Many of our patients are struggling to control their weight and many, despite substantial efforts are losing that battle. The artificial sweetener industry has promoted the assumption that consuming “diet drinks” will help people control their calories and promote weight loss and a more healthy lifestyle. It now looks like that nothing could be further from the truth.
Recently, one of the largest studies of its kind, which included nearly 60,000 post-menopausal women who were followed for about 10 years, found that drinking just two diet drinks a day can dramatically increase your risk of an early death from heart disease. This year the results were presented at the American College of Cardiology’s 63rd Annual Scientific Session in Washington, DC.
“…Compared to women who never or only rarely consume diet drinks, those who consume two or more a day are 30 percent more likely to have a cardiovascular event [heart attack or stroke] and 50 percent more likely to die from related disease.
‘This is one of the largest studies on this topic, and our findings are consistent with some previous data, especially those linking diet drinks to the metabolic syndrome,’ says Dr. Ankur Vyas… the lead investigator of the study.
…The association persisted even after researchers adjusted the data to account for demographic characteristics and other cardiovascular risk factors, including body mass index, smoking, hormone therapy use, physical activity, energy intake, salt intake, diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol, and sugar-sweetened beverage intake.
On average, women who consumed two or more diet drinks a day were younger, more likely to be smokers, and had a higher prevalence of diabetes, high blood pressure, and higher body mass index.”
In addition to this disturbing news, other studies show that artificial sweeteners actually promote weight gain not loss. Additionally, aspartame one of the major artificial sweeteners, metabolizes into methanol which humans cannot metabolize and this promotes the increase of formaldehyde in your body which is very toxic and can cause a number of physical problems like headaches, ear buzzing, dizziness, nausea, gastrointestinal disturbances, weakness, vertigo, chills, memory lapses, numbness and shooting pains in the extremities, behavioral disturbances, and neuritis.
Sweetened beverages, whether it’s sweetened with sugar, HFCS, naturally-occurring fructose, or artificial sweeteners, are among the worst culprits causing obesity and related health problems, including diabetes and heart and liver disease. Remember that sweetened beverages also include flavored milk products, bottled teas, and “enhanced” water products. Watch out for anything listing “artificial flavors” as well—especially if the products boasts being low in sugar.
As for a safer sweetener option, you could use stevia or Luo Han, both of which are safe natural sweeteners. But remember, if you struggle with high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, or extra weight, then you have insulin sensitivity issues and would likely benefit from avoiding ALL sweeteners, including stevia and Luo Han.
You might be thinking, what am I going to drink? Try and drink more water and try unsweetened green tea for the added benefit of green tea’s healthful polyphenols. Ditch the sugar and artificial sweeteners to improve both your health and waistline.