Ilene’s Healthy Tips for September 15 – 19, 2014

 Sweeteners: The Bad and the Ugly

It’s common knowledge that consuming too much sugar is unhealthy for us. In fact, some doctors think sugars should be regulated like alcohol. When you’re in need of a sweetener, make sure you know the difference

Ilene Yalen, MSRD WellAmerica 2014

Ilene Yalen, MSRD
WellAmerica 2014

between the ones to consume in moderation and the ones to avoid altogether. No matter the sweetener, you should always think of them as treats. Here are 5 sweeteners to avoid or consume with caution.

Monday, September 15, 2014, Bad Guy #1:  Aspartame

There’s conflicting evidence regarding the safety of aspartame, a common chemical sweetener used in diet soda and other low-calorie foods, but many people report headaches or a generally ill feeling after ingesting anything containing this chemical. Researchers are also finding that drinking artificially sweetened sodas can lead to an increase in waist size over time.  To be “better safe than sorry”, stay clear of aspartame and choose a more natural sweetener.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014,  Bad Guy #2: Sucralose

Sucralose, better known by its brand name Splenda, is a sugar that’s processed with chlorine. The safety of this product has been questioned, but all agree it does ultimately end up in wastewater plants, where it cannot be broken down. Scientists worry it could change organisms’ feeding habits and interfere with photosynthesis, putting our future food chain at risk. When it comes to Sucralose, It’s better to be safe and choose a more natural sweetener.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014,  Bad Guy #3: High-Fructose Corn Syrup

Waistlines have been growing ever since high-fructose corn syrup, or HFCS, snuck into the food industry around 35 years ago. This highly processed sweetener, with a slightly higher fructose level than sugar, does most of its damage as it’s added to an array of processed foods such as refined breads, cereals, ketchup, candy, sweetened drinks and sauces. Today, it is estimated that Americans ingest about 200 calories of HFCS daily. Avoid this highly processed sweetener when possible.

Thursday, September 18, 2014, Bad Guy #4: Agave Nectar

While your health food store likely stocks agave sweeteners, keep in mind many agave nectars consist of 70 to 90 percent fructose which is more than what’s found in high-fructose corn syrup.  Although it doesn’t cause dramatic blood sugar spikes like corn syrup does, high concentrations of fructose can increase triglyceride levels and ultimately heart disease risk, therefore, use agave nectar with caution.

Friday, September 19, 2014, Bad Guy #5: Sugar

Sugar is made up of 50 percent glucose and 50 percent fructose. It’s the sheer quantity we are eating and drinking that’s driving obesity and other diseases. About 100 years ago, humans ate the equivalent of 3 teaspoons of sugar a day; now it’s up to 22 tablespoons (88 grams) daily as sugar is hidden in everything.  If you like sugar in your coffee or cereal, try unsweetened brands that you like. Aim to use sugar with caution and mainly to make healthy foods taste better.

Ilene’s Healthy Tips for September 8 – 12, 2014

This week is devoted to First Responder Health, Safety and Remembrance


Monday, September 8, 2014

Ilene Yalen, MSRD WellAmerica 2014

Ilene Yalen, MSRD
WellAmerica 2014

Year after year a firefighter dies every week on the fire ground, even though the number of fires has dropped.  Heart attacks are consistently the leading cause of on-duty firefighter fatalities, and fire suppression increases the risk of death from coronary heart disease by 10-100%. Heart health is a critical issue in fire and emergency services as most firefighter on-duty deaths are preventable. Factors that cause heart disease: smoking, abnormal cholesterol, diabetes, high blood pressure, stress, abdominal obesity, eating too few fruits and vegetables, a sedentary lifestyle and drinking excessive alcohol.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Obesity has become an epidemic  in the fire service. More than 70% of domestic firefighters are estimated to be overweight or obese according to a study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In addition to all the associated health problems, obesity has been linked to an increased risk of cancer, heart disease, diabetes, arthritis and job-related disabilities, especially when adding the weight of necessary protective gear and tools. Because of time constraints and limited budgets within departments, there are standards for being fit, but not laws, and buy-in remains an issue as 70% of fire departments in the United States are made up solely of volunteers.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Tomorrow, the Southern Arizona First Responders is hosting the “NEVER FORGOTTEN 9/11 Tower Challenge“. The event will take place at 7 am at the University of Arizona stadium. You can take the tower challenge and climb 100 floors or simply support the cause by making a donation.   There will be a mix of police, fire, military and Border patrol. Proceeds will benefit The 100 club and Fisher House. To register or for more information, visit

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Today we honor all the rescuers who made the ultimate sacrifice by helping strangers, and we remember all the loved ones who perished or who are left stricken with grief. We shall never forget what happened on 9/11. The Sept. 11 memorial plaza will be open tonight, after all 3000 names have been read, and marking the first time the general public will be able to visit ground zero on the commemoration date .

Friday, September 12, 2014

First responders have physically exhausting jobs while functioning under chaotic schedules.  Stress, behavioral concerns and sleep deprivation can be major issues that first responders face every day. Under these conditions, the usual physical activity and lifestyle is not enough to keep fit and healthy. Better choices and pre-planning are critical to stay in the best shape possible. WellAmerica offers stress management, sleep improvement resources and nutritional support for those in need. Please contact them directly for more information by calling 520-795-1098 or emailing