Greetings from India! I spent some time around Delhi, saw the Taj Mahal, and am now on my way to Rishikesh, a beautiful town in the Himalayas along the banks of the Ganges, for the International Yoga Festival. This newsletter will be short and will include a few tips until I can write more. If I have internet access, I’ll post on the New England Health Advisory Facebook page while I’m there!

This first tip is one that has come up a few times over the past weeks. A woman at one of the gyms I teach at mentioned it (thanks new subscriber Barb!), and then it came up again when I had lunch with two subscribers (shout out to Steve and Audrey!). So while I know many of you may know this, the fact that it keeps coming up tells me that I need to share it you because many of you may not know.

Did you know that one of the worst things you can do in a restaurant is to have a drink with a lemon or lime in it?

In addition to being heavily sprayed to prevent spoiling, the way they are stored (I’ll spare you the details!) and the number of people who handle them without washing hands from storage to service, make them full of germs. When you drop them in your drink, all the germs and chemicals are released into the liquid. So while I love lemon or lime in my tea or drink, ask for it on the side and squeeze it in yourself instead of letting it float in your drink!

Did you know that Pepsi is launching a brand new soda-for-breakfast beverage disguised as juice? Basically, it’s Mountain Dew with caffeine but it has 5% juice, just enough for Pepsi to be able to label it as a juice. In case soda for lunch and dinner isn’t enough, now you can begin your day with what Pepsi is calling “the ultimate ‘pick me up’ that satisfies all day long.” And because it’s considered juice, it’s eligible for inclusion in school cafeterias!

Did you know that one of the most important minerals you may not be getting enough of is magnesium? We hear all about calcium, but calcium and magnesium are ideally ingested in a 1:1 ratio, in other words, in equal proportion. But we get added calcium in milk, cheese, juice and many other products. Most of us cannot offset that with an equal amount of dark green leafy vegetables and other good sources of magnesium like nuts, legumes, and whole grains.

I’m going to write more about magnesium soon, but its responsible for more than 300 biochemical reactions in the body including heart health, bone strength and blood sugar regulation. And that’s just three of its jobs!

While I think most everyone can benefit, if you are older, diabetic, have heart concerns, drink a lot of alcohol, have hormonal imbalance, or trouble sleeping, you especially may benefit form magnesium supplementation. I get some in my whole food multivitamin, but I take extra every day. And if I have trouble falling asleep or sleeping through the night, I take an extra 2 before bed. One study estimated that almost all of us are magnesium deficient so if you eat lots of calcium or supplement with calcium, be sure to balance it out with some magnesium as well.

Did you know that a new petition has been filed with the FDA to allow milk producers to add aspartame (yes, that’s right! The same artificial sweetener we read about recently that is responsible for 75% of all food additive complaints to the FDA that has been linked to numerous detrimental health conditions) to milk products WITHOUT having to list it on the label. That means it can be in milk, yogurt, cottage cheese and other dairy products that you – and your children – consume WITHOUT YOUR KNOWLEDGE.

I’ve included a small part of the petition below so you can read for yourself their argument that doing so will promote milk consumption in children and reduce childhood obesity by replacing the high fructose corn syrup with aspartame. (Interesting that without admitting it, they are saying that it’s not the flavored milk that’s the problem, it’s the current sweetener, high fructose corn syrup.) Despite the fact that aspartame has been proven to increase weight gain along with all the other health concerns it poses, they want permission to use it freely in dairy products without your knowledge. What is most concerning is the targetting of innocent children with this toxic chemical through school lunch programs.

Even though it has not been approved yet, this yet another reason to avoid ANY product that says low calorie, fat-free, reduced fat, or low sugar. What you lose in a few calories is made up with chemical concerns far worse than the sugar (and even more likely to cause weight gain, the very reason most people are choosing it to begin with!)

Read more about the petition below:

Specifically, the petition requests that FDA amend § 131.110(c)(2) to allow the use of “any safe and suitable” sweetener in optional characterizing flavoring ingredients used in milk. [1] The petition also requests that FDA similarly amend the standards of identity for 17 other milk and cream products. Those standards (hereinafter referred to as the “additional dairy standards”) are as follows: Acidified milk (§ 131.111), cultured milk (§ 131.112), sweetened condensed milk (§ 131.120), nonfat dry milk (§ 131.125), nonfat dry milk fortified with vitamins A and D (§ 131.127), evaporated milk (§ 131.130), dry cream (§ 131.149), heavy cream (§ 131.150), light cream (§ 131.155), light whipping cream (§ 131.157), sour cream (§ 131.160), acidified sour cream (§ 131.162), eggnog (§ 131.170), half-and-half (§ 131.180), yogurt (§ 131.200), lowfat yogurt (§ 131.203), and nonfat yogurt (§ 131.206). The petition asks that the standards of identity for these products be amended to provide for the use of any safe and suitable sweetener in the optional ingredients. [2]

IDFA and NMPF request their proposed amendments to the milk standard of identity to allow optional characterizing flavoring ingredients used in milk (e.g., chocolate flavoring added to milk) to be sweetened with any safe and suitable sweetener– including non-nutritive sweeteners such as aspartame. IDFA and NMPF state that the proposed amendments would promote more healthful eating practices and reduce childhood obesity by providing for lower-calorie flavored milk products. They state that lower-calorie flavored milk would particularly benefit school children who, according to IDFA and NMPF, are more inclined to drink flavored milk than unflavored milk at school. As further support for the petition, IDFA and NMPF state that the proposed amendments would assist in meeting several initiatives aimed at improving the nutrition and health profile of food served in the nation’s schools. Those initiatives include state- level programs designed to limit the quantity of sugar served to children during the school day. Finally, IDFA and NMPF argue that the proposed amendments to the milk standard of identity would promote honesty and fair dealing in the marketplace and are therefore appropriate under section 401 of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (21 U.S.C. 341).

The petition acknowledges that the use of non-nutritive sweeteners in optional characterizing flavoring ingredients in milk is allowed under the existing regulatory scheme, with certain additional requirements. The regulatory framework governing the naming of standardized foods that do not fully comply with the relevant standards of identity changed with the passage of the Nutrition Labeling and Education Act of 1990 and FDA’s rulemaking establishing the Agency’s requirements for foods named by use of a nutrient content claim and a standardized term (§ 130.10 (21 CFR 130.10)). Section 130.10(d) allows the addition of safe and suitable ingredients to a food named by use of a nutrient content claim and a standardized term when these ingredients are used to, among other things, add sweetness to ensure that the modified food is not inferior in performance characteristic to the standardized food even if such ingredients are not specifically provided for by the relevant food standard.

Therefore, while the milk standard of identity in § 131.110 only provides for the use of “nutritive sweetener” in an optional characterizing flavor, milk may contain a characterizing flavor that is sweetened with a non-nutritive sweetener if the food’s label

bears a nutrient content claim (e.g., “reduced calorie”) and the non-nutritive sweetener is used to add sweetness to the product so that it is not inferior in its sweetness property compared to its standardized counterpart. However, IDFA and NMPF argue that nutrient content claims such as “reduced calorie” are not attractive to children, and maintain that consumers can more easily identify the overall nutritional value of milk products that are flavored with non-nutritive sweeteners if the labels do not include such claims. Further, the petitioners assert that consumers do not recognize milk–including flavored milk–as necessarily containing sugar. Accordingly, the petitioners state that milk flavored with non-nutritive sweeteners should be labeled as milk without further claims so that consumers can “more easily identify its overall nutritional value.”

As to the additional dairy standards, IDFA and NMPF state that administrative efficiency counsels in favor of similar changes. As long as FDA is dedicating resources to amending the standard of identity for milk, they argue, the Agency should also amend the standards for these products at the same time. They state that it is most efficient to consider all of the proposals together. According to the petition, the requested changes to the additional dairy standards present the same issues as the milk standard, and it is therefore appropriate to consider all of the requested changes together.

Author: Inger Pols is the Editor of the New England Health Advisory and Author/Creator, Finally Make It Happen, the proven process to get what you want. Get a free special report on The Truth About Sugar: It’s Not All Equal at

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