America's Deadliest Sweetener Betrays Millions, Then Hoodwinks You With Name Change

Aspartame is the most controversial food additive in history, and its approval for use in food was the most contested in FDA history. In the end, the artificial sweetener was approved, not on scientific grounds, but rather because of strong political and financial pressure. After all, aspartame was previously listed by the Pentagon as a biochemical warfare agent!

It's hard to believe such a chemical would be allowed into the food supply, but it was, and it has been wreaking silent havoc with people's health for the past 30 years.

The truth is, it should never have been released onto the market, and allowing it to remain in the food chain is seriously hurting people -- no matter how many times you rebrand it under fancy new names. 

The Deceptive Marketing of Aspartame 

Sold commercially under names like NutraSweet, Canderel and now AminoSweet, aspartame can be found in more than 6,000 foods, including soft drinks, chewing gum, table-top sweeteners, diet and diabetic foods, breakfast cereals, jams, sweets, vitamins, prescription and over-the-counter drugs.

Aspartame producer Ajinomoto chose to rebrand it under the name AminoSweet, to "remind the industry that aspartame tastes just like sugar, and that it's made from amino acids -- the building blocks of protein that are abundant in our diet."
This is deception at its finest: begin with a shred of truth, and then spin it to fit your own agenda.
In this case, the agenda is to make you believe that aspartame is somehow a harmless, natural sweetener made with two amino acids that are essential for health and present in your diet already.
They want you to believe aspartame delivers all the benefits of sugar and none of its drawbacks. But nothing could be further from the truth

How Aspartame Wreaks Havoc on Your Health 

Did you know there have been more reports to the FDA for aspartame reactions than for all other food additives combined?

In fact, there are over 10,000 official complaints, but by the FDA's own admission, less than 1 percent of those who experience a reaction to a product ever report it. So in all likelihood, the toxic effects of aspartame may have affected roughly a million people already.

While a variety of symptoms have been reported, almost two-thirds of them fall into the neurological and behavioral category consisting mostly of headaches, mood alterations, and hallucinations. The remaining third is mostly gastrointestinal symptoms.

The list in the following paragraph will familiarize you with some of the terrifying side-effects and health problems you could encounter if you consume products containing this chemical.

Unfortunately, aspartame toxicity is not well-known by doctors, despite its frequency. Diagnosis is also hampered by the fact that it mimics several other common health conditions, such as: multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease, fibromyalgia, arthritis, multiple chemical sensitivity, chronic fatigue syndrome, attention deficit disorder, panic disorder, depression and other psychological disorders, lupus, diabetes and diabetic complications, birth defects, lymphoma, Lyme disease, and hypothyroidism. 

How Diet Foods and Drinks CAUSE Weight Problems 

In recent years, food manufacturers have increasingly focused on developing low-calorie foods and drinks to help you maintain a healthy weight and avoid obesity. Unfortunately, the science behind these products is so flawed, most of these products can actually lead to increased weight gain!

For example, researchers have discovered that drinking diet soda increases your risk of a metabolic syndrome, and may double your risk ob obesity -- the complete opposite of the stated intention behind these "zero calorie" drinks.

The sad truth is that diet foods and drinks ruin your body's ability to count calories, and, in fact, stimulate your appetite, thus boosting your inclination to overindulge.

Unfortunately, most public health agencies and nutritionists in the United States recommend these toxic artificial sweeteners as an acceptable alternative to sugar, which is at best confusing and at worst harming the health of those who take their misguided advice. 

Even More Toxic Dangers of Aspartame 

Truly, there is enough evidence showing the dangers of consuming artificial sweeteners to fill an entire book -- which is exactly why I wrote Sweet Deception. If you or your loved ones drink diet beverages or eat diet foods, this book will explain how you've been deceived about the truth behind artificial sweeteners like aspartame and sucralose -- for greed, for profits, and at the expense of your health.

As mentioned earlier, almost two-thirds of all documented side effects of aspartame consumption are neurological.

One of the reasons for this side effect, researchers have discovered, is because the phenylalanine in aspartame dissociates from the ester bond. While these amino acids are indeed completely natural and safe, they were never designed to be ingested as isolated amino acids in massive quantities, which in and of itself will cause complications.

Additionally this will also increase dopamine levels in your brain. This can lead to symptoms of depression because it distorts your serotonin/dopamine balance. It can also lead to migraine headaches and brain tumors through a similar mechanism.

The aspartic acid in aspartame is a well-documented excitotoxin.  Excitotoxins are usually amino acids, such as glutamate and aspartate. These special amino acids cause particular brain cells to become excessively excited, to the point that they die.

Excitotoxins can also cause a loss of brain synapses and connecting fibers. A review conducted in 2008 by scientists from the University of Pretoria and the University of Limpopo found that consuming a lot of aspartame may inhibit the ability of enzymes in your brain to function normally, and may lead to neurodegeneration.

According to the researchers, consuming a lot of aspartame can disturb the metabolism of amino acids, protein structure and metabolism, the integrity of nucleic acids, neuronal function, and/or endocrine balances.

Furthermore, the ester bond in aspartame breaks down to formaldehyde and methanol, which are also toxic in their own right. So it is not surprising that this popular artificial sweetener has also been found to cause cancer.

One truly compelling case study that shows this all too well was done by a private citizen named Victoria Inness-Brown. She decided to perform her own aspartame experiment on 108 rats over a period of 2 years and 8 months.

Daily, she fed some of the rats the equivalent (for their body weight) of two-thirds the aspartame contained in 8-oz of diet soda. Thirty-seven percent of the females fed aspartame developed tumors, some of massive size. 

How to Ditch Artificial Sweeteners, and Satiate Your Sweet Tooth 

If you suffer from sweet cravings, it's easy to convince yourself you're doing the right thing by opting for a zero-calorie sweetener like aspartame. Please understand that you will do more harm than good to your body this way.

First, it's important to realize that your body craves sweets when you're not giving it the proper fuel it needs.

Finding out your nutritional type will tell you exactly which foods you need to eat to feel full and satisfied. It may sound hard to believe right now, but once you start eating right for your nutritional type, your sweet cravings will significantly lessen and may even disappear.

Meanwhile, be sure you address the emotional component to your food cravings using a tool such as the Meridain Tapping Technique (MTT). More than any traditional or alternative method I have used or researched, MTT works to overcome food cravings and helps you reach dietary success.

And, if diet soda is the culprit for you, be sure to check out Turbo Tapping, which is an extremely effective and simple tool to get rid of your soda addiction in a short period of time. 

Non-Acceptable Alternative Sweeteners

I have written a few articles on fructose earlier this year, and I will be writing many more, so please be aware that I am absolutely convinced that fructose ingestion is at the core of our obesity epidemic.

And I'm not only talking about high fructose corn syrup, which is virtually identical to table sugar. The only major difference between the two is HFCS is much cheaper so it has contributed to massive increase in fructose ingestion, far beyond safe or healthy.

Please understand you need to keep your fructose levels BELOW 25 grams per day. The best way to do that is to avoid these "natural" sweeteners as they are loaded with a much higher percentage of fructose than HFCS: fruit juice, Agave, and honey.

Please note that avoiding these beyond 25 grams per day is crucial, even if the source is fresh, raw, and organic. It just doesn't matter, fructose is fructose is fructose... 

Acceptable Alternative Sweeteners 

For those times when you just want a taste of something sweet, your healthiest alternative is Stevia. It's a natural plant and, unlike aspartame and other artificial sweeteners that have been cited for dangerous toxicities, it is a safe, natural alternative that's ideal if you're watching your weight, or if you're maintaining your health by avoiding sugar.

 It is hundreds of times sweeter than sugar and truly has virtually no calories.

I must tell you that I am biased; I prefer Stevia as my sweetener of choice, and I frequently use it. However, like most choices, especially sweeteners, I recommend using Stevia in moderation, just like sugar. In excess it is still far less likely to cause metabolic problems than sugar or any of the artificial sweeteners.

I want to emphasize, that if you have insulin issues, I suggest that you avoid sweeteners altogether, including Stevia, as they all can decrease your sensitivity to insulin.

Lo han is another sweetener like Stevia. It's an African sweet herb that can also be used, but it's a bit more expensive and harder to find.

So if you struggle with high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes or extra weight, then you have insulin sensitivity issues and would benefit from avoiding ALL sweeteners.

But for everyone else, if you are going to sweeten your foods and beverages anyway, I strongly encourage you to consider using regular Stevia or Lo han, and toss out all artificial sweeteners and any products that contain them.

If you have experienced an adverse reaction to any aspartame product, cal the FDA Consumer Complaint Cooridnator in your area.


Like-New Legos

To easily clean these dirt, sticky toys, put all your Legos into a large laundry bag (use a good quality bag because Lego corners are sharp and you don’t want holes letting the Legos escape), give them a good shake, and drop them into the washer full of hot water and a bit of soap.

After the cycle is over, take the Legos outside to drip dry. If you leave them in the bag it will take a few days for them to dry, but be sure to shake or stir them up a bit everyday. If you can, they will dry faster if you can spread them out on some sort of drying rack in the sun outside.



Choir Notes

A World of Real People
From Music and the Spoken Word
Delivered By: Lloyd D. Newell

The sometimes tragic experiences of the early American pioneers are more than just interesting history lessons. Though they took place over a century and a half ago, they can serve as an inspiration to us today. Such is the case with the story of James and Sarah Ferguson McDonald.

James and Sarah were Irish immigrants with dreams of making a new home and building a better life for their family in the American West. In the spring of 1850, they started across the vast American plains as members of a large wagon train of pioneers with similar dreams.

Tragedy struck the family soon after they began. James contracted the dreaded disease cholera and died within 24 hours. He was buried in the trackless prairie on the banks of the Platte River. That evening, Sarah settled the children into their beds and then, with an aching heart and tired feet, went down to the river to wash off the dust of a terrible day. As she put her bare feet into the cool water, Sarah felt “the strong current of the river, and the thought came to her, in her grief, of how easy it would be to slide into the water,” sink into the depths, and join her dear husband in death.1 But just then one of her young children called out to her, and she knew she had to carry on for them. She dried her feet, put on her shoes, and went back to the wagon.

The next day, Sarah paused one last time at the grave of her husband. Then, looking west, she and her children walked on.

Sarah eventually established her family in the Rocky Mountains. She lived a long and productive life, and her posterity—which now number in the thousands—are grateful for the faith, hope, and perseverance of their pioneer grandmother.

The courageous example of Sarah Ferguson McDonald and many, many others like her inspires us all, especially when our hearts ache, our feet are tired, or we face a fearful future. Even then, we can remember inspiring examples from the past and walk on.

1 “Important Events in the History of the James McDonald Family, 1841–1850,” Church History Library, history.lds.org/overlandtravels/trailExcerptMulti?lang=eng&pioneerId=5348&sourceId=42089.


S'mores Dip (No Campfire Needed)

  1. 3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  2. 8 large marshmallows; cut in half
  3. Graham crackers for dipping
  1. Preheat oven to 450ºF.
  2. In a small cast iron skillet, put chocolate chips in an even layer.
  3. Arrange the marshmallows on top of the chocolate.
  4. Bake in the oven for 6-8 minutes, until marshmallows are lightly browned.
  5. Remove from the oven and let stand for 5 minutes.
  6. Serve with graham crackers for dipping.
  1. Skillet will be hot!
  2. You may use mini marshmallows as an alternative.


Collabro: Stars


Choir Notes

What They May Become
From Music and the Spoken Word
Delivered By: Lloyd D. Newell 

John Trebonius was a humble schoolteacher in Germany many years ago. He was known for the unusually respectful attitude he showed toward the young people in his classroom. Even when they seemed a little unruly, he would treat them well. “Who knows?” he would say. “There may be among my pupils a great poet, a great preacher, a great philosopher!"1 Although it was the Germanic custom of the day for professors to keep their hats on when entering the schoolroom, John Trebonius always removed his, explaining, “I do not know but that there sits among [these students] one who will change the destiny of mankind. I take off my hat in deference to what they may become."2

Sitting in that classroom, under the influence of that wise and gentle man, was a young Martin Luther, whose courage and convictions did indeed change the world.

People like John Trebonius who treat people according to their potential—who they can become rather than who they currently seem to be—can have a powerful influence on others. Their positive expectations inspire us to reach a little higher, do a little more, and become all that we can be.

Truly, we are surrounded by greatness—or, at least, potential greatness. Given time, people can, and often do, surprise us. The neighborhood boy who made mischief may turn into a great teacher, inventor, or civic leader . The little girl next door may become a noted scientist, artist, or journalist. And both have the potential to become exceptional adults, parents, and neighbors. Life is a long walk on a long road, and we never know what the future may bring for those within our influence. But we do know that human potential is limitless.

So remember the story of John Trebonius from long ago, and take off your hat in respect for what the future may bring.

1 In David O. McKay, “Building Souls into Immortality—a Teacher’s Responsibility,” Instructor, June 1968, 213.
2 In Marion D. Hanks, The Gift of Self (1974), 126.




Tasty Ways to Change Up Your S'mores

Key Lime S'more
graham + key lime curd or pie filling + marshmallow
And while your at it, try this incredible S'more 
maker from Rome at your next campfire!!
Buy one or more at Amazon.


Summer Sand Pudding

1 pkg vanilla wafers
3 or 4 Oreo cookies
 8 oz cream cheese
1/4 cup butter
2/3 cup powdered sugar
2 small packages French vanilla pudding mix
2 3/4 cups milk
12 oz Cool Whip

Crush Oreo cookies and vanilla wafers in a food processor until it is the consistency of sand. In a separate bowl, cream together softened 8 oz cream cheese, butter, and powdered sugar. In another bowl, mix pudding with milk. Add to cream cheese mixture. Fold in cool whip. In small buckets, layer the the pudding and sand finishing with a layer of sand. Serve with a bucket shovel.



Veteran Michael Sulsona had been waiting on a new wheelchair from the VA for years. After receiving no help, his broke down inside a Lowe’s.

That’s when three strangers stepped in to help. Sulsona wrote this letter to the Staten Island Advance to share the story and express his gratitude.
In 1971, I stepped on a land mine in Vietnam and lost both legs above the knee.

For the past two years, I have been waiting to receive a new wheelchair from the Veterans Administration. In addition, I have been told that I am not entitled to a spare wheelchair.

On the evening of July 7, my wheelchair fell apart again, while shopping at Lowe’s Home Improvement Center in on Forest Avenue in Mariners Harbor.

Three employees, David, Marcus, and Souleyman jumped to my assistance immediately. They placed me in another chair while they went to work.

They took the wheelchair apart and replaced the broken parts and told me, “We’re going to make this chair like new.”

I left 45 minutes after closing hours in my wheelchair that was like new.

I kept thanking them and all they could say was, “It was our honor.”

The actions of these three employees at Lowe’s showed me there are some who still believe in stepping to the plate.

They didn’t ask any questions, didn’t feel the need to fill out any forms or make phone calls. Someone needed help and they felt privileged to be given the opportunity.
When the federal government failed this man, ordinary individuals took the lead. There is hope for humanity after all – we just have to believe in the power of the human spirit.

Blessed is the person who sees the need, 
recognizes the responsibility,
and actively becomes the answer...



Choir Notes

A Feeling That Nurtures the Soul
From Music and the Spoken Word
Delivered By: Lloyd D. Newell

Happiness and gratitude are linked together inseparably. Those who are grateful tend to be happier, and those who are happy tend to be more grateful. Happiness and gratitude simply go together. Scholars and scientists, poets and philosophers have connected them for generations.

We tend to think of gratitude primarily as a byproduct of happiness—when life is good and things are going our way, we feel thankful. But this is only half of the truth.  Those who choose to be grateful even during hard times discover that gratitude creates happiness. Gratitude to God for everything around us awakens wonder and awe; it stimulates kindness and affection; it deepens humility and creates space in the heart for love and warmth. Gratitude is not just a reaction to our quality of life—it is how we determine our quality of life. Indeed, happiness inspires gratitude, but gratitude also inspires happiness.

The words of British writer G. K. Chesterton remind us how we can practice gratitude all the time:
You say grace before meals.
All right.
But I say grace before the play and the opera,
And grace before the concert and pantomime,
And grace before I open a book,
And grace before sketching, painting,
Swimming, fencing, boxing, walking, playing, dancing;
And grace before I dip the pen in the ink.

True gratitude is a way of life, a perception and perspective that can change our lives for the better. And like any habit or skill, an attitude of gratitude just needs to be deliberately developed so that happiness can take root and flourish.

Rabbi Harold Kushner, another noted writer, suggested that gratitude requires focus and concentration. He said, “Can you see the holiness in those things you take for granted—a paved road or a washing machine? If you concentrate on finding what is good in every situation, you will discover that your life will suddenly be filled with gratitude, a feeling that nurtures the soul."2

1 “A Grace,” G. K. Chesterton: Collected Works, 36 vols. (1986–2011), 10:43.
2 “God’s Fingerprints on the Soul,” in Richard Carlson and Benjamin Shield, eds., Handbook for the Soul, (1995), np.


7 Dollar Store Buys Worth Your Dollar

Greeting Cards ~ Forget roaming the aisles at Halls-of-Cards for that perfect sarcastic greeting. At the dollar store, simple is the name of the game. Just pick a few minimalist cards and add your own DIY thoughtfulness. That’s twice the thought for half the price. She’ll be so impressed.
Stickers and Activity Books ~ Sometimes it just feels wrong to distract your kids with Candy Crush Saga during a church service or wedding ceremony. That’s where the dollar store comes in. Fill those fidgety fingers with activity books and sticker sheets, and then watch as your little ones stay occupied, quiet and seemingly reverent for at least 15 consecutive minutes.
Reading Glasses ~ At a buck a piece, there’s no excuse to keep misplacing your specs. Give your hawk-eyed spouse a break by purchasing several pairs of reading glasses to keep around the house, in your handbag, and at the office. Plus, you’ll finally have something go with that purple dress.
Cleaning Supplies ~ Name-brand household cleaners aren’t limited to mega-retailers. Scan your local discount store shelves for trusted names, or maybe give an off-brand a try. And while you’re disinfecting, stock up on dishrags, distilled vinegar and spray bottles. These are great items to keep on hand, along with new scrub brushes for your dishes, toilets and tubs.
Brushes, Combs, and Hair Elastics ~ It’s hard to mess up a basic hairbrush. Your kids are going to lose every last ponytail holder anyway. And who even uses a comb these days? If the low-cost stuff gets the job done, why fight it?
Wedding Centerpieces ~ Decorate your family’s wedding reception or reunion dinner with dollar-store decor by the caseload. Check to see if your local discount store offers online bulk orders and free site-to-store shipping. It’s a great way to score tons of vases, candles and faux flowers at rock-bottom prices.
Balloons, Gift Wrap, and Party Supplies ~ In addition to scoring great deals on superhero balloons, party planners (aka moms and dads) can find everything from cups to crepe paper at a sweet discount. And don’t forget to stock up on gift wrap, tissue paper and ribbons for all those big-boy presents.


7 Things About Marriage I Wish I'd Known as a Newlywed

Most of us step into marriage hoping for a lifetime of love and happiness, knowing far too little about what might give us our best shot at getting there. Many of us assume that because we're in love, because we have common values and compatible dreams we've got everything we need to have a marriage that lasts.

Sure, lots of couples divorce. "But, honestly..." we think, "how hard could it be?"
The answer? Much harder than any of us had imagined.

When my husband and I married, I assumed that, despite our lack of experience and the terrible role models we had -- how's this for blind optimism -- we'd do perfectly fine. I was realistic enough to know that, like all couples, we'd face our fair share of difficulties. Whatever they were... I assumed we'd face them together, that the two of us would be an invincible team.

What I never considered was that one of our greatest difficulties would be each other!

Learning to live well with another is no easy task. It calls for patience and flexibility, a short memory for disappointments and a long one for good deeds. Fortunately, my husband and I eventually figured this out. But not without a lot of strife and struggle and occasional thoughts that we might not make it through.

With wedding season in full bloom, this post is my gift to those of you who are just starting out.
Here's the advice I wish I'd been given as a newlywed, rather than having had to figure it out on my own: 

1. Don't freak out when marriage turns out to be harder than you expected.

When you find yourself struggling, remember it's not just you. Marriage is challenging for all of us, without exception. None of us come with all the tools we need for success, nor do we have a guidebook or a roadmap to make our journey easier. We simply hit the ground running, and despite our good intentions and optimism, for most of us, marriage presents challenges for which we're flat-out unprepared.

But that doesn't mean that something is wrong. It just means that marriage is a tough teacher and we all have plenty to learn.

2. Don't expect sex to stay hot or interesting all on its own for the next sixty years.

Early on in our relationships most of us just have to show up in the same room as our sweetheart to be all atingle. With our brains swimming in feel-good brain chemistry, hot sex happens with little effort.

Fast forward five years, add a few kids, a couple of stressful careers, and many people begin to notice that the thrill seems to be gone.
It's true -- the newness is gone. But that doesn't mean sex is over or needs to be boring. Just that it shifts over time and you need to shift with it. The warmth and friendliness of your marriage will become the platform for desire and eroticism.

That extra ooh-la-la... you'll have to find creative ways to generate it. 

3. The sooner you ditch the notion of fairness, the happier you'll be.

Life isn't fair and neither is marriage. All that stuff about things in a marriage being 50-50, the idea that couples need to meet each other halfway... while it's a perfectly understandable wish, it's a formula for unhappiness.

Who wants a life of constant ledgering, keeping track of who did what when and who owes whom? Why does it matter that it was you who last called the babysitter and that it was he who left the dirty pot in the sink?

A better approach: Strive to be generous. Offer support. Cut each other some slack. When taking action, keep each other's concerns in mind as well as your own.

The happiest couples pay more attention to what they put in and less attention to what they get back. In the end, the giving and getting become one and the same. 

4. Learn how to make up.

Simply put, both of you are going to make a lot of mistakes. You're going to misunderstand, miscommunicate, overlook, and poorly consider. You're going to raise your voice, ask impatiently, or use a judgmental tone. Sometimes you're going to act like a full-flying jerk

Rather than expect to someday attain a spotless track record (which you never will) you need to learn to apologize and forgive.

No, I'm not supporting the obnoxious notion of asking forgiveness instead of permission. I'm suggesting that while it's a good idea to strive to be a kind and decent spouse, you're bound to screw up.

Whether you sit down and talk it out, shake hands or have make-up sex, having a reliable repair strategy -- a way to reconnect after a painful incident -- is essential. 

5. Be prepared to make peace with your differences.

You can either flip out about your differences or you can learn to work with them. The third option -- having your differences disappear -- that's not going to happen.

If you're a filer and you married a piler, if you're obsessively punctual and your spouse has never once in her life been on time -- you're going to have plenty of opportunity to either be driven nuts or to figure out how to calm yourself down.

The upside: differences add novelty, they take us out of our comfort zone and can help us become more flexible and tolerant people. 

6. A lot of the stuff that bothers you is about you.

Have you ever stopped to wonder why certain things your partner does send you right up a tree?

His exasperated sigh. The way she stares into space. The fact that he already told you the story about the time he got stuck in the elevator and now he's telling you again. Or worse, that he forgets every month to send in the rent check and blames you for not reminding him.

There's no end to the way we'll annoy each other as spouses. Yet, the question remains: Why do these particular behaviors in our partner make us see red?

Often, it comes down to the meaning we make of them -- the stories we tell ourselves about what our partner's actions mean. Do you think his forgetfulness means he doesn't care about you? Does her sigh or his eye-roll leave you wondering whether you're worthy of love? When she's distracted, do you assume that it's you she's tuning out?

Not everything your partner does is about you, though it can sometimes seem that way. A good rule of thumb: the bigger and more intense your emotional reaction, the more likely your reaction is about your stuff from the past. The stuff you carried with you from childhood. The stuff that only you can resolve. 

7. Marriage doesn't mean you're joined at the hip.

Sweet and romantic as it sounds for "two to become one," it's far healthier for two to remain as two.
Face it. You're both full of opinions -- whether you express them or not. You have your own likes and dislikes, your own hopes and dreams. Even as newlyweds you're going to want and need some time for yourself, some time to pursue your own interests or just have a little space from each other.

Loving, happy couples have full, separate lives. They value each others' wholeness, never thinking of the other as their "better half" or as someone who "completes" them. From that place of wholeness, the connection you make is deeper and sweeter than if you and your partner are hanging onto each other, so "close" that you cannot step back and appreciate each other for all that you are.

Though marriage is a challenging endeavor, there's no reason two willing and motivated people can't, with a little help, have a strong and satisfying marriage. It may not be easy and you won't be a superstar on day one. But, if you're open to learning (mostly about yourself) you will have done all that can to have a loving marriage that lasts.

by Winifred M. Reilly

Christmas Countdown