Stevia - what makes it different?

Stevia (http://www.stevia.com)  is a healthy alternative to sugar. What sets it apart from other sugar substitutes though? What makes it safer to consume? We've pulled from a few different resources to help explain why we allow Stevia in our total health challenge but no other sugar substitutes (including honey and maple syrup.) 

** as always, consume in moderation. even Stevia.

"Stevia is perhaps unique among food ingredients because it's most valued for what it doesn't do. It doesn't add calories. Unlike other sugar substitutes, stevia is derived from a plant. 

A 2010 study in the journal Appetite tested several artificial sweeteners against sugar and each other in 19 lean people and 12 obese people. The study found people did not overeat after consuming a meal made with stevia instead of sugar. Their blood sugar was lower after a meal made with stevia than after eating a meal with sugar, and eating food with stevia resulted in lower insulin levels than eating either sucrose and aspartame." (Learn more at http://www.livescience.com/39601-stevia-facts-safety.html)

"Sucrose, whose main element is sucralose, is found in Splenda and other sweeteners. In a recent study, researchers at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis found that when non-diabetic, severely obese participants drank sucralose, their blood sugar rose and their insulin levels increased by nearly 20 percent." 

Saccharin (found in Sweet N Low) and Aspartame (found in Equal and Nutrisweet) have also been found to negatively affect the body. (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/stevia-a-safe-natural-alternative-to-sugar-and-artificial-sweeteners-2013-10-22?reflink=MW_news_stmp)

Honey, though it contains vitamins and minerals, is not allowed in our total health challenge because it is can raise your blood sugar and spike insulin. 

Maple Syrup, though not listed as a "no" ingredient is also not allowed in our total health challenge because it too like honey will raise your blood sugar. Here's an interesting article about that. (https://authoritynutrition.com/maple-syrup/)


Here is an another article for reference explaining some differences between Stevia, Honey and other sweeteners. (http://bodyecology.com/articles/which_are_good_sweeteners.php)




Natural and Affordable Remedies for Staying Healthy this Season

by Mary Margaret Sparks

Winter is a tough season for sickness. I don't like to depend too much on medicine so I use essential oils and other natural remedies around my house. Since I'm pregnant, I'm limited on the medicines I can take anyway so I rely heavily on the things below to keep me feeling healthy. 

A few notes before we get started: I don't get a flu shot and have not yet had the flu. I struggle with sinus and allergy issues and have seen results from these natural remedies.  If you get caught with a cold or sinus infection, these remedies can help provide relief even if you are taking some medicine.

Make sure you do your own research on anything and talk with your physician before you take it so you're well-informed. If you're pregnant or trying to get pregnant, talk with your physician first because many herbs are not safe to ingest during pregnancy.

1. Apple Cider Vinegar - this is great for cleansing your immune system and flushing out toxins.  I don't like the taste but I add a spoonful to juice or water and shoot it down. Make sure you use unfiltered apple cider vinegar because that has all of the nutrients. Braggs is a great brand that I use and can be purchased at Kroger. The bottles are large but you only use a little at a time.

2. Essential Oils - Tea tree, peppermint and eucalyptus are my three go to oils when I'm feeling under the weather. You can put them in a diffuser to purify the air in your home, add a few drops to your humidifier, put a few drops in a hot steamy shower, or even put some in a bowl of boiling water and breath in the steam.

There are ways to use essential oils in throat sprays and salves but make sure you ask your doctor or midwife before you use any essential oils. Tea tree oil is available for cheap at Trader Joes and I have purchased my essential oils at Rainbow Blossom and online in the past. I also asked for oils as a Christmas present and got some!

3. Tea - I drink Rooibus tea pretty much everyday. Often referred to as red tea or African red tea, Rooibus is a herbal tea made from a root in South Africa. It's full of antioxidants to keep you feeling great plus it also helps relieve stress and anxiety.  Green and white teas are also full of antioxidants so drinking a cup or two a day can really help.

You can also drink herbal teas which have a lot of immunity boosting support. Just make sure you research any herbs if you're pregnant because many are not safe. I like Yogi tea which can be found at Kroger in the organic section but there are so many other affordable brands out there.

yogi tea.png

4. Water - it is so important to stay hydrated. Drinking plenty of liquids helps to flush out toxins from your body.

5. Local Honey - Adding local honey to apple cider vinegar or tea really helps with sore and scratchy throats. Some people believe local honey can help with allergies. I've read mixed results but I do find that it helps provide me some relief. Rainbow Blossom and farmer's markets are mainly where I purchase my local honey.

I hope that some of these natural remedies will help you this season!


Also check out this great comprehensive article on the benefits of herbal medicine - http://natural-herbal-remedies.net/medicinal-plants-and-their-uses/