Archive for June, 2013

Below is a link to my newest article on the Paleo Solution blog,


America’s war on calories has led to an increase in the consumption of zero calorie and low calorie beverages. The thought process of most is that these beverages contain no calories so I can enjoy my sweetened drink without the downfall of gaining weight. In theory this may sound practical, but we are a much more complicated species then that.

One of the most popular methods of sweetening zero calorie and low calorie beverages is the use of aspartame. Most of you may recognize aspartame as NutraSweet. Aspartame is a methyl ester made from aspartic acid and phenylalanine dipeptide. The FDA in 2007 stated that aspartame was safe for life long use at the average daily dose. I for one disagree wholeheartedly with the FDA on that statement.

When aspartame is metabolized it is converted into methanol. A byproduct of this metabolism is formaldehyde. The detoxification of aspartame is very similar to that of alcohol. Government officials listed formaldehyde as a carcinogen. Formaldehyde is also produced from common air pollution, cigarettes, nail polish, and perfumes to name just a few ( Does this mean that your diet soda is going to give you cancer? Not necessarily, but remember there is a spectrum to exposure.

The more you are exposed to formaldehyde the higher the chances of suffering negative health consequences. Also, the status of your detoxification pathways is extremely important. If there is dysfunction in that detoxification pathway, the harder it will be for your body to protect itself from potential dangers of pollutants. In rat studies formaldehyde at 1-3mmol/L started to induce cell death. At those same levels glutathione was decreased which increased the vulnerability of cells to oxidative damage ( That study does somehow suggest that abuse doses of aspartame are harmless to humans. In my opinion that study states the opposite. Other studies also show the immune suppressant effects of aspartame (

Aspartame being derived from phenylalanine can also lead to addiction. Phenylalanine is an amino acid that is a precursor for our catecholamines, especially the endorphin groups. A deficiency in endorphins is a primary cause of those with running addictions. It is also found to be deficient in those with opiate addictions. This alone can lead to overconsumption of aspartame. Aspartame has also been shown to increase blood sugar, cause migraines, cause mood disorders and neurodegeneration, and cancer. There can also be withdrawal symptoms associated with the removal of aspartame ( Know anyone that loves their diet soda?

Consuming too much aspartame may also increase sugar cravings. Phenylalanine is also a precursor for dopamine. An increase in dopamine leads to an increase in serotonin. Over the long haul serotonin can become depleted trying to keep up. A symptom of serotonin deficiency is the craving of sweets, especially in the afternoon and evening. Anxiety, irritability, and depression are also side effects of serotonin deficiency.

Does this mean you need to ditch aspartame containing products all together? Definitely not, but do not make it a staple in your diet. I would recommend using a lemon to sweeten water, or raw sugar in your coffee if you need a sweetener. How aspartame will effect one person to the next all depends on their detoxification pathways and the amount of exposure to formaldehyde. Remember if we eat right, manage our stress, get adequate sleep, and get out in the sun, the more of these pollutants our body can handle. That does not mean if you do those things it is a free pass, but it can definitely be less of a concern.

Here is my latest article on the Paleo solution Blog regarding mercury levels in fish,

Health and wellness is an all encompassing concept.  It has come to my attention that people will pay attention to one or two aspects, but not the whole picture.  This is a popular example: “I exercise for 60-90 minutes 6-7 days per week, eat paleo, but can’t lose belly fat.”  In some cases people have even gained weight in this scenario.  Yes, believe it or not you can literally run yourself into a bigger pants size.  So what can people in this position do?

For one, cut back on the exercise.  Exercise is a stressor and too much of it can cause issues.  We need the right amount of stress to force adaptation to come back stronger.  Too much or too little of the stress and we can run into some issues.  Next, make sure you really are eating paleo.  I have seen people eating paleo pancakes every morning that tell me they eat paleo.  Stick to the meats, fish eggs, and veggies.  Limit fruit intake to 1-2 servings per day and use the safe starches to fuel workout recovery and get plenty of healthy fats.  I am a fan of removing nuts for 30 days because they can be addicting and they are a common gut irritant.  Used as a condiment after the 30 days would be where I stand there.

On top of all that WE MUST HANDLE OUR STRESS!  People tell me all of the time that they are not stressed.  However, if you do not actively participate in some form of stress management it is negatively affecting you.  We encounter stress chronically on a day to day basis.  Deep breathing can be a wonderful tool.  Practicing diaphragmatic breathing can help correct improper breathing patterns as well as lower heart rate.  This not only can help alleviate stress, but also increase performance in sport!

Quality sleep is critical.  If you are not getting at least 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep in a completely blacked out room, you are not sleeping well.  Waking up during the night is a sign that circadian rhythm is not functioning properly.  A disruption in circadian rhythm will make it nearly impossible to lose weight and help alleviate any symptoms (

Vitamin D is also critical.  Low vitamin D levels in men correlate with low testosterone (  Get outside and get some sunlight.  This can be stress relieving as well.  Bring along your Ipod and listen to some calming music.

It is also important to develop relationships with friends.  Having social support is another big piece of health.  This is why there are “support groups”  You need to find friends that are your support group.  There is actually an increased risk of death in persons with low quantity or low quality social relationships ( 

There is a lot of areas that need to be addressed for us to be totally healthy.  Take a step back and look at the areas in which you can improve upon.  Then develop a plan and check back in a few weeks and see how much better you feel.  I bet you will be surprised at how much improvement can come from something as small as concentrated breathing.