Is the new “f” word a health risk?

IsaLean is a meal replacement put out by Isagenix.  It tastes great.  What makes it taste great?  In part, 23 grams of fructose.  Hmmm . . . the new “f” word.  Fructose.  Fructose is bad, isn’t it?  After all, we hear terrible things about high fructose corn syrup (HFCS).  We hear it’s in pastries and snack foods and while those foods were never healthy, today they’ll kill ya . . . they’re loaded with fructose.

Oh, wait, but then there are those folks who recognize fructose as the sugar in fruit and honey and that must make it a natural choice.  So what’s the real story on this much publicized but misunderstood sweetener?

Let’s start with the basics.  Fructose is the sugar found in fruit . . . but . . . the sugar that you get in the little packet that you pour into your coffee is found in sugar cane . .  . and that too is natural.

The larger question here is, what happens to the biological / biochemical / hormonal environment when these compounds are consumed

The average American consumes near 170 pounds of sugar a year, and I’ve addressed the negative ramifications of high sugar intake in seminars, appearances, and articles for years.  Type II diabetes and escalations in obesity are direct “side effects” of chronic long term high or erratic sugar intake.

Fructose (a part of the sucrose molecule in partnership with glucose) makes foods sweet, and people are more likely to enjoy pastries, snack foods, juices, and the like if those foodstuffs are “sweetened.”

Food manufacturers have always recognized the product value of sweeteners.  If you are a food manufacturer, your employees show up for work every day so that the company can show a profit, and if you reduce costs without reducing selling price . . . profits increase. It’s simple math.  You also understand that if a given ingredient has a significant impact on taste and mouth feel, volume of sales will increase.

HFCS came along in the 1960’s when science learned to take the dextrose (glucose) extracted from corn (starch) and through enzymatic conversions, intensify the sweetness converting much of the dextrose into fructose.  In other words, much if not most of the fructose in HFCS is manufactured, not taken from our friend the apple.

This offered those food manufacturers a bonanza.  HFCS was cheap! Very cheap!

Before I share where, in the grocery, you’re going to find the greatest concentrations of fructose, let’s go back to how fructose behaves in the human body.  In its natural form, fructose is absorbed through the wall of the intestine (although HFCS may ferment in the colon), and unlike glucose which can be metabolized anywhere in the body, fructose heads to the liver.  If we consider “nature” and the natural availability of foods, we get protein from animal foods (and select plant foods), we get complex carbs from starches, and we get fructose from berries, grapes, and fruits that grow on trees.  Fruits are water dense and when considered as a part of a “natural” overall nutrition program, fructose constitutes a very small percentage of the caloric compounds we ingest.  In other words, while our livers are naturally prepared for small amounts of fructose, nature never provided us the intense fructose concentrations we find in manufactured foods.  High fructose corn syrup is not in and of itself the problem (although it certainty presents its unique challenges) but the overall volume of fructose children (and adults) consume today is unnatural.  In that, the liver is metabolically challenged with voluminous amounts of fructose.  Through a complex metabolic conversion, the liver converts fructose into fatty acids and the consequential outcome is an increase in triglycerides, and fat accumulation in the liver itself (the sudden escalation in “fatty liver” in adolescents and children has taken the causality away from predominantly indicting alcohol and now including HFCS as a primary contributor).

If you were to eat supportively, natural foods, and in the course of the day consume an apple, a handful of berries, and a few citrus treats, you’d enjoy small amounts of fructose without any metabolic disruption.  In fact, the ingestion of the natural fruits would serve as a welcome source of energy.  When we begin to look at how HFCS has infiltrated the shelves of the grocery store, you begin to understand how “excess” happened.

Supermarket-sold whole wheat breads, English muffins, sandwich rolls, and baked breakfast treats not only get their taste in great part from HFCS, but they also attribute their beautiful slightly brown color and comforting mouth feel to this manufactured sweetening compound.

Soft drinks rely on sweeteners for taste.  Not only is HFCS the most intensely sweet sugar, but it preserves taste and increases shelf life of these best selling beverages.

Start to peruse the shelves that house pasta sauces and pizza sauces.  They’re all made from tomatoes and flavored with sweeteners that reduce the tart taste tomatoes bring.  HFCS does a wonderful job of balancing tartness.  Ditto for barbecue sauces and other taste enhancing sauce products made with a tomato base.

It’s in flavored yogurts, the yogurt products aimed at children, and many salad dressings.  It’s in cereals, lunch meats, sausage products, macaroni and cheese products, packaged processed foods, juices, juice concentrates, and the boxed and packaged kid’s meals.  It’s even in flavored children’s cold medicines and cough syrups.

High Fructose Corn Syrup has proven a great boon to the manufacturers of product, both because of its taste and because of its ability to extend shelf life.

With this abbreviated list demonstrating the prevalence of HFCS in the average American food system, it should become blatantly clear how “the natural sugar in fruit” differs from “the fructose consumed by Americans.”

I started by mentioning IsaLean by Isagenix.  What prompted me to post this was a Facebook comment critical of the fructose in what may be a very good product.  Fructose is not bad.  Too much fructose and chemically created fructose are bad.  If a product made to provide superior nutrition to people caught up in the eating habits that plague our nation contains the fructose of ¾ of an apple, let’s not throw it out as bad.

I have become not only a fan of, but a distributor of the Isagenix product line, and at first, I had the knee-jerk reaction when I saw “23 grams of fructose.”  Isalean is a product aimed at helping the mainstream replace high-fat high-sugar low-nutrient meals that are the standard fare with a nutrient-strong formula.  In order for the consumer to use it with any regularity, it must taste good, and 23 grams of fructose (3/4 of an apple) is reasonable, especially when included in a product with a superior protein, complementary enzymes, and a supportive and valuable micronutrient mix.

I will add, Isagenix makes lower sugar and sugar-free powders for athletes and the more fitness-conscious marketplace.  I don’t use Isalean.  I steer my clients toward two other products.  Isapro is an exceptional protein powder and IsaLeanPro is a lower-fructose higher-protein meal replacement than Isalean.

My intention in this article was to help shed some light on the difference between “eating fructose” and “making high fructose corn syrup a mainstay.”  I hope I did that well. I also hoped I could minimize the knee-jerk reaction that is commonplace when people hear that I’ve connected with a multi-level-marketing product line and they find a single line item questionable and in an instant dismiss the entire line.  Using and selling Isagenix was not a random move on my part.  If you want to know why I stepped away from my own nutritional supplement company to begin representing Isagenix, you’ll want to read this revealing report:

Know this.  Fructose is not bad.  Too much fructose is unhealthy, and getting excesses of fructose from manufactured compounds is . . . well . . . very different than enjoying a high quality meal or meal replacement sweetened with a reasonable amount of natural sugar.


Healthy Pasta?

People love love love pasta, and while in the 80’s fitness enthusiasts revered pasta, today, those seeking weight loss believe pasta to be an enemy, and long for a miracle pasta that proves to be a healthy choice. That creates what marketers know as a vulnerable market

This morning a member of my Be Better Platinum Group sent an email out to the group. After responding, and in the wake of the response I received to yesterday’s blog regarding disturbing truths related to what we eat, I asked his permission to post it . . . and with Jim’s permission, here is the question and answer:

* * *

I had a client bring in a “Healthy Carb Living” Pasta. She believes it’s low carb (Even though it reads 41g per serving)… yet here’s the claim:

“LIke other premium pastas, Dreamfields is made from durum wheat semolina, which is why it tastes great. However, Dreamfield’s patent pending formula and unique manufacturing process creates a matrix within the pasta, protecting 31 grams of carbohydrates from being digested”

wtf? I have my thoughts… But does anyone have any knowledge/comments about this that I can share to shed some light…




What a load of . . . poop! Let’s review what we know. The wheat used today to make virtually any food has been hybridized with other non-wheat compounds to result in a faster growing crop with inbred challenges to human cellular health. We’ll start there.

Even with the compromises, we eat for fuel, and pasta, as runners have known for years, is a great “carb loading food.” We do use the carbs. The primary reasons pasta is far from ideal for most people with escalating bodyfat levels are (1) the processing reduces the thermic effect (2) the refined carbs result in blood sugar spikes. If we could theoretically remove the digestability, the thermic effect would be further reduced, and rather than getting compromised energy calories, if we fail to absorb what we eat, we get none. If the claims were true, it would be like mixing hunks of paper in with a small amount of pasta to say “much of this is not a digestible carb.” As Ernie suggested, it would mean more waste moving through the system to no beneficial end.

Here’s where it gets interesting. A study was conducted on this specific product and published in the Journal, Diabetes Care. The title was Glycemic Response to Ingested Dreamfields Pasta Compared to Traditional Pasta.

Ref: Nuttall FQ, Gannon MC, Hoover H. Glycemic response to ingested Dreamfields pasta compared with traditional pasta. Diabetes Care 2011;34:e17–e18

If you try to access it ( you’ll find it was withdrawn. It says it was withdrawn because it was not approved by IRB prior. IIRB stands for Institutional Review Board. These are supposed to be third party ethics boards that determine if research is fair, but like all agencies created by people to control what we learn about big business, they are easily corrupted. Somebody didn’t want this study out there.

What’s good for our purposes is, while they pulled the study from the actual Journal, they neglected to pull it from the medical libraries . . . so . . . (access it quickly. I don’t know how long it will be up there).

What was the conclusion? The glucose spike was IDENTICAL to traditional pasta. The amazing thing is, despite this evidence, sales are going up . . . mainly because the public is exposed to marketing, not to science.

See how much there is for us to battle?

4 Facts . . . B4 the Holidays!

Last week I completed another ALIVE seminar at Memorial Hospital In South Florida and I enjoyed again meeting a group of employees and fitness center members.

I discussed why this is a critical time for preventing or reversing the chronic disease and obesity struggle that plagues such a large segment of our population.  It’s an ideal time for what I might call “pre-emptive RESCUE!”

A new ALIVE group kicks off tonight (Monday, October 22) and the evening before, I felt prompted to share some simple facts that can completely change your relationship with your own body, health, and well-being.


  1. The biggest mistakes: people exercise too much or fail to eat enough. I know that sounds counter-intuitive but after helping over 50,000 people find new health and fitness, I see false beliefs the primary culprit behind exercise failure and fitness failure.  The belief that “more is better” leads to an unproductive imbalance in the “Stress Load : Recovery” process and increased caloric need through exercise combines with insufficient caloric need through dieting.  This leads to a loss of motivation, fatigue, irritability, muscle catabolism (loss), and metabolic slowdown.  A clinging to conventional beliefs (eat less, exercise more) prohibits many people from recognizing the flaws in their approach.  Simple shifts in the Stress : Recovery Balance lead to a significant physical improvement in a very short period of time.
  2. The time to start thinking about the New Year’s Resolution is now.  There’s a reason we scheduled an ALIVE group for October 22.  The 8 weeks wrap up the week before Christmas.  A 2010 study conducted by the National Institutes of Health revealed that 80% of America’s annual weight gain takes place in the weeks between Thanksgiving and New Years.  By using that period to improve metabolism, restore health, and begin a process of ongoing fat release, you can make the New Year’s Resolution an unnecessary ritual left to be made by those who fell into the plight of the masses.  In other words, by getting it right now, you can enjoy the Holidays in be in better shape come January 1st with the potential to take that improvement as far as you’d like.  Another study, which is more disconcerting, was conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and University of Oklahoma.  It revealed that the fat accumulated during the Holiday season is excessively visceral fat contributing to abdominal adiposity and indicative of much enhanced risk of heart disease and diabetes.  Instead of waiting until New Years to attempt control, make simple shifts now.
  3. Eat Gluten Free, but not “Gluten-Free.”  This is a complex issue as two things have changed over the past few decades making Gluten, a protein present in wheat products, a virtual toxin to an ever-growing segment of our population. The two things that have changed are human digestion (due to the reduction in probiotics and the limited intake of living foods) and wheat itself.  The wheat you eat today is not the same wheat your grandparents ate.  Science has allowed the food industry to produce wheat that grows faster, and that means “more money in less time’ for the food industry.  The wheat has been hybridized, genetically created by genetically mixing it with the genes of various non-wheat plants.  The outcome can be processed like wheat, but is alien to the human body.  Poor digestion, limited probiotic activity, and poor dietary habits lead to “leaky gut” becoming common place which allows the hybridized gluten to enter the blood stream and drive a host of inflammatory reactions.  As the gluten-challenge has been recognized (although misunderstood), food manufacturers capitalized by producing foods labeled “gluten free.”  The problem is, when foods that are typically made with gluten are prepared with alternative methods, the substitute compounds may be every bit as harmful as gluten, if not more.  You’ll typically find compounds such as tapioca, potato-starch, rice-starch, or cornstarch.  These mass-produced pulverized starches raise blood sugar and contribute both to obesity and diabetes.  People with celiac disease, who opt for foods wearing the gluten-free label, often struggle with blood sugar and weight challenges that complicate their health concerns.  You do want to minimize or avoid gluten, but the trick lies in finding options that are found in organic markets or the perimeter of the grocery store.  Gluten-free anything that comes in a box is not going to be a supportive food.
  4. GMO is the abbreviation for Genetically Modified Organism.  There will be a great deal of debate over whether these foods are dangerous. The reason for the debate is simply a battle driven by commerce.  Genetically modifying foods to make them resistant to herbicides and pesticides means more money both for the food companies and the chemical companies who manufacture these –cides.  Because the food and chemical lobbies are so strong, such altered foods need not be labeled any differently than natural non-modified foods.  While I promise a debate will ensue, enough science is out to demonstrate, beyond any doubt, that these foods are harmful, as is the increase in the use of weed-killers and bug-killers that do cellular damage in the human organism.  Right now there is a proposition on the ballot in California proposing “truth in labeling” for GMO’s.  The fact that honest labeling is a voting issue clearly evidences, steps are being taken to prevent the general public from developing true awareness.  While it’s hard, in a grocery store, to identify “organic,” and avoid “GMO,” the additional cost of shopping in a natural market is a bit of an insurance policy allowing you to make choices from a more selective stock.  Here’s the bottom line.  If you want health, you have to go above and beyond the ordinary to make truly healthful nutritional choices.  Sad?  Yes.  Frustrating?  Yes.  Unfair?  Yes. True?  Yes.

I know it seems early to start thinking “holidays,'” but you’ll remember, I was the one who first prepared you!  In doing precisely that I’ll simply say, please plan to make this Holiday Season a time where you recognize health as the greatest gift you can give and receive.

Phil Kaplan