Friday, February 29, 2008


This is a picture of my great grandmother Stella, and my grandmother Ruth, sitting on my great grandpa Fred's knee.

The DNA I'm testing for is the MITOCHONDRIAL strain, showing my deep ancestral roots of the female line. The SAME DNA has been carried by my ancient grandmother's for centuries, passed down to my mother, myself, my sisters and our daughters after us.
The backdrop of this picture is an actual microscope image showing the liquid-crystal phase of DNA molecules. The DNA molecules pair to form DNA double helices, which, in turn, stack end-to-end to make rod-shaped aggregates that orient parallel to one another.

My DNA is now in the analyzing stage! Last night I checked the website and it said it was still in isolation, but this morning it's now listed for analyzing. This means the NEXT stage is QUALITY CONTROL!

Once we hit the quality control, ANY DAY after that when I check the website, I will no longer see the STAGE section, but rather I will click a bar and enter the RESULTS - I will immediately see my HAPLOGROUP and the migration map.

Here's the stage for ANALIZATION - as stated on the National Geographic website:

The samples are transferred into PCR amplification plates for testing using a robotic liquid handling station. The appropriate chemicals are added to the samples to amplify the targeted regions of the DNA for testing. The samples are heated and cooled in a thermal cycler in order to run the PCR amplification. The PCR amplification products are loaded into the capillary electrophoresis machine and the products are sorted by size and color.
A laboratory staff member uses a computer program to assign scores to the samples. The computer generated scores are then reviewed by two additional laboratory staff members to produce finalized data.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

KNOCK, KNOCK ((Who's there??))

Early in the mornings, I've been hearing a strange knock at the door. Even the cat sits at the door staring. Each time I open the door, nobody is there. This has been going on for the longest time!

This morning I heard the knocking again... and again...

I crept up to the door, and ever so slowly turned the lock. Satisfied that the door was unlocked, I quickly yanked open the door. Suddenly a bird flew from my door wreath. Another bird (the mate?) lurked by and scolded me.

I realized that all that knocking was due to the birds building a nest! If you look at the upper left-hand side of my wreath you can spot the nest!

What a BIRD BRAINED idea to build a nest on my door! Of course, I feel silly too for not noticing it earlier -- not to mention, this explains WHY I kept getting these strange leaves and twigs everywhere each time I opened my door! I kept telling everyone to WIPE YOUR FEET!!

Geesh, I wonder if those silly birds would have layed their eggs. Would have been a matter of time before those eggs had fallen.

Our trees are budding green, and flowers everywhere are peeking their heads. Spring is in the air!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

DNA - Haplogroup H

Haplgroup H - migration patterns

I am currently corresponding with some DNA participants who’ve been adopted. One in particular is halopgroup H. I will be rehashing over this haplogroup and updating as National Geographic updates their database. Today haplogroup H comprises 40 to 60 percent of the gene pool of most European populations. As the testing branches out, and more people participate, we can get a better picture.

Unfortunately for those who’ve been adopted, getting one’s mitochondrial DNA tested CAN be somewhat disappointing. But we need to keep in mind that DNA testing can only reveal as the database grows.

Since my husband’s mother is haplogroup H, I will be pulling the information from National Geo as I find it. Keep in mind that not ALL H’s are the same. Testing is constantly being refined. Many who were originally an “H” are finding that they belong to a subgroup, such as an H1, H3, H6c, etc.

When it comes to genetic genealogy, Paternal Y DNA testing is by far the most popular type of testing. Since Y DNA is passed from father to son down through the generations (just like surnames) its application is fairly obvious. BUT mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) testing has been gaining in popularity. Especially for those who don't have male relatives to test! THANK YOU, my big brother for testing your Y-DNA! You were the lAST link we had to our father, who's deceased!!

If you are thinking of testing your ancestral Y-DNA and you have few male relatives around, NOW is the time.

Many people regard mtDNA as the equivalent of a maternal version of the male Y-DNA testing and while there are SOME parallels – there ARE also some differences.

Mitochondrial is passed down through maternal lines, but mothers pass it on to both their sons and their daughters. The sons, however, become mtDNA dead ends and do not pass it on. This means that a brother and sister (who share the same mother) can both get tested for mtDNA, and that they both can serve as living representatives of their mother, their mother's mother, their mother's mother's mother, and so on. But when this brother and sister pass on, her children will continue to sport the same mtDNA, while his will have his wife's mtDNA.

The most important aspect of mtDNA to grasp is that it's essentially a deep ancestry test, and is not as genealogically useful as Y-DNA.

A TOOL TO ASSIST YOU: is a database that allows you to compare both your genetic sequence as well as your surname to those of thousands of people who have already joined the database. This type of search is a valuable way of inferring population events that have occurred in more recent times (i.e., the past few hundred years).

Here's the information from the National Geo website. Scroll all the way down if you're only looking to see for Haplogroup H.

~ * ~ * ~

Mitochondrial Eve: The Mother of Us All

Ancestral Line: "Mitochondrial Eve"

Our story begins in Africa sometime between 150,000 and 170,000 years ago, with a woman whom anthropologists have nicknamed "Mitochondrial Eve."

She was awarded this mythic epithet in 1987 when population geneticists discovered that all people alive on the planet today can trace their maternal lineage back to her.

But Mitochondrial Eve was not the first female human. Homo sapiens evolved in Africa around 200,000 years ago, and the first hominids—characterized by their unique bipedal stature—appeared nearly two million years before that. Yet despite humans having been around for almost 30,000 years, Eve is exceptional because hers is the only lineage from that distant time to survive to the present day.

Which begs the question, "So why Eve?"

Simply put, Eve was a survivor. A maternal line can become extinct for a number of reasons. A woman may not have children, or she may bear only sons (who do not pass her mtDNA to the next generation). She may fall victim to a catastrophic event such as a volcanic eruption, flood, or famine, all of which have plagued humans since the dawn of our species.

None of these extinction events happened to Eve's line. It may have been simple luck, or it may have been something much more. It was around this same time that modern humans' intellectual capacity underwent what author Jared Diamond coined the Great Leap Forward. Many anthropologists believe that the emergence of language gave us a huge advantage over other early human species. Improved tools and weapons, the ability to plan ahead and cooperate with one another, and an increased capacity to exploit resources in ways we hadn't been able to earlier, all allowed modern humans to rapidly migrate to new territories, exploit new resources, and outcompete and replace other hominids, such as the Neandertals.

It is difficult to pinpoint the chain of events that led to Eve's unique success, but we can say with certainty that all of us trace our maternal lineage back to this one woman.

The L Haplogroups: The Deepest Branches

Ancestral line: "Eve" > L1/L0

Mitochondrial Eve represents the root of the human family tree. Her descendents, moving around within Africa, eventually split into two distinct groups, characterized by a different set of mutations their members carry.

These groups are referred to as L0 and L1, and these individuals have the most divergent genetic sequences of anybody alive today, meaning they represent the deepest branches of the mitochondrial tree. Importantly, current genetic data indicates that indigenous people belonging to these groups are found exclusively in Africa. This means that, because all humans have a common female ancestor, "Eve," and because the genetic data shows that Africans are the oldest groups on the planet, we know our species originated there.

Haplogroups L1 and L0 likely originated in East Africa and then spread throughout the rest of the continent. Today, these lineages are found at highest frequencies in Africa's indigenous populations, the hunter-gatherer groups who have maintained their ancestors' culture, language, and customs for thousands of years.

At some point, after these two groups had coexisted in Africa for a few thousand years, something important happened. The mitochondrial sequence of a woman in one of these groups, L1, mutated. A letter in her DNA changed, and because many of her descendants have survived to the present, this change has become a window into the past. The descendants of this woman, characterized by this signpost mutation, went on to form their own group, called L2. Because the ancestor of L2 was herself a member of L1, we can say something about the emergence of these important groups: Eve begat L1, and L1 begat L2. Now we're starting to move down your ancestral line.

Haplogroup L2: West Africa

Ancestral line: "Eve" > L1/L0 > L2

L2 individuals are found in sub-Saharan Africa, and like their L1 predecessors, they also live in Central Africa and as far south as South Africa. But whereas L1/L0 individuals remained predominantly in eastern and southern Africa, your ancestors broke off into a different direction, which you can follow on the map above.

L2 individuals are most predominant in West Africa, where they constitute the majority of female lineages. And because L2 individuals are found at high frequencies and widely distributed along western Africa, they represent one of the predominant lineages in African-Americans. Unfortunately, it is difficult to pinpoint where a specific L2 lineage might have arisen. For an African-American who is L2—the likely result of West Africans being brought to America during the slave trade—it is difficult to say with certainty exactly where in Africa that lineage arose.

Fortunately, collaborative sampling with indigenous groups is currently underway to help learn more about these types of questions and to possibly bridge the gap that was created during those transatlantic voyages hundreds of years ago.

Haplogroup L3: Out of Africa

Ancestral line: "Eve" > L1/L0 > L2 > L3

Your next signpost ancestor is the woman whose birth around 80,000 years ago began haplogroup L3. It is a similar story: an individual in L2 underwent a mutation to her mitochondrial DNA, which was passed onto her children. The children were successful, and their descendants ultimately broke away from the L2 clan, eventually separating into a new group called L3. You can see above that this has revealed another step in your ancestral line.

While L3 individuals are found all over Africa, including the southern reaches of sub-Sahara, L3 is important for its movements north. You can follow this movement of the map above, seeing first the expansions of L1/L0, then L2, and followed by the northward migration of L3.

Your L3 ancestors were significant because they are the first modern humans to have left Africa, representing the deepest branches of the tree found outside of that continent.

Why would humans have first ventured out of the familiar African hunting grounds and into unexplored lands? It is likely that a fluctuation in climate may have provided the impetus for your ancestors' exodus out of Africa.

The African Ice Age was characterized by drought rather than by cold. Around 50,000 years ago the ice sheets of northern Europe began to melt, introducing a period of warmer temperatures and moister climate in Africa. Parts of the inhospitable Sahara briefly became habitable. As the drought-ridden desert changed to savanna, the animals your ancestors hunted expanded their range and began moving through the newly emerging green corridor of grasslands. Your nomadic ancestors followed the good weather and plentiful game northward across this Saharan Gateway, although the exact route they followed remains to be determined.

Today, L3 individuals are found at high frequencies in populations across North Africa. From there, members of this group went in a few different directions. Some lineages within L3 testify to a distinct expansion event in the mid-Holocene that headed south, and are predominant in many Bantu groups found all over Africa. One group of individuals headed west and is primarily restricted to Atlantic western Africa, including the islands of Cabo Verde.

Other L3 individuals, your ancestors, kept moving northward, eventually leaving the African continent completely. These people currently make up around ten percent of the Middle Eastern population, and gave rise to two important haplogroups that went on to populate the rest of the world.

Haplogroup N: The Incubation Period

Ancestral line: "Eve" > L1/L0 > L2 > L3 > N

Your next signpost ancestor is the woman whose descendants formed haplogroup N. Haplogroup N comprises one of two groups that were created by the descendants of L3.

The first of these groups, M, was the result of the first great wave of migration of modern humans to leave Africa. These people likely left the continent across the Horn of Africa near Ethiopia, and their descendants followed a coastal route eastward, eventually making it all the way to Australia and Polynesia.

The second great wave, also of L3 individuals, moved north rather than east and left the African continent across the Sinai Peninsula, in present-day Egypt. Also faced with the harsh desert conditions of the Sahara, these people likely followed the Nile basin, which would have proved a reliable water and food supply in spite of the surrounding desert and its frequent sandstorms.

Descendants of these migrants eventually formed haplogroup N. Early members of this group lived in the eastern Mediterranean region and western Asia, where they likely coexisted for a time with other hominids such as Neandertals. Excavations in Israel's Kebara Cave (Mount Carmel) have unearthed Neandertal skeletons as recent as 60,000 years old, indicating that there was both geographic and temporal overlap of these two hominids.

The ancient members of haplogroup N spawned many sublineages, which went on to populate much of the rest of the globe. They are found throughout Asia, Europe, India, and the Americas.

Haplogroup R: Spreading Out

Ancestral line: "Eve" > L1/L0 > L2 > L3 > N > R

After several thousand years in the Near East, individuals belonging to a new group called haplogroup R began to move out and explore the surrounding areas. Some moved south, migrating back into northern Africa. Others went west across Anatolia (present-day Turkey) and north across the Caucasus Mountains of Georgia and southern Russia. Still others headed east into the Middle East, and on to Central Asia. All of these individuals had one thing in common: they shared a female ancestor from the N clan, a recent descendant of the migration out of Africa.

The story of haplogroup R is complicated, however, because these individuals can be found almost everywhere, and because their origin is quite ancient. In fact, the ancestor of haplogroup R lived relatively soon after humans moved out of Africa during the second wave, and her descendants undertook many of the same migrations as her own group, N.

Because the two groups lived side by side for thousands of years, it is likely that the migrations radiating out from the Near East comprised individuals from both of these groups. They simply moved together, bringing their N and R lineages to the same places around the same times. The tapestry of genetic lines became quickly entangled, and geneticists are currently working to unravel the different stories of haplogroups N and R, since they are found in many of the same far-reaching places.

Haplogroup pre-HV: In the Near East

Ancestral line: "Eve" > L1/L0 > L2 > L3 > N > R > pre-HV

Descending from haplogroup R were a group of individuals who formed a western Eurasian lineage. The descendants of pre-HV live in high frequencies in the Anatolian-Caucasus region and Iran. While members of this group can also be found in the Indus Valley near the Pakistan-India border, their presence is considered the result of a subsequent migration eastward of individuals out of the Near East.

Individuals in haplogroup pre-HV can be found all around the Red Sea and widely throughout the Near East. While this genetic lineage is common in Ethiopia and Somalia, individuals from this group are found at highest frequency in Arabia. Because of their close genetic and geographic proximity to other western Eurasian clusters, members of this group living in eastern Africa are the likely result of more recent migrations back into the continent.

As we have seen from haplogroups N and R, descendants from these western Eurasian lineages used the Near East as a home base of sorts, radiating from that region to populate much of the rest of the world. Their descendants comprise all of the western Eurasian genetic lineages, and about half of the eastern Eurasian mtDNA gene pool. Some individuals moved across the Middle East into Central Asia and the Hindus Valley near western India. Some moved south, heading back into the African homeland from where their ancestors had recently departed.

Haplogroup pre-HV is of particular importance because over the course of several thousand years, its descendants split off and formed their own group, called HV. This group—thanks in large part to a brutal cold spell that was about to set in—gave rise to the two most prevalent female lineages found in Western Europe.

Haplogroup HV:The Near East and Beyond

Ancestral line: "Eve" > L1/L0 > L2 > L3 > N > R > pre-HV > HV

While some descendants of these ancestral lineages moved out across Central Asia, the Indus Valley, and even back into Africa, your ancestors remained in the Near East. Descending from haplogroup pre-HV, they formed a new group, characterized by a unique set of mutations, called haplogroup HV.

Haplogroup HV is a west Eurasian haplogroup found throughout the Near East, including Anatolia (present-day Turkey) and the Caucasus Mountains of southern Russia and the republic of Georgia. It is also found in parts of East Africa, particularly in Ethiopia, where its presence there indicates recent Near Eastern gene flow, likely the result of the Arab slave trade over the last two millennia.

Much earlier, around 30,000 years ago, some members of HV moved north across the Caucasus Mountains and west across Anatolia, their lineages being carried into Europe for the first time by the Cro-Magnon. Their arrival in Europe heralded the end of the era of the Neandertals, a hominid species that inhabited Europe and parts of western Asia from about 230,000 to 29,000 years ago. Better communication skills, weapons, and resourcefulness probably enabled them to outcompete Neandertals for scarce resources. Importantly, some descendants of HV had already broken off and formed their own group, haplogroup H, and continued the push into Western Europe.

Haplogroup H: Your Branch on the Tree

Ancestral line: "Eve" > L1/L0 > L2 > L3 > N > R > pre-HV > HV > H

This wave of migration into western Europe marked the appearance and spread of what archaeologists call the Aurignacian culture. The culture is distinguished by significant innovations in methods of manufacturing tools, standardization of tools, and use of a broader set of tool types, such as end-scrapers for preparing animal skins and tools for woodworking.

Around 15,000 to 20,000 years ago, colder temperatures and a drier global climate locked much of the world's fresh water at the polar ice caps, making living conditions near impossible for much of the northern hemisphere. Early Europeans retreated to the warmer climates of the Iberian Peninsula, Italy, and the Balkans, where they waited out the cold spell. Their population sizes were drastically reduced, and much of the genetic diversity that had previously existed in Europe was lost.

Beginning about 15,000 years ago—after the ice sheets had begun their retreat—humans moved north again and recolonized western Europe. By far the most frequent mitochondrial lineage carried by these expanding groups was haplogroup H. Because of the population growth that quickly followed this expansion, your haplogroup now dominates the European female landscape.

Today haplogroup H comprises 40 to 60 percent of the gene pool of most European populations. In Rome and Athens, for example, the frequency of H is around 40 percent of the entire population, and it exhibits similar frequencies throughout western Europe. Moving eastward the frequencies of H gradually decreases, clearly illustrating the migratory path these settlers followed as they left the Iberian Peninsula after the ice sheets had receded. Haplogroup H is found at around 25 percent in Turkey and around 20 percent in the Caucasus Mountains.

While haplogroup H is considered the Western European lineage due to its high frequency there, it is also found much further east. Today it comprises around 20 percent of southwest Asian lineages, about 15 percent of people living in Central Asia, and around five percent in northern Asia.

Importantly, the age of haplogroup H lineages differs quite substantially between those seen in the West compared with those found in the East. In Europe its age is estimated at 10,000 to 15,000 years old, and while H made it into Europe substantially earlier (30,000 years ago), reduced population sizes resulting from the glacial maximum significantly reduced its diversity there, and thus its estimated age. In Central and East Asia, however, its age is estimated at around 30,000 years old, meaning your lineage made it into those areas during some of the earlier migrations out of the Near East.

Haplogroup H is a great example of the effect that population dynamics such as bottleneck events, founder effect, genetic drift, and rapid population growth, have on the genetic diversity of resulting populations.

Anthropology vs. Genealogy

DNA markers require a long time to become informative. While mutations occur in every generation, it requires at least hundreds—normally thousands—of years for these markers to become windows back into the past, signposts on the human tree.

Still, our own genetic sequences often reveal that we fall within a particular sub-branch, a smaller, more recent branch on the tree.

While it may be difficult to say anything about the history of these sub-groups, they do reveal other people who are more closely related to us. It is a useful way to help bridge the anthropology of population genetics with the genealogy to which we are all accustomed.

One of the ways you can bridge this gap is to compare your own genetic lineage to those of people living all over the world. is a database that allows you to compare both your genetic sequence as well as your surname to those of thousands of people who have already joined the database. This type of search is a valuable way of inferring population events that have occurred in more recent times (i.e., the past few hundred years).

Looking Forward (Into the Past): Where Do We Go From Here?

Although the arrow of your haplogroup currently ends throughout Western Europe, this isn't the end of the journey for haplogroup H. This is where the genetic clues get murky and your DNA trail goes cold. Your initial results shown here are based upon the best information available today—but this is just the beginning.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Crunchy Peanut Butter Banana Walnut Bread

click picture for enlargement

Here's a recipe my daughter and I invented today. We were actually going to make a banana bread but realized we only had 1 banana.

We were using a basic banana bread recipe and doing the following switches:

1/2 cup shorting - 1 stick of butter
3 bananas - 1 banana and 1 cup of peanut butter
1/2 cup of walnuts - 1 cup of walnuts

* The recipe did not call for milk, but we wanted to moisten the recipe.

Also, I had used CRUNCHY peanut butter.

The bread/cake is delicious served with hot green tea!

Friday, February 15, 2008

UPDATE: DNA Isolation

Batch Created!

Wow! Talk about doing a double take this morning! I was checking the status of my DNA online and not ONLY did my sample arrive to the labs in Arizona - for the BATCH stage, but now my DNA is in the Isolation process! Actual TESTING has begun!

This is what happens during the ISOLATION step:

The cells are broken open by incubation with a protein-cutting enzyme overnight. Chemicals and the samples are transferred into deep well blocks for robotic DNA isolation. The blocks of chemicals and samples are placed on the extraction robot. The robotic DNA isolation uses silica-coated iron beads. In the presence of the appropriate chemicals DNA will bind to silica. The robot then uses magnetic probes to collect the beads (and DNA) and transfer them through several chemical washes and finally into a storage buffer, which allows the beads to release the DNA. At this point the beads are collected and discarded.

The next stage is the DNA analysis, quality control, and FINAL RESULTS!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008


Knitted DNA


My DNA sample has finally ARRIVED! - According to the National Geographic website:

*Kit Received*
The kits are received at the Houston office of Family Tree DNA and checked in. All of the kits are assigned to a batch and shipped to the Arizona Research Labs at the University of Arizona. The samples are received at the university and the orders are transferred to a computer system. The computer sorts the orders and assigns each sample to a specific location in one of many sample grids.

As the barcodes on the samples are read the computer directs the researchers where to place each sample (which tray and which coordinates)...

Right now, the kit is awaiting the BATCH stage. Will keep you posted as I receive additional information.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Fourth Annual - Daddy Daughter Dance!

Each year, my husband and daughter looks forward to the annual Daddy Daughter Dance!

This year will be their 4th event! A sparkling fun-filled evening of laughter, confetti, dancing, cake, cookies, punch, balloons, photographers, and contests!

Half the fun is preparing for the event -- purchasing a pair of shiny new shoes, trying on lots of pretty new dresses, splashing on a dash of perfume, and feeling like a princess!


This was the first year that my husband and daughter entered the dance contest. THIS YEAR, they were selected out of 200 contestants and won THIRD PLACE!! WOW!

A recital before the dance!

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Updated DNA Migration Patterns

Original - J1 migration map

Updated - J1 migration map

As promised, National Geographic posts updates on the genome project!

What's interesting about the original J1 map in comparison of the updated version is that the migration patterns have been eliminated from Europe. According to website:

Members of haplogroup J1 live in the highest concentrations near its ancestral birthplace in the Middle East, as well as in Arabia, North Africa and Ethiopia. The haplogroup also carries a strong cultural connection—many of its members with European ancestry are Jewish. More than half of all J1 samples in the Genographic database are Ashkenazi Jews, revealing a genetic connection to the Middle Eastern homeland of Judaism.

Looking at the updated migration patterns, one can only presume that my father's ancestors traveled to the America's due to the Diaspora and the Spanish Inquisition!

** It is interesting that J1 is found in Ethiopia as well. It's been speculated that King Solomon had sired a son from Queen Sheba. Not only has DNA shown that a certain tribe in Ethiopia has a genetic match, but this tribe might possibly have in their posession the Ark of Covenant! Of course, only time will tell!

Although there were no updated maps for my husband's DNA - I did find an update on the ethnic percentages:

My husband's DNA - R1B - 70% men in southern England belong to R1B with 90% in parts of Spain and Ireland.

Haplogroup R1B - migration map

My husband's Mitochondrial Eve DNA - Haplogroup H - 40-60% European populations share this DNA along with 40% in Rome and Athens.

Haplogroup H - migration map

Don't forget to check my prior blog entry - FAMILY TREE DNA

Since I had just sent off for my own mitochondrial Eve DNA, I don't expect to have the results back for another month or so.


Monday, February 4, 2008

Officially Testing DNA Today!

The test kit has arrived today - FINALLY.

Good to their word, National Geographic shipped on the 30th of January. I had purchased the kit on the 24th, but due to backorders, shipment was delayed. (I've ordered 3 DNA kits from National Geographic and each time they were out of stock/backordered - these kits are POPULAR!)

Since the UPS truck arrived late, I'll do half of the testing tonight, and the rest in the morning.

First I have to wait at least an hour before I take my first specimen. The kit provides 2 cheek scrapers and 2 test tubes of soapy solution. I scrape both sides of the insides of my cheeks 30 seconds each.

Afterwards, I unscrew the lid and gently push the plunger at the top of the applicator stick into the tube - the tip of the scraper falls into the solution -- I tighten the lid and the first bottle is ready!

The first test will be done tonight and I'll take the second test in the morning after 8 hours passes. Repeating the same process and of course, before I have my coffee.

PRESTO! DNA test is ready to be shipped. I sign a consent form (anonymously) stating that I want to test my Y or X chromosome. In my case, I can only test the X chromosome, as I'm a female. National Geographic provides a self-addressed padded envelope to ship the test tubes.

The kit comes with a CD explaining the human genome project along with a colorful booklet and map describing the human migration patterns.

The DNA kit will OFFICIALLY be mailed in the morning - Tuesday, February, 5th.

The kit provides a password to log onto the National Geographic website. From there, I can check daily on the status of my test kit. Not only will I know WHEN they received my kit, but I will have a status report on EACH STAGE of the testing process, isolation, quality control, and FINAL RESULTS.

STAY TUNED for additional updates!

Friday, February 1, 2008

IS Splenda really SPLENDID?

Okay, so we’ve all heard the saying, “It’s made from sugar, so it tastes like sugar!”

The first time I heard of Splenda was over 10 years ago on an Atkins website. This website promotes less carbohydrates and of course, no sugar!

Splenda was mentioned on the Atkins’ website as a new sugar substitute available in Canada. How we anxiously waited for the FDA to approve this for the United States! In 1998, Splenda started appearing on our shelves.

7 years later, on March 10, 2005, I was invited to meet the scientists and marketing team of the Johnson & Johnson, McNeal laboratories.

I was excited – after all, Splenda was made from sugar, right?

Early that Thursday morning, I pulled my car up to the Driskill hotel in Austin Texas and handed my car keys to the valet. Taking the elevator up to the top floor, I met several other women who were invited to join the marketing research group. We all came from various backgrounds—housewives, lawyers, business owners, secretaries… We were graciously introduced to our hosts, the research team and ushered into a lavish room with various tables laden with tons of food products – fresh fruit, boxes of cereals, candy bars, jars of food, soda pops, etc. We soon learned this was for our INSPIRATION!

At the far end of the room was a long convention style table that was displayed (sort of like the last supper) with a place setting of drinking glasses, plates, treats, and notepads and pencils.

There we were all seated and the introductions began. The research team had flown in from all over – the UK, New York and so on.

I want to stop right here and say that these people were incredibly nice, gracious and very upbeat about their product. But due to the confidentiality sheets I had signed, I am only able to disclose so much about what I had experienced. Diagonally across from me sat the scientist/inventor of Splenda. Right from the get-go, he corrected our comments that Splenda was “made from sugar”…

Splenda is technically 3/4th’s chlorine! Splenda is 1 atom of sugar and 3 parts industrial chlorine. To replace most of the sugar to create Splenda, one has to use the chemicals---benzene, lithium chloride, formaldehyde, and acetone to force chlorine into sugar! In all honesty, Splenda is chemically mutilated sugar! With this food for thought, one might as well be drinking from their swimming pool!

Sour over pickled Splenda.

"Sweetened" is unsweet.

On that Thursday morning, I was not privy to all this information. I was just excited to be a part of this research group. It is a heady experience to be paid $250.00 for one’s opinions--to have every word written down, and people leaning forward to listen to all of one’s ideas. We were wined and dine and treated like royalty for 8 hours. In a crystal goblet, I poured a packet of Splenda into my iced tea and toasted the events of the day.

The last part of our session, we broke off into small groups. I was selected for the group that would focus on marketing strategies for families with children.

I was all excited about Splenda until we reached this point. For some reason that I cannot explain, I felt apprehension. The marketing strategy was to target our youth into consuming more Splenda. This didn’t set right with me. If you stop and think about it, the sugar substitute industry is a multimillion dollar industry that has literally seeped into most every shelf and cup of America. Many products carry these substitutes, and one has to really read the fine lines to discern what we are ingesting.

America has been reducing their sugar intake by taking these “chemical additives” yet, diabetes has become an epidemic!

MANY of the products I see on the shelves today, has been discussed in our research group. Due to confidentiality, I am unable to disclose what marketing strategies they had used, but I will say that Splenda wants to be used in EVERY WAY possible.

Read the labels! Splenda is now in some of your vitamins, medications, and (unbelievable) toothpaste!

There has been much discussion that these artificial sweeteners are the culprit to our epidemic of diabetes and I am inclined to agree with this. Our bodies are being tricked with this fake nutrition, not to mention the chemical havoc we are wreaking on our health. Considering the fact that we are made of sugars and proteins (DNA) I’m also inclined to believe that sugar substitutes DOES adversely affect our DNA! Not to mention, metabolism.

Admittedly, for many years I continued to pour a packet of Splenda into my coffee and tea. Yet, when my own daughter reached for a packet, something deep down tugged at my conscience. This just isn’t right.

What? Your child’s been vomiting and has diarrhea and you give them chlorine?

Yesterday I was making dessert for my family. Traditionally we have both boys over at least once a week (since they’ve moved out) to join the family for dinner and to catch up on our week’s events. I had purchased 2 packages of instant pudding – chocolate and vanilla.

I had planned to pour a layer of chocolate pudding into each individual dessert cup, and to top with the vanilla pudding. To my dismay, I realized that I had accidentally purchased the sugar free vanilla.

What the heck, it’s just 1 box of Jell-o sugar free pudding and it’s not like we eat this all the time… Right? I ripped open the package and stopped.

Wait a second.

I’m poisoning my family.

Honestly, it’s been proven that saccharine is carcinogenic to lab mice.

My appetite for vanilla escaped and I tossed the pudding into the trash. That night I served my family a rich chocolate pudding dessert made from whole milk and topped with whipped cream.

This morning I had a cup of coffee with a teaspoon of real sugar and cream.

And you know what? Splenda might be 600 times sweeter than sucrose (table sugar), twice as sweet as saccharin, and four times as sweet as aspartame, but I tell you what...

My cup of coffee with real sugar not only tasted better, but just knowing that I’m no longer poisoning my family, is SWEET enough!