Scientists discovered that those who demolished more than two sugary drinks per day were 17 percent more likely to die prematurely than those who rarely had them
It is no secret that extra portions of sugar, be it in carbonated pop or flavored yogurt, are bad for both our waist and our teeth. So it is better for us to replace the stuff with artificial sweeteners that contain zero calories?
Apparently not. A study published last week suggests that they may actually be worse. As part of the research, reported in the JAMA Internal Medicine Journal, more than 451,000 middle-aged people completed questionnaires 16 years ago and have been followed since.
The scientists discovered that those who demolished more than two sugary drinks per day were 17 percent more likely to die prematurely than those who rarely had them. The risk of premature death was even higher among people who consumed drinks containing artificial sweeteners. A preference for artificial sweeteners also appeared to increase the risk of heart disease by 40 percent.
Two other major studies have drawn similar shocking conclusions this year. One found that for obese women, only two diet drinks per day doubled the risk of stroke.
So why do they spell havoc for your body? After all, the whole point of them is that, unlike sugar, the sweeteners are not included, so they do not cause an overweight increase – or at least that was what we were told. But what most are not aware of is the harmful effect on the 100 trillion microbes (microbiome) in our gut. It is these microbes that, thanks to the signals they send to the brain, have perhaps the most profound impact on our health …
Sweeteners blitz your gut bacteria
I often write about the benefits of healthy, flowering gut bacteria for warding off a whole range of diseases, such as diabetes. And research into artificial sweeteners – and their effect on these important intestinal bugs – provides further evidence of the importance of the bacterium for overall health.
Artificial sweeteners are not absorbed in your small intestine, like most nutrients. Instead, they travel to your colon, also called the colon, the home of the intestinal bacteria.
A few years ago, doctors from the Weizmann Institute in Israel carried out a series of experiments on the impact of consuming artificial sweeteners on the microbiome. Mice were divided into three groups – some were given water, some sugar water and some water covered with a type of sweetener called saccharin.
Mice in the saccharine group developed an inability to metabolize glucose – a precursor to diabetes. Those in the other two groups remained perfectly healthy. They then took faecal samples in the gut bacteria from mice in the saccharinis group and transferred them to other normal mice. These healthy mice also developed glucose intolerance within six days. The intestines of the transplanted mice also grew larger amounts of the type of bacteria associated with obesity and diabetes. Scientists concluded that the sweetener had transformed both the type and amount of gut bacteria in the mice, causing significant health problems.
And what about people? Well, another experiment by the same team asked volunteers who don't usually eat artificially sweetened food to consume a high dose for a week. Just like the mice, the participants began to show signs of glucose intolerance.
Why? Scientists don't know for sure, but it is thought that intestinal bacteria respond to the sweetener and produce chemicals that cause an inflammatory response, which can promote obesity and diabetes.
And researchers from the National Institutes of Health in the US reported that women with gestational diabetes (elevated blood sugar caused by pregnancy) who had consumed at least one artificially sweetened drink per day during pregnancy were more likely to have children who were obese by the age of seven compared to those born of unwell mothers who had drunk water. According to scientists, the link would probably have to do with the microbiome.
… and they don't help move pounds
A recent study into the eating and drinking habits of more than 7,000 American teenagers showed that those who preferred low-calorie or low-calorie diet drinks also consumed 200 extra calories per day, compared to their contemporaries who drank water.
And compared to students who insisted on the original, sugary version, there was little difference in total calorie intake.
It is thought that consuming something sweet that deceives the brain to expect a sugar hit.
Hormones such as insulin are then released, which lowers blood sugar. But if nothing comes with calories, your body feels cheated, so the brain reacts by releasing hormones that cause hunger.
Avoid the fakes – and go cold turkey
The studies to which I have referred so far mainly concern drinks with artificial sweeteners such as aspartame, sucralose and saccharin. These are the most famous & # 39; fake & # 39; sugars. But there is one newly developed sweetener that does not appear to have an adverse effect on the gut in studies.
Leaves of the stevia plant have been used as a sweetener for centuries in countries such as Brazil. Powdered stevia is now available everywhere in supermarkets. Because it is intensely sweet, you only need a pinch. So if, like me, you can't live without sweet things, there is an alternative. But my advice is to go cold turkey instead of relying on artificially sweetened food. If you choose water and unsweetened tea and coffee, your body will thank you for that.
Bubbles can also make you fat
Carbonated water can make you more hungry
Fizzy water fans don't get off without scooters.
Some studies suggest that, regardless of sweeteners, only effervescence can have worrying health effects.
A few years ago I participated in an experiment with Dr. James Brown, from Aston University, to test the impact of bubbles on hunger.
Volunteers drank a carbonated, sugary drink, a glass of the same drink but flat, and a glass of carbonated water and a glass of flat water.
When the results were analyzed, James discovered that hunger hormone ghrelin levels were higher when participants had the soft drinks compared to flat – even water.
In other words, consuming a carbonated drink makes you hungry than drinking the same drink, but flat.
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