Topic: Food for thought

I'm all for "natural" products, and even been known to be an "organic" fan.  However, I think it is all too easy to fall back when we can find a group of like-minded people, and just think we know it all.

First, I found this site as I'm interested in the "safety" of artificial sweeteners, and have been doing much research.  What I've found, is that if you want something to cause problems, all you need to do is google it, and you'll find problems with whatever it is.  Does this mean that what you find is true?  I wonder.

Let me give an example of some "all natural" things that I would suggest everyone avoid:  Water Hemlock and Nightshade.  These are both VERY natural, and will kill you if you consume pretty much any part of these plants.  Many other plants have other interesting side-effects.  Some fatal, some not.  So, "natural" can't always be a wondrous solution to everything.  I guess my point here is that just because someone says something is "natural", that shouldn't automatically translate to "good for you", or "good".  Some natural things are bad.  How do we separate the good from the bad?  How do we know that Stevia, for example, will not cause some nasty long term effect in people?

So many people are also quick to point out "research" that "proves" things are bad.  Let me sound off on this by saying that many of these "research" projects that I've read about are seriously flawed in one way or another.  Some of them report giving rats HUGE doses of the experimented chemical, and then when bad things happen, they report that the chemical is "poison" and should be avoided.  To that, let me give you a link to an interesting article that hopefully can open many eyes: … r-can-kill

So you see, pretty much ANYTHING in too large a dose will kill you.  So if you conduct an experiment with an unreasonable amount of a chemical, you should expect bad results.

I work in HIT (Healthcare Information Technology), and have for almost 20 years.  So I've been exposed to many common situations that occur in healthcare/medicine.  From that experience, I've learned that there are MANY things that people can have reactions to, or allergies to (though these aren't necessarily the same thing).  That doesn't necessarily make that thing "poison" or bad for the general population.  How many people out there have serious reactions to peanuts?  I could "swim" in a giant tub of peanuts, and not have a single problem.  Are peanuts poison?  Should we ban them?  How about dust?  Can we eradicate that?  Some people have adverse reactions to it.  Some people are allergic to penicillin.  Yet this drug has saved the lives of millions.

I guess we should all just be aware that it isn't as simple as saying "wow, this stuff is bad because I had this symptom".  It is more complicated than that.


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Re: Food for thought

Very interesting outlook, but a somewhat depressing one, actually.

You are correct to write that there is a big difference between natural toxins and man-made, unnatural toxins. Decide the dangers between those and keep them in their separate categories. It serves no purpose to lump them all together because you are right, it doesn't clearly send the right message. The reaction from peanuts should never be connected to toxic effects caused by aspartame, for example.

You are correct that everyone is an individual, and what is good for one may be bad for another, but DO NOT throw out the baby with the bathwater - research the history behind the chemicals eaten or taken internally. Decide from there. And study the countries where certain foods are eaten, like peanuts, and see the differences, if any. The way we farm in America is part of the problem with many of our foods. Soy is a great example of this.

Aspartame has enough research behind it to convince anyone of its dangers. The issue HERE is that this research is not readily publicized in America; but that goes into a political issue for another time and post.

Re: Food for thought

Interesting comment regarding farming in America.  Are you suggesting that our farming practices have created the surge in peanut allergies?  I'd be very skeptical of that.  Research shows that a likely cause of a rise in peanut allergies is exposure to peanuts in too high a quantity and at too early an age.

My point regarding natural toxins is that we may not really yet know how safe stevia consumption is.  Just because it is a "natural" plant doesn't make it safe.  Has anyone done tests with it like they've done for artificial sweeteners?  Have there been any long term scientific studies done to show that it has no long-term negative effects?

I'm not trying to state that artificial sweeteners are necessarily safe, I'll leave that to professionals that know how to study such things.  I will, however, state that I've seen many studies that I myself would deem bogus, based upon the quantities used in the study, or the way the study was run.  Pretty much anything, in too high a quantity, can be dangerous.  I would be interested in seeing well run scientific studies, using the recommended maximum amounts that show definitive evidence of a serious problem with them, rather than anecdotes or haphazardly run experiments using ridiculous criteria.

Re: Food for thought

Studies are not always the definitive answer to what's safe or not because some studies are biased, or downright tampered with. And some things don't need to be studied - why study something that nature made and that animals have used since the beginning of time? Stevia is one great example - it is a plant, like basil or spearmint, that has been eaten for centuries. Why study that for safety? WHY?

I think we are studying things to death - testing things that don't need testing. Now here's the point; we do need honest studies concerning unnatural man-made concoctions that should never be eaten by animals in the first place. But, for Pete's Sake, studies to determine the safety of a natural food that has been eaten for eons is ridiculous. Our "studies" are getting out of control.

Peanuts? Who knows...they are a hybrid anyway, right? They never have been one of my favorites. I have no reaction to peanuts, but if someone reacts adversely to eating peanuts, then just don't eat them. I eat almonds or pecans because I know they are healthier for you.

The thing to do is use good common sense about the natural foods you eat and drink. And again, if certain foods or herbs, like stevia, have been eaten for centuries in other countries, why do we, Americans, feel we need to study them to determine if they are safe or not? I think it is arrogance, personally. Who are we to deem a natural food safe or not?

Now man-made toxic chemical food - that's another story. Test away, but look to see who's doing the testing.