Archive for May, 2015

Vilani set for 7th Comrades

Vilani set for 7th Comrades

Sibusiso Vilane
Photo: First Accent

Renowned South African mountaineer Sibusisio Vilani is set to run in his 7th Comrades Marathon this weekend as he joins the over 22 000 strong field for the race. 

The 90th running of the iconic ultra-marathon will see the competitors tackle the 88km up-run from Durban to Pietermaritzburg on Sunday.
Today is the twelfth anniversary of when Vilani summited Mount Everest for the first time, and in the process became the first black man to achieve the feat.
The 45-year-old scaled Everest again in 2005 via the more challenging North Ridge.
The former goat herder hails from Mbombela said he was looking forward to running his seventh Comrades Marathon this year…
Vilani plans to try and summit Everest again in a few years’ time – but this time without oxygen assist.
“Every person has their own “Everest” to climb. Whether you’re prepared for it or not, it’s there – challenging you to reach the top.” – Sibusiso Vilane

Xylitol: Everything You Need to Know (Literally)


Added sugar may be the single most unhealthy aspect of the modern diet.

For this reason, people have looked towards natural alternatives like Xylitol.

Xylitol looks and tastes like sugar, but has fewer calories and doesn’t raise blood sugar levels.

Several studies suggest that it can improve dental health and have various other important benefits.

This article takes a detailed look at Xylitol and how it can affect your health.

What is Xylitol and How is it Made?

Xylitol is a substance that is categorized as a sugar alcohol (or polyalcohol).

Sugar alcohols are like hybrids of a sugar molecule and alcohol molecule. Their structure gives them the ability to stimulate the sweet taste receptors on the tongue.

Xylitol is found in small amounts in many fruits and vegetables and is therefore considered natural. Humans even produce small amounts of it via normal metabolism.

It is a common ingredient in sugar free chewing gums, candies, mints, diabetes friendly foods and oral care products.

Xylitol has a similar sweetness as regular sugar, but contains 40% fewer calories:

  • Table Sugar: 4 calories per gram.
  • Xylitol: 2.4 calories per gram.

Xylitol looks like this… basically just white, crystalline powder:

Xylitol Crystals

Obviously, xylitol is a refined sweetener, so it doesn’t contain any vitamins, minerals or protein. In that sense, it is “empty” calories.

Xylitol can be processed from trees like birch, but it can also be made with an industrial process that transforms a plant fiber called xylan into xylitol.

Even though sugar alcohols are technically carbohydrates, most of them do not raise blood sugar levels and therefore don’t count as “net” carbs, making them popular sweeteners in low-carb products.

Btw… don’t be intimidated by the sugar alcohol part… this really has nothing to do with the alcohol people get drunk from. Sugar alcohols are safe for alcoholics.

Bottom Line: Xylitol is a type of sweetener called a sugar alcohol and is found in some plants. It looks and tastes like sugar, but has 40% fewer calories.

Xylitol Has a Very Low Glycemic Index and Doesn’t Spike Blood Sugar or Insulin

One of the negative effects of added sugar (and high fructose corn syrup), is that it can spike blood sugar and insulin levels.

Due to the high amount of fructose, it can also lead to insulin resistance and all sorts of metabolic problems when consumed in excess (more details in this article).

Well… xylitol contains zero fructose and has negligible effects on blood sugar and insulin (1, 2).

Therefore, none of the harmful effects of sugar apply to xylitol.

The glycemic index (a measure of how quickly foods raise blood sugar) is only 7, compared to regular sugar, which has a glycemic index of 60-70 (3, 4).

It can also be considered a weight loss friendly sweetener, since it contains 40% fewer calories than sugar.

For people with diabetes, pre-diabetes, obesity or other metabolic problems, xylitol is an excellent alternative to sugar.

Although this has yet to be studied in humans, rat studies have shown that xylitol can improve symptoms of diabetes, reduce belly fat and even prevent weight gain on a fattening diet (5, 6, 7).

Bottom Line: Unlike sugar, xylitol has negligible effects on blood sugar and insulin levels. Several rat studies show impressive benefits for metabolic health.

Xylitol Starves The Bad Bacteria in The Mouth and Has Major Benefits for Dental Health

Many dentists recommend using xylitol-sweetened chewing gum… for good reason.

This is because numerous studies show that xylitol has powerful benefits for dental health and prevention of tooth decay (8).

One of the leading risk factors for tooth decay is a type of oral bacteria calledStreptococcus mutans. This is the bacteria mostly responsible for plaque.

Although having some plaque on the teeth is normal, when it goes out of hand the immune system starts attacking the bacteria in it. This can lead to inflammatory gum diseases like gingivitis.

Well… these oral bacteria feed on glucose from food, but they can not use xylitol. Replacing sugar with xylitol therefore reduces the available fuel for the harmful bacteria (9).

But the effects of xylitol go beyond that… even though the bad bacteria can not use xylitol for fuel, they still ingest it.

When the bacteria are full of xylitol, they are unable to take up glucose, so essentially their energy producing pathway is “clogged” and they end up dying.

In other words, when you chew gum with xylitol (or use it as a sweetener), the sugar metabolism in the bacteria is blocked and they literally starve to death (10).

In one study, using xylitol-sweetened chewing gum reduced levels of the bad bacteriaby 27-75%, while it had no effect on the friendly bacteria (11).

Xylitol also has other dental benefits (12):

  • Increases absorption of calcium in the digestive system, which is good for your teeth and may also protect against osteoporosis (13).
  • Increases production of saliva. Saliva contains calcium and phosphate, which get picked up by the teeth and aid in remineralization.
  • Reduces the acidity of saliva, which helps to fight acid-driven degradation of tooth enamel.

Numerous studies show that xylitol, either by replacing sugar or adding it on top of the diet, can reduce cavities and tooth decay by as much as 30-85% (14, 15, 16).

Because inflammation is at the root of many chronic diseases, it makes sense that reducing plaque and gum inflammation could have benefits for the rest of your body as well.

Bottom Line: Xylitol can starve the harmful bacteria in the mouth, reducing plaque buildup and tooth decay. This can help prevent dental caries and inflammatory gum diseases.

Xylitol Reduces Ear Infections in Children and Fights The Yeast Candida Albicans

The mouth, nose and ears are all interconnected.

For this reason, bacteria that live in the mouth can end up causing ear infections, a common problem in children.

It turns out that xylitol can starve some of these bacteria, in the same way as it starves the plaque producing bacteria (17).

In one study in children with recurring ear infections, daily usage of xylitol-sweetened chewing gum reduced the rate of infection by 40% (18).

Xylitol also helps fight the yeast Candida albicans, reducing its ability to stick to a surface and cause infection (19).

Bottom Line: Xylitol-sweetened gum can reduce ear infections in children and help fight infection by the yeast Candida albicans.

Xylitol Has Several Other Potential Health Benefits

Wooden Bowl With White, Crystalline PowderCollagen is the most abundant protein in the body and found in large amounts in skin and connective tissues.

There are some studies in rats showing that xylitol can increase the production of collagen, which may help to counteract the effects of ageing on the skin (20, 21).

Xylitol may also be protective against osteoporosis, leading to increased bone volume and bone mineral content in rats (22, 23).

Although xylitol can kill the “bad” bacteria in the mouth, it can also feed the friendly bacteria in the gut, which is a good thing (24).

In this regard, it functions kind of like soluble fiber.

Bottom Line: Xylitol may help to increase collagen production and reduce the risk of osteoporosis. It also appears to have prebiotic effects, feeding the friendly bacteria in the gut.

There’s One Big Problem… Xylitol is Highly Toxic to Dogs

In humans, xylitol is absorbed slowly and has no measurable effect on insulin production.

Unfortunately, the same can not be said about dogs.

When dogs eat xylitol, their bodies mistakenly think that they’ve ingested glucose and start producing large amounts of insulin.

When this happen, the dog’s cells start taking up glucose from the bloodstream. This can lead to hypoglycemia (low blood sugar levels) and be downright fatal (25).

Xylitol may also have detrimental effects on liver function in dogs, with high doses causing liver failure (26).

Keep in mind that it only takes about 0.1 g/kg for a dog to be affected, so a 3 kg (6-7 lbs) Chihuahua will get sick from eating only 0.3 grams of xylitol. This is less than the amount contained in a single piece of chewing gum.

So if you own a dog, then keep xylitol out of reach (or out of your house altogether). If you believe your dog accidentally ate xylitol, take it to the vet immediately.

Bottom Line: Xylitol can be highly toxic to dogs, leading to hypoglycemia and/or liver failure.

Side Effects, Dosage and Where to Buy

Young Woman With Stomach AcheXylitol is generally well tolerated, but some people do get digestive side effects when they consume too much.

The sugar alcohols can pull water into the intestine or get fermented by gut bacteria.

This can lead to gas, bloating and diarrhea.

However, the body seems to adjust very well to xylitol.

If you ramp up your intake slowly and give your body time to adjust, then chances are that you won’t experience any negative effects.

If you’re not sure that you can tolerate sugar alcohols, then consider staying near a toilet the first time you eat a significant amount.

That being said, long-term consumption of xylitol does appear to be completely safe.

In one study, subjects consumed an average of 3.3 lbs (1.5 kg) of xylitol per month, with a maximum daily intake of over 400 grams without any negative effects (27).

People use sugar alcohols to sweeten all sorts of things… coffees, teas and various recipes. You can replace sugar with xylitol in a 1:1 ratio.

If you have Irritable Bowel Syndrome or an intolerance to FODMAPs, then be extra careful with sugar alcohols and consider avoiding them altogether.

Take Home Message

If you want to sweeten something, xylitol is an excellent choice.

Whereas the debate on most sweeteners is about whether they will harm you or not, the studies show that xylitol has actual health benefits.

It doesn’t spike blood sugar or insulin, starves the plaque-producing bacteria in the mouth and feeds the friendly microbes in the intestine.

What more could you possibly ask for in a sweetener?


23 Ridiculously Delicious Ways To Replace Carbs With Cauliflower


Many people want to reduce their carbohydrate intake, especially when it comes to the more unhealthy simple carbohydrates. However, this can severely limit your food options if you do not know about viable alternatives to your beloved carbohydrates. You can actually use cauliflower to replace a variety of your favorite carbohydrates.

You will be surprised just how versatile this vegetable is and how you can turn it into delicious dishes. I just read an article on that provides interesting information about cutting carbs from your life without having to sacrifice nutrients and flavor. Click on the link below to learn more about this awesome food substitution idea.


Gluten-Free & Wheat-Free Banana Bread (Variation) with Chia Seed and Whey Protein Recipe


Gluten-Free Banana Bread (Variation) with Chia Seed and Whey Protein: Perhaps the best gluten-free banana bread ever, and the closest thing to “real” banana bread possible – flavor, texture, and overall appeal.

This is a VARIATION to the Banana Bread recipe that appears on Page 176 in our Gluten-Free and Wheat-Free Gourmet Desserts book, that although a bit more complex than the original recipe, delivers a gluten-free banana bread that is without equal! We use the latest and greatest gluten-free baking techniques and ingredients to achieve results that could only otherwise be obtained using wheat or gluten-containing ingredients. I am rather sure most anyone would find this banana bread indistinguishable from its wheat-containing counterpart.

The banana cake retains the delicious flavor of the original, while making the texture and consistency even more like the “real thing”. In addition, this recipe variation brings with it some rather healthful additions and alterations that lower the overall glycemic index, increase fiber, and increase protein, all while creating an unbeatable banana bread. Chia Seed and Isolated Whey Protein come together with other excellent gluten-free diet ingredients like ground flax seed, inulin, and buckwheat.

This recipe makes use of our Gluten-Free Chia Slurry Recipe featured here on our Gluten-Free Recipes Library. The chia-slurry introduces wonderful texture enhancement and binding properties, as does the whey protein. The Chia Seed brings healthful Omega-3 fats into the equation, and the recipe (in general) is now tailored to be a bit more low-calorie, diabetes / diabetic-friendly, lower glycemic-index than the original, with added fiber, vitamins, and overall nutritional improvements. In addition, the isolated whey-protein is the only remaining dairy-derivative and should result in a casein-free bread as well.


The Beginner’s Guide to Using Protein Powder

Protein Powder

Walk into any gym nowadays, and you’re just as likely to hear the rattling of a shaker bottle as the clanking of weights. Powders, bars and other supplements have become so ingrained in our culture that it’s hard to imagine not following up a great workout with a shake of some sort (and sometimes even mid-workout). Protein powder is, in many ways, leading the supplement charge. Created by various sources — from whey to soy to pea — and popping up everywhere you look — from GNC’s to neighborhood grocery stores — the popular supplement has cemented its place in our minds and in our diets.

Regardless of whether you’re an elite athlete or just a weekend warrior, chances are you have a tub of protein powder sitting somewhere in your house. At the very least, you’ve gulped down a shake at one point or another — maybe even a smoothie. But, do you really know what’s inside your protein powder or how it should be used to give you the biggest advantage and best results? To help you more effectively decide how, when and if you should use this supplement, we created this beginner guide, answering the most popular questions about protein powder.

Protein Powder Primer: The Whys and What’s

Many gym-goers grab a tub and start adding shakes to their diet without first considering why or if they need protein powder at all. As Brian St. Pierre, sports dietitian and nutrition coach at Precision Nutrition, puts it, the most obvious reason to supplement with protein powder is to reach your protein intake goal for the day. However, they aren’t absolutely needed. “If you can meet your protein needs with whole foods, that’s fine,” says St. Pierre. If you find yourself taking in a quality whole-food source of protein three to four times a day, generally a gram of protein per pound of body weight, you might not even need the powder fallback. But, when you’re crunched for time, protein supplements can be your biggest ally.

Although the labels may claim otherwise, the various tubs are more equal than you think. At the heart of all protein powders is just what one would assume (or hope) — protein — whether it’s from whey, hemp, soy, or elsewhere. Still, you might see terms like “hydrolyzed” and “cutting edge” to spruce up bottles. St. Pierre argues that the pursuit of better and faster digesting protein powders may be frivolous in the grand scheme of things (research agrees). “A lot of companies will push for getting you to pay big bucks for grass fed whey or cold-filtered whey,” St. Pierre says. “These could be things that make them better, but how much better is up for debate.”

So, if spending more doesn’t necessarily make a protein powder better, what should consumers look for when shopping the supplement aisle? St. Pierre recommends first looking for a reputable company that has good manufacturing practices (they’ll often advertise that on the label). He also suggests buyers vet out various products using third-party certifying brands like Informed Choice. Certifying companies buy actual products off of store shelves (just like a normal buyer) and run tests to make sure the bottle contains what the label advertises.

After narrowing your protein search down to a handful of brands, it’s time to investigate the nutritional facts. While the numbers and words may sound foreign, St. Pierre recommends just looking at a handful of characteristics. He likes a protein powder that is relatively low in fat and carbs.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Protein Shake

When to Mix It Up

So, you’ve done your research and brought home a tub of high-quality protein powder. What now? Figuring out the best times to supplement can be difficult. Here are the two most common uses for protein powder during the day and specific applications for each.

1. Meal Replacement

When you’re rushing out the door late for work in the morning, the last thing you have time for is to make a quick breakfast to kickstart your day. That’s one scenario where protein shakes can come in handy. In general, St Pierre recommends adding in a source of vegetables, a serving or two of fruit and some healthy fats alongside a scoop or two of protein powder. In fact, he and the team at Precision Nutrition have coined a term for these massive meal-replacers — “super shakes.” These shakes can be used in place of a meal or in addition to a regular meal when trying to gain weight. Here’s their recommend recipe for both men and women:

2 scoops of protein powder
1-2 cups of vegetables (like spinach, which doesn’t affect the taste)
2 handfuls of fruit (fresh or frozen)
2 tablespoons of healthy fat (a nut butter or seed for example)
Mixer (almond milk, regular milk, water — your choice)

1 scoop of protein powder
1 cup of vegetables
1 handful of fruit
1 tablespoon of healthy fat
Mixer (almond milk, regular milk, water — your choice)

These recipes bring up another topic of concern — gender differences. Workout supplements are often viewed as a male-dominated industry, but protein powders are also effective for women. St. Pierre points out, however, that women have different nutritional needs than men. In general, they need less protein per pound of bodyweight (primarily due to differences in body composition). For that reason, St. Pierre initially recommends for females to use one scoop instead of two. However, he’s quick to admit that the “cut in half” lesson isn’t the definitive solution. “It’s not that women need exactly half as much as men…Ultimately, it’s just giving you a framework to start something. You can adjust it from there based on your needs,” says St. Pierre.

Gender differences aside, if these shakes are so nutrient-dense, why shouldn’t you just blend up a shaker bottle for each meal and ditch cooking (and dirty dishes) for good? St. Pierre cautions that although the shakes are great, they still aren’t the same as whole food. “There is more nutrients inherent to whole foods then there ever will be in a powder,” he says. You can also sometimes lose nutritional value drinking your nutrients and vitamins instead of eating them. For that reason, he recommends supplementing with no more than two shakes in one day (even that is pushing it). The key is to use shakes in a pinch and rely on whole food sources for the rest of your meals.

2. Post-Workout

With the advent of the post-workout window — a thin slice of time to intake nutrients after a workout for the biggest benefit — protein shakes and shaker bottles became a necessity for a gym trip. If you didn’t slug a shake before you walked out the door, the notion went, you were compromising recovery time and crippling the benefits you could reap from your workout. Protein supplementation post-workout has been shown to be beneficial, particularly in helping individuals recover after a tough session and potentially increase muscle and strength gain. However, the post-exercise window may have been a bit overblown. St. Pierre acknowledges that post-workout nutrition is important but not as much as you may have previously thought. “Basically, it’s not a bad thing to have a shake right after you work out, but you don’t have to” he explains “Don’t drive yourself crazy thinking that you’ve wasted a workout because you didn’t have a shake right after working out.”.

So, how should post-workout shakes fit into your nutrition? It’s really up to personal preference. Previously, protein shakes were thought to digest faster in the stomach than whole foods providing muscle-building nutrients to the recovering muscles quicker. St. Pierre explains that new research indicates this isn’t the case. Now, he advises clients use whatever is most convenient. “If you want to have a shake, that’s cool. If you want to make a whole food meal, that’s more than OK, too. Either approach is valid, so it’s personal preference,” says the coach. Stomach sensitivity may also play a role as well. Some individuals have a harder time taking in whole food directly after a workout. In those cases, a shake would be a proper substitution to get in a quick dose of protein.

Protein powders have seemingly become a necessity for an active lifestyle right alongside high-tech fitness trackers and cutting-edge footwear. Although protein shakes may be a convenient way to take in calories, it doesn’t mean that they’re always the best option. Whole food sources are still your best bet for getting vital nutrients. The takeaway is to build your diet with a base of solid food and use protein powder as a — you guessed it — supplement when it’s healthy and convenient.

Responsible Pharmacist – Hester @ White River


Hester Bodenstein has been a pharmacist for 27 years and has the love of her community close at heart and as RP for the past two years since Mopani opened its doors in White River, she has had the opportunity of building and maintaining very close relationships with some of the community members who frequent their isles. She recalls a time when a patient came into the pharmacy just to talk after she had learnt that her mother was diagnosed with cancer and Hester was the first person she wanted to share the news with. Another time a mother had run out of avenues to help her daughter and a friend who were suffering from anorexia, and so she brought them in for counselling.

“Working in a community pharmacy is truly a rewarding experience as I have had the privilege of watching some of my clients’ children grow into healthy adults over the years. I have walked their life path with them and with God’s grace will continue the journey with their children as well.”

Responsible Pharmacist – Adelle @ I’Langa


With Adelle Reynolds at the helm of the I’langa Mall store, your visit to Mopani will guarantee you leaving with a smile. “I’m pretty sure I love people more than I love medicine really,” she chuckles. “Before joining Mopani, I was involved with an NGO which really formed a big part of this love affair, because it was there that I saw the need most people have for just a little compassion, and even just a brief moment of acknowledgement. The gratitude we receive from our clients, purely because they feel cared for, is what makes the long hours and the weekends worth every second.”

She explains that her role at the pharmacy is to ensure that everything runs smoothly and accurately. “We are working with the lives of people here. If we offer them the wrong advice or dispense the wrong medication, it could very well be fatal.” Part of her job description is to offer training to the interns and the staff in the dispensary on issues ranging from the latest techniques and treatments to information on generic medicine and new products hitting the shelves. Mopani has always been for the community and despite the relative size and growth we have experienced over the last few years, I still feel as though we have not lost that personal touch we were always renowned for. I have found my home here, and it is my goal to make each and every one who walks through these doors, feel exactly the same.”