Kick the Sugar Habit with These New and Natural Sweeteners

Too Much Sugar

It’s not news that consumption of refined sugar in the US has skyrocketed—the average American now consumes an incredible 23.5 teaspoons a day, almost double what the average American consumed 100 years ago! But why are we doing this to ourselves? Refined sugar not only contributes to weight gain but also has been linked to increased risk for diabetes, heart disease, anxiety, depression and other health conditions. What’s more, the desire for sugar can be addictive, making it extremely difficult to cut back.

Luckily, there’s an ever-growing number of natural sugar alternatives that can be a big help if you’d rather not use an artificial sweetener or go cold turkey, which is very difficult to do. All can satisfy the craving for sugar and provide lower calories than table sugar. Some of the newest and best natural sweeteners on the market…

Lite & Sweet

• Lite &  Sweet is a blend of xylitol and erythritol, sugar alcohols derived from berries and other fruits. It comes in bulk and packet form—one teaspoon has four calories (there’s 16 calories in a teaspoon of table sugar). Lite & Sweet looks like regular sugar—and when using it for baking and cooking, it can be substituted for regular sugar teaspoon for teaspoon.

Both xylitol and erythritol are considered safe for human consumption if consumed in small doses. However, if you have too much of them, they can have a laxative effect.

Whole Earth Nature Sweet  
• Nature Sweet is a combination erythritol, fructose, chicory root fiber and two plant-derived sweeteners. The first is stevia, which comes from the leaves of the stevia plant and has up to 200 times the sweetness of table sugar. The second plant-derived sweetener comes from monk fruit, a subtropical melonlike gourd, and is about 150 to 200 times sweeter than regular sugar. The new kid on the block at Starbucks, one packet of Nature Sweet (it comes in a green packet) has zero calories. In addition to using it in beverages, Nature Sweet can be used in recipes where the primary role of sugar is to sweeten, not to add bulk or tenderness, such as in sauces, salad dressings, fruit pies and cheesecake


Just Like Sugar • Just Like Sugar is made primarily from chicory root fiber. Chicory root offers a high concentration of the prebiotic inulin, which supports the growth of “friendly” bacteria that are associated with improved bowel function and better general health. Sold in bulk form, it has zero calories per serving. It can be used like table sugar to sweeten beverages, etc. Plus, there is a version that can be used specifically for baking.

Caution: Some people experience bloating, gas, stomach cramping and/or diarrhea when consuming excess fiber, and individuals sensitive to pollen and other related plants may have an allergic reaction to the chicory in this product.

Substituting a natural sweetener in your favorite daily beverage, instead of using refined sugar or drinking a presweetened beverage, can be a great first step in cutting back on sugar and put you on the road to better health!


Source: Janet Bond Brill, PhD, RDN, FAND, a registered dietitian nutritionist, a fellow of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and a nationally recognized nutrition, health and fitness expert who specializes in cardiovascular disease prevention. Based in Allentown, Pennsylvania, Dr. Brill is the author of Blood Pressure DOWN, Cholesterol DOWN and Prevent a Second Heart Date: October 1, 2017 Publication: Bottom Line Health

How to Encourage a Teen Interested in a Nursing Career

Adolescents don’t always know what they want to be when they grow up, and then again, they tend to change their lives a lot. If your teen has shown a healthy interest in the nursing career path you should encourage them and expose them to the practical reality of being a nurse. When you take your teen to a doctor’s visit, make sure you mention their chosen career path to the nurse on duty. You never know when a casual encounter may help your child to find the best DNP programs and get a noteworthy letter of recommendation. Encourage your child to learn what it takes to be a nursing professional and encourage him or her to do even more research on this career field to help make an educated decision.

Take Your Child to Career Fairs

Career fairs geared toward teens may include a lot of fast-food companies, but there are also going to be various healthcare provider-based businesses present. Getting your teen to talk one-on-one with nursing students, healthcare facility administrators, hospital directors, and hiring managers will allow them to feel out the medical field before making a choice. Nurses can also work with private practices, so career fields may expose your child to only the most common places that nursing professionals work.

Have Your Teen Tour a Hospitals and Healthcare Facilities

Show your teen what being a nurse is like by visiting hospitals that give tours. You and your child can go everywhere from the cafeteria to the parking lot to see what a day in the life of a nurse is really like. This will also give your teen the opportunity to ask questions that apply to specific healthcare facility rules. Visiting hospitals can give your teen and family a great chance to find out if nursing is a good career choice down the road.

Visit Nursing Schools with Your Child

If you want your teenager to pick an MSN to DNP online school then pull up a few websites that offer nursing degree information. Before your teen starts to send out college applications, you should have a feeling of what schools are looking for in new students. Learn about minimum SAT score results, GPA prerequisites and other attributes that local nursing schools seek out in applicants. Going on campus can also help your teen to see if they’d rather go to school in a location that is close to home or further away.

If your child decides to become a nurse then you need to know what school offers fair tuition rates, as well as good post-graduation and employment statistics. Part of your duty is to lead your child to the right information, but you also need to refrain from trying to do all the research for your child. As your teen finds more detailed insights into the nursing careers, you’ll become more comfortable with letting them take the next steps toward becoming an independent adult with a promising career ahead.

Should You Consider a Career in Healthcare Management?

If you were interested in the healthcare industry but wanted to work more on the managerial side, healthcare management could be a great option for you. Healthcare management offers many advantages and is one of the most sought-after positions in the healthcare field at the moment. Let’s look at some of the reasons you should consider pursuing a career in health management.

It is a Vast and Diverse Industry

Healthcare management is a very diverse field and you can specialize your education based on your preferences and strengths. If you’re an IT buff and would like to use your strengths, you could always consider pursuing a healthcare technology degree. If you have a formal formation as an accountant and would also like to use it as part of your formation, you could work in clinical billing. Or, if you simply want a more hands on approach, you could consider getting an online masters in health administration. An online EMHA degree will teach you the ins and outs of population management, healthcare innovation, and how to develop a confident and qualified health force.

Allows you to Pursue a Healthcare Career without doing actual Medical Work

Many people would love to work in healthcare, but many aren’t ready for the gruesome nature of the job in many cases. Healthcare management allows you to make a difference without having to directly do clinical work. Healthcare management professionals will usually be asked to do behind the scenes work. They often work on budgeting and other administrative tasks. However, they can still make a difference in the well-being of their patients through their work, which can be very gratifying.

As a matter of fact, according to a recent study by Payscale, the highest paid healthcare professionals were the ones who reported they felt the highest level of satisfaction in the jobs. Only 44% of the highest paid professionals declared that they were satisfied with their jobs and the overwhelming majority of those who said they were happened to work in the healthcare industry. As a matter of fact, healthcare managers rated their satisfaction at five stars, the highest possible rating in the survey.

Booming Sector and Great Growth Opportunities

Because of an aging population, the demand for health care professional at all levels is experiencing unprecedented growth right now, and that includes health care managers. The demand for healthcare managers is expected to grow in the next few years and salaries are very high. In 2008, most healthcare managers earned over $90,000 a year, which is one of the highest paid positions in healthcare.


As you can see, there are tons of reasons anybody should consider pursuing a career in healthcare management. It is one of the most vibrant and in-demand positions, with great prospects. It is also a very fulfilling career path that can take advantage of your aptitudes and strengths. Anybody who once considered a career in healthcare but felt like they didn’t have what it took to work at a clinical level should consider healthcare management as an option.



Heart Attacks in the Young and Super Fit — How Can This Happen?

Physical fitness doesn’t make you immune to heart disease.

This past February, Biggest Loser host and fitness guru Bob Harper, 51, lay unconscious for two days after suffering a massive heart attack. On June 30, 2007, legendary marathoner Alberto Salazar, 48, suffered a heart attack that left him technically dead for 14 minutes. On July 20, 1984, Jim Fixx, at the time the nation’s leading spokesperson for the health benefits of running, tragically died of a massive heart attack while running alone on a Vermont country road at the age of 52.

These unfortunate events should be a wake-up call to all practitioners that physical fitness doesn’t confer complete immunity against atherosclerotic coronary artery disease (ASCAD) and potential myocardial infarction (MI).

Family History
How could this happen in relatively young, elite athletes? These men all shared common traits. All suffered from ASCAD, the leading cause of cardiovascular morbidity and mortality in the developed world.1 Furthermore, a powerful and independent risk factor that each of these athletes had in common was a strong family history of heart disease. Harper’s mother died young from a heart attack. One of Salazar’s grandfathers died from a heart attack at 52, and another died at 70, also from heart disease. Salazar’s father had two or three heart attacks, and he has one sibling who has had heart problems. Fixx’s father died of a heart attack at age 43


We’ve known for some time that a history of death due to coronary heart disease (CHD) in parents is associated with a 30% increased risk of CHD in offspring.2,3 A “positive family history” is defined as fathers who have had an MI before age 55 and mothers before age 65. Prematurity of CHD (defined as a heart attack before age 50 in either sex) in both parents is especially worrisome, increasing risk in descendants almost sevenfold. According to a recent statistical analysis of the Framingham Heart Study database, the highest risk for offspring was maternal history of premature CHD.3

Role of Exercise in Heart Disease
Physical inactivity is a major risk factor for CHD and is responsible for 30% of the deaths from CHD worldwide.4 The evidence supporting the benefits of regular, moderate-intensity exercise for CHD prevention and treatment is overwhelming. It’s been shown that a program of regular physical activity helps prevent atherosclerosis through several mechanisms, including lowering blood pressure, decreasing blood coagulation, improving fibrinolytic capacity, and helping in vascular remodeling. In addition, exercise assists in improving plasma lipid profiles by increasing the HDL to total cholesterol ratio and reducing the LDL to total cholesterol ratio.5

Despite all the obvious advantages of physical activity in preventing CHD, it’s shocking when a cardiac event occurs in well-trained athletes—and herein lies the paradox. How can an athlete succumb to heart disease when physical activity is supposed to prevent it? Experts have suggested that a cardiac event during physical activity may not be directly related to the bout of exercise but more likely associated with an underlying cardiovascular impediment most commonly associated with ASCAD.6 The exercise bout is the stressor that precipitates the MI in athletes with undiagnosed, unstable underlying ASCAD.

How Can This Be Prevented?
Dietitians, in conjunction with the patient’s primary physician, should assess all major CHD risk factors and help patients reduce both the modifiable risk factors and identify and evaluate the severity of the unmodifiable risk factors. When assessing a patient’s CHD risk, questioning the patient on family history is imperative yet frequently overlooked in clinical determination of risk. Simply recording a family history as a simple “yes” or “no” is an oversimplification that fails to recognize the effects of several variables within the parental history such as age of CHD onset.3 Patients with a high-risk family history should be referred to a physician to identify which seemingly healthy individuals may be in danger of an imminent MI before the event occurs.

The good news is that on the horizon is a novel, simple blood test, which will help physicians identify which patients with and without evidence of CHD are at risk of heart attacks. According to Mayo Clinic research presented at this year’s American College of Cardiology Scientific Session, the blood test analyzes plasma concentration of ceramides, a class of lipids highly linked to atherosclerotic processes.7 The study found that individuals with the highest level of plasma ceramides were three to four times more likely to have a cardiovascular event compared with those with the lowest ceramide score, regardless of LDL cholesterol level or the presence of blockage in the coronary arteries.

All Americans should adhere to a heart-healthy lifestyle, which is the cornerstone of CHD prevention and the first step in risk factor management.8 Of particular importance is managing the modifiable risk factors such as reducing LDL cholesterol, smoking cessation, diabetes control, achievement and maintenance of a healthy body weight, as well as adherence to a Mediterranean-style, plant-based diet.

New research especially pertinent for RDs was presented at the American Heart Association’s 2017 Scientific Sessions last March, which showed that a substantial portion of deaths from heart disease could be prevented by more healthful eating.9 In fact, researchers determined that eating a diet lacking in healthful foods such as nuts, vegetables, and whole grains, and high in salt and trans fats was found to contribute to more than 400,000 deaths from heart and blood vessel disease in the United States in 2015.

Practitioners should assess CHD risk in all patients and prescribe a heart-healthy lifestyle for CHD prevention and treatment. Exercise is part of the lifestyle prescription; however, exercise doesn’t provide immunity against an MI in people with underlying ASCAD and may in fact trigger an event. It’s well established that parental history of CHD results in increased risk of the development of an MI, independent of other established risk factors.3 Dietitians should delve into a positive family history and evaluate the relative’s relationship to the patient, the age of disease onset, and the number of relatives affected. Patients should then be referred to a cardiologist for more aggressive preventive therapy if the family history suggests high risk.

— Janet Bond Brill, PhD, RDN, LDN, FAND, is the author of Cholesterol Down, Blood Pressure Down, and Prevent a Second Heart Attack. She’s based in Allentown, Pennsylvania.


1. Kim JH, Baggish AL. Strenuous exercise and cardiovascular disease outcomes. Curr Atheroscler Rep. 2017;19(1):1.

2. Schuler G, Adams V, Goto Y. Role of exercise in the prevention of cardiovascular disease: results, mechanisms, and new perspectives. Eur Heart J. 2013;34(24):1790-1799.

3. Allport SA, Kikah N, Abu Saif N, Ekokobe F, Atem FD. Parental age of onset of cardiovascular disease as a predictor for offspring age of onset of cardiovascular disease. PLoS One. 2016;11(12):e0163334.

4. Benjamin EJ, Blaha MJ, Chiuve SE, et al. Heart disease and stroke statistics — 2017 update: a report from the American Heart Association. Circulation. 2017;135(10):e146-e603.

5. Buttar HS, Li T, Ravi N. Prevention of cardiovascular diseases: role of exercise, dietary interventions, obesity and smoking cessation. Exp Clin Cardiol. 2005;10(4):229-249.

6. Maron BJ. The paradox of exercise. N Engl J Med. 2000;343(19):1409-1411.

7. Meeusen J, Donato L, Bryant S, Spears G, Baudhuin L, Jaffe A. Plasma ceramide concentrations predict risk of cardiovascular events. Paper presented at: American College of Cardiology 66th Annual Scientific Session; March 18, 2017; Washington, D.C.

8. Frohlich J, Al-Sarraf A. Cardiovascular risk and atherosclerosis prevention. Cardiovasc Pathol. 2013;22(1):16-18.

9. Afshin A, Sur P. Abstract 15: the impact of suboptimal diet on cardiovascular disease mortality in the United States. Circulation. 2017;135:A15.