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Death by Diet Soda Artificially Sweetened Beverages To Premature Death

There was a collective gasp among Coke Zero and Diet Pepsi drinkers this week after media reports highlighted a new study that found prodigious consumers of artificially sweetened drinks were 26 percent more likely to die prematurely than those who rarely drank sugar-free beverages.

The study, published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine, followed 450,000 Europeans over 16 years and tracked mortality among soft-drink consumers of all persuasions — both those with a fondness for sugary beverages and those who favored sugar-free drinks.

Given the well-documented health effects of consuming too much sugar, it was little surprise the authors found that people who drank two or more glasses of sugar-sweetened beverages a day were eight percent more likely to die young compared to those who consumed less than one glass a month.

But what grabbed headlines, and prompted widespread angst, was the suggestion that drinking Diet Coke could be even more deadly than drinking Coca-Cola Classic.

“Putting our results in context with other published studies, it would probably be prudent to limit consumption of all soft drinks and replace them with healthier alternatives like water,” said Amy Mullee, a nutritionist at University College Dublin and one of 50 researchers who worked on the study, one of the largest of its kind to date.

The study is not a one-off. Over the past year, other research in the United States has found a correlation between artificially sweetened beverages and premature death.

The problem, experts say, is that these and other studies have been unable to resolve a key question: Does consuming drinks sweetened with aspartame or saccharin harm your health? Or could it be that people who drink lots of Diet Snapple or Sprite Zero lead a more unhealthy lifestyle to begin with?

A number of nutritionists, epidemiologists and behavioral scientists think the latter may be true. (It’s a theory that will be instantly recognizable to anyone who has guiltily ordered a Diet Coke to accompany their Double Whopper with cheese.)

“It could be that diet soda drinkers eat a lot of bacon or perhaps it’s because there are people who rationalize their unhealthy lifestyle by saying, ‘Now that I’ve had a diet soda, I can have those French fries,’” said Vasanti S. Malik, a researcher at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and the lead author of a study in April that found that the link between artificial sweeteners and increased mortality in women was largely inconclusive. “This is a huge study, with a half million people in 10 countries, but I don’t think it adds to what we already know.”

The authors of the JAMA paper tried to account for these risk factors by removing study participants who were smokers or obese, and they tried to improve its accuracy through statistical modeling.

But Dr. David Ludwig, an obesity specialist at Boston Children’s Hospital, said these so-called observational studies cannot really determine cause and effect. “Maybe artificial sweeteners aren’t increasing mortality,” he said. “Maybe it’s just that people with an increased risk of mortality, like those with overweight or obesity, are choosing to drink diet soda but, in the end, this doesn’t solve their weight problem and they die prematurely.”

Still, scientists say the alternative to observational studies — a clinical trial that randomly assigns participants to a sugary drinks group or a diet soda group — isn’t feasible.

“Clinical trials are considered the gold standard in science, but imagine asking thousands of people to stick to such a regimen for decades,” said Dr. Malik of Harvard. “Many people would drop out, and it would also be prohibitively expensive.”

Concerns about artificial sweeteners have been around since the 1970s, when studies found that large quantities of saccharin caused cancer in lab rats. The Food and Drug Administration issued a temporary ban on the sweetener, and Congress ordered up additional studies and a warning label, but subsequent research found the chemical to be safe for human consumption. More recently-created chemical sweeteners like aspartame and sucralose have also been extensively studied, with little evidence that they negatively impact human health, according to the F.D.A.

Some studies have even found a correlation between artificial sweeteners and weight loss, but others have suggested they may increase cravings for sugary foods.

“There’s no evidence they are harmful to people with a healthy diet who are trying to live a healthy lifestyle,” said Dr. Barry M. Popkin, a nutritionist at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. He and others remain concerned that giving diet beverages to young children might encourage a sweet tooth.

Still, many scientists say more research is needed to determine the long-term effects of consuming artificial sweeteners. Although Dr. Mullee, one of the authors of the study, cautioned against drawing stark conclusions from their data, she said the deleterious effects of artificial sweeteners can’t be ruled out, noting studies that suggest a possible link between aspartame and elevated levels of blood glucose and insulin in humans. “Right now the biological mechanisms are unclear but we’re hoping our research will spark further exploration,” she said.

For consumers, the mixed messaging can be confusing. Dr. Jim Krieger, the founding executive director of Healthy Food America, an advocacy group that presses municipalities to enact soda taxes and increase consumer access to fruits and vegetables, said the new study and others like it raise more questions than they answer.

“Gosh, at this point, you probably want to go with water, tea or unsweetened coffee and not take a chance on beverages we don’t know much about,” he said. “Certainly, you don’t want to drink sugary beverages because we know that these aren’t good for you.”

By

Andrew Jacobs is a reporter with the Health and Science Desk, based in New York. He previously reported from Beijing and Brazil and had stints as a Metro reporter, Styles writer and National correspondent, covering the American South.

Source: Death by Diet Soda? – The New York Times

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50 Ways To Live On Your Own Terms – Benjamin Hardy – Pocket

Although people think they perform better on caffeine, the truth is, they really don’t. Actually, we’ve become so dependent on caffeine that we use it to simply get back to our status-quo. When we’re off it, we under perform and become incapable.

Source: 50 Ways To Live On Your Own Terms – Benjamin Hardy – Pocket

How Food Affects Your Sleep – Kelly LeVeque

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Los Angeles-based nutritionist Kelly LeVeque boasts a client roster that reads like a who’s who of Hollywood: Jessica Alba, Chelsea Handler and Molly Sims are just a few of the stars who have Kelly on speed dial to talk health and recipe-making. Between promotional tours for her first book, “Body Love: Live in Balance, Weigh What You Want, and Free Yourself from Food Drama Forever,” we caught up with the wellness guru to learn more about how food affects your sleep, the best ways to unwind before bed, and what her go-to late-night snacks are.

So tell us: How does food affect your sleep?

Research shows that consuming food close to bedtime can disrupt sleep and increase the likelihood of weight gain. Also, there is a natural cleansing of the brain that happens during sleep, and it needs a certain amount of blood flow to do that. It’s a preventive way to avoid things like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. When you go to sleep on a full stomach, your body redirects a lot of the blood flow to your digestive system. It’s important to completely digest your food to ensure a good night’s sleep, prevent neurodegenerative diseases and avoid weight gain.2.gif

What should we be eating for breakfast?

I like to start my day with a low sugar, high fiber meal like my Spa Smoothie. My clients can’t get enough of this recipe. Full of protein and healthy fats, this blend will leave you satisfied until lunch.

When should you finish your last meal of the day?

Three to four hours before bed.

What foods should people stay away from if they have trouble sleeping?

Some people think wine or alcohol will help them fall asleep. While libations might make you feel a bit more tired and relaxed, they can cause you to wake up in the middle of the night. I would definitely avoid alcohol as well as any type of caffeine after lunch. Things like sugar and desserts are known to keep you awake! People often have their biggest meal of the day at night and that can become energy in the form of blood sugar that causes restless sleep. I recommend focusing on foods that balance your blood sugar like healthy fat, moderate protein, non-starchy vegetables and carbohydrates.

Do you recommend any kind of natural supplement for better sleep?

Kavinace ultra pm by NeuroScience is basically a precursor to creating neurotransmitters in the brain that help you sleep, and – bonus – it has a little melatonin in it!3.jpg

How do you suggest unwinding before bed?

I love to take a bath or hot shower. The warm water helps to calm the body. I also recommend adaptogens and teas to signal to the body it’s time to unwind. It’s important to turn down the lights and turn your phone to night mode – the blue light stops the production of melatonin in the body.

What do you keep on your bedside table?

I actually don’t have a bedside table! I have a very minimalist room. I keep water out and a few essential oils by Saje that I use before bed. I rub them on my wrists and neck to help me relax after a long day. I also have ear plugs and an eye mask – they really make a difference!

What are your healthy snack recommendations?

I suggest a snack that is going to calm hunger but not spike blood sugar. A tablespoon of almond butter or coconut yogurt is very satiating! I also have a recipe for freezer fudge, which is coconut oil, almond butter, unsweetened cocoa powder and a little bit of monk fruit or stevia mixed together. It tastes like chocolate fudge but has no sugar. Win win!

The title of your book is “Body Love.” What does that term mean to you?

I find that when we think about feeling our best – being tight, being toned and being lean – the common notion is that we have to deprive ourselves. But it’s about loving your body through food and making smart choices.

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