‘No-calorie’ drinks linked to increased stroke risk

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‘No-calorie’ drinks linked to increased stroke risk

When diet sodas and other drinks first came on the market back in 1953, they sold more than five million dollars.  Today, about 86% of Americans use some type of artificially sweetened product primarily in the hopes to be a little healthier and to prevent excess weight gain.  However, a recent study has found that may not be the wisest strategy.

The latest research shows that the use of sugar substitutes or artificial sweeteners may actually be increasing the risk for coronary heart diseases and stroke.  While most people believe that using a diet soda is better than drinking the real thing loaded with sugar, it still is turning on the center of the brain training us to crave and seek out sweet foods.

This particular study looked at data on more than 81,000 women between the ages of 50 and 79. Women who drank two or more diet drinks a day had a 23% increased risk for stroke when compared to women who drank diet drinks less than once per week.

Artificial sweeteners set the bar high

While you wouldn’t suspect diet drinks to cause sugar cravings, what happens is each time a diet drink is consumed, your body senses something sweet but with no calories. Many of the various artificial sweeteners are as much as 200 times sweeter than sugar which is why only a small amount is necessary to achieve the desired effect of a beverage tasting sweet without using sugar.  While this may sound great, the theory has always been that consuming artificial sweeteners sets the bar high for your pallet, encouraging your taste buds to keep going for something sweet each time you eat.

How can you tell if your taste buds have been trained to crave sweets? Eat fruits like apples and strawberries – do they taste sweet to you?  If your answer is “no,” you should work on reducing your consumption of artificially sweetened beverages. Start by cutting in half what you are consuming at this time and continue to cut it in half until you are just barely using them or better yet, none at all.

Another thing to consider of the use of diet drinks is that artificial sweeteners can change your gut bacteria. Sugar can promote an increase in your personal blood sugar, as well as spikes in insulin. When you combine these activities together, it can contribute to excess weight gain, especially fat, and also inflammation in the body.

Bottom line, while artificial sweeteners are for the most part, a safe product to consume, it’s always best to do so in moderation if at all. The best beverages are the ‘natural’ ones such as water, milk and unsweetened tea. If all you do drink are artificially sweetened beverages, reconsider your choices. Slowly wean yourself off of them to where you are consuming no more than one a week.