Posts Tagged ‘Food and Drug Administration’

Are Weight Loss Pills Addictive?

October 31st, 2010

Copyright 2010

Weight Loss Pills can seem an easy dieting solution, but beware.The history of weight loss pills dates back to the 1930s, when two physicians at Stanford University discovered that the industrial compound dinitrophenol could speed up metabolism in humans.

Ever since then, weight loss pills have been a huge part of the diet industry: they seem to present a nearly effortless solution to weight loss. Even at their often expensive prices, wouldn’t it be worth the money if you could just take a few pills to lose weight instead of having to research healthy diets, avoid the temptation of junk food, and spend all that time on the treadmill?

Weight loss pills are an extremely seductive solution to the problem of obesity, but they have a very mixed record.

Some have been effective, some have not, and some have actually caused death – a prominent example being the fenfluramine and phentermine (fen-phen) combination that rose to fame in the 1990s. While the efficacy of weight loss pills has been in question since they were first introduced, an even darker threat looms behind the promise of easy weight loss: the possibility of addiction.

Weight loss pills employ a variety of chemicals and compounds that work in a variety of different ways. Some simply suppress the appetite while others speed up metabolism. Still others prevent the absorption of dietary fat by the digestive tract.

While some of the substances used may be dangerous (or have the potential for dangerous side affects) on their own or in combination with others, some of them also have known addictive qualities, and these are the pills that are especially dangerous. Pills that contain amphetamines, tranquilizers, stimulants such as ephedra and caffeine, or phenylpropranolamine can be addictive, especially if they are abused.

Dieters can also become psychologically addicted to pills by reasoning that if one or two doses helps them lose weight, then three or four would be an even bigger help.

Many dieters begin using weight loss pills responsibly but ultimately ingest more than the recommended dosage, either because they don’t seem to be effective or because they’re very effective. The psychological reward that comes with losing weight can push a dieter to feel that he or she “needs” the pills to lose weight and feel good.

Weight loss pills can pose an additional risk to dieters because many non-prescription pills are considered “supplements” and thus are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration until it has time to study them. Non-regulated weight loss pills pose an especially high risk because it’s impossible for the average dieter to tell exactly what’s in them. They may contain substances that have previously been deemed harmful by the FDA, but are allowed on the market until a judgment can be made that they’re unfit for consumers.Choosing to diet safely and sensibly is the greatest weight loss success!

The FDA maintains a list on its website of the supplements that it has deemed unsafe. It states that these supplements may contain undeclared ingredients that are harmful to dieters or even prescription drugs in doses far higher than is recommended.

There is quite a bit of bad press surrounding weight loss pills, and for good reason: non-prescription pills may contain harmful substances; and even prescription pills may or may not be effective. If a dieter chooses to use such supplements, he or she should search for those that are FDA-approved. The dieter should also be careful to follow dosing instructions carefully, and to seek help if he or she feels symptoms of addiction or withdrawal. At any rate, weight loss pills are no substitute for a sensible diet and exercise plan when it comes to losing weight.

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How to Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth on a Diabetic Diet

October 23rd, 2010

Diabetics require a well-balanced diet without lots of processed sugars and carbohydrates.Copyright 2010

If you’ve been diagnosed with Type-1 or Type-2 diabetes, you’ll find that your doctor recommends a very specific diabetic diet that excludes certain kinds of food entirely. The goal of a specialized diet is to exercise control over one’s blood sugar levels; unfortunately, this means that some of your favorite foods might be ruled out entirely.

If you’re diabetic, foods high in carbohydrates, especially sweet foods containing lots of sugar, can wreak havoc on blood glucose levels and are generally out of the question.

Yet we all crave something sweet once in a while; who doesn’t love a good dessert after a filling meal? Fortunately, there are ways to satisfy those cravings for sweets without ruining your diet. Even if you aren’t diabetic, you can take advantage of these tips; keeping your blood sugar levels under control is always a good idea, as it will reduce fluctuations in your weight and decrease your likelihood of developing adult onset diabetes.

The American Medical Association recommends that people with diabetes should reduce their intake of simple carbohydrates. These simple carbs most often take the form of processed foods such as white bread and candy. The easiest way to replace these foods with something healthier, but still palatable, is to eat more fruit instead of candy and other sweets.

Fruits, carefully chosen, are a great way to provide sweets in a diabetic diet.Fruits can satisfy your cravings for something sweet while still remaining diabetic-friendly since they’re not composed of the simple, processed carbs that are found in unhealthy foods.

However, not all fruit is created equal: some types of fruit will still have a significant effect on your blood glucose levels. A banana, for example, may be delicious but it’s practically a candy bar where blood sugar levels are concerned.

Look up the glycemic index to determine which fruits are safe to eat for diabetics; the lower a food’s glycemic index (or GI) value, the less it will affect your blood sugar levels and the safer it is for those with diabetes.

“Regular” soda is another guilty pleasure that you must avoid on a diabetic diet. It’s become very common in the Western (American) diet, with disastrous results: the Journal of the American Medical Association published a study which showed that women who regularly drank soda or fruit juice were more likely to develop Type 2 diabetes, in addition to being heavier.

Diet soda, in moderation, can be a suitable beverage substitute for diabetics.

These highly-sugared drinks are a diabetic’s worst nightmare, causing blood sugar levels to shoot up out of control.

The good news is that diet sodas have been on the market for quite some time, and they’ve made great strides toward being safe alternatives to their sugar-packed cousins. Many diet sodas are sweetened with aspartame, a synthetic sweetener that is used as a substitute for sugar in many foods.

The Food and Drug Administration has stated that aspartame is one of the most thoroughly tested additives that they’ve ever studied and that it’s safe for human consumption at reasonable levels. Thus, sodas sweetened with aspartame can be very useful to the diabetic who is addicted to soda, as long as it’s used in moderation. Of course, it’s always better to drink water rather than any type of sweetened drink, but diet sodas are always preferable to sodas sweetened with sugar or high fructose corn syrup.

Sugar substitutes can make a diabetic diet easier for you to incorporate into everyday living.Similarly, sucralose is another artificial sweetener that has been deemed safe for human consumption by the FDA. It’s useful for diabetics since it contains no sugar and thus does not affect blood glucose levels. It’s known by a few different names, most commonly as Splenda, and is used as a sugar substitute anywhere that sugar would normally be used.

However, it’s important to note that sucralose is often “fluffed up” by manufacturers: they add dextrose or maltodextrin to give it a granular texture, similar to that of normal sugar. This means that some forms of sucralose, including Splenda, do actually contain small amounts of sugar despite the fact that their packaging states otherwise. Take care to use sucralose-based sweeteners in moderation and you can enjoy baked treats and other desserts that you never thought you could have if you’re diabetic.

It’s never easy to make significant changes to your diet, especially if you suddenly find your doctor recommending a diabetic diet where you must eliminate many of the foods that you once enjoyed. However, just these few tips can go a long way toward curbing your sugar cravings in a diabetic-friendly way.

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