What is Sugar Alcohol?

November 22, 2017 by  
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Sugar alcohol is so-called because chemically, it’s a cross between sugar and alcohol. Other than that, there’s little to link it to either substance. It doesn’t cause quick blood sugar spikes and it doesn’t make you drunk. It has not been linked to cancer, liver deterioration or any other life-threatening disease. It’s considered a safe and non-toxic sugar substitute in many processed foods, including diet and diabetic foods.

Sugar Alcohol Defined

Sugar alcohol is granular and white like sugar and is used as a sugar alternative in “sugar free” or low sugar edibles such as chewing gum, jam, sweets, baked goods, soft drinks and protein bars. It’s also found in mouthwash, toothpaste and medicinal products such as cough medicine. Legally, it has to be contained on the labels of these products as a carbohydrate or sugar alcohol. The most common sugar alcohols are: Erythritol, Lactitol, Maltitol, Sorbitol, Mannitol, Isomalt and Xylitol. They are generally extracted from corn starch, sugar or plants.

Sweetness Level and Calories

The sugar alcohols vary in sweetness level and calorie content. Their sweetness levels range from 50 percent to 100 percent that of sugar. Sorbitol and also Mannitol has a sweetness level that is 50 percent that of sugar, Sorbitol 60 percent, Erythritol around 75 percent, and Maltitol and Xylitol, are on a par with regular sugar. Despite this, sugar alcohols have much less the caloric content of regular sugar. Erythritol, for example, has 0.2 calories per gram, Xylitol 2.4, and Sorbitol, 2.6 calories per gram. Regular sugar has 4 calories per gram.

Advantages of Sugar Alcohols

Sugar alcohols (with the exception of Erythritol) are not fully absorbed by the body with the result that they transform into glucose much more slowly leaving blood sugar and insulin levels largely unaffected. Absorption levels vary. For instance Xylitol has a 50 percent absorption level while Sorbitol has an 80 percent absorption level. But Erythritol, because it’s almost totally absorbed but not digested, has a caloric content of almost zero.

Sugar alcohols are prevalent in foods for diabetics because diabetics need to ensure that their blood sugar levels remain normal. They’re also found in many diet foods because they don’t interfere much with the fat burning process and have far fewer calories than sugar. On the other hand, the body absorbs sugar quickly. When you eat something with plenty of sugar, the body uses lots of insulin to convert it to energy and get it into the cells. This leads to yoyo blood sugar levels and fat accumulation.

Another plus is that sugar alcohols such as Xylitol don’t contribute to tooth decay as sugar does; that’s why they are popular in chewing gum and some candies. Xylitol is also believed to be able to limit middle ear infections in children.

Disadvantages of Sugar Alcohols

The parts of the sugar alcohol not fully absorbed in the blood stream may ferment in the intestines if you over eat them, resulting in gas, diarrhea, stomach cramping, bloating and other gastrointestinal problems. You may experience this feeling, for instance, if you chew piece after piece of sugar free chewing gum all day long. Some diabetics have reported experiencing a surge in their blood sugar levels after overeating the alcohols. Others have reported abdominal complications from eating only small amounts at a time. It’s because of these complications that manufacturers of gum, mints and other “sugar free” products that people may binge on are required by law to state on their labels that overconsumption may have laxative consequences. Binging may also lead to weight gain because it may obstruct the absorption of the fat of other foods. However, Erythritol, as it is totally absorbed, doesn’t cause laxative and other negative consequences and neither does it spike blood sugar and insulin levels. Consequently, the use of Erythritol is on the rise.

Implications for Alcohol Recovery

Recovering alcoholics who may not have had a taste for sweet foods before going sober, may suddenly find themselves with a sugar addiction. So in times of stress or loneliness, they might reach out repeatedly for cake, a box of chocolates, or a king-size soda, much as they did with alcohol before sobriety. They may even turn to sugar alcohol as a healthy alternative.

But recovering alcoholics can do without processed sugar alternatives. They need healthier long term solutions to their cravings. With time, they can adjust to getting their sugar from fruit especially those low in sugar such as apples, pears, grapefruit, strawberries and other berry alternatives. An all-round healthy diet rich in protein and fiber such as veggies, lean meats, grains and nuts, will help keep blood sugar levels and sugar cravings in check because they are slow to digest.


Benhilda Chanetsa has a BA Honors degree in History and Sociology and a teaching diploma, both from the University of London. She was a high school teacher for 11 years, and chief subeditor at a weekly newspaper for four years. She’s been a freelance lifestyle writer for the past 10 years and has two nonfiction e-books published on Amazon. The books are on overcoming negative thinking and surviving abusive relationships.

7 Safe Ways to Get Rid of Unwanted Vodka

October 8, 2017 by  
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Absolut VodkaSobering up means dumping your drink of choice. But if it’s vodka, don’t dunk it down the sink orGod forbidgive it to thedog. Vodka makes an excellent multipurpose home remedy. Strong chemical sprays can hurt your environment but vodka is safe to use because it’s chemical-free. If you can resist the temptation to take a sip, keep your vodka and check out these seven different ways of using it safely around your home.

1. Remove Mold and Mildew

Vodka is great for attacking those hard-water spots and soap crusts in your bathroom. Simply spray it undiluted around the bath and shower and on tiles, metal taps, and curtain liners; then wait 10 minutes and wipe clear or scrub off lightly with a brush. Spatter the taps again with a little vodka and shine to leave them looking sparkling and new. This vodka trick can also be used in the washing machine or wherever there’s a little fungal growth caused by damp conditions.

2. Use for Body Therapy

For years, vodka has been used in body therapy. It’s a good antidote for acne. This condition is characterized by periodic outbreaks of pimples and blackheads whenever the facial pores become dirty or oil clogged. But dabbing the face with a piece of cotton wool dampened in vodka kills bacteria and unclogs and firms up the pores. Vodka can also soothe those aching muscles after a stint at the gym. Make a frozen pack from a mixture of equal parts of water and vodka and apply to the affected areas. And when mixed with shampoo, vodka has the effect of a shampoo and conditioner in one. It helps cleanse the scalp of dirt and dandruff and adds shine to the hair. Vodka also temporarily numbs the pain of toothache and removes odor from the feet and armpits.

If you enjoy the outdoors but often find yourself with an unsightly rash caused by contact with poison ivy, simply rub undiluted vodka onto the affected area and the problem disappears in no time. Vodka also makes a safe insect repellent. Spray it neat onto insects, bees and wasps, or spray yourself liberally with it to keep the bugs away.

3. Remove Adhesives

Many new glass containers have hard-to-remove labels attached the them. Vodka to the rescue. Rub off the label with a cloth dipped in vodka. Or immerse your container for about a minute in a sink containing water and about an inch of vodka. Then simply roll off the paper. Do likewise with glue that remains when labels have been removed. Similarly, when removing an adhesive bandage that has stuck to your skin, dab the sticky area with a piece of cotton drenched in vodka. This way you can peel the bandage off painlessly.

4. Clean Many Items

Vodka is an excellent all-purpose cleanser. A cloth soaked in vodka can be used to remove stains on fabric and upholstery caused by ink, grass, food, paint and pet eliminations. But rinse the area thoroughly afterwards. Any rust-prone items such as a shaving razor or key can be soaked overnight in vodka to prevent or remove rusting. Vodka also cleans the lenses of eyeglasses and attacks that green muck that tends to accumulate on the handles and rims.

Trying to scrub clean a greasy pot or pan can be hard work but adding a bit of vodka to the water in the sink loosens the grease making the washing easier. Vodka is good for polishing too. Spray and polish your jewelry, porcelain and chrome items. You may also soak your cutlery in vodka for five minutes then wipe and polish. Spray mirrors, window, and chandeliers with three teaspoons of vodka in a pint of water and wipe down for a sparkling effect.

5. Keep Flowers Looking Fresh

To prolong the freshness of your flowers, add a teaspoon each of sugar and vodka to the water in the vase. This formula works wonderfully with all flowers and should be renewed daily for bests results. To keep house plants looking fresh, douse a cotton ball in vodka and wipe down. The vodka holds back the formation of ethylene which causes flowers to wilt rapidly.

Vodka makes an amazing weed killer too. On a sunny day, mix two cups of water with a little dishwashing liquid plus vodka, then drizzle the weeds until soaking wet. The weeds dry out and die.

6. Revitalize Clothing

Some clothing items require dry-cleaning, but in the interim, they get musty and sweaty. Spraying these items with a mixture of one part water and two parts vodka and then letting them dry out, removes the odor. There’s no lingering alcohol smell either. Spraying the inside of shoes with the water, vodka solution similarly kills odor.

7. Disinfect and Freshen

When you’ve got vodka to hand, you don’t need toxic disinfectants and air fresheners. Spray undiluted vodka directly onto the meat board in the kitchen, or on to the toilet seat, or any other place where germs collect; then wait a while and wipe down.

To freshen any room, spray with a mix of one part vodka and three parts water. You don’t have to worry about replacing one odd smell with another. This deodorizer has no odor. You may also revive the scent of pot pourri with vodka.

Vodka has many other amazing uses around the home. It’s safe to handle and does not leave an odor. But spot test first before you happily spray away.

Benhilda Chanetsa has a BA Honors degree in History and Sociology and a teaching diploma, both from the University of London. She was a high school teacher for 11 years, and chief subeditor at a weekly newspaper for four years. She’s been a freelance lifestyle writer for the past 10 years and has two nonfiction e-books published on Amazon. The books are on overcoming negative thinking and surviving abusive relationships.

5 Notoriously Dangerous Drinking Games

January 14, 2016 by  
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Take a forgettable college party. Add a reckless drinking game and you’ve got a notoriously wild party. The rules are not complicated. The most important objective is a quick buzz. But these games usually involve participants blacking out, vomiting and even dying. Here are 5 such games to avoid if you are mindful of your health.

These drinking games involve binge drinking at its highest level. Many youth give in to peer pressure. They want to fit into their set. Reports say bullying may also be used. These 5 drinking games are very dangerous but many young adults find them hard to resist.

1. Vodka Eye-dropping

The fans of this practice believe they can achieve a quicker high if they pour vodka directly onto the eyeballs. In this painful procedure, the strong liquor burns and scars the cornea – the eye’s natural protective barrier. In so-doing, it leaves the eye open to infection and possible blindness.

2. Hour or Century Drinking

The idea behind this game is for everyone to consume 60 shots in 60 minutes or worse still, 100 shots in 100 minutes. This fast-paced drinking results in the blood alcohol level becoming dangerously high, but it also makes for a faster buzz. Participants are left extremely drunk, sometimes long before the drinking time is up. Many end up face-down in their vomit.

3. 21 at 21

This game normally happens at twenty-first birthday celebrations. Drinking to excess appears to be on the list of freedoms granted on that day. Cheered on by onlookers, the birthday person puts away 21 shots of strong liquor, one after the other. Tragically, there’ve been cases of people dying of alcohol poisoning on the very day of their twenty-first birthdays.

4. Edward Fortyhands

A bottle with 40 ounces of the highly intoxicating malt liquor is duct-taped to either hand of the participants and they compete to see who will finish first. They may not do anything else during this time including going to the bathroom and using their cell-phones. The quickest way to restore their freedoms is to drink up. And as though the amount of alcohol in their bodies were not dangerous enough, they may be required to break their empty bottles as a sign of their achievement. So their hands, with the pieces of broken glass attached, become a danger to themselves and others.

5. NekNomination

Believed to have begun in Australia and now spreading like wildfire, it starts with one person video-taping him or herself drinking lots of alcohol, posting the video on Facebook and YouTube, and then challenging someone else to do worse within the next 24 hours. More and more challenges are issued in this way with the drink cocktail becoming stronger and stronger, and the manner of taking it more and more wild. The cocktail has been known to include dog food and even raw egg. Available videos have shown people resorting to back flips, hand stands and other risky behavior once drunk. At least 5 people have been known to have died from this dangerous game.

These are just a few of the many dangerous drinking games out there. They may appear like harmless fun especially to teens and college students, but they cause serious damage to the body either right away or in the long-term. It may also lead to serious alcohol addiction.


Benhilda Chanetsa has a BA Honors degree in History and Sociology and a teaching diploma, both from the University of London. She was a high school teacher for 11 years, and chief subeditor at a weekly newspaper for four years. She’s been a freelance lifestyle writer for the past 10 years and has two nonfiction e-books published on Amazon. The books are on overcoming negative thinking and surviving abusive relationships.

 

Weight Loss Surgery (Gastric Bypass) May Lead to Alcohol Abuse

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iStock_000004332079_MediumGastric bypass (GB) surgery is the most common type of weight loss surgery in the U.S., attracting about 200,000 people per year.Also called Roux-en-Y bypass surgery or stomach stapling, the procedure appears more effective than other weight loss surgeries, resulting in about 50 to 80 percent weight loss in the period following surgery. It’s reserved for people whose weight affects their health and who have exhausted most other weight loss methods. However, growing evidence claims that it’s capable of turning social drinkers into hard core boozers.

What is Gastric Bypass Surgery?

GB surgery effectively shrinks the stomach to about 10 percent its former size and enables food to bypass a section of the small intestine. In this way, less food and calories are ingested. Stomach banding, on the other hand, is about surgically placing a flexible band around the stomach to decrease the amount of food it can carry.

The Research Findings

In a study conducted at the Medical Center of the University of Pittsburgh in June 2012, about 2000 participants from 10 U.S. centers were grilled about their drinking habits a year before they underwent various types of weight loss surgery. Of the GB bypass patients in the study, 7 percent reported excessive alcohol use before surgery. However, two years afterward, the figure had risen to 11 percent. But the figure remained constant for stomach banding patients. The 5 percent who drank heavily before surgery were the same who did so after surgery.

These findings were backed up by a study of the Obesity Nutrition Research Center in New York in October 2012. The study focused on 100 patients who’d received GB surgery and a further 55 who underwent stomach banding. All patients’ drinking and eating habits were assessed prior to surgery and then every three months post-surgery for two years. The study discovered significant incremental rises in alcohol use specifically among those who’d undergone GB surgery.

A further study in Sweden which monitored 12,000 patients over 25 years, found that GB patients were twice more liable to seek alcohol addiction therapy than those who received the stomach band, and other forms of obesity surgery.

How Alcoholism Happens

Some patients who drank moderately prior to GB surgery, found themselves with a drinking problem soon after surgery. Health experts put this down to physical or emotional issues, or both.

Physically, sensitivity to alcohol may be connected to how alcohol is metabolized in the body after GB surgery. The stomach contains enzymes which would normally breakdown the alcohol but because patients have very little stomach after GB, the alcohol reaches the intestines quickly and virtually in concentrated form. This makes for a short high even with little alcohol ingested. But the process is too quick to be satisfying so increasingly more drinking occurs. In one study, researchers had GB patients consume a glass of wine and then measured their blood alcohol content (BAC) every 5 minutes. They found that these patients’ BAC peaked at a higher level than those with regular stomachs, and it took them much longer to become sober again.

Other health experts say the increased ingestion of alcohol after GB surgery is caused by “addiction swapping.”They contend that the obesity was caused by addiction to food in the first place. So once the capacity to eat too much food is reduced, patients take on a substitute addiction alcohol. Addictive behavior, they say, is the patients’ usual response to emotional signals like anxiety and depression. So while the surgery took care of their outer body issues, it did nothing about the inner issues which still propel the addiction. This may explain why some social drinkers become alcoholics after the surgery. While patients appear to be evaluated psychologically before surgery there’s apparently no clear follow-up procedure afterward.

Conclusion

The controversy around GB surgery does not mean that everyone who has the procedure will become an alcoholic. And there’s no campaign for it to be discontinued seeing that its health benefits are considerable. It has helped high obesity sufferers improve their body image and ward off extreme weight-related problems such as diabetes, heart disease, and stroke, and therefore stave off early death. But if these benefits are not to be derailed by alcoholism, some revisions could be made in the way people are screened for emotional problems before surgery, and in the follow-up procedures afterward. But the best protection is to cut out alcohol altogether after surgery, or to opt for banding surgery, which hasn’t been linked to heightened alcohol sensitivity, and it still results in significant weight loss.

 

Benhilda Chanetsa has a BA Honors degree in History and Sociology and a teaching diploma, both from the University of London. She was a high school teacher for 11 years, and chief subeditor at a weekly newspaper for four years. She’s been a freelance lifestyle writer for the past 10 years and has two nonfiction e-books published on Amazon. The books are on overcoming negative thinking and surviving abusive relationships.

Having “The Spins” in Alcohol Addiction

October 15, 2015 by  
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Lonely woman covering his face with her hands and crying with sorrow

Have you ever gotten so drunk that the room started to rotate around you?This surreal condition is known as “the spins.” Some have likened it to motion sickness or vertigo. It happens when you drink excessively or when you mix your alcohol with drugs such as cannabis and should be avoided at all cost. Generally, excessive drinking eventually takes its toll on the liver. Experiencing the dizzying symptoms along with it makes you immediately vulnerable to accidents or other unsafe situations.

How “The Spins” Come About

The inner ear controls matters of balance and coordination. The spins occur when alcohol disrupts these functions. The inner ear contains three half circular canals which control side to side movement, as well as forward and backward, and downward and upward movement. The canals are connected to the brain through the eighth cranial nerve. Each canal is equipped with an endolymphatic fluid and a tiny blob-like substance floating in the fluid known as the cupula. When your head moves, the cupula also moves and signals are sent to the brain indicating that a rotation or movement has taken place in a particular direction. This makes balance possible. The cupula only moves when it is nudged by the endolymphatic fluid that surrounds it and only when the head moves or turns.

The endolymph and cupula have equal density. However, when the excess alcohol or alcohol/drug mixture travels to the inner ear through the blood stream, it creates an imbalance in density. Suddenly the cupula is less dense relative to the surrounding endolymphatic fluid. It starts to float erratically. The brain receives abnormal movement signals even when the head is still. That’s why you start to feel like the room is spinning around you.

Finding Balance

Lying back with the eyes closed in a darkened room won’t help much and may even worsen the spinning. But you can use other senses such as touch and vision to get back a semblance of balance until the blood alcohol levels are normalized:

  • Keep one foot firmly planted on the floor.
  • Avoid fixing your eyes on moving things such as dancers. Instead, fix them for short periods on still objects while blinking slowly.
  • If you are sitting down when the spinning starts, try standing up and clutching on to something. This also helps to keep the vomit at bay.

These tricks won’t provide total relief. That only happens when the effects of the alcohol have worn off.

Avoiding “The Spins”

The obvious way to avoid this helpless state is to abstain from alcohol altogether. If you are still drinking, you could slow down intoxication by mixing the alcohol with sugared drinks such as soda. The sugar slows the emptying of the stomach so that drunkenness and spinning happen less rapidly. You could achieve the same effect by alternating each alcohol beverage with a glass of water. Avoid smoking at this time because it only intensifies the bad effects.

Avoid drinking on an empty stomach. Fill your stomach beforehand with food rich in carbohydrates, fat and proteins to slow down and steady the rate at which the alcohol enters the blood stream thus helping to keep your blood sugar levels regular.

If you’re a recovering alcoholic, and you’ve decided to abstain altogether, all power to you. It shows that you are serious about your sobriety. You won’t have to again experience this unpleasant and disempowering phenomenon.

 

Benhilda Chanetsa has a BA Honors degree in History and Sociology and a teaching diploma, both from the University of London. She was a high school teacher for 11 years, and chief subeditor at a weekly newspaper for four years. She’s been a freelance lifestyle writer for the past 10 years and has two nonfiction e-books published on Amazon. The books are on overcoming negative thinking and surviving abusive relationships.

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