‘Miracle Baby’ born with half skull defies odds, celebrates first birthday


When Jaxon Strong was born with half of his brain and skull missing, his doctors predicted that he’d have just days to live. But one year later, this little guy has truly defied the odds.

Jaxon’s mom, Brittany Buell, was told when she was pregnant that “Jax’s” brain had been severely malformed and warned her that he was unlikely to survive the pregnancy. Though physicians gave Brittany, and her husband Brandon, 30, the option to terminate, they didn’t give up hope.

Born on 27 August 2014, Jaxon Emmett Buell was only given a few days to survive. However he is now miraculously teething and saying his first words.

Jaxon now has over 90,000 likes on Facebook as well as a GoFundMe page, set up by Brandon’s colleagues, which has raised over $50,000 so Brittany can afford to stay home and take care of Jaxon.

“He thrives with his mom, that one-to-one stimulation that no other therapy can give. If we can keep Brittany at home, giving him that 24/7 care is truly priceless and that’s what his account allows us to do,” Brandon explained.

Jaxon was diagnosed as having Anencephaly, a neural tube birth defect in which a child is born without parts of the brain and skull, but doctors were still unsure of how severe his condition would be. ‘We did everything we could to give him a fighting chance and all he’s done since being born is fight right back.’

About 1 in 4,859 babies in the United States will be born with Anencephaly and usually die shortly after birth, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

 

Can champagne really improve your memory and stave off dementia?


If you’ve seen one of those viral headlines claiming that three glasses of champagne a day will stave off dementia, forget them right now. This false claim recently originated from an erroneous headline somewhere in UK tabloid-land, and unfortunately, lots of online publications just ran with it. It seemed too good to be true, so we looked into it – and here’s what the science actually says.

It must have been a slow news day, because the study was actually publishedback in 2013. Health researchers from the University of Reading in England were investigating how certain phenolic acids found in champagne could affect spatial memory… in rats. Phenolic acids are aromatic compounds naturally found in many plants, including the skins of grapes used for making champagne and white wine. They’re akin to flavonoids – natural plant pigments that serve as antioxidants in the human body – and are attributed with some of the benefits of red wine.

There is evidence that foods laden with flavonoids improve spatial memory in rodents by affecting nerves and blood vessels in the brain. Hence the researchers wanted to investigate whether phenolic acids might have a similar effect, too.

They started by taking three groups of eight rats each, and tested their spatial and working memory using a maze test, which involves a food reward for finding the correct route. After running a bunch of these maze tests, for the next six weeks each group of rats received either a small daily dose of champagne, a non-champagne alcoholic drink, or an alcohol-free drink, all with the same amount of calories.

Following six weeks of drinking (actually eating, as the drinks were mixed with powdered food), the rats were tested again, and the champagne group was indeed more accurate at finding the right path in the maze. When the scientists checked the rats’ brains, they found an increase in various proteins that help with cell formation in the brain. The results were published in Antioxidants and Redox Signalling.

So where did the hype come from? According to the press release covering this study, one to three glasses of champagne a week could therefore counteract memory loss associated with aging. But according to an analysis from UK government’s healthcare website NHS Choices, this claim is problematic:

“The media sources do not report responsibly on this early-stage animal research. The quantity of champagne consumed by the rats was said to be equivalent to 1.3 small glasses of champagne (around two units) a week for humans. And we can’t be sure these results would apply to humans.”

Which is a whole lot more measured than what one of the researchers, Jeremy Spencer, said in the press statement. “These exciting results illustrate for the first time that the moderate consumption of champagne has the potential to influence cognitive functioning, such as memory,” he said. “We encourage a responsible approach to alcohol consumption, and our results suggest that a very low intake of one to two glasses a week can be effective.”

As NHS Choices advises, this optimistic advice is best taken with a huge grain of salt. “A slightly improved maze performance in a small number of rats does not necessarily translate into humans having a reduced risk of dementia from drinking champagne,” they write. “The health risks of consuming large amounts of alcohol are well-known.”

Sorry guys, there’s still no excuse to ramp up your intake of bubbly.

Company to launch ‘weed weddings’ with vape stations and ice bongs


Cannabis company to launch ‘weed weddings’ with vape stations and ice bongs

‘Do you take this woman to be your lawful wedded wife?’ ‘Sorry, what was the question again?’

It could be the future of weddings, after a new wedding expo for ‘weed weddings’ – offering vape stations and ice bongs for people’s nuptials.

This is in Denver, Colorado, of course, where weed has been decriminalised – and will take place in January, according to The Cannabist.

Bec Koop of Cultivating Spirits, which is behind the expo told The Cannabist, ‘We’re finding the right vendors and venues and people who are at least open-minded to cannabis and finding the ways that people are allowed to incorporate it and enjoy it — ice bongs, vape stations, bud bars, pre-loaded bowls, joints, whatever the circumstances may be.’

‘I sometimes joke: With every single wedding that we’ve been to, there’s probably been at least one person out in the car in the parking lot getting high.

‘So let’s be honest — it’s always been there, it’s been a part of almost every party and event scene, so why not incorporate it?’

Smoking (Picture University of Washington)
‘It’s becoming such a common trend in the wedding world now. Cannabis can be incorporated into events and weddings in classy, modern and sophisticated ways. It doesn’t have to be totally in your face. It can be on a discreet level — or it can be loud and proud around your love of the bud. ‘

Here Is How To Relieve And Heal Toothaches And Tooth Infections Na


Usually, toothache is occurring once the tooth’s root is irritated. The most often cause of a toothache is the tooth decay, loss or damage of teeth. Pain is also occurring after removal of a particular tooth. Thus, no one likes toothache, there is a good news that the pain and the infection can be eased naturally.

If you are having toothache or other infection, here are some very helpful remedies that you can use:

  • Oregano oil internally and topically
  • Colloidal silver internal, local and for rinsing
  • Wild oregano oil
  • Warm salt water for rinsing

Directions:

Put some wild oregano oil drops underneath the tongue. Let the oil to act for few minutes and rinse with some colloidal silver. Do this once on every hour. Spittle the colloidal silver and additionally swallow little of it (for about 250 ml in 1 day). Slightly rub the colloidal silver in the place around the teeth. After a while, rub the oregano oil in the place around your gums. Use some warm sea salt water to rinse the oral cavity before doing a mouth wash with the colloidal silver.

Get rid of Toothache and Tooth Infection with these Powerful Natural Remedies!

Other natural remedies which will help you alleviate and cure a toothache are:

  1. Ginger Root

Cut a piece from a ginger root and remove the bark. Put the piece on the painful tooth area and bite down.

  1. Essential Clove Oil

Soak some cotton wool in the oil and apply it on and around the inflamed tooth. Repeat this procedure a couple of times.

  1. Black Cumin Oil

Take 1 teaspoon of black cumin oil, also known as Nigella Sativa, and half a teaspoon vinegar. Cook this mixture on fire and let it to cool down. Then, use the mixture for mouth washing to reduce inflammation and infection. Rinse on every 2 hour till the pain and the swelling disappear.

Note: If your toothache worsens of continue to last, you need to visit a dentist as soon as possible.

 

Smoking high potency cannabis can damage vital brain nerve fibres brain


Smoking skunk can damage a crucial part of your brain

Smoking high-potency skunk-like cannabis can have a negative impact on a crucial part of the brain.

Skunk can damage the corpus callosum section of the brain – a band of nerve fibre which links the brain’s two hemispheres.

Motor, sensory and cognitive information is transferred via the corpus callosum and it’s rich in cannabinoid receptors, sensitive to the Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) content of marijuana.

New research has found skunk users had greater signs of damage to white matter fibres, which connects the right and left sides of the brain.

BFR1PK cropped view of two young adults smoking a joint. smoking, cannabis, hands, youth, hands, youth
High potency cannabis has been linked to an increased risk of psychosis .

According to a study conducted at Kings College London, cannabis users who regularly smoke high-potency skunk are risking significantly affecting the structure of fibres in the brain.

Dr Tiago Reis Marques, a senior research fellow from the IoPPN at King’s College London, said: ‘This white matter damage was significantly greater among heavy users of high potency cannabis than in occasional or low potency users, and was also independent of the presence of a psychotic disorder.’

Dr Paola Dazzan, Reader in Neurobiology of Psychosis from the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience (IoPPN) at King’s College London , said: ‘We found that frequent use of high potency cannabis significantly affects the structure of white matter fibres in the brain, whether you have psychosis or not.

‘This reflects a sliding scale where the more cannabis you smoke and the higher the potency, the worse the damage will be.’

Dazzan warned the new research should be heeded as a warning: ‘There is an urgent need to educate health professionals, the public and policymakers about the risks involved with cannabis use.

‘When assessing cannabis use it is extremely important to gather information on how often and what type of cannabis is being used.

A Man smoking a cannabis joint. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Monday January 26, 2009. Cannabis users will not face fines from today, despite it being upgraded to a Class B drug. Police will be unable to hand out the £80 fines intended as part of a new "three strikes" regime. See PA story POLITICS Cannabis. Photo credit should read: PA Wire.File photo dated 27/01/04.
A study found skunk to negatively impact white matter .

‘These details can help quantify the risk of mental health problems and increase awareness on the type of damage these substances can do to the brain.’

The study used Diffusion Tensor Imaging and a Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) technique was used to examine white matter in the brains of 56 patients who had reported a first episode of psychosis. In addition 43 healthy participants from the local community were involved for contrast.

Dazzan, and others at the Institute of Psychiatry, have previously linked the availability of skunk in south London could be linked to a rise in a rise in psychosis attributed to cannabis.

The Science of Choice in Addiction


Research has shown that beating addiction is ultimately about regarding addicts as people who can rationally choose.

In December 1966, Leroy Powell of Austin, Texas, was convicted of public intoxication and fined $20 in a municipal court. Powell appealed his conviction to Travis County court, where his lawyer argued that he suffered from “the disease of chronic alcoholism.” Powell’s public display of inebriation therefore was “not of his own volition,” his lawyer argued, making the fine a form of cruel and unusual punishment. A psychiatrist concurred, testifying that Powell was “powerless not to drink.”

Then Powell took the stand. On the morning of his trial, his lawyer handed him a drink, presumably to stave off morning tremors. The prosecutor asked him about that drink:

Q: You took that one [drink] at eight o’clock [a.m.] because you wanted to drink?…And you knew that if you drank it, you could keep on drinking and get drunk?

A: Well, I was supposed to be here on trial, and I didn’t take but that one drink.

Q: You knew you had to be here this afternoon, but this morning

you took one drink and then you knew that you couldn’t afford

to drink anymore and come to court; is that right?

A: Yes, sir, that’s right.

The judge let stand Powell’s conviction for public intoxication.

Two years later, the Supreme Court affirmed the constitutionality of punishment for public intoxication, rejecting the idea “that chronic alcoholics … suffer from such an irresistible compulsion to drink and to get drunk in public that they are utterly unable to control their performance.”

Now, fast-forward almost half a century to the laboratory of Carl Hart, a neuroscientist at Columbia University, who has been showing that cocaine and methamphetamine addicts have a lot in common with Powell. When Hart’s subjects are given a good enough reason to refuse drugs—in this case, cash—they do so too.

The basic experiment goes like this. Hart recruits addicts who have no interest in quitting but who are willing to stay in a hospital research ward for two weeks for testing. Each day, Hart offers them a sample dose of either crack cocaine or methamphetamine, depending upon the drug they use regularly. Later in the day, they are given a choice between the same amount of drugs, a voucher for $5 of store merchandise, or $5 cash. They collect their reward when they’re discharged two weeks later.

More often than not, subjects choose the $5 voucher or cash over the drug, except that, when offered a higher dose, they go for the drug. But when Hart ups the value of the reward to $20, addicts chose the money every time.

In his new book, High Price—A Neuroscientist’s Journey of Self-Discovery That Challenges Everything You Know About Drugs and Society, Hart reports that he was surprised by his findings. Wasn’t addiction a dopamine-driven compulsion “that ’hijacked’ the brain and took control of the will?” he asks. As a graduate student Hart was taught that. It’s understood that recovered addicts eschew substances for fear that even a small amount could set off an irresistible craving for more.

Neural changes that occur in the brains of addicts do not necessarily disable their capacity to respond to rewards.
Indeed, this has been conventional wisdom in research circles for at least the past two decades. Many of Hart’s colleagues who teach this support their claim with brain scans showing the addicts’ reward pathways ablaze with neural activation. But studies going back to the 1960’s show that many people addicted to all kinds of drugs— nicotine, alcohol, cocaine, heroin, methamphetamines— can stop or modify their use in response to rewards or sanctions.
This means that the neural changes that occur in the brains of addicts do not necessarily disable their capacity to respond to rewards. Leroy Powell had surely experienced alcohol-induced brain changes over years of drinking, but they did not keep him from making a choice on the morning of his trial. Hart’s subjects loved cocaine, but they loved cash even more.

It is certainly true that when people have an intense urge to use, resisting is very, very hard. Yet there’s room for deliberate action in the form of “self-binding,” a practice by which addicts can erect obstacles between themselves and their drugs. Examples include avoiding people, places, or things associated with drug use; directly depositing paychecks or tearing up ATM cards to keep ready (drug) cash out of one’s pockets; or avoiding boredom, a common source of vulnerability to drug use.

The decision to self-bind is made during calmer moments when addicts are not in withdrawal or experiencing strong desire to use. And addicts have many of these moments; as a rule, they do not spend all their time nodding out or in a frenzy to obtain more drugs.

No one would choose the misery that comes with excessive use. “I’ve never come across a single person that was addicted that wanted to be addicted,” says neuroscientist Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse and an enthusiastic booster of the brain-driven model of addiction. It is true, drug users don’t choose to become addicted any more than consumers of high calorie foods choose to become overweight. But addiction and poundage is not what they are choosing: what they seek is momentary gratification or relief—a decision that is rational in the short-term but irrational in the long-term.

A typical trajectory goes something like this. In the early phase of addiction, using drugs and alcohol can simply be fun; or it can be a form of self-medication that quells persistent self-loathing, anxiety, alienation, and loneliness. Meanwhile once-rewarding activities, such as relationships, work, or family, decline in value. The attraction of the drug starts to fade as the troubles accrue—but the drug retains its allure because it blunts mental pain, suppresses withdrawal symptoms, and douses craving.

Eventually, addicts find themselves torn between reasons to use and reasons not to. Sometimes a spasm of self-reproach (“this is not who I am;” “I’m hurting my family,” “my reputation is at risk”) tips the balance toward quitting. Novelist and junkie William S. Burroughs calls this the “naked lunch” experience, “a frozen moment when everyone sees what is on the end of every fork.”

In short, every addict has reasons to begin using, reasons to continue, and reasons to quit. To act on a reason is to choose. To make good choices requires the presence of meaningful alternatives. And making a series of good choices leads to achievements—jobs, relationships, reputations. These give a person something meaningful to lose, another reason in itself to steer away from bad choices.

In his book, Hart uses his own story to breathe life into what may sound like a sterile lesson in behavioral economics. He grew up in the 70’s in the benighted Carol City in south Florida, facing poverty, racism, domestic violence, bad schools, guns, and drugs. Hart himself stole and used drugs (though he was never addicted) and peddled marijuana. Yet he ended up thriving due to the many alternatives to drugs in his life. He calls these “competing reinforcers”—high school sports, educational opportunities, and mentors. Hart wants all young people raised in despairing circumstances to have those too.

Combating social ills on such a grand stage may be a pipe dream. But, in the realm of recovery from alcohol and drugs, the principle of competing reinforcers has been scaled down to size and is being replicated across the country. Take HOPE (Hawaii Opportunity for Probation Enforcement), a jail diversion program in which addict-offenders are subject to short periods of detention if they fail drug tests., but receive a clean corrections record if they complete the year-long program. One year after enrollment, HOPE participants were 55 percent less likely to be arrested for a new crime and 53 percent less likely to have had their probation revoked than those in a control group.

Hart draws attention to how progressive rehab programs use rewards to encourage completion of job training and attendance at treatment or Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous meetings, and so on. Consequences, rather than rewards, or sticks, rather than carrots, can work too. When at risk of losing their licenses, addicted physicians show impressive rates of recovery. When they come under the surveillance of their state medical boards and are subject to random urine testing, unannounced workplace visits, and frequent employer evaluations, 70 to 90 percent are employed with their licenses intact five years later.

Hart believes that both carrots and sticks, when necessary, should be used far more frequently and creatively in the management of addiction.

As Hart says in his book, “Severe addiction may narrow people’s focus and reduce their ability to take pleasure in non-drug experiences, but it does not turn them into people who cannot react to a variety of incentives.” Although addictions are hard to break, it is most useful to view the potential for overcoming them through the lens of choice. It’s not a matter of just saying no—recovery requires far more grit and conviction than that—but it is very much a matter of regarding addicts as people who can rationally choose to use opportunities to their advantage, and working to provide those opportunities.

Earth’s first ecosystems were more complex than previously thought, study finds


Earth's first ecosystems were more complex than previously thought, study finds
Computer simulations have allowed scientists, led by Dr Imran Rahman of the University of Bristol, UK to work out how this 555-million-year-old organism with no known modern relatives fed. Their research reveals that some of the first large, complex organisms on Earth formed ecosystems that were much more complex than previously thought. 

Computer simulations have allowed scientists to work out how a puzzling 555-million-year-old organism with no known modern relatives fed, revealing that some of the first large, complex organisms on Earth formed ecosystems that were much more complex than previously thought.

The international team of researchers from Canada, the UK and the USA, including Dr Imran Rahman from the University of Bristol, UK studied fossils of an extinct organism called Tribrachidium, which lived in the oceans some 555 million years ago. Using a computer modelling approach called computational fluid dynamics, they were able to show that Tribrachidium fed by collecting particles suspended in water. This is called suspension feeding and it had not previously been documented in organisms from this period of time.

Tribrachidium lived during a period of time called the Ediacaran, which ranged from 635 million to 541 million years ago. This period was characterised by a variety of large, , most of which are difficult to link to any modern species. It was previously thought that these organisms formed simple ecosystems characterised by only a few feeding modes, but the new study suggests they were capable of more types of feeding than previously appreciated.

Dr Simon Darroch, an Assistant Professor at Vanderbilt University, said: “For many years, scientists have assumed that Earth’s oldest complex organisms, which lived over half a billion years ago, fed in only one or two different ways. Our study has shown this to be untrue, Tribrachidium and perhaps other species were capable of suspension feeding. This demonstrates that, contrary to our expectations, some of the first ecosystems were actually quite complex.”

Co-author Dr Marc Laflamme, an Assistant Professor at the University of Toronto Mississauga, added: “Tribrachidium doesn’t look like any modern species, and so it has been really hard to work out what it was like when it was alive. The application of cutting-edge techniques, such as CT scanning and , allowed us to determine, for the first time, how this long-extinct organism fed.”

Earth's first ecosystems were more complex than previously thought, study finds
Such simulations have allowed scientists, led by Dr Imran Rahman of the University of Bristol, UK to work out how this 555-million-year-old organism with no known modern relatives fed. Their research reveals that some of the first large, complex organisms on Earth formed ecosystems that were much more complex than previously thought. Credit: I.A. Rahman

Computational is a method for simulating fluid flows that is commonly used in engineering, for example in aircraft design, but this is one of the first applications of the technique in palaeontology (following up previous research carried out at Bristol).

Dr Rahman, a Research Fellow in Bristol’s School of Earth Sciences said: “The computer simulations we ran allowed us to test competing theories for feeding in Tribrachidium. This approach has great potential for improving our understanding of many .”

Co-author Dr Rachel Racicot, a postdoctoral researcher at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County added: “Methods for digitally analysing fossils in 3D have become increasingly widespread and accessible over the last 20 years. We can now use these data to address any number of questions about the biology and ecology of ancient and modern organisms.”

The LHC is now colliding lead ions at record-breaking energy levels


After shutting down for two years to make substantial upgrades, the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) resumed operations earlier in 2015, and is now embarking on a new phase – colliding lead ions at an energy level twice that of any previous collider experiment.

Starting this month, scientists at the world’s largest particle accelerator are running a trial with positively charged lead ions, which are lead atoms stripped of their electrons. Colliding these lead ions allows scientists at the European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN) in Switzerland to study a state of matter that existed shortly after the Big Bang, reaching a temperature of several trillion degrees.

“It is a tradition to collide ions over one month every year as part of our diverse research program at the LHC,” said CERN chief Rolf Heuer. “This year however is special, as we reach a new energy and will explore matter at an even earlier stage of our Universe.”

To study the state of matter directly after the Big Bang, you need to recreate a moment in time that was almost infinitesimally brief. The state of matter that’s being quasi-simulated by CERN only existed in our Universe for a few millionths of a second, at a time when extremely hot and dense matter existed in a kind ofprimordial soup made up of particles called quarks and gluons.

By increasing the energy of the collisions in the new lead ion experiments – which is now possible thanks to the two years of work carried out on the LHC – scientists will increase the volume and temperature of quark and gluon plasma, enabling a more detailed and precise study of how matter existed in the fleeting conditions immediately after the Big Bang.

“There are many very dense and very hot questions to be addressed with the ion run for which our experiment was specifically designed and further improved during the shutdown,” said one of the team, Paolo Giubellino. “The whole collaboration is enthusiastically preparing for a new journey of discovery.”

In an opinion piece about the experiment, John Jowett, who runs CERN’s heavy-ion program, said we should celebrate the breaking of a “new symbolic energy barrier”, explaining that it might be a while before the next such frontier could be passed.

“[T]he concentration of so much energy into the tiny nuclear volume is enough to establish truly colossal densities and temperatures about a quarter of a million times those at the core of the sun,” he wrote. “Heavy-ion collisions recreate the quark-gluon plasma, the extreme state of matter that is believed to have filled the Universe when it was only microseconds old… From the perspective of the early 1950s, the energies attained by the [LHC] would have seemed like science-fiction.”

Are Artificial Sweeteners Safe for People With Diabetes?


As diabetes educators, we are frequently asked if sugar substitutesare safe and which ones are best. Over time there have been many sugar substitutes, and we always tell people that the one you use is a personal choice. They are safe for people with diabetes, and they can be used to reduce both your calorie and carbohydrate intake. Sugar substitutes also can help curb those cravings you have for something sweet.

You’ll find artificial sweeteners in diet drinks, baked goods, frozen desserts, candy, light yogurt and chewing gum. You can also find them as stand-alone sweeteners to add to coffee, tea, cereal and fruit. Some are also available for cooking and baking.

It’s important to remember that only a small amount is needed since the sweetening power of these substitutes is (at least) 100 times stronger than regular sugar.

There are currently six artificial sweeteners that have been tested and approved by the FDA—or placed on the agency’s Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS) list. Numerous scientific studies have been performed on each of them to confirm they are safe for consumption.

The FDA has established an “acceptable daily intake” (ADI) for each of the products. This represents the amount of a food ingredient that can be used safely on a daily basis over a lifetime without risk. Here is a current list of sweeteners that have been approved by the FDA.

1. Acesulfame-potassium, also known as Ace-K

This is generally blended with another low-calorie sweetener.

Brand names include Sunett® and Sweet One®

It is stable under heat, even under moderately acidic or basic conditions, allowing it to be used as a food additive in baking, or in products that require a long shelf life. In carbonated drinks, it is almost always used in conjunction with another sweetener.

2. Aspartame, called by many “the blue packet”

Over 200 studies support its safety. Aspartame is a source of phenylalanine which is an ingredient people with phenylketonuria (PKU) should avoid.  A warning label is on the product. Aspartame is not heat stable so it is not the best choice for baking and cooking.

Brand names include Nutrasweet® and Equal®

3. Neotame

This has 7,000 to 8,000 the sweetening power of sugar. It does contain phenylalanine, but because the amount of neotame needed is so small, the levels of phenylalanine are insignificant. The labels are not required to have a warning. There are no other brand names. This product is mainly used by large food manufacturers and it is moderately heat stable in cooking.

4. Saccharin, called “the pink packet”

Also in a liquid form, it has been used for more than 100 years. The studies in the 1970s that linked saccharin to bladder cancer were dismissed by the FDA as they were not relevant to humans. Saccharin is heat stable and a good choice for use in cooking, baking and canning/preserving.

Brand names include Sweet ‘N Low®, Sweet Twin® and Sugar Twin®

5. Stevia, known as “the green packet”

Also called Stevioside, Rebaudioside A, B, C,D,F,  Dulcoside A, Rubusoside and Steviolbioside

Also comes in liquid and dissolvable tablets. Some Stevia products have not received GRAS status and must be sold as dietary supplements, not as a non-nutritive sweetener. Use to sweeten beverages. May be used in baking but adjustments have to be made for the lack of moisture and bulk. Follow recommendations on product labels.

Brand names include A Sweet Leaf®, Sun Crystals®, Stevia®, Truvia® and PureVia®6.

6. Sucralose, called “the yellow packet”

Saccharin and sucralose are heat stable and are easiest to use in baking and cooking. It’s available to buy in dissolvable tablets, granular tablets and baking blends.

Brand names include N’Joy® and Splenda® 

Using sugar substitutes in cooking and baking

Read packages carefully for specific instructions on the best way to substitute the low-calorie sweetener for sugar in recipes. Things to know when using a sugar substitute:

  • Baked products may be lighter in color because of the lack of browning effect found in real sugar
  • Volume may be lower in cakes, muffins and sweet breads because of the lack of bulking ability in real sugar
  • The texture may be altered
  • There may be an aftertaste with some of the substitutes
  • Cooking time may vary
  • Products may not keep as long

Statin Use Strongly Linked to Diabetes in Healthy Adults


Even healthy adults taking statins are 87% more likely to develop diabetes.

A recent study published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine evaluated 3982 Tricare beneficiaries who were taking statins and 21,988 peers in the military health system who were not.

Using 42 baseline characteristics, the researchers matched 3351 statin users to 3351 nonusers and then examined the incidence of diabetes, diabetic complications, and obesity in both groups. At baseline, all study subjects had no cardiovascular disease, diabetes, or other life-limiting chronic disease.

In addition to seeing a strong association between new-onset diabetes and statin use, those taking statins also had a 250% greater likelihood of developing diabetes with complications than their counterparts, and they were 14% more likely to be overweight or obese. The researchers also determined that the higher the dose of the statin, the greater the risk of these conditions.

While previous studies have linked statin use to increased risk of diabetes and potential weight gain, the current authors noted they provided more evidence of the association among healthy adults, which is less frequently studied.

“The risk of diabetes with statins has been known, but up until now, it was thought that this might be due to the fact that people who were prescribed statins had greater medical risks to begin with,” said lead author Ishak Mansi, MD, a professor and physician-researcher with the Veterans Affairs North Texas Health System and the University of Texas Southwestern, in a press release.

The authors did not advise patients to stop taking statins based on their study results; rather, they recommended that patients and health care providers discuss potential benefits and risks with statin use. However, they also encouraged patients to pursue lifestyle changes to potentially avoid taking statins.