SUPPLEMENTS & SUBSTITUTES
Dietetic food, i.e. vitamin supplements and other modified foods, is intended for people with special nutritional needs (and is not replacement for food). Such food has specific composition and it is made through special production method.
Specially formulated dietary foods with lower energy value which is intended for obese people to help them loose weight, should only be used after consultation with the doctor/pharmacists and accordingly to the manufacturer guidance.
Dietary supplements are foods that supplement a “normal” diet and represent concentrated source of vitamins, minerals or other substances with nutritive or physiological effect, alone or in combination, marketed and intended to be taken in dosage and in small amounts (capsules, tablets, powders, ampoules of liquids, bottles for dosing in drops, etc.).
Recommended daily intake of supplements should not be exceeded because supplements overdose can have detrimental effects on people’s health and in some cases may cause death.
The best way to calculate daily requirements is to seek expert’s advice; talk to your doctor on whether you need supplements and/or should you refrain from it if you are taking specific medication or food.
The amount of sodium in salt substitutes should not be higher than 120 mg per 100 g of salt substitutes for human consumption!
Food For People Intolerant To Gluten
Gluten is the protein fraction of wheat seeds – rye, barley and oats – or their hybridized varieties, to which some people are intolerant.
The term “gluten-free” may be used in the labelling, advertising and presentation of the product only if the gluten content does not exceed 20mg/kg in the foodstuff in the form in which it is sold to the end consumer.
The term “very low gluten content” may be used for foods derived from wheat, rye, barley, oats or their hybrid wheat varieties, with gluten contentnot higher than 100 mg/kg;
Sugar And Sugar Substitutes
Today, refined sugar, with excess calories and physical inactivity, is commonly associated with obesity which is a mayor challenge globally.
Too much added sugar can cause insulin resistance, cardiovascular disease, fatty liver and many other health problems that cost national health system millions of dollars per year.
To prevent and tackle obesity, control calorie consumption and maintain sweet taste, many people now routinely consume artificial sweeteners.
But too much of these chemical compounds in many products of everyday use, from tooth paste to processed food, raise the questions of their safety, and are matter of public concern worldwide.
Accordingly to American Heart Association recommended daily intake of added sugar should not exceed 35.7g (9 teaspoons) for men and 25g (6 teaspoons) for women.
Today, there are various artificial, low-calorie sweeteners added to beverages, pastries and processed food.
The four main categories include artificial sweeteners, natural sweeteners, sugar alcohols and dietary supplements.
Synthetic sweeteners such as aspartame, saccharin, sucralose, sucrose (table sugar) have long been the subject of controversy and linked to cancer (in laboratory animals, but there is no enough scientific evidence to prove that they have harmful effect on human health.
Several early studies have linked the use of large amounts of Saccharin in experimental animals with bladder cancer, after which attempts to ban it on the American market started.
However, more than 30 studies have subsequently demonstrated its safety in recommended amounts.
Saccharin is used in beverages as a tabletop sweetener in dietetic products, foods with reduced energy value, in medicines and cosmetics.
It is estimated that tens of millions of Americans take products that contain saccharin on a daily basis.
Saccharin metabolism: It is incompletely absorbed in the intestine and eliminated unchanged in the urine and to a lesser extent in the faeces. This means that saccharin does not accumulate in our body.
Aspartame is used in dry products and table-top sweeteners, chewing gum without sugar, confectionery products, desserts, soft drinks and beer, dietary supplements; and often in combination with saccharin and other sweeteners.
Aspartame metabolism: After absorption it decomposes in the body. Its potentially toxic metabolite is methanol. One glass of tomato juice naturally release about 50 mg of methanol in the body!
Caution: People with phenylketonuria must not consume aspartame because its metabolites accumulate in the body and lead to brain damage and mental retardation.
Natural Sugars And Sweeteners
Natural sweeteners are fructose (fruit sugar), lactose (milk sugar) maltose (produced by starch breakdown) and dextrose (simple sugar, made from corn).
Fructose is natural sugar in fruit, vegetables and honey. As a sweetener it can be added, in higher concentrations, to beverages, processed foods, cereals, etc.
Caution: Despite its “natural” origin, too much fructose consumption is linked to cardiovascular and renal disease.
This sugar is the only sugar that inhibits excretion of uric acid, reduces insulin in blood, thus decreasing leptin, the “satiety hormone” which further inhibits hunger.
It means that fructose, in larger amounts, can trigger a series of events in our body that prevent our brain from “calculating” calories correctly. As a result of that we are hungrier and eat more, i.e. gain weight.
However, the fructose in fruits is found in small amounts and have beneficial effect on our health.
Natural sweeteners such ashoney, maple syrup, molasses, stevia, and sucrose are manufactured from natural products without changing its chemical structures.
Stevia E 960, which in Japan has been used as a sweetener for decades, is banned in America as a food additive because of the potentially mutagenic effect of its metabolites.
Experts say that questions remain over whether our body “recognise” such substances or eventually trigger even more insulin production.
Also, the long-term effects of low-calorie sweeteners such as stevia have been subject of on-going debate on how these compounds affect the hormones that might alter the brain function.
Absorption and metabolism of natural sweeteners: slow and incomplete absorption in the intestines. Easily ferment in the colon but resistant to the fermentation in the mouth. Fermentation in the colon produces lower-molecular fatty acids.
Sugar Alcohols And Their E Numbers
Sugar alcohols are low-calorie sweetener occurring naturally in many fruit and commonly found in food such as sugar-free chewing gums, candies, cookies, puddings, ice creams, etc.
They are said to be the least harmful artificial sweeteners, but there is no enough evidence they are beneficial for our health.