Are Your Prescription Drugs as Safe as You May Think?

By Dr. Al Sears,

I want to share a shocking statistic with you. Around 80% of all the pharmaceuticals sold in America — both prescription and over-the-counter — are manufactured in China.

I’m talking about drugs for Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s, blood pressure and blood thinners, diuretics, aspirin, antibiotics, and a big chunk of the world’s insulin and diabetes drugs — just to name a few.1

We don’t even make penicillin anymore. The last penicillin plant in the U.S. closed its doors in 2004. Americans who rely on medicine are now almost entirely at the mercy of a country whose relations with the U.S. have become more tense than they were just a few years ago. Yet, there’s no need to panic. And in a moment, I’ll tell you why…

First, let me share why we need to be concerned. Pharmaceutical companies can’t just pack up their overseas operations and build drug-making plants in America or move them to some other country.

It could take years to develop the infrastructure to re-establish manufacturing capacities in the U.S. and get the FDA licenses to replace the loss of the Chinese supply.

But there’s an even bigger problem. Drugs imported from China have additional safety risk factors that go beyond the well-known side effects I’ve written to you about before.

The FDA insists that pharmaceutical ingredients from China are safe. But I don’t buy it. The FDA has a long history of failing to oversee drug sources in other countries. In 2008, contaminated supplies of the blood-thinning drug Heparin from China led to the deaths of 149 Americans and hundreds more allergic reactions.

Though that scandal prompted the FDA to start stationing inspectors in overseas plants, a recent scathing report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office highlighted the FDA’s long history of failing to conduct oversight on foreign drug factories.2

The reason the FDA had little chance to uncover the heparin contamination before Americans started dying: It hadn’t inspected the plant.

Even now, the FDA is plagued by a staffing shortage. In China and India, there are just 15 combined inspector positions – and five of those remain unfilled. That’s less than 10 inspectors to oversee 5,000 Chinese drug-making facilities.3

If you’re a regular reader, you’ll know I’ve been warning patients for years about the dangers of Big Pharma’s concoctions. At my clinic, I work to get my patients off prescription drugs. I prescribe pharmaceuticals only when absolutely necessary.

Blockbuster drugs like statins, ACE inhibitors, beta-blockers, bisphosphonates, and antidepressants — all made in China — can often create new and dangerous health issues and can make recovery impossible.

Mainstream medicine wants to scare you into thinking you need these drugs to keep you alive and healthy. In fact, in many cases, the opposite is true. But here’s the secret Big Pharma and its Chinese partners don’t want you to know:

For every disease — and every Big Pharma drug — nature has provided a natural, non-toxic non-pharmaceutical alternative that’s free from side effects. Develop your own medical supply chain

I recommend that you become the master of your own “medical” supply chain – so you’ll no longer be at the mercy of Big Pharma, China, and an unreliable FDA. The natural alternatives and therapies I’m going to tell you about are much safer, often more effective, and cost much less than any drug from Big Pharma or its Chinese manufacturers.

Here are some alternatives to some of Big Pharma’s biggest blockbuster drugs:

Blood thinners. Studies also show that warfarin increases your risk of stroke, atherosclerosis, and osteoporosis. One study estimated that nursing home residents alone suffer 34,000 fatal, life-threatening, or serious events related to warfarin every year.4

Natural alternative – curcumin. You know this spice has potent anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antibacterial, and anti-cancer properties. But recent studies show it’s also a powerful anticoagulant, working to inhibit clotting factors and prevent blood clots from forming.

Choose a supplement with at least 90% curcuminoids. And look for one that contains piperine, a black pepper extract that boosts absorption. Take between 500 mg to 1,000 mg each day.

Arthritis drugs. NSAIDs increase your risk of heart attack and stroke after just one week of consistent use. And the more you use them, the more your risk goes up.5

Natural alternative – frankincense: Also known as Boswellia serrata, this herb has a long history of treating arthritis without side effects. In a large study, researchers followed 440 arthritis patients for six months. They found that frankincense relieved pain as effectively as painkiller drugs. It also significantly improved arthritic knee function.6

Frankincense contains enzymes that block prostaglandin e2 (PGe2). This hormone-like chemical is produced by the body in response to an injury. It makes blood vessels dilate and expand. This causes the injured area to become swollen and arthritic. By directly attacking PGe2, frankincense stops inflammation before it starts.

Look for a Boswellia serrata supplement standardized to at least 65% boswellic acids. I recommend 400 mg three times a day.

Blood pressure pills. Diuretics, beta-blockers, ACE inhibitors, and calcium channel blockers have serious side effects. I’m talking about things like edema, dizziness, nose bleeds, rash, and hearing loss. They can lead to cardiac failure, heart attack, depression, colitis, and arthritis pain.

Natural alternative – magnesium: This is your body’s own blood vessel relaxer. I’ve used it in my practice with great results. It helps balance potassium, sodium, and calcium, all of which affect blood pressure.

In a review of 34 studies covering more than 2,000 patients, researchers found that taking magnesium daily for one month lowered systolic pressure by 2 mmHg and diastolic pressure by 1.8 mmHg.7

I recommend between 600 mg and 1,000 mg a day. Take it with vitamin B6. It will increase the amount of magnesium that accumulates in your cells.

To Your Good Health,

Al Sears, MD, CNS


  1. Ewen M, et al. “A perspective on global access to insulin: a descriptive study of the market, trade flows and prices.” Diabet Med. 2019;36(6):726-733.
  2. Denigan-Macauley M. Drug Safety: Preliminary Findings Indicate Persistent Challenges with FDA Foreign Inspections. GOA report December 2019. Accessed March 17, 2023.
  3. “Comparing Global Pharmaceutical Markets, the US, UK, and China.” February 2023.,according%20to%20a%20Forbes%20ranking. Accessed March 17, 2023.

  1. Gurwitz JH, et al. “The safety of warfarin therapy in the nursing home setting.” Am J Med. 2007;120:539-544.
  2. Harvard Health Publishing. FDA strengthens warning that NSAIDs increase heart attack and stroke risk. that-NSAIDs-increase-heart-attack-and-stroke-risk-201507138138. Updated August 22, 2017. Accessed March 17, 2023.

  1. Chopra A, et al. “Ayurvedic medicine offers a good alternative to glucosamine and celecoxib in the treatment of symptomatic knee osteoarthritis: A randomized, double-blind, controlled equivalence drug trial.” Rheumatology (Oxford). 2013;52(8):1408-1417.
  2. Zhang X, et al. “Effects of magnesium supplementation on blood pressure: A meta-analysis of randomized double-blind placebo-controlled trials.” Hypertension. 2016;68(2):324-333.


The articles in Northwest Senior News are for your education and general health information only, and the opinions of various writers do not necessarily reflect those of Northwest Senior News. The ideas, opinions and suggestions contained in Northwest Senior News are NOT to be used as a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment from your doctor for any health condition or related issues. Readers of Northwest Senior News should not rely on information provided in these articles for their own healthcare. Any questions regarding your own healthcare should be addressed to your own physician. Please do NOT start or stop any medications or any other medical protocol without consulting your doctor or other licensed healthcare practitioners.

Chapter 5: A Weapon of Mass Destruction—Part 4: Immune Function and Cancer

Book by Dr. Bruce Fife

A Brief Review of Part 3: Digestive and Oral Health

The health of trillions of tiny microorganisms in our digestive system has a direct effect on our health. These microorganisms are known as the gut microbiome and consist of tens of thousands of species of bacteria, viruses, and fungi.

A disruption of this carefully balanced population is implicated as a causal factor with several health problems including obesity, type 2 diabetes, reduced immune function, neurological disorders, some forms of cancer, and many other diseases.

Sugar and other additives in ultra-processed foods disrupts a healthy gut biome. Ninety percent of all known human illness can be traced back to an unhealthy gut.

Oral Health: Consuming sugar causes tooth decay. Unfortunately for sugar lovers, the sugar loving bacteria produce acids and toxins which eat away at tooth enamel. It gets worse. These harmful by-products (the bacteria’s waste, if you will) also cause irritation of the gums, which leads to inflammation and bleeding.

The bacteria that cause the greatest harm feed on sugar. The more sugar we eat, the more these bacteria multiply and grow, outnumbering less harmful species. It is the imbalance in the oral microbiome that is the primary cause of poor health.

Poor oral health has been linked to other health issues.

Immune Function and Cancer

Dr. Fife describes how we live in an environment that is surrounded by potentially harmful bacteria, parasites, and other microorganisms. These bad guys assault through the food we eat, the air we breathe, and the water we drink.

He suggests that with this bombardment of nasty things, it’s amazing that we survive. We can attribute our survival to our immune system.

It’s primarily our white blood cells that are patrolling our bodies and spearheading our defense. Ah, but there’s a problem. The ability of our white blood cells to be effective against the invaders is strongly influenced by sugar consumption.

Sugar depresses the white blood cells ability to phagocytize [devour] these harmful substances. Studies have shown that after a single dose of sugar, phagocytosis [the process of eating up the bad guys] drops by nearly 50% and remains depressed for up to five hours.

If a person has something sugary at all three meals along with a donut, soda, or something sweet for a snack, his/her immune function will stay depressed all day long.

Because sugar depresses immune function, it increases the risks of infection, reduces the body’s ability to neutralize and dispose of environmental toxins, and increases the risk of cancer. You become more susceptible to infectious diseases, have a more difficult time overcoming infections, are more vulnerable or sensitive to toxins and chemicals, and more likely to develop cancer.

Everyone has renegade cancer cells, but not everyone develops cancer. The is because our immune system seeks out and destroys these renegade cells before they get too far out of hand.

Cancer cells only develop in those individuals whose immune systems are so stressed or weakened that they are incapable of mounting an effective defense. A healthy immune system, therefore, is a key element in the prevention of all forms of cancer.

Another major cause of stress is bacteria seeping into our bloodstream through our mouths. Oral infections make it worse. Sugar, of course, promotes chronic oral infections and depresses the immune system, making it easier for cancer to take a foothold.

Folks, it gets worse. Not only does sugar depress your immune system, but sugar is a fertilizer that feeds cancer cells. It’s a double whammy. Yes, cancer cells feed on sugar. The more sugar you consume, the more you are feeding cancer cells inside of your body.

The mitochondria in cancer cells are defective and unable to produce their own energy. Thus, the cancer cells rely on another source of energy production which is called glycolysis [the breakdown of glucose by enzymes, releasing energy and pyruvic acid].

Fatty acids, ketones, and most other energy sources are useless to cancer. This makes cancer heavily reliant on glucose for its energy needs. The more sugar you supply them, from a diet filled with sugary foods and refined starch, the more resistant they become to cancer treatments…Without sugar they would starve to death and be far more vulnerable to the immune system and to cancer treatments.

Insulin Resistance

Insulin resistance and high blood pressure are considered to be independent risk factors for cancer. The association between diabetes, particularly type 2 diabetes, and cancer is well recognized. Studies show that people with diabetes are at substantially higher risk for cancer, especially of the pancreas, liver, lung, endometrium [the mucous membrane lining the uterus], breast, colon, rectum, and bladder.

My Comments: After my father-in-law was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, his Mayo Clinic oncologist had him eating ice cream in order to gain weight. I have also heard of plenty of other stories about these doctors encouraging their patients to consume sugary foods. It makes you really wonder about their training.

Is Smoking the Main Driver of Lung Cancer?

SURGEON GENERAL’S WARNING: Smoking Causes Lung Cancer, Heart Disease, Emphysema, and May Complicate Pregnancy. (2) SURGEON GENERAL’S WARNING: Quitting Smoking Now Greatly Reduces Serious Risks to Your Health.

It doesn’t take rocket science to figure out that inhaling smoke from whatever source is not good for your body. Here’s the interesting thing, has there been any Surgeon General’s warning about the deleterious effects of consuming sugar, HFCS, and refined carbs?


Dr. Fife states the following:

Smoking has never been a major problem in any population until sugar and refined flour have been added to the diet. Many primitive societies have used tobacco for generations without suffering any apparent harm.

The Inuits: Early Artic explorers noted that the Inuits were habitual users of tobacco. The children were exposed to heavy doses of second-hand smoke in smoke-filled rooms. However, the explorers noted that there was an absence of lung cancer of any type. The Inuits didn’t have a protective diet of fruits and vegetables.

A doctor Otto Schaefer attended to the medical needs of the Inuits from the mid-1950s to the late 1960s. He reported that cancer was not found among these people until after they began to add sugar and refined carbohydrates into their diets. Lung cancer was completely absent among them.

Dr. Fife points out the absence of lung cancer among the Inuits was not unique to just their society. Other primitive people were free from lung cancer even though they smoked.

To be clear, Dr. Fife is not letting smoking off the hook.

Smoking is not benign by any means; it is a risk factor for a multitude of diseases. However, it appears that smoking itself is not enough to cause lung cancer until it is combined with a diet high in sugar. It appears to be the tobacco-sugar one-two punch that is the real culprit in causing lung cancer. Sugar is likely the catalyst for other cancers as well.

Dr. Fife tells the story of George Burns, a cigar smoker who started smoking at age 14. He reportedly smoked 10-15 cigars per day for over 70 years. That’s over 300,000 cigars! Burns lived to the age of 100. He exercised regularly, wasn’t overweight, and didn’t have any blood sugar problems.

Concluding remarks:

Dr. Fife wraps up this chapter with the following statement:

Glucose is so important to the growth of cancer that it can’t survive without it. Removing sugar and other carbohydrates from the diet essentially starves cancer to death. Dietary therapies that restrict calories or carbohydrates has proven highly successful in the treatment of cancer both in combination with conventional therapies or on their own.

Being obese increases the risk of cancer, but it’s not the weight. It’s because obese people tend to have elevated glucose levels. High blood sugar is a risk factor for cancer even when a person’s weight or body mass index is normal.

Dr. Fife’s final admonition for anyone that is concerned about getting a cancer diagnosis is to prevent it by cutting out the sugar.

My Comments: I know of a man and a woman (both non-smokers) that died in their fifties from lung cancer. One was a distant cousin on my wife’s side of the family. I asked her, “Was he a smoker?” She said “No.” The story is virtually the same with one of my daughter’s mother-in-law.

I now realize that I asked the wrong question. I should have asked, “Was that person living with elevated blood-glucose levels? Was that person’s diet high in refined carbs?”

What’s also worthy of note is that William Dufty in his book, Sugar Blues, pointed out that lung cancer rates started to rise when tobacco was cured with sugar.

Maybe the Surgeon General should crack down on the sugar industry! End

More Reasons Why Splenda Isn’t so Splendid

By Dr. Joseph Mercola

Story at-a-glance

  • Splenda (sucralose) may dampen your immune system at high doses, according to a research team from the Francis Crick Institute in London.
  • Sucralose consumption lowered the activation of T cells, which play an important role in immune function, in response to either a bacterial infection or cancer in mice.
  • When the mice no longer consumed sucralose, their T cells began to work normally again.
  • The study also casts more doubt on claims that sucralose is inert, with researchers concluding, “our study adds to the evidence that sucralose is not an inert molecule and may affect human health.”
  • Past research has found sucralose disrupts your gut microbiome, harms heart health and contributes to metabolic dysfunction.

Consuming artificial sweeteners may seem like the perfect way to have your cake and eat it too — a sweet taste to satisfy your cravings without the health risks of sugar. But artificial sweeteners like sucralose, marketed as Splenda, aren’t a safe sugar alternative.

There have been many red flag safety signals in the past — from increased heart risks1 to interfering with your liver’s detoxification process.2 Now a research team from the Francis Crick Institute in London revealed another reason to stay away from Splenda — it may dampen your immune system at high doses.

Sucralose Suppresses Immune Response

In a study on mice, published in the journal Nature,3 the team found sucralose consumption had immunomodulatory effects.4 Mice with either a bacterial infection or a tumor were fed sucralose at “levels equivalent to the acceptable daily intake (ADI) recommended by the European and American food safety authorities.”5

This lowered the activation of T cells, which play an important role in immune function, in response to either the bacterial infection or cancer.6 The dampened T-cell function was related to the way sucralose affected the release of intracellular calcium.

Previous studies also suggested the artificial sweetener may influence cell membrane fluidity, possibly interfering with T-cell communication.7 When the mice no longer consumed sucralose, their T cells began to work normally again.8 According to the study:9

“[T]he intake of high doses of sucralose in mice results in immunomodulatory effects by limiting T cell proliferation and T cell differentiation. Mechanistically, sucralose affects the membrane order of T cells, accompanied by a reduced efficiency of T cell receptor signaling and intracellular calcium mobilization.”

While stating that humans would be unlikely to consume the levels of sucralose used in this study with “normal” or “moderately elevated” intake, the researchers attempted to spin the immune system suppression as a good thing.

They largely brushed off the concerning finding that mice eating sucralose were less able to fight off infection and cancer and noted, instead, that the artificial sweetener could perhaps be developed into a drug for autoimmune disease.

“If found to have similar effects in humans, one day it could be used therapeutically to help dampen T-cell responses. For example, in patients with autoimmune diseases who suffer from uncontrolled T cell activation,” the team wrote in a news release.10

Sucralose Is Not Inert; It Bioaccumulates in the Body

One of sucralose’s key marketing claims has long been that it neither metabolizes nor bioaccumulates in the human body, thus making it a basically inert substance. Yet, in 2018, an animal study published in the Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health11 found that sucralose is, in fact, metabolized.

The finding prompted consumer group U.S. Right to Know (USRTK) to ask the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to investigate whether some of sucralose’s marketing claims are deceptive. In a letter to the FTC, USRTK wrote, “[S]ucralose is being advertised and marketed as not metabolized or bioaccumulated by humans. The claim may well be deceptive … given research suggesting that sucralose metabolizes and bioaccumulates in rats, and perhaps it does so in humans as well.”12

The featured Nature study again casts doubt on claims that sucralose is inert. In fact, the study noted, “In conclusion, our study adds to the evidence that sucralose is not an inert molecule and may affect human health.”13 Speaking with Nature, Susie Swithers, a behavioral neuroscientist at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana, who was not involved with the study, added:14

“There has been this world view that these sweeteners would just wash through our bodies — our tongues would taste them and nothing else would happen. This study is yet another piece of evidence that that’s profoundly untrue.”

Not only is sucralose biologically active, but it appears it also accumulates in the human body. The Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health study15 found that even though sucralose had disappeared from urine and feces two weeks after the administration stopped, it was still detected in fat tissue.

“Thus, depuration of sucralose which accumulated in fatty tissue requires an extended period of time after discontinuation of chemical ingestion,” the researchers explained, adding:16

“These new findings of metabolism of sucralose in the gastrointestinal tract (GIT) and its accumulation in adipose tissue were not part of the original regulatory decision process for this agent and indicate that it now may be time to revisit the safety and regulatory status of this organochlorine artificial sweetener.”

Sucralose Alters Your Gut Microbiome

Even though sucralose has zero calories, your body isn’t fooled. It knows you’ve consumed a chemical toxin and biochemical distortions result, including to your gut microbiome.

In 2022, a study published in Microorganisms revealed that consuming sucralose — in “amounts, far lower than the suggested ADI”17 — for just 10 weeks was enough to induce gut dysbiosis and altered glucose and insulin levels in healthy, young adults.18

The bacteria most affected by sucralose appeared to belong primarily to the phyla Firmicutes, which are centrally involved in glucose and insulin metabolism. However, it doesn’t end there. Animal studies suggest the sucralose-altered gut microbiome could be involved in inflammation of the gut and liver, as well as cancer. According to the Microorganisms study researchers:19

“A study in mice showed that sucralose ingestion for six weeks increases the relative abundance of bacteria belonging to the phylum Firmicutes, such as Clostridium symbiosum and Peptostreptococcus anaerobius.

Notably, sucralose-induced intestinal dysbiosis also appeared to aggravate azoxymethane (AOM)/dextran sulfate sodium (DSS)-induced colitis and colitis-associated colorectal cancer in these animals.

Likewise, sucralose ingestion resulted in gut dysbiosis and pronounced proteomic changes in the liver of mice, where most of the overexpressed proteins related to enhanced hepatic inflammation.”

Artificial Sweeteners Put Your Heart Health at Risk

A nine-year study involving 103,388 people linked the artificial sweeteners aspartame (Equal), acesulfame potassium and sucralose to cardiovascular disease and stroke.20 Total artificial sweetener intake was associated with increased risk of overall cardiovascular disease (CVD) and cerebrovascular disease, the study found.

Among the specific artificial sweeteners, aspartame was associated with an increased risk of stroke (defined in the study as cerebrovascular events), while acesulfame potassium and sucralose were associated with increased coronary heart disease risk.21

“Our results suggest no benefit from substituting artificial sweeteners for added sugar on CVD outcomes,” the study found.22 “The findings from this large scale prospective cohort study suggest a potential direct association between higher artificial sweetener consumption (especially aspartame, acesulfame potassium, and sucralose) and increased cardiovascular disease risk.”23

Expect Metabolic Dysfunction if You Consume Sucralose

Metabolic dysfunction appears to be a hallmark of artificial sweetener consumption, which is particularly disturbing since they’re often marketed to people already at risk, such as those with Type 2 diabetes and obesity. In 2014, researchers found artificial sweeteners altered microbial metabolic pathways in ways that increased susceptibility to metabolic disease.24

Nearly a decade later, they’re still being widely consumed and are found in more than 23,000 products worldwide.25 In a 2013 paper, Swithers also explained that people who consume artificial sweeteners frequently may have an increased risk of weight gain, metabolic syndrome, Type 2 diabetes and heart disease. She suggests:26

“[C]onsuming sweet-tasting but noncaloric or reduced-calorie food and beverages interferes with learned responses that normally contribute to glucose and energy homeostasis. Because of this interference, frequent consumption of high-intensity sweeteners may have the counterintuitive effect of inducing metabolic derangements.”

Concerns for Pregnant and Breastfeeding Women

Consuming sucralose while pregnant or breastfeeding may cause unknown risks to infants. What is known is that this chemical can be found in breast milk two hours after consumption.27 According to USRTK:28

“Since the study assessed breast milk after just a single diet soda ingestion, researchers note that concentrations reported ‘may underestimate true infant exposure via the breast milk.’

Future research should determine concentration after repeated exposures, and whether chronic ingestion of artificial sweeteners via breast milk has clinically relevant health consequences including ‘alteration of taste preferences, gut microbiota, metabolism and weight trajectory’ of infants.”

An animal study revealed in 2020, however, that consuming sucralose during pregnancy inhibits intestinal development and induces gut dysbiosis in offspring, while exacerbating fatty liver disease in adulthood.29 The research team concluded:30

“These data strongly support … that MS [maternal sucralose] intake may be a potential threat for NAFLD [nonalcoholic fatty liver disease] in adulthood. As sucralose is widely used around the world, our findings may remind the pregnant women that more caution should be given to excessive sucralose consumption.”

Heating foods that contain sucralose at high temperatures may be particularly problematic, not only for pregnant women but for anyone. When foods containing sucralose are cooked or baked, toxic chlorinated compounds, such as chloropropanols and dioxins, may be created,31 raising concerns about carcinogenicity.

“Consumption of these hazardous substances and toxins could lead to diseases such as cancer, the skin disorder chloracne, as well as liver and kidney damage,” USRTK explained.32 In 2019, the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) warned:33

“Until a conclusive risk assessment is available, the BfR recommends not to heat foods containing Sucralose to temperatures that occur during baking, deep-frying and roasting, or to add Sucralose only after heating. This applies to consumers as well as to commercial food manufacturers.”

How to Give Up Artificial Sweeteners

I’ve been warning about the dangers of artificial sweeteners like sucralose since 2006, when my book, “Sweet Deception,” was released. While artificial sweeteners are found in many products, including beverages, dairy products, ketchup, salad dressing, baked goods and medications, the good news is that you can largely avoid them by focusing on a whole food diet and reading labels.

If you’re intentionally consuming artificial sweeteners to satisfy sweet cravings, I highly recommend using a psychological acupressure technique called the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) to control your cravings, as demonstrated in the video above.

For a healthier sugar substitute while you work on your cravings, stevia and lo han kuo (also spelled luo han guo) and pure glucose, also known as dextrose, are safer options to consider.

Sources and References

1, 20, 21, 22, 23, 25 BMJ 2022;378:e071204

2 SciTechDaily April 10, 2022

3, 9 Nature volume 615, pages 705–711 (2023)

4, 5, 6, 10 The Francis Crick Institute March 15, 2023

7, 8, 14 Nature March 15, 2023

11, 15, 16 Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health August 21, 2018

12 U.S. Right to Know November 19, 2018

13 Nature volume 615, pages 705–711 (2023), Sucralose mitigates autoimmune T cell responses

17, 18, 19 Microorganisms 2022, 10(2)

24 Nature volume 514, pages 181–186 (2014)

26 Trends Endocrinol Metab. 2013 Sep; 24(9): 431–441

27 J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr. 2018 Mar; 66(3): 466–470, What Is Known

28, 32 U.S. Right to Know, Sucralose: Emerging science reveals health risks July 6, 2022

29 Gut Microbes. 2020; 11(4): 1043–1063., Conclusions

30 Gut Microbes. 2020; 11(4): 1043–1063., Discussion

31 Food Chem. 2020 Aug 15;321:126700. doi: 10.1016/j.foodchem.2020.126700. Epub 2020 Mar 27

33 BfR April 9, 2019

The Truth About Sports Drinks

by Dr. David Eifrig

In the 1970s and 1980s, a new fitness fad took hold of America…

Richard Simmons and Jane Fonda appeared in living rooms across the country in brightly colored spandex, getting folks bouncing and exercising to upbeat, popular tunes. And amid this popular fitness craze were companies ready to pounce on the market, offering remedies and accessories for health-minded folks.

In the 1990s, it was hard to miss Gatorade. Anytime you’d turn on your TV, you’d see commercials featuring top athletes like Michael Jordan, Yao Ming, Peyton Manning, and Derek Jeter.

“Life is a sport – drink it up” was the motto. The Gatorade logo was everywhere – signs at sports arenas, athletic jerseys… even the giant water coolers that got dumped on the coach’s head at the end of a football game. You couldn’t even attend a child’s soccer game without seeing bottles of Gatorade everywhere.

But Gatorade Wasn’t the First

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In 1927, Glucozade (known today as Lucozade) hit the shelves. It was a citrus-flavored glucose and water drink marketed as an easily digestible form of energy for folks suffering from common illnesses like a cough or cold. Lucozade quickly became one of Great Britain’s most consumed beverages.

Then in 1965, Dr. Robert Cade developed Gatorade. Cade was a kidney specialist and assistant professor at the Florida University who wanted to figure out how to help football players recover in the hot summer heat. The original recipe consisted of water, sugar (though less than its competitor Lucozade), salt, and lemon juice.

It was the beginning of what would become a major selling point of sports drinks like Gatorade, Powerade, and Propel.

You’ve probably heard of electrolytes before, especially if you’ve ever seen the ads for electrolyte drinks during an American sporting event. The companies selling these sports drinks make a lot of claims about how healthy these drinks are… saying they’ll make you run faster, jump higher, and lift heavier weights. But how much of this is a marketing ploy, and how much is true?

What are electrolytes?

Electrolytes are tiny minerals found in your blood that carry an electric charge. Electrolytes play a role in many vital bodily functions, such as balancing the acidity (“pH”) of your blood, moving water throughout your body, and maintaining muscle function. Examples of electrolytes include sodium, calcium, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, and chloride.

Where do I get electrolytes?

The best natural way to make sure you’re getting plenty of electrolytes is through fruits. Fruits that are particularly high in electrolytes include strawberries, cherries, bananas, mangoes, and watermelons.

Eating your electrolytes is a great way to get them because, unlike Gatorade and other fancy sports drinks, there’s no added sugar when you’re eating a delicious mango (and you don’t need that added sugar, either).

How do I know if I have an electrolyte imbalance?

Infants, young children, and older adults are more likely to experience an electrolyte imbalance. Symptoms of an electrolyte imbalance include:

  • Headaches
  • Fatigue
  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Numbness
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Cramps

You’re more prone to lose extra electrolytes if you have:

  • Burns
  • Cancer
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Dehydration or overhydration
  • An eating disorder
  • Kidney or liver disease
  • A substance abuse disorder
  • When taking certain medications – like antibiotics, diuretics and laxatives, chemotherapy drugs, or corticosteroids

As we age, we lose more electrolytes through our urine, because our kidneys are working less efficiently. So it’s even more important for older folks to consume extra electrolytes.

Folks who sweat a lot should also make sure they’re getting plenty of electrolytes. When you sweat, your body loses electrolytes. Electrolytes help your body maintain its hydration. Your body loses them after working out (and not properly hydrating), which increases your risk of dehydration.

Can I have too many electrolytes?

It’s possible to have too many electrolytes, just as it is possible to have too few. Severe electrolyte imbalances can lead to very serious health complications like a cardiac arrest, seizure, or even a coma. For example, too many electrolytes can mean your body has too much sodium, called hypernatremia. Too few electrolytes (and, as a result, not enough sodium) can lead to hyponatremia.

When should I worry about needing electrolytes?

The best times to replenish your body’s electrolyte supply are one hour before exercising and immediately after working out. This will allow your body to function well during your exercise and to recover well afterward.

Do what I do and eat lots of fresh fruits (and vegetables). If I’m reaching for a sports drink, it’s probably because I haven’t eaten enough fruit and I’m already sweating a lot.

But if you choose to hydrate with a sports drink, that’s fine. Just make sure to choose one with little or no added sugar. Or you can make your own by adding a few squeezes of lemon to your water.

Electrolyte drinks come in many different forms – powder, tablets, drops, and already mixed pre-made drinks. Eight ounces of an electrolyte drink has about 14 grams of sugar. You’ll want to look for options with the least amount of sugar possible.

Discover magazine named the electrolyte drink mix made by Elm & Rye the best sports drink of 2023. Other top choices they named include the 365 by Whole Foods Market variety and the Bodyarmor Lyte sports drink.

My Comment: Skip anything with sugar in it. One can buy electrolyte (salt) tablets. Gatorade and other such abominations are just another avenue of how the food and beverage industry uses sugar and high fructose corn syrup to addict unwary consumers to their disease-causing products. Electrolyte tablets are also hugely less expensive compared “sports” drinks.