an alternative, so the producers came up with one. Take out that harmful, addictive substance that humans are wired to love (sugar) and replace it with a variety, of what some would argue are more potent, unpronounceable and minimally tested substitutes.

Now almost every soft drink on the market comes with a slimmer partner commonly labelled as the ‘healthy alternative’ because of its absence of sugar. How this has come to be is only another one of the enigmatic fallacies that exist in the world of nutrition.

Whilst many nutritionists will defiantly repeat that there is a ‘lack of any substantial evidence’ for the harmful effects of consuming diet drinks, many would argue otherwise.  Clearly the health of the population hasn’t improved since the introduction of diet drinks, so who are we kidding?

The food manufacturers will defend that their products are safe until there is a black and white (almost impossible to achieve) causal link between diet drinks and illness or a population of sick, fat and unhappy people,  realise that this isn’t the wonder solution for weight loss or improved health.

A common sense approach would intuitively tell you that a bottle of carbonated water, caramel colour, aspartame, phosphoric acid, potassium citrate, natural flavours, citric acid, and caffeine (aka Diet Coke) is probably more taxing for your body to deal with than a glass of that wonderful substance that flows freely from the tap (click here to learn how to make tap water taste great). Of course many people are drinking these substances promoted as the ‘healthy alternative’ to the sugary ‘diabesity’ causing soft drinks in the hope that this would help them fast track their weight loss goals. However, more evidence is appearing to show that perhaps this ‘lite’ choice is having darker implications. Studies show that these so called benign diet drinks may be linked to weight gain, an increased risk of diabetes, cancer and strokes.

At first glance if may seem difficult to understand how something that is calorie free could be shown to cause weight gain in some individuals.  However, various explanations exist; one suggests that drinks or foods that provide sweetness, but not calories, may disrupt regulatory mechanisms and lead to a loss of control over appetite and cause overeating (1).  Newer animal research suggests that sweet taste receptors exist in the gut which could trigger altered metabolic responses as a result of diet drink consumption (2).  Whilst it was thought that the development of calorie free drinks would reduce one’s overall energy intake, foods that are labelled as diet or calorie free may cause consumers to alter their behaviour and therefore overcompensate negating any previous energy deficit (3).  The results of the San Antonio Heart study in Texas which followed over 3,000 participants showed greater long term weight gain in those consuming artificially sweetened beverages.  Although this shows only an association it is a large study that raises an important question about whether diet drinks are combating what they were developed to do (1).

It is widely known that ubiquitous sugar sweetened beverages have contributed to the epidemic of Type 2 diabetes.  However, the conventional wisdom that diet drinks could help reverse this is being challenged.  A recent study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition that tracked over 60,000 women for 14 years investigated the association between sugar sweetened, artificially sweetened and fruit beverage consumption on Type 2 diabetes.  They found that women consuming the largest quantities of diet drinks were 81% more likely to get diabetes than non consumers.  Sceptics may argue that consumption of diet drinks is more common in those with Type 2 diabetes or with pre-diabetic conditions such as obesity.  However, further analysis was done to account for this with no difference in findings.  For those that think their modest consumption of diet drinks is relatively safe, they may want to think again.  Trends linking Type 2 diabetes risk to diet drink consumption were seen across all levels of intake, an important finding that should not be overlooked (4).

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) first gained approval to introduce artificial sweeteners based on short term research that showed there were no immediate detrimental health effects in animals.  New evidence from the most comprehensive long term study assessed exposure to the commonly used artificial sweetener aspartame and supports previous concerns about its safety. An increased risk of myelomas in men and increased risks of leukaemia in both men and women were reported in those that drank one or more diet drinks daily versus non consumers.  The author offers a possible explanation for these differences in that men may be more susceptible to the effects of aspartame because of differences in enzyme activity.  Whilst the potential for aspartame to be carcinogenic has been identified as plausible for many years it has been largely ignored due to the contradictory findings (5).

Other negative health consequences that may result from diet drink consumption have been shown in various studies, in particular on cardiovascular health. The Northern Manhattan Study examined the relationship between diet drink consumption and risk of stroke and vascular death in a multiethnic population with a follow up period of 10 years. Daily diet drink consumption in their study was associated with several vascular risk factors and daily consumption was linked to a 59% greater risk of experiencing a vascular event than non consumers (6).

The use of artificial sweeteners in food and beverages is becoming more widespread and many health professionals continue to recommend these diet or ‘lite’ products in the hope that this will help achieve weight loss or weight management outcomes. There is evidence of research to demonstrate that the artificial sweeteners used in diet beverages and foods are having unintended harmful consequences. How much more evidence needs to be found before we realise that these drinks may be free of calories, but not of consequences?

Written by BePure Nutritionist and Nutrition Researcher, Avril Turvey.


1)     Fowler, Sharon P, Williams, Ken, Resendez, Roy G, Hunt, Kelly J, Hazuda, Helen P et al. Fueling the Obesity Epidemic? Artificially Sweetened Beverage Use and Long-term Weight Gain. Obesity 2008;16:1894.

2)     Gardener C, Whlie Rosett J, GIdding S, Steffen L, Johnson RK et al.Nonnutritive Sweeteners: Current Use and Health Perspectives: A Scientific Statement from the American Heart Association and the American Diabetes Association. Diabetes Care 2012; 35: 1798.

3)     Mattes RD, Popkin BM. Nonnutritive sweetener consumption in humans: effects on appetite and food intake and their putative mechanisms. Am J Clin Nutr 2009; 89: 1-14.

4)     Fagherazzi G, Villier A, Sartorelli DS, Jalous M, Balkau B, Chapelo FC. Consumption of artificially and sugar-sweetened beverages and

incident type 2 diabetes in the Etude Epide´ miologique aupre` s des

femmes de la Mutuelle Ge´ ne´ rale de l’Education Nationale–European

Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition cohort. Am J Clin Nutr 2013;97:517–23.

5)     Scheinhammer ES, Bertrand KA, Birman BM, Sampson L, Willet WC, Feskanich D. Consumption of artificial sweetener– and sugar-containing soda and risk of lymphoma and leukemia in men and women. Am J Clin Nutr 2012;96:1419–28.

6)     Gardener H, Rundek T, Markert M, Wright CB, Elkind MSV and Sacco RL. Diet soft drink consumption is associated with an increased risk of vascular events in the Northern Manhattan Study. J Gen Intern Med 2012; 27: 1120-6.

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How to increase energy and speed up weight loss

In a recent blog I was explaining how weight gain is triggered by a switch at the cellular level which is a result of the cell not having enough energy… Click here to read this article…

In fact anything that damages the mitochondria, the cells energy factories, can trigger the switch that makes your body store fat rather than burn it….

This can include –

  • Micro nutrient deficiencies
  • Inflammation and oxidative stress
  • Food intolerances
  • Poor liver function
  • Leptin Resistance
  • Hormone dysfuction

The key to reversing the fat switch involves stopping the continued damage of the mitochondria from excessive sugar (and resulting fructose) consumption, supporting the whole health of the body through correct diet and lifestyle choices (see my Life Changing Programme for details)  and by supporting mitochondria regeneration through a diet high in micro nutrients and nutritional supplementation.

Let’s look at the role of micro nutrients in the role of increasing energy and turning off the Fat Switch.

Iodine – Thyroid function – Hormones are chemical messengers that tell your cells what to do….  Insulin is one of the key hormones that does this… Thyroid hormones are also some of the most important for weight loss and energy.  The thryroid hormones have been likened  to the ‘accelerator’ for your body, controlling energy metabolism, weight gain and loss.  Therefore maintaining optimal thyroid function is key to driving energy metabolism at a cellular level.  To this end one of the key nutrients is iodine, as without adequate iodine your body cannot make thyroxine the main thyroid hormone.    Considering that 99% of people tested in New Zealand have tested deficient for iodine, it’s especially important that people either consume seaweed or take a supplement with iodine in (BePure ONE contains extra iodine).


Adrenal function – The main daytime hormone (chemical messenger) that enables energy production is cortisol.   Without adequate cortisol you are going to be tired and suffering with a lot of inflammation (cortisol is also our primary anti-inflammatory).  With continued stress our bodies adrenal glands can become ‘fatigued’ as they struggle to maintain hormone production.  Therefore over time we can lose the chemical message that tells our cells to make energy.  The adrenal glands require vitamin C, Vitamin E (mixed tocopherols) B3, B5, B6 and a synergistic relationship with other B vitamins.  Then also the minerals, calcium, magnesium, zinc, manganese, selenium, molybdenum, chromium copper and iodine.   (BePure ONE contains all of these).


B vitamins  – B1, B2, B3, B5, B6 and biotin are directly utilized in the mitochondria for energy production and as such are directly involved in the fat switch. (BePure ONE contains all of these)

Selenium – Selenium is a co-factor for many enzymes reactions therefore vital for hormone production in the adrenal glands and thyroid.  Selenium is also involved in the construction of selenoproteins – One group of selenoproteins called glutathione peroxidises is the primary base antioxidant produced in the body.  Deficiency in selenium can then result in increased oxidative damage and mitochondria dysfunction triggering the body’s fat switch.  (BePure ONE contains selenium as selenium krebs complex for maximum absorption.)

Copper and Iron – Are directly utilised by the mitochondria in energy production and therefore deficiencies are involved in the triggering of the fat switch. (BePure ONE contains copper but not iron as the BePure recommended diet contains adequate iron).

Magnesium – Is heavily utilised by the mitochondria and therefore directly effects the fat switch in the body.  Magnesium is also heavily used in enzyme function and therefore not only important for detoxification through the liver but also in the making of hormones both in the adrenal glands and thyroid.  Magnesium also plays a role in fat oxidisation – your body’s ability to burn fat as an energy source and therefore it is very important for weight loss and energy.  (BePure ONE contains a chelated magnesium for optimal absorption.)

Vitamin E – Vitamin E is the primary fat soluable antioxidant and protects the mitochondria phospholipid cell membrane from the destructive effects of free radicals.   Again supporting mitochondria health, increased energy and weight maintenance. (BePure ONE contains natural vitamin E with mixed tocopherols.)

Vitamin D helps stabalise the effects of insulin meaning that fructose is not driven into the cell as quickly and as a result less mitochondria damage occurs. (BePure ONE contains D3, the animal active form of vitamin D.)

Antioxidants – Help mop up the free radicals which if left unattended will cause oxidative stress and mitochondria damage, resulting in decreased energy production and triggering the body to store energy and fat. (BePure ONE contains a broad range of antioxidants).

Vitamin C – Research is showing that vitamin C blocks the absorption of fructose by the cell and helps protect against the activation of the Fat Switch by fructose.  This also helps explain why fruit generally does not make people fat as most fruits are also high in vitamin C. (BePure ONE contains vitamin C in a buffered form).

Chromium and Vanadium both facilitate the uptake of glucose by the muscles and assist in stabilising blood sugar levels.  High sugar diets have been found to decrease chromium levels combined with the fact that most soils are deficient in chromium and vanadium, there is great benefit to be had from supplementing these trace minerals. (BePure ONE contains both vanadium and chromium in a highly bio-available form)

Some other antioxidants beneficial to increasing energy and speeding up weight loss include:

Green Tea – Green tea has been shown to increase weight loss in scientific research. (BePure ONE contains Green Tea Extract)

Green Papaya – Is often used to help weight loss through the reduction of uric acid, a bye product of the fat switch being activated (BePure ONE contains Green Papaya Extract).

Apple Pectin is shown to help protect against metabolic syndrome – reducing blood sugar levels, total cholesterol, triglyceride levels and weight. (BePure ONE contains Apple Pectin)

Another key nutrient to mitochondria function is CoQ10.  CoQ10 is not in BePure ONE as CoQ10 is very unstable and easily oxidises when mixed with other nutrients.  I would recommend 150mg of naturally fermented COQ10 like this one…

So…  To really increase energy and speed up weight loss you want to supply the micro nutrients needed to rebuild the mitochondria and the other systems which control energy production within your body.  As the more energy you have, the higher your metabolism, the more calories you burn and more weight you lose… that’s just another reason why it’s so important to take a super high quality supplement like BePure ONE.


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What foods or supplements should I take to help recovery from an operation

Q: What foods or supplements should I take to help recovery from an operation


A:  Going into the operation I would recommend you get your base levels of nutrients up with BePure ONE and a high quality Cod Liver oil like Blue Ice.  They will all really, really help…. I would also look at the following…

Obviously all the BePure Principles will support the immune system and cartilage regeneration but there are a few foods and supplements that will really help….

Bone and chicken broths will really help provide the glycoaminoglycans that your body uses to rebuild the ligaments  (Joint flex would also be very useful in this case, click here to view)
If a general anesthetic is involved then fermented foods or foods containing beneficial bacteria such as raw milk, yoghurt, kefir or sauerkraut for rebuilding the beneficial bacteria would be great.  I would also recommend Biokult 3 capsules a day for an adult.

Post operation I would look at extra Super Boost C, as the vitamin C and zinc are heavily used in wound healing.  I would also look at up to 8 grams a day of high DHA/EPA fish oil like Hoki Mega 3 to help reduce some of the post operative inflammation – start this one week after the surgery as this amount will thin the blood and so you only want to do this once any associated bleeding has stopped….

Again if a general anesthetic is involved then I would also look at something to add extra herbal support to the liver like Liver Guard…. As general anesthetics are close to poison and will need to be processed by the liver in the coming weeks….

Good luck :)

Yours in Health,

Ben Warren


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What can I do to support my thyroid gland?

Q: What can I do to support my thyroid gland?


A:  Iodine is primarily one of the most important nutrients for thyroid function, especially seeing that most people are heavily deficient… BePure ONE will also have all the micronutrients for thyroid function, including iodine, selenium, zinc, manganese, boron, choline and B vitamins.  But for extra support in the form of iodine I recommend that you look to add kelp to your meals as you would salt or pepper, kelp not only supplies the extra iodine and trace minerals but is also high in tyrosine which is combined with iodine to make your thyroid hormone thyroxine (T4).  Click here to view the kelp in the BePure store….

A secondary role of the thyroid gland is to stop bacteria/viruses and other antigens tagged by your immune system from getting to the brain.  I have found that most often poor thyroid function is also associated with gluten intolerance and so I would recommend that gluten is eliminated from the diet, as in my clinical experience this appears to be one of the bigger problems.


Yours in health,



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Research shows weight loss is more about what you eat….

Scientific research has now re-enforced what many long term dieters have known for years…  There is more to weight loss than simply eating less….  What Dr. Richard Johnson and colleagues of the University of Colorado and Colorado Obesity Research Institute have found is that the type of food provided to the cell is the key to long term weight gain and weight loss.  No longer is it how much you eat but what you eat that drives weight gain and weight loss…

Sugar is making us tired and when we are tired our cells cannot function effectively.  This means instead of using calories for energy we store them as fat.  Sugar trips the fat switch.  Sugar, or more precisely fructose (one of the two components of table sugar) damages the cells’ ‘engine’.  This means on a cellular and whole body level we have less energy.  It is this decrease in energy that triggers our body’s ‘Fat Switch’ to store energy as opposed to burning it…

What we have been told until now is that we overeat and therefore become overweight.  However, Dr. Johnson’s research has shown that what in fact happens is;  we overeat because we are tired to try to increase our energy but because the switch is tripped to fat storage we gain weight.  Leaving our waistlines increasing and our bodies still feeling tired…

Fructose is the number one culprit, yes this is the main sugar found in fruit.  But don’t worry the fructose in fruit is quite low, compared to how much were are consuming as table sugar or high fructose corn syrup.  Plus most fruit are high in vitamin C that blocks the fat gaining effects of fructose.

switchThe key to reversing the fat switch involves stopping the continued damage from excessive sugar consumption. Then reversing the damage through a diet high in micronutrients and antioxidants.  Which means eating lots of colourful vegetables instead of sugar. So the take home message is replace sugar with vegetables to lose weight…

This is one component of the fat switch, join Ben Warren at one of his seminars where he will go through all the fat switch components and show you how to easily integrate them into your life without feeling hungry.  Click here to learn more…


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