Why Sweetener Won’t Kill You

sugar-spoonI can feel the judgemental gazes looking down on my and my aspartame filled diet coke, but please, just listen, I could save you calories.
For some of you who prefer sugar, need the calories, prefer the taste… that’s cool! I have no qualms with you loving a bit of the sweet stuff. However, if you have a rampant sweet tooth that cannot be tamed, let me open your eyes to the wonders of sweetener.
There are some natural sweeteners, such as those from the stevia plant, but that’s not what I’ll tell you about. We’re talking tasty artificial sweeteners, yum.
diet-coke-can-heart-truth-012910Artificial does not mean bad or unsafe, it just means that clever people worked really hard to give us something that we’ve been demanding. Find a can of diet coke, have a read, it contains aspartame. It’s true that there are rumours of links with cancer (hello, Daily Mail?) and ‘aspartame disease’ (this doesn’t exist…) but it’s a load of, what I like to call, poppycock. Aspartame can be an issue for some people. As you may have seen, it’s contains a source of phenylalanine K, which can be harmful. HOWEVER it is only harmful to people with a condition called PKU, which only occurs in approximately 0.001% of the population. If that’s not you, and it probably isn’t (you would know if it was), then you are safe to have aspartame to your heart’s content! Enjoy!
There are other popular sweeteners about, obviously, including sorbitol. Sorbitol is often used on sugar free gum. The good news is that the only problematic side effect of sorbitol is it’s laxative effect of you consume too much. That’s right, if you have too many of those tasty mints, you might get the trots.
Sweeteners can be scary, people humans make them, but humans get put in charge of a lot of food matters and I don’t know about you, but Cadbury are not in my bad books!

Moral of the story: chill out. Why would manufacturers be allowed to give you toxic sweeteners that would cost the health services and governments extra money? They aren’t that stupid.

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The C-Word (SFW)

In the same way we might accept an insisted offer of cup of tea when we don’t really fancy one, many people have sex even when they don’t want to. Whatever the reasons why, it needs to stop. For this to happen, we need to get down and dirty with the C-word: Consent.
Dr Doe makes handfuls of excellent points in this short video about consent in sex.

Sex Is A Four-Letter Word

Sex…? Ew! Gross! Don’t talk about yucky sex in public!

However, it’s a fact of life that some people have sex. You don’t have to agree with how they do it, who they do it with, why they do it, or anything else. It is VITALLY important that young people who are sexually active, are safe when doing so. Although some sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are easily treatable, some can cause infertility or even prove to be fatal. Scary, right?

I won’t quiz you about the symptoms of chlamydia or the treatment for gonorrhea, I will merely stress the importance of safe sex.

Safe sex does NOT refer to whether you like to be a bit kinky, that is entirely up to you and your partner, it simply refers to using contraception so prevent infection or unplanned pregnancy. Obviously pregnancy isn’t so much of a problem for gay couples, but infection is just as possible!

It is ridiculously easy to get contraception in Britain. If you are under the age of 25, contraception is available totally free on the NHS! It is available to people of many ages – you don’t have to be 16 (the age of consent in the UK) to access this service. You can access free contraception confidentially from as young as 14 (this isn’t to say that underage sex is encouraged, you just ought to be safe when doing it).

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This free contraception includes hormonal contraception for girls and young women (the combined/demi pill, the implant, the injection etc) and barrier methods for both sexes (condoms, and ‘the female condom’ aka the femidom). It is always recommended that you use a barrier method, such as condoms, which works brilliantly alongside hormonal contraception – super safe!

To access free contraception on the NHS, simply search online for your nearest sexual health clinic (which may be within your school or college). Free contraception is also available in forms of samples from some ‘adult’ websites such as http://condomdeal.co.uk/ (10 free condoms, £1.95 postage) and http://www.keepitwrapped.co.uk/ (3 free Durex condoms). These are just a few recommendations on ways to avoid any boo-boos like infections or surprise babies.

Laci-GreenOne excellent source of information and knowledge on all things sex is the YouTube channel of Laci Green, host of Sex+. Click here to visit her channel.

Moral of the story: if you want to have sex, that’s cool, just stay safe.

(Note: if you don’t understand the title, have a search online as to the meaning of ‘four letter words’, they’re perhaps even less taboo than sex.)

The Life-Giving Properties Of Birth Control

Birth control, in modern society, is just another thing we take for granted; much like flavoured vitamins and an abundances of vaccinations. Medical miracles of their time that are now little more than, so we insist, our right. How often do we look back to the birth of contraception? It wasn’t all hunky-dory from day one: it was like abortion, and same sex marriage… “Unnatural!” the religious fanatics might cry, “Expensive!” call the politicians, “Ridiculous!” shout out the fortunate classes who do not necessarily understand these controversial burdens.

Birth control gave power back to the woman. The power to say ‘if a man can take a meaningless lover, why can’t I?’. It gave her the power to choose the order of her life: marriage, career, children. It gave her the power to love others, and herself; fewer offspring gave her the time to appreciate herself as well as her family.

During the early twentieth century, the woman was trapped by an endless cycle of reproduction – sad really, that such a monumental act as giving life became so mundane and disdained. This was the time of the female revolution, a wave of feminism that modern medicine facilitated. Although the initial idea came into being centuries ago by founding father, Robert Thomas Malthus, it took its time to take hold.

Birth control gave life to the woman, so she was no longer forced to decide between another child, or celibacy; so she was no longer a prisoner to the unrivaled wonder of childbirth, no longer stuck behind the bars of motherhood.

The average family in Britain today doesn’t even have three children, yet if we go back only two or so generations, it was not unheard of that our grandparents were one of twelve. Is it that women have become lazy and greedy? Wanting more career and entertainment, and less maternal responsibility? No. It is a mother taking initiative to give more love and attention, more support and opportunities, to her reasonably-sized, nuclear family. Some women do not want children, but unless they are celibate or homosexual then, without birth control, they would struggle.

Unnatural? Or is this free will handed down from the heavens in the form of a tablet or discreet foil packet? Birth control is control. It allows women to decide ‘When’, ‘Who with?’, ‘How many?’. It allows a man the freedoms to wait, to not have a child until he is ready. (Isn’t that something men often complain about anyway?) However, joking aside, it gives freedom to all people; regardless of sex or class, regardless of age or occupation, regardless of intelligence or race or lifestyle.

Birth control may prevent births, but this does not stop it giving life and strength to the people of today. From a time when it seemed radical and ridiculous, to the era of dating sites and one night stands; birth control was a natural progression necessary for the world to move forwards, to nurture young minds more attentively, and allow ourselves the necessary freedoms. This is how birth control yields life.

(This piece was a  response to Emma Goldman’s article on The Social Aspects of Birth Control, which looked at the attitudes towards birth control in the 1920s.)