[Transcript] – A “Healthy Soda” Super-Special: Is Diet Soda Good For You, Stevia DeMystified, Sugar Alcohols, Natural Flavors & More.

Affiliate Disclosure


Podcast from: https://bengreenfieldfitness.com/2016/08/is-diet-soda-good-for-you/

[02:00] MarcPro

[03:29] Kimera Koffee

[04:56] Introduction

[07:30] About Paddy Spence

[12:00] “Caveman Drank Soda” – Is soda something ancestral?

[17:30] How did the name Zevia come to be?

[21:50] What Causes Keto flu and how to avoid getting it?

[28:05] Why Stevia tastes bitter to some people?

[32:30] Coke’s “TruVia” and Pepsi’s “PureVia” – Bad for you (and why not all stevia is created equal)

[40:15] How sugar alcohols are processed by your body, and the one form of sugar alcohol that won’t make you fart

[42:25] The little-known fruit grown in the foothills of China that actually does not spike your blood sugar

[50:00] Why many natural flavors come from pretty nasty sources, including the anal gland of a beaver

[56:45] The big reason you need to avoid anything that lists “caramel color”

[59:00] Ben’s personal vodka cocktail mix use with Creme Soda flavored Zevia, and how his kids make Root Beer Floats with Root Beer flavored Zevia

[61:10] Paddy’s amazing recipe for a Zevia custard dessert

[64:29] End of podcast

Ben:  What’s up!  It’s Ben Greenfield.  I’m back and I’m once again recording from the Peak Brain Institute facility near Los Angeles.  I’m actually in a place called Culver City doing brain training which is why you might hear background voices and brain training sounds like whirring and clicks and whistles.  But that’s just part of the gig.  I’m making myself smarter, so I have to have making smarter sounds in the background.  I’m also staying down here with my friend Tai Lopez, quite entertaining guy.  You should go check him out on the Snapchat.  Go to Snapchat and do a search for Tai Lopez.  The guy’s garage is full of Lamborghinis and Ferraris, and he’s got like this eighteen-room mansion here in Beverly Hills, and not that I think that money is everything or prestige or the Beverly Hills lifestyle is everything, but this guy has marketing and making money and business pretty much down to a science.  I’ve interviewed him 3 times on my show, so he’s a guy you should check out very, very interesting fellow.  If you go to bengreenfieldfitness.com and you do a search for… actually I’m not even gonna have you do that, he’s got a website in which he shares how he went from having forty seven bucks in the bank to being wealthy beyond measure.  At least by Beverly Hills standards perhaps not by Dubai standards but Beverly Hills standards.  The dude is freaking loaded.  Go to bengreenfieldfitness.com/67steps, that’s bengreenfieldfitness.com/67steps.  If you want to see Tai, what he looks like, his place that I’m staying at, very, very interesting dude.

Anyways, though, this podcast today is about soda.  Yes soda, the stuff you drink.  But before we dive in to today’s podcast on soda.  Did you see what I did there?  I was gonna say dive into soda but alright, I should stop.  I wanna tell you about today’s sponsors.

So first of all, this podcast is brought to you by something that I have actually been using quite a bit on my ankle.  I competed in the Trained to Hunt National Championships last week, the Spartan 4-hour race along with another Spartan race back to back the week before and I sprained my ankle.  I’ve been using this thing called electrical muscle stimulation but it’s different than any other form of electrical muscle stimulation because it produces what is called a square wave form.  So, what I do is I surround the area of pain with the 4 electrodes that come with this device.  It’s called a MarcPro, and it’s in a very therapeutic manner recruits muscles, increase blood flow, gets rid of inflammation and essentially cause my body to heal much more quickly.

I even slapped some magnesium lotion on the ankle and then I put the electrodes on, and then I put ice over that.  And that 1,2,3 combo nurses my body back extremely quickly.  So you get $5 off or $5 (laughs), you get a lot more than that.  You get 5% discount on this.  Five dollars wouldn’t be much but 5% is actually quite significant that saves you more than $30 on one of these.  You know, marcpro.com, m-a-r-c- pro dot com.  And when you go to marcpro.com use promo code Ben to get 5% off this electrical muscle stimulation device.  Super easy to use and literally, I mean for soreness, injuries anything, you’ll be shocked at how fast you bounce back.  I’m not just saying that.  I do use this thing every week.

So in addition, something I use every week, is high altitude premium coffee infused with nootropics.  I’m actually quite interested to see what happens to my brain with all this brain training I’m doing and kinda tracking you know, if there’s changes in terms of like whether or not I drink my nootropic-infused coffee that morning or not.  This is coffee that has taurine in it which is typically stuff you can find in eggs and that delays cognitive decline.  It’s got theanine in it which actually decreases any jitteriness that caffeine might cause.  It’s got choline in it which you’ll find in for example fish and that boosts mental performance and promotes red blood cell function interestingly, and then alpha GPC which is a natural choline compound you find in your own neural tissue, but you also find it in meats and fish but you don’t have to eat meats and fish.  You can just drink a cup of coffee and have your kale shake.  So it’s called kimera koffee k-i-m-e-r-a k-o-f-f-e-e dot com.  They’ve blended all these nootropics together dissolved them into coffee and then you drink that cup of goodness each morning to get your brain spinning.  You get a 10% discount when you go to k-i-m-e-r-a k-o-f-f-e-e dot com and use discount code Ben.  That’s kimerakoffee.com with discount code Ben.

Alright so you’ve got your electro stimulation, you’ve got your coffee and now you’re about to get your soda.  Let’s do this.

In this episode of the Ben Greenfield fitness show:

“In controversy around is Stevia natural, it’s because some vendors out there use nasty chemicals to extract the ingredient.  There is one basic indisputable fact about GMO’s.  They were created by C companies who sell pesticides to sell more pesticides.  End of story.  Caramel color that is used in zero calorie sodas has trace amounts of a nasty chemical called 4-MEI and 4-MEI is linked in a lot of different studies to cancer.”

He’s an expert in human performance and nutrition, voted America’s top personal trainer and one of the globe’s most influential people in health and fitness.  His show provides you with everything you need to optimize physical and mental performance.  He is Ben Greenfield.  “Power, speed, mobility, balance – whatever it is for you that’s the natural movement, get out there! When you look at all the studies done… studies that have shown the greatest efficacy…”  All the information you need in one place, right here, right now, on the Ben Greenfield Fitness podcast.

Ben:  Hey folks, it’s Ben Greenfield and if you are a long time podcast listener, you may have heard me before pop open a bottle or a can of soda prior to actually interviewing my guest.  And although I do not have a soda in hand right now, frankly because I’m recording in the morning and I don’t drink soda that often in the morning.  We are definitely going to be talking about soda, and if you happen to watch the most recent Crossfit games because I know all of you are into the Crossfit games.  You may have noticed they were brought to you by soda.  That’s right a soda company was a sponsor of the 2016 Reebok Crossfit games which is the worldwide competition to find the fittest man or the fittest woman on earth, and that’s not exactly something that you’d associate with Coke or Pepsi or Mountain Dew or my old all-time favorite Dr. Pepper.

However, the name of that soda company is Zevia, and my guest on today’s show is named Paddy, that’s right his name is Paddy, P-a-d-d-y, Paddy Spence and he’s actually a 23 year veteran of the natural and organic foods industry.  He completely cut sugar out from his diet 14 years ago, and then he purchased this company called Zevia which is a Stevia-sweetened soda company that’s now the world’s top selling zero calorie natural diet soda.  So Patty lives in LA and he’s done over 40 triathlons and he’s trained in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and wrestling and karate and boxing, so I thought he’d be a great [0:08:14.5] ______ on the show not only because we love super-duper active people who can’t seem to stop, but also because he appears to be the world’s leading expert on all-natural soda.  So Paddy welcome to the show, man.              

Paddy:  Well, thank you so much, Ben.  What a great intro (laughs). 

Ben:  (laughs).  Aside from the fact that I’m not drinking soda or Zevia.

Paddy:  Well, you know I can’t pop mine on the air but I’m drinking a Zevia cola right now although it is 10 in the morning here in Los Angeles, but I start early with Zevia because of the reasons we’ll talk about.

Ben:  Do you actually drink coffee or do you just start your day with Zevia?

Paddy:  You know, I’m not a coffee guy.  I do very much appreciate caffeine to get me going in the morning so what I do is I start my day with a couple of cups of Yerba Mate. 

Ben:  Uhm.  

Paddy:  Which for your listeners who aren’t familiar is an Amazonian herbal tea, very high in caffeine but it also has some of the active constituents that appear in chocolate.  So some folks would tell you it’s a little bit euphoric.  It’s definitely easier on your stomach than coffee. so I have a couple of cups of Mate in the morning and then I switch over to Zevia.    

Ben:  Yeah, that’s really interesting on Yerba Mate.  A lot of people don’t know it has some of those same bioactive components in it that chocolate has in it.  It’s got xanthines like those caffeine-like compounds that acts differently than coffee.  A lot of people feel like they get more wakefulness than Yerba Mate ‘coz it has a theobromine and theophylline?  

Paddy:  That’s exactly right.      

Ben:  Are the two that you find in Yerba Mate?  You know, Yerba Mate for me, I dunno, it sounds like you do pretty well with it.  It’s almost like too much unless I’m doing it right before a workout, and perhaps it is from those added components, I get almost jittery with Yerba Mate.     

Paddy:  Well, it definitely is a strong stimulant and I tell my wife, the first cup kind of makes me human, the second cup gets me going and then switch over to Zevia. 

Ben:  Yeah, it’d be interesting.  L-Theanine is a compound that takes the edge off of caffeine when you combine it with coffee or when you find it in its natural format like with green tea.  It’d be interesting to combine theanine with Yerba Mate and see if it takes some of the edge off Yerba Mate or perhaps gives you a little bit more of like a caffeinated high that lasts little longer, I don’t know.   

Paddy:  Right.  Interesting.  I have to try that. 

Ben:  And by the way, are you doing like a bulletproof Zevia?  Are you blending MCT oils or coconut oils with your Zevia, or you just drink it straight up?      

Paddy:  Well, no.  So with Yerba Mate it is, for folks who haven’t tried it it’s a unique taste.  I think of green tea as an acquired taste, mate is that much more strong and thus acquired, so I put liquid stevia and generally non-fat organic milk but sometimes do use coconut creamer in my mate.      

Ben:  Gotcha.  Gotcha.  Cool.  And what about the Zevia, you mix anything in that or you just take it straight up? 

Paddy:  I take it straight up, interestingly if I’m like out of liquid stevia at home I’ll mix Zevia with Yerba Mate, the carbonation just fits really quickly in a hot beverage.  But it gives it that nice sweetness and a little bit of flavor so like a lemon lime Zevia or a ginger ale goes great with Yerba Mate.

Ben:  Okay.  I wanna fill you in maybe towards the end of our interview, I’ll fill you in on a few of my unique twist that I have used Zevia for in the past.    

Paddy:  Yeah, we’d love to hear that.    

Ben:  I have thrown some interesting things into it, but let’s talk a little bit about soda in general.  So I have seen on your website because I stalked you a little bit before getting on today’s show that you mentioned things like paleo on your website, like paleo approved and this is something that a paleo person could drink.  I think you guys even had a presence at Paleo f(x).    

Paddy:  That’s correct. 

Ben:  If I’m not mistaken.  Do you really think that caveman or our ancestors drink a soda or soda-like substance?  Can you argue that this is something ancestral?    

Paddy:  Well, it’s interesting I mean, I think that paleo is really more of a metaphor for reducing or ideally eliminating processed foods from our diet, right.  The paleo diet is all about eating the way we ate thousands of years ago and what that really means is processed foods, sugar and grains.  Those are 3 things that have only been introduced into the human diet in the last few thousand years, and one could certainly argue none of them had a positive effect on the health of people around the world.

So paleo’s all about lean protein, red meat, fish, shellfish, eggs.  Not sure how many eggs a hunter gatherer is consuming but that’s on the diet.  Fruits, vegetables, and healthy fats like olive, coconut and avocado oils.  So the things you wanna avoid again in paleo are greens, legumes, processed foods, and a lot of potatoes and of course sugar.  So when we think about typical soda, artificial sweeteners didn’t exist obviously.  Sugar in its refined form didn’t exist.  So those are the some of the no, no ingredients in conventional soda but then you get into things like caramel color which is from corn, I mean look corn is clearly a product of industrialized farming and processed food technology, right?  Corn was not pervasive in our diet.               

Ben:  Well, like modern corn and I mean, native Americans did quite a bit of corn from what I understand it was like the tiny little baby corn not the giant ass ears of corn that we have today.    

Paddy:  Well exactly, it was integrated into beverages. 

Ben:  Right.

Paddy:  And every single thing you ate and I think you know, that’s where we as a society have kinda gone astray from a dietary standpoint is we’re using ingredients like corn far beyond where they were ever meant to be used.   

Ben:  You know, one thing before we dive into the issue of corn ‘coz I didn’t wanna ask you a little bit about if you guys have any like GMO-type of compounds in your soda.  You know, returning to this concept of beverages and whether or not our ancestors would have drank soda, I actually had an really interesting discussion with a gal named Hannah who’s also known as the Kombucha Mama, and she mentioned during our interview that when you look at the practice of like hunter gatherers or you look at many ancestral populations, they didn’t drink a lot of water.  They actually consumed a whole bunch of different varieties of ferments and fermented beverages, you see like mead would be one popular one right, like mead or honey wine that you’ll find a lot in like Norse Mythology for example.  Kombucha of course is another one.  Kombucha or jeung which is kinda like a form of kombucha.

There was another one I don’t remember if it was her that talked about it or someone else I mentioned this to or was talking about this to in South America they have chicha which is like a fermented beverage made from roots or fruits.  And you’ll find folks in many situations not drinking water, but instead drinking ferments throughout the day or drinking things other than water.  That was what I was kinda thinking about when I asked you that question was perhaps modern forms of carbonated beverages like this are almost our version of that.  What are your thoughts on that?

Paddy:  Well you know, I think it’s a great point, it’s interesting my daughter is in kindergarten and one of the things I did last school year was go in and make Zevia ginger ale for her class.  And it’s really simple; its carbonated water like with stevia, some chopped up fresh ginger and some lemon juice.  So, when you think about that in a hunter gatherer environment, carbonation yeah, maybe naturally occurring from a spring.  You’re throwing a little bit of lemon in, the leaf of a stevia and you’re maybe throwing some fresh ginger in, that’s ginger ale.  So yes it’s not, it’s definitely not a stretch to say that adding indigenous fruits and spices to water to make it more palatable, I mean God knows back in the day the water probably wasn’t very filtered, right?       

Ben:  Yeah, that’s another thing is you almost had to add things to water.  

Paddy:  You put stuff in it to make it more palatable, no doubt.  So yeah, I think what’s interesting about soda is it got its start in the late nineteenth century back then we didn’t have a chemistry lab in the way we do today to create new ingredients.  So the compounds used in soda when it was first invented in the late eighteen hundreds were natural flavors.  You know, they were things like ginger and lemon and lime and orange extract.     

Ben:  And cocaine (chuckles).

Paddy:  Yeah, well exactly. 

Ben:  (laughs) Which is I guess that was the reason they had coco leaves and coca cola. Hence the title I believe. 

Paddy:  Yeah, it’s been heavily disputed by the folks in Atlanta but there’s certainly a lot of documentation. 

Ben:  Right, yeah, it’s interesting.  Another thing I wanted to really delve into was this whole idea behind the actual name of your company, and I do wanna return to the GMO issue I’m sure we’ll get to that but I wanted to ask you about stevia itself because I assume Zevia is an adaptation of the word stevia.

Paddy:  That’s exactly right.    

Ben:  Okay.  By the way, what’s the Z?

Paddy:  The Z is zero.  So zero calories in stevia.  So you know, just a little bit of a sidebar, you know my personal history with stevia goes back sixteen years and in two thousand, my wife and I went off of sugar and I thought at that time that I was healthy guy, and then one day I took stock of my diet and realized that through all these stuff that I was buying at Whole Foods and other natural food stores I was getting 250 grams of sugar a day.  Literally a thousand calories a day from sugar and here I was doing all the exercise to burn it off.  Crashes of energy, spikes of energy, crash, spike, crash, spike throughout the day.            

Ben:  Right

Paddy:  So we went off of sugar, cold turkey in two thousand been using stevia ever since and so that’s what led me to this brand.      

Ben:  And when you say you got off of sugar, I assume you’re saying that in the same way that most people say like you didn’t stop eating for example like potatoes or carrots or things like those lines, you cut out processed sugar?

Paddy:  I guess what I would say is that the outset because I was such a hard core addict as well as my wife, we went cold turkey, I mean she didn’t eat fruit for 3 weeks and cut out dairy and that first week was really the toughest part.  So what I tell people is to start with a food journal, figure out where the hell you’re getting all this sugar, and that’s the only way you’re gonna eliminate it, but for us we went cold turkey, we were out in a cabin in upstate New York and nearest grocery store was twelve miles away, and my body went into shock.  The first 3 days I had hives, head to toe all over my back and legs just ‘coz it was detoxing from these massive amounts of sugar.       

Ben:  Right.  Your fat cells were lysing.

Paddy:  Exactly.  But once I got through that first 5 days things got better and then I gradually started to reintroduce in modest quantities things like potatoes and dairy, etcetera but even to this day, I control my fruit intake.  If I allowed myself I’d eat 4 bananas but I don’t, I eat one.     

Ben:  I hear yah.  I personally consider fruit to be nature’s dessert.  I will have fruit about 1 to 2 days probably the equivalent of a piece of fresh raw fruit unless I’m in a very hot tropical climate.  There’s some evidence that exposure to sunlight or large amounts of vitamin and longer days may actually increase your insulin sensitivity.  It’s really interesting, you actually get a lower postprandial glucose response when you’re like in the Caribbean sipping on a rhum or eating a pineapple versus when you’re say like in a northern climate covered in snow eating fruit.  So it’s interesting how the human body is kind of tuned to its environment when it comes to how much sugar you can get away with.

Paddy:  Well in addition, sorry to interrupt but the other thing is we get used to a diet, right so my kids are kind of a science experiment, right they’ve grown in this household with no sugar and to your point dessert is a banana, or some cereal with milk and their pallet has adjusted such that a banana provides that sweetness they’re craving without having to eat a cupcake.    

Ben:  It’s amazing how sweet fruit can taste once you’ve sworn off cupcakes and other forms of processed sugar.  You know there’s a term now, I don’t know if you’re familiar with this term keto flu have you hear of this?

Paddy:  I’m familiar with ketosis. but I could guess what it means but I’d love to hear about it.           

Ben:  Well it’s kind of similar to what you experienced when you quit sugar, cold turkey, it’s like you get crippling headaches, and lightheadedness, and dizziness, and irritability because you built up such efficient sugar burning machinery that you actually have to adapt to burning fat.  Your mitochondria have to shift into beta oxidation and the utilization of ketones and fatty acids and I’ve actually had you know, because I recommend to many, many folks who I coach and consult that they lower their carbohydrate intake, or they lower their sugar intake, and there are little things that we’ll do to really ensure that they don’t have that what’s called the low carb flu or the keto flu like you amp up mineral and electrolyte intake that’s one biggie because your blood pressure drops as you dump all that glycogen and carbohydrate.

Another one is we’ll get lots of medium chained triglycerides right, like lots of coconut oil or coconut fats into the diet because those can preferentially kinda skip digestion and they get converted into ketone based fuels pretty readily.  And then another big one of course, similar to how glycogen stores electrolytes, it also stores water and so you can get more dehydrated.  And so I’ll amp up water intake and there’s all sorts of little tricks you can use if you cut sugar out, but that’s interesting that you just went full on cold turkey.

Paddy:  Yeah, and what’s interesting is hearing your expert advice that you provide your clients.  I didn’t have a Ben Greenfield helping me out unfortunately, but what I did have is just my body telling me what I wanted, and I tell you the thing that helped me; I’m a meat eater and an apologetic meat eater, it was massive amounts of protein was the only thing that would kill my sugar cravings, and I think to some extent that dog tales was some of the medical advice you would give to people.       

Ben:  Yeah, kinda the only issue with that not to be contrarian is that a big reason for that is because of gluconeogenesis.  You get a lot of the protein converted into glucose which is what you’re trying to get away from and that’s I think again not to be too divisive here, but it’s a reason or a mistake a lot of people make right, they eat a bunch of protein instead it’s hard on the kidneys, they produce a bunch of ammonia, they still get these bumps in insulin and glucose ‘coz the protein’s just getting converted into sugar, it’s almost just like a longer wait or a longer biochemical method to get sugar spike into the blood stream so.     

Paddy:  That’s fascinating.  Well, it was a short term fix for me and you can’t eat pounds of meat for very long but it kinda kept me sane for that first week.   

Ben:  Kept you from being curled up in a fetal position sucking your thumb in this cabin in the wilderness.    

Paddy:  Well, I think I was doing that anyway, but for crying well I did that.  Yeah.

Ben:  (laughs) So stevia, obviously Zevia is named after stevia and you said that you quit sugar and you found stevia, but I’d like to talk a little bit about stevia because people have lots of questions about it.  There are different forms of it.  I noticed when I looked at the label of your soda for example, you have R-E-B-A, Reb-A listed there.  I’m curious, what Reb-A is and what your thoughts are on the appropriateness of stevia as far as the research behind it and the health of stevia granted I know, people are gonna be screaming this through the podcast.  So I’ll point out the painfully obvious fact that you might be biased ‘coz you have a company named after it.      

Paddy:  laughs 

Ben:  Named after stevia but still I’m curious that you’re taking this and especially curious what Reb-A is?

Paddy: Yeah, so for folks who don’t know stevia is a plant in the sunflower family native to Latin America, but grows in virtually any hot climate around the world.  And what’s amazing about this plant is the leaves are two to three hundred times as sweet as sugar with no caloric intake associated with them, and no associated spike in blood sugar.  So it really is an amazing what we would call high intensity sweetener that doesn’t have calories.  Within the stevia leaf, there are a number of different sweetening compounds which we would call stevial glycocides and the history of stevia was used for centuries in Latin America, I believe it was 1970 or 71 it was approved for use as a sweetener in Japan.  So it’s a decades-long usage history in Japan, centuries in Latin America.  It was only in 2008 that in the US the FDA said hey, you can now market this as a sweetener.  So back in 2000 when my wife and I consumed stevia, we found it in the health food store in the supplements section because it was a dietary supplement.  Starting in 08, FDA said yup, you can use it as a sweetener and initially the companies creating stevia as a sweetener FDA approved, Reb-A which was one of the sweetening compounds of the stevial glycocides.           

Ben:  And what does Reb-A mean? What is Reb say, is Reb short for something? Is that the actual? 

Paddy:  Reb is I believe is rebaudioside-A, so that’s the scientific name for that sweetening compound.  There’s a Reb-B, there’s a Reb-D, Reb-M etcetera, so there are about a dozen sweetening compounds within the leaf and like any natural botanical ingredient, there are different characteristics to each of those sweetening compounds. Some have a little more of the licorishy taste, some have a more pure clean sweetness and so initially, imagine we were kind of the MS Dos of stevia back in 2008 and people were just starting to work with it, we didn’t know exactly how to use it and the initial thinking was we can get the purest sweetness from Reb-A, and refining Reb-A to the highest concentration so back in 2010 and Zevia, we used an 80% Reb-A stevia with the other 20% being other stevial glycocides.  We then continued to improve the purity of that, went to a Reb-A 95, 97%, 99% which is what we use in Zevia today.  But what’s happening actually in stevia is now that kinda of the food science folks have caught up with the ingredient, were starting to see novel uses of different sweetening compounds or stevial glycocides.  And so, actually Zevia just released a line of sparkling flavored waters and a line of energy drinks.  Both of those product lines use only stevia and we’re dealing that through a blend of different stevial glycocides.          

Ben:  When you say glycocide, that is the actual compound that tastes sweet on the tongue, is that correct?  

Paddy:  That is correct.     

Ben:  Okay, so when you’re tasting stevia and it tastes sweet, it’s not an actual calorie that you’re tasting because it is correct me if I’m mistaken, there are no calories in stevia.  Is that correct?    

Paddy:  That is correct. 

Ben:  Okay, so those glycocides, those actually react with the same sweet sensors on your taste buds on your tongue as say sugar?   

Paddy:  That is exactly right. 

Ben:  Now some people think stevia tastes bitter, why is that? 

Paddy:  Well, I think everyone’s pallet is different, and it’s really amazing.  You get a thousand people and have them taste the same thing especially if it has a number of different flavor notes, some people will pick up notes that others don’t.  It’s the same you know, when we look at a shade of red, ask a hundred people and they’ll have different descriptions of that shade of red, and some people will think its green, right? (chuckles).

And so, similarly our pallets are all different, and so some people do taste a little bitterness.  What’s occurred though as I mentioned back in 2008 or 2010 stevia was MS Dos, and maybe we’re Windows 95 now, but we’re still very, very early in the development of this ingredient from a taste standpoint.  And anyone that’s been drinking stevia for a number of years will tell you our product distinctly different and vastly better than it did 5 years ago because we’ve gotten better not only at the using of more refined and purer stevia, but also it had to mask any bitter aftertaste through the use of natural flavors and through the use of essences, lemon flavor, lime etcetera, etcetera.            

Ben:  How do get the actual rebaudioside –A or the Reb-A that you mentioned out of the stevia plant?  Like how do you go from a plant to this Reb-A stuff that goes into the soda?   

Paddy:  So there are a couple of different things around that, but first of course is before the plant is out of the ground, you wanna breed a plant that has the highest Reb-A content that you can, right?  And that’s not through genetic modification or anything it’s just through simple breeding.  You’re breeding a high Reb-A plant.  At that point then you take those plants, you cut them out of the ground, and it’s the leaf that you want.  So the first thing you do is you de-stem them, you take all of the stems off and you just got the stevia leaves, you then dry those and you crush them into a powder which you then put into a solution like a tea and through an extraction process using non-GMO extraction technology, we’re able to extract the Reb-A, spray dry it and created a powder from that and which is in our case 99% Reb-A, rebaudioside-A stevial glycocide the sweetening compound in that powder.  And so, as I mentioned at the outset two to three hundred times as sweet as sugar with no calories and no impact in blood sugar.        

Ben:  Okay, let’s dive even deeper.  So once it winds up in your digestive tract, this rebaudioside-A, we’ll just say Reb-A from here on out, that gets metabolized into what, do you know? 

Paddy:  I don’t know.  I guess what I would tell you is going back on a technical fine point it’s probably not accurate to say it has zero calories.  If you consumed a kilo of stevia which no human being could consume, it would have more than a zero caloric contribution but if you think of it as two to three hundred times as sweet as sugar, right a teaspoon of sugar has I believe 4 calories or I’m sorry gram of sugar has 4 calories.     

Ben:  Right, 1 gram is 4 calories.    

Paddy:  Right, a gram of sugar has 4 calories.  A gram of stevia might have a couple of calories but a gram of stevia is like 200 grams of sugar.  So you would consume a gram of stevia.  So, it has some caloric contribution but you are ingesting it in such minute quantities that it’s like eating a couple of crystals of sugar, yes there is a caloric contribution, it’s negligible and thus not measurable.     

Ben:  I gotcha, and by the way, I just looked this up and it looks like it gets metabolized. The Reb-A gets metabolized into something called steviocide that gets broken down into glucose and steviol, and it looks like that glucose actually does not get absorbed into the bloodstream.  It gets metabolized by the bacteria in the colon which is really interesting I actually didn’t know that.

So, basically what I’d like to see actually is the bacterial profile, the colonic bacterial profile of someone who had like a lot of stevia in their diet versus someone who didn’t because it appears that it just gets eaten up by the bacteria in the colon and then the steviol isn’t digested I suppose that’s like a sugar alcohol and it gets excreted.

Paddy:  Right. 

Ben:  That’s interesting.  How does the stevia, how does this Reb-A that you guys use in Zevia differ from say like ‘coz I know Coca Cola for example uses this one called Truvia and Pepsi has their own brand I think it’s called PureVia.  How do you guys differ from like what Coke and Pepsi are doing?   

Paddy:  Well, so the most important way that we differ is in the processing of the ingredient.  So like any natural ingredient, you put enough technology into it you can render it unnatural, right?  And so to the extent that there has been controversy around if stevia is natural, it’s because some vendors out there use nasty chemicals to extract the ingredient.  What I tell people is we use a non-GMO project verified stevia and we don’t use methanol for example in the extraction of that stevia.  Some folks use methanol and other nasty chemicals, and so same as sugar right?  You can use ingredients that render sugar arguably non-natural but you don’t have to, right?  You can eat a piece of sugarcane and similarly we have a non-GMO project verified stevia which is different than Truvia, different than PureVia and we were the first and the only brand in the zero calorie soda space to have a completely non-GMO project verified formula.       

Ben:  If someone is consuming a diet product or a soda, or something like that that has stevia as its base, what are the things that they can look for as a red flag, I mean aside from it sounds like you’ve mentioned that Truvia and PureVia which should be respectively the Coke and Pepsi forms of Stevia those are extracted using some of these harsher solvents that you’ve described.  Are there other red flags that folks should look for aside from those names Truvia and PureVia?         

Paddy:  Well, I generally just look at is the product non-GMO project verified because to me that organic are the gold standard for meaning that it’s processed in a way that I’m comfortable with that’s not using harsh chemicals.  And so, we were the first seller to become non-GMO project verified and to me I think that’s a really important stamp of approval for consumers.

Ben:  Ok gotcha.  So you look for non-GMO verified.  You guys are non-GMO verified I noticed that you do have things like natural flavors listed on the soda and you’ve got some other ingredients in there.  What goes into that non-GMO certification process?    

Paddy:  Well, non-GMO project verification is quite amazing and let me take just a moment to explain why I think non-GMO is important.  Because you know, there’s a lot of rhetoric on both sides of the argument.  Do we want to feed the world is kind of what the pro GMO folks would say, and non-GMO folks would say, well we don’t know if GMO’s are safe in the long term.  I would say throw away all those arguments.  Don’t even think about that stuff.  There is one basic indisputable fact about GMO’s.  They were created by seed companies who sell pesticides to sell more pesticides.  End of story.  Dupont, Monsanto, they wanna sell pesticides and so they created seeds that were resistant to herbicides and pesticides so you could spray throughout the year.  And what we’re now seeing is rainfall in the Midwest, the predominant rainfall that occurs has traces of nasty toxic chemicals like round up, a pesticides and herbicides that’s used in those GMO crops.  So enough ranting about GMO’s.  What we use on our product is non-GMO, all non-GMO ingredients, and that means not only are they grown and without the use of genetic modification but they also are processed without genetically modified ingredients.  So a lot of times you’ll see fermented products and you can use GMO enzymes to be the catalyst for that fermentation.  We don’t do that.  Non-GMO project does not approve that.  So it goes way beyond just the seeds that are in the ground to the whole method of processing and creating a product and not using GMO’s throughout that supply chain.                  

Ben:  Okay.  So this would include like you were talking about what you would use to extract the actual sweetness, this rebaudiosides from the stevia plant you would ensure like the solvents you were using also were not derived from genetically modified ingredients.      

Paddy:  That’s exactly right.

Ben:  Ok.  Now what about erythritol, this sugar alcohol.  I’ve seen that in quite a few diet compounds from bars to sodas.  Am I correct that you guys have erythritol in Zevia?   

Paddy:  We do.  We have a non-GMO project verified erythritol, and I should know we have that in our soda.  We do not have it in our sparkling waters, and we don’t have it in our energy drinks, and not ready to announce anything today but I would tell you if you look at the path were on, it’s a path of increasing purity in our products.  So, back in 2010 we had 12 or 14 gram of erythritol in a can of Zevia, and we went to 7, now we have three and a half, and the new products we’ve unveiled this summer have zero.  So you can see where we’re going in general as a company which is pure ingredients.     

Ben:  Pretty soon you’ll just open a can and it’s just gonna be air.  So be careful.   

Paddy:  Yeah. (chuckles) So it’s gonna be water, stevia and flavor.  

Ben:  It’ll be like air.  A shot of oxygen.  So erythritol, why do you have that and why are you going towards the route of getting rid of it? 

Paddy:  Well, so as I mentioned you know, when you look at the development of stevia initially we were focused on this one sweetening compound Reb-A, and it is what a food scientist might call a spikey sweetness, and that it doesn’t have any caloric value, right? And it’s not teaspoons of stuff on your pallet.  It’s a tiny, tiny trace amount, so it hits your palate with a spikey sweetness and then tails off.  Erythritol is not as sweet as sugar.  It’s 70 to 90% as sweet as sugar.  And so, in a can of soda when you have four or three and half (inaudible) tall that adds what we might call mouth fill, its actual bulk, it’s you know 4 grams of stuff on your palate.  And so that’s got because its less sweet than sugar, it’s got kind of a more rounded sweetness.  It doesn’t hit your palate as aggressively and intensely as stevia does, but it works in a complementary sense in that it’s a slow onset and the stevia kicks in and then erythritol kinda ends up on the finish on your palate.  So as we get to a more and more rounded stevia taste by using multiple sweetening compounds the need for something like erythritol starts to go away because you can achieve that same effect by using different stevial glycocides or sweetening compounds all from the stevia leaf.

Ben:  Ok gotcha.  So erythritol in terms of it being a sugar alcohol, is there any caloric effect of something like erythritol or is that completely non-absorbed calorically?

Paddy:  It’s not absorbed calorically.  So the erythritol itself does have a slight carb contribution, but your body does not absorb those carbs and thus there’s no caloric contribution.

Ben:  Okay, and you choose that instead of something like say, let’s say xylitol is another popular one that you’ll find.  Why?

Paddy:  Well xylitol is a cousin of erythritol and that it’s a sugar alcohol also, but it’s really a different compound and it’s not an ingredient that you can consume in large quantities.  So xylitol can give you stomach upset and digestive issues.

Ben:  Yeah, xylitol makes you fart.

Paddy:  Yeah, that’s what people say.

Ben:  Even in xylitol gum, a lot of people do this new xylitol gums.  I actually didn’t realize I just started down a search and I think I found one was called Simply Gum that is a stevia only flavored gum, but I would find you know, when I chomp on gum all day long, I start to fart a lot and I didn’t realize that there was so much xylitol on this gum that I’ve been chewing, that it was actually messing with my digestive tract because of the vast amounts of sugar alcohol that I was consuming and a lot of people have, are you familiar with SIBO, small intestine bacterial overgrowth?

Paddy:  Yes, I certainly am.

Ben:  A lot of people who have SIBO.  They can’t deal well with this things like moltitol and sorbitol and lactitol and xylitol, but erythritol from what I understand is one of the few that does not actually cause this type of tummy rumbling at least in moderate doses.

Paddy:  Well, that’s exactly right.  And I think you know again it’s a sign that the amounts of erythritol that you would need to consume for kind of digestive distress are far, far above what we use in Zevia.  And so, I tell you I drink ten cans of Zevia a day and you know, so that’s maybe forty grams of erythritol nowadays.  Back in 2010 that was a hundred and twenty grams of erythritol.  I never had any issues.  But as I said we are on a path of continuous reduction and at some point in the future Zevia is gonna be a stevia only soda line.

Ben:  Yeah, and my kids both do about a can a day, and I personally do 1 or 2 cans a day and I don’t have any issues with gas or anything like that from the erythritol in there.  Have you tried that Simply gum stuff by the way?

Paddy:  I’m not a gum chewer so much, and so I’m a bad candidate for that, but I think it’s a great concept.

Ben:  I gotcha.  Oh it’s my new favorite.  They’ve got different flavors like ginger and fennel and coffee and maple, but it’s all stevia flavored.  It’s really interesting.  If people like, if you’re listening in and you’re interested in this, I’ll put a link in the show notes just go to bengreenfieldfitness.com/paddy.  That’s bengreenfieldfitness.com/p-a-d-d-y and I’ll link to some of the flavors of stevia that I like, or Zevia and also this gum that I like.

Another ingredient that I wanted to ask you about Paddy, is monk fruit.  I noticed that you guys have had monk fruit in some of your flavors.  Why monk fruit and how is that not falling into like a category of a caloric-based sweetener or a fructose-based sweetener?

Paddy:  So the monk fruit is quite similar to stevia in that it is a botanical ingredient that is two to three hundred times as sweet as sugar without any calories, and without any impact on blood sugar.  Stevia is a leafy plant, monk fruit is actually a gourd that looks a little bit like a guava maybe, and it’s grown in the hills in China and parts of Thailand, and again it works in a complementary sense with Reb-A, and so as I mentioned erythritol provides a little bit of mouth fill and a more rounded sweetness.  Monk fruit provides a little bit of extra sweetness in our sodas without any added bitterness.  And so monk fruit, stevia and erythritol work nicely in conjunction, but again in our sparkling water line, in our energy line, we’re only using stevia and I think that’s the future.

Ben:  Ok, so are there actual calories in like a monk fruit extract or is it kinda like stevia where it’s just a sweet taste?

Paddy:  It’s just like stevia where it’s a sweet taste and I guess if you consumed a hundred gourds of monk fruit which no one could ever tolerate, there might be a couple of calories in that quantity but yes, it has no caloric contribution to our product.

Ben:  Do you know if there are other nutritional benefit as something like monk fruit?

Paddy:  You know, I’m always very cautious about talking about diagnosing, treating or curing any diseases, and so what I would tell you though is monk fruit also known as Luo Han Guo has been used in Chinese medicine for centuries.  And yeah, it’s a tonic, it is often used for a variety of things and I’m sure there are people who would tell you it’ll cure cancer (laughs) but no, it is definitely been used in traditional Chinese medicine and I would encourage folks to go research monk fruit or Luo Han Guo to find out some of the traditional uses of that ingredient in Chinese medicine.

Ben:  Extremely, extremely low on the glycemic index, I know that it’s almost got a negative glycemic index score in terms of glycemic index.  Most folks will say know this that the potential something to actually spike your blood sugars.  Monk fruit although it’s called a fruit from what I understand it just has so many of this glycocides in it and that’s what’s responsible for sweetness not actually high amounts of fructose that it is one of those few fruits out there that is super sweet, but that won’t actually spike your blood sugar.

Paddy:  That’s exactly right.

Ben:  Cool.  And it’s a beautiful fruit.  I’ll try and put a picture of it in the show notes for those of you listening in.

Alright, so we’ve covered sugar alcohols, we’ve covered stevia, we’ve covered the monk fruit.  Now I wanna get in to another question that I get quite a bit about soda, and that I’ve even wondered myself when slammin’ 1 or 2 cans of Zevia during the day and that’s the old issue with like teeth and bones and acidity of soda.  Talk to me about concerns in terms of like the acids in soda and how you get past those type of concerns or if that is a concern.

Paddy:  Yeah, it’s interesting.  Stevia as an ingredient is tooth friendly.  If you were to use only stevia you could probably get a dental claim on your package saying this supports tooth healthy and you talk to any dentist, and they love stevia for that reason.  And the specific reason is stevia does not promote, create an environment in the mouth that promotes the growth of plaque and bacteria, so it is tooth friendly.  As you noted, soda in general and Zevia specifically is an acidic product.  The acidity or the pH of the product is one of the ways that we keep the product preservative-free.  So having carbonation in a can and having a somewhat acidic products allow us to not use preservatives and still have that state fresh.

So the acidity of Zevia means that yes, you can’t say that’s helping your teeth but all the dentists I’ve spoken to tell me you know, there’s a real easy way to deal with acidity in your mouth.  It’s called rinsing your mouth with a glass of water, right?  And at the end of the day really that’s what we’re talking about.  And it’s interesting, there are actually we have several hundred if not now a thousand dental hygienist on our professionals mailing list, and they are starting to provide Zevia as samples to their patients because it is a tooth friendly alternative to conventional sodas which are really nasty to your teeth.  I mean, we’ve all done that.  Great experiment where you take your tooth and drop it in a glass of classic coke and it’s gone in a day. (chuckles) ‘Coz that tooth is getting completely dissolved by sugar.

Ben:  So you guys actually don’t use phosphoric acid?

Paddy:  That’s exactly right.  We don’t, and what’s amazing and a lot of folks don’t know this.  There are twenty three million Americans with kidney disease and one of the ways whether you’re on dialysis or you have an earlier stage of kidney disease, one of the best and only way to manage that disease is through your diet, and one of the things you need to do is eat a diet that’s very low in potassium and phosphorous.  Zevia doesn’t need phosphoric acid if you have kidney disease you should never drink regular cola but you can drink Zevia cola.  So that’s a big market for us and we have several thousand kidney patients and renal dieticians who we work with to help spread the word in that community.

Ben:  Now I know that phosphoric acid is typically used as acidifying agent to give soda or to give cola like that nice tangy kind of flavor that you get from it.  You guys just not have that flavor in Zevia, or do you use something else to replicate that flavor that acidity would normally give?

Paddy:  Well, so phosphoric acid in addition to having challenges for kidney patients also has been shown to decrease bone density and thus went osteoporosis and so, we use tartaric acid which does not have a negative effect on bone density and so it does give our cola that little bit of bite that folks are looking for without some of the negative effects of phosphoric acid.

Ben:  So you use tartaric acid instead of phosphoric acid?

Paddy:  That’s exactly right.

Ben: And there’s no issues in terms of like the dental industry with tartaric acid?

Paddy:  No, No.  I mean they love it.

Ben:  Ok wow.  That’s really interesting.  So it’s actually good for your teeth.

Paddy:  Right, so I guess you know…

Ben:  Oh and by the way lest those of you listening in to be raising a big eyebrow right now, I have no financial affiliation with Zevia (chuckles). I just think this is fascinating to talk about how we could make a soda healthier.  So go ahead, Paddy.

Paddy:  Well I was gonna say, go talk to four experts.  Talk to Dan on the nutritional side.  Talk to your fitness trainer.  Talk to your dental hygienist and talk to your kidney doctor, and they’ll all tell you this is the product that meets the medical needs of Americans.   

Ben:  Interesting.  Okay.  Right on.  It meets the medical needs of Americans.

Paddy:  (laughs)

Ben:  That’s getting pretty darn close to a medical claim.  It’s not gonna cure cancer, right?

Paddy:  No, it is definitely not.

 Ben:  Ok.  So, I have another question and this is another eyebrow that I always raise when I see this on a label of a product, and that is this term natural flavors which I see on the Zevia label.  The reason I asked that is because I’ve talked about this in the podcast episode before but I mean, natural flavors can cover a whole host of nasties and there’s even this beaver butt that they use as flavoring in natural flavors, it’s called castorian and it actually comes from the castor sacks within the anus of a beaver and you’ll find it in like vanilla flavorings and strawberry flavorings and raspberry flavorings.  Do you guys know where the source of your natural flavors actually is coming from?        

Paddy:  Yeah, and the reason Ben that we put natural flavors on there is we have to have something that’s proprietary.  I mean, I gave your listeners the recipe for ginger ale, right?  It’s carbonated water, stevia, ginger and lemon.  But you know, we don’t want obviously everyone to just go out and knock off our product and so natural flavors allows us to have some secret sauce.  What I can tell you is 100% of our product including everything in the natural flavors is certified vegan, right.  So the vegan certification agency has no interest in beaver’s anal glands being in any product.

Ben:  What’s that there’s a beaver’s anus vegan?

Paddy:  Yeah.  So now we have no animal ingredients of any kind including that one.  We also don’t use MSG.  When folks reach out to us and they say, hey I’m allergic to X, Y or Z we can tell them hey, there’s no allergens in there.  I mean we get people who say well, I’m allergic to grapefruit extract.  Is that in any of your flavors and we can tell them no it isn’t or yes it is.  But we don’t reveal every one of those flavors because there’s still some secret sauce but what I can tell you is what’s not in them.  No animal ingredients.  No MSG and no ingredients that aren’t non-GMO project verified.

Ben:  Ok, what about BPA?  And I know I’m throwing all these curve balls at you hopefully you’re like the guy in the matrix right leaning back dodging all the bullets.  I’m trying not to throw you soft balls here, but BPA, that is something I get concerned about with cans especially.  I do know and I’ve purchased before at the grocery store Zevia in glass bottles.  Which I know are completely safe and I always go out of my way when I’m shopping for example for water, I always pay that little bit extra especially when I’m travelling and I’m buying water, I always go for the glass bottled spring water because it’s more structured, it’s got less issues with plastics leeching, etcetera.  What do you do about the BPA in cans?

Paddy:  Yeah, you know it’s a real challenge and I would tell you there are no great solutions in packaging.  I love glass, unfortunately Zevia is almost twice the price in glass as it is in cans and it’s not because of us.  Glass is extremely expensive to transport. Unfortunately, although infinitely recyclable, it has a significantly lower recycling rate in aluminum and it really has a gigantic carbon footprint which is really unfortunate.  So that’s glass.  We know all the evils of plastic starting with the fact that it’s a petroleum- based product, and it’s most plastics have BPA and etcetera, etcetera, etcetera, and it’s not very recyclable.  I guess we see aluminum and the aluminum can as kind of the lesser evil from a packaging standpoint.  It’s got a very low carbon footprint because it’s very inexpensive to fill and transport.  There are no safety issues like you have associated with glass.  But your point, aluminum cans, the liquid never touches aluminum.  It’s important for folks to know that.  You can hear about well, don’t cook with aluminum etcetera, etcetera.  Well, liquid can’t touch aluminum in a soda can and it doesn’t.  So these cans every aluminum can in North America is lined with BPA.

Now BPA is I think you inferred from your comment about plastic bottles of water.  BPA leeches based on heat, right.  And so what kind of products are filled hot.  Well, things like soup, right, so historically soup was one of the highest BPA concerns because when you fill soup at a manufacturing plant, you’re filling it not boiling but almost into a can that was lined with BPA.  Iced tea often filled hot on the production line and thus iced tea in a can BPA.  Soda is filled at thirty four degrees.  As close to freezing as you can get it, so it is freezing cold and there is BPA in that lining and what I would tell you, Ben is that we are always experimenting with new compounds, and I think in the next couple of years we’re gonna see the first aluminum cans that are BPA free in North America.  I think you know. As someone…

Ben:  So there are no companies already using BPA-free cans?

Paddy:  Not aluminum cans.  There is no aluminum can that is currently in use in North America that is BPA-free.

Ben:  Ok, so what about like for example, I purchase a native forest coconut milk as my chosen brand of coconut milk because it says BPA- free on the label.  Is that because it is a different type of actual can that they use that doesn’t have aluminum in it?

Paddy:  It’s probably a steel can, I think some of the coconut milks are in steel cans and so actually Eden Foods in the soup category was the first company that ever used a BPA-free steel can for the reasons I mentioned.  When you fill in soup, it is blazing hot when you fill it in the production line.  You don’t want BPA in that can.  And so they pioneered the BPA-free steel can.  Steel cans are not used in soda or very many beverages, coconut milk may be an exception but an aluminum can in North America has BPA.  End of story.

Ben: Ok got it.  So how come you guys don’t just use a steel can?

Paddy:  That steel cans are very expensive, very heavy and we don’t want to sell two dollar cans a soda.

Ben:  Ok gotcha.  Yeah, you’d burn up a lot of jet fuel too probably shipping that stuff around.

Paddy:  Exactly.

Ben:  Ok, so don’t let your Zevia get warm basically.  Don’t let it sit in the sun if you’re gonna go shopping, you wouldn’t want it like in your car for example, if you want it to c0mpletely get rid of any issues as far as BPA is concerned.

Paddy:  That’s correct.  And frankly I would…

Ben:  Not that hot soda taste good anyways.

Paddy:  Well, in general yeah, I mean you shouldn’t be keeping foods and beverages in your car and folks who live in Phoenix will tell us don’t keep anything in your car (chuckles), right and in twenty years when it’s a hundred degrees everywhere all the time we’ll probably be even more strict than that.

Ben:  Ok, so a couple other things that I wanted to ask you, really one of the thing before we delve into it a couple of quick fun topics.  Caramel color.  Did you say that you do or you do not use caramel color?  Like I mentioned, I know the can sitting in front of me right now, so I don’t remember on this one.

Paddy:  None of our products use color.  And so we’re not using artificial colors in the grape or the orange and we’re not using caramel color in our colas or our Dr. Zevia, and there’s a very specific reason for that which is the caramel color that is used in zero calorie sodas has trace amounts of a nasty chemical called 4MEI, and 4MEI is linked in a lot of different studies to cancer.  The State of California has it on the Prop 65 list of toxic chemicals, and when we started hearing from consumers about their concerns about caramel color we kinda stepped back and we said, wait a second, is this a flavor or a color.  It’s a color.  What are we thinking?  Why do we need this in our product?  We can make a better product by getting rid of caramel colors.  So we were the first major soda brand to go clear.

Ben:  Interesting.  So that’s why when I pour out like your coke it’s actually a little bit weird you pour out your coke can ‘coz I honestly don’t drink from the can I pour it into a glass cup full of ice that’s my preferred consumption method.  Occasionally I want that like, I guess there’s almost something it’s like a comfort food right, when you take a can of soda and open it and drink straight from the can there’s something that reminds me of like baseball games and drinking coca cola when I was a kid.  But usually, I pour it into a glass over ice and it’s kinda weird because it’s for example your coke flavor tastes like coke and your Dr. Pepper flavor tastes just like Dr. Pepper, but it comes out clear.

Paddy:  Well, that’s exactly right and you know when you start to look at the ingredients in a conventional soda, even in zero calorie soda, you’ve got artificial sweeteners, you’ve got GMO’s, you’ve got gluten, you’ve got animal ingredients potentially as you noted in the natural flavors and then you’ve got a color that some folks will tell you is linked to cancer.  What are you thinking?  So you know, we just said we wanna make the cleanest products that we can, not just for the consumers advice even for our own friends and family.  Why would you wanna consume something that might make you sick?

Ben:  Yeah.  Yeah.  Ok cool, so no caramel color.  Alright, few other things here Paddy first of all, I have some things that I mix into Zevia.  For example, I like your ginger root beer flavor.  That’s actually my wife’s favorite flavor.  We typically do ginger root beer or cream soda.  Like those are two flavors of choice here at the Greenfield household.  I will take the ginger root beer and I’ll take a few drops of dark chocolate stevia and put them in the ginger root beer to make it chocolate flavored ginger root beer. My kids get the vanilla coconut ice cream from the grocery store…

 Paddy:  Like a coconut bliss?

 Ben:  They make root beer floats using the ginger root beer Zevia, and they pour that over the coconut ice cream and make root beer floats.  And then finally, I will take the cream soda and I actually pour that over ice like I mentioned, and this is an occasional cocktail for me in the evenings.  I’m typically prone to use kombucha because the glucuronic and the gluconic acid in that is actually good liver cleanse, and so I’ll take a kombucha and do a shot of vodka and a squeeze of lemon and a pinch of sea salt.

Sometimes though I will do that same recipe, but I will use the Zevia flavored cream soda instead and actually make a vodka cocktail with the cream soda and a bit of lemon and sea salt.  And I actually think it tastes fantastic and it gives you that fizzy flavor.  And those are some of the things that I’ll do with Zevia.  I’m curious if you have any little mixes, like personal mixes, like personal favorites you found along the away that you use in addition to just drinking plain old Zevia.

Paddy:  Well definitely plain old Zevia.  I’m a big fan and so favorite flavor is just fyi.  I love our strawberry, grape is a big favorite in our household, ginger ale and cola.  So one of the things that we like to do is actually we will make popsicles with Zevia.  And so, in particular the strawberry and the cream soda make great popsicles, so we just pour that sometimes we’ll just do it in ice cubes.  Sometimes we’ll just do it in actual popsicle trays that have the little stick in the mold and you just freeze it and that’s fantastic.  We also do kind of what our kids call banana swirl where we just take frozen banana, put it into the blender sometimes a little bit of cinnamon and then a little bit of cream soda which does have those nice vanilla notes, and that’s kind of it’s a pudding frozen dessert that is you know, ridiculously better for you and guilt free.

Ben:  Okay.  One more time for those listeners who are out swimming or biking or running.  What’s that recipe one more time?

Paddy:  So banana swirl, a couple of frozen bananas, pinch of cinnamon and some cream soda which has a slight vanilla flavor, Zevia cream soda throw that in a blender.  Ideally like a Vitamix or a pretty powerful blender ‘coz those bananas can be pretty hard, but that’s gonna go in to a nice kind of almost custardy frozen dessert that has a little bit of spice from the cinnamon, nice vanilla notes and banana, and is super guilt free.

Ben:  Okay, I just wrote that all down.  I’m literally gonna be making that tonight for my kids.

Paddy:  Oh it is awesome.

Ben:  And I’ll put that in the show notes too.  For those of you listening in, go to bengreenfieldfitness.com/paddy p-a-d-d-y.  Not only am I going to include Paddy’s amazing recipe for a Zevia custard dessert and I might Skype you afterwards to get your exact measurements Paddy, if that’s cool so we can put them in the show notes for people.  But I’ll also link of course the Zevia soda.  I’ll put a link to that gum that I mentioned, Paddy’s cool little bio and everything else that we discussed on today’s show.  Paddy, can I hold you to it to send me that recipe?

Paddy:  Absolutely.

Ben:  You rock.  Alright folks, you heard it.  You can find it at bengreenfieldfitness.com/paddy.  And Paddy, thank you for coming on the show today and sharing all that stuff with us, and for making some fantastic soda that has saved my butt in terms of allowing my kids to experience the great American experience that is soda without actually destroying their teeth or their kidneys.

Paddy:  Well, thank you so much Ben.  Great questions and yes soda doesn’t have to be a four letter word anymore.

Ben:  That’s right.  Alright folks.   This is Ben Greenfield and Paddy Spence signing out from bengreenfieldfitness.com.  Have a healthy week.

You've been listening to the Ben Greenfield Fitness Podcast.  Go to bengreenfieldfitness.com for even more cutting edge fitness and performance advice.



If you happened to watch the most recent Crossfit Games, you may have noticed they were brought to you by…soda.

That’s right: a soda company was sponsor of the 2016 Reebok CrossFit Games, the worldwide competition to find the Fittest On Earth. Not exactly something you’d associate with Coke or Pepsi or Mountain Dew (or my all-time favorite Dr. Pepper), is it?

The name of the soda company is “Zevia“, and my guest on today’s show is Paddy Spence, who is a 23-year veteran of the natural and organic foods industry – a guy who completely cut sugar out from his diet 14 years ago, and a guy who then purchased Zevia, a line of stevia-sweetened sodas that is now the world’s top-selling zero-calorie, natural diet soda.

He lives in Los Angeles with his wife and two daughters and is an avid athlete, having completed over 40 triathlons and trained in martial arts such as Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, wrestling, Shotokan Karate and boxing.

During our discussion, you’ll discover: 

-How one can make the argument that “caveman drank soda”, and the fascinating history of fermented beverages and soda-like compounds…[12:00]

-How did the name Zevia come to be…[17:30]

-What causes “keto flu” and how to avoid getting it…[21:50]

-Why stevia tastes bitter to some people…[28:05]

-Why Coke’s “TruVia” and Pepsi’s “PureVia” can actually be very bad for you (and why not all stevia is created equal)…[32:30]

-How sugar alcohols are processed by your body, and the one form of sugar alcohol that won’t make you fart…[40:15]

-The little-known fruit grown in the foothills of China that actually does not spike your blood sugar…[42:25]

-Why many natural flavors come from pretty nasty sources, including the anal gland of a beaver…[50:00]

-The big reason you need to avoid anything that lists “caramel color”…[56:45]

-My own personal vodka cocktail mix I use with Creme Soda flavored Zevia, and how my kids make Root Beer Floats with Root Beer flavored Zevia…[59:00]

-Paddy’s amazing recipe for a Zevia custard dessert…[61:10]

-And much more!

Resources from this episode:

Zevia soda

Simply Gum

-Here’s the recipe for Banana Swirl, created by Paddy’s amazing wife Jerra Spence: 2 frozen bananas, a pinch of cinnamon, and a couple of splashes of Zevia Cream Soda. Combine all of these in a high-powered blender and mix until the bananas are smooth & creamy. Place in freezer for 30-60 minutes. Serve in a dish, possibly with some stevia-sweetened chocolate chips on top!





Ask Ben a Podcast Question

One thought on “[Transcript] – A “Healthy Soda” Super-Special: Is Diet Soda Good For You, Stevia DeMystified, Sugar Alcohols, Natural Flavors & More.

  1. Mark Ingoldsby says:

    Great interview, learned a lot. Been drinking Zevia for months now and I’m glad to be more educated about it after reading this. Ben didn’t hold back on his questions, talking about BPA and asking how the body handles Reb-A… and then answering his own question. Thanks for this!

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