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Diet Sodas: Dangers and Health Issues

Diet Sodas: Dangers and Health Issues

When the “no-cal” or no calorie soft drink first appeared in the 50s, it was a lucrative business for soft drink companies. Originally, “diet” sodas were targeted towards women, but now they are one of the most common beverages — with one-fifth of the U.S. population drinking them on any given day. However, recent studies have indicated that “diet” sodas aren’t really the answer to a healthy diet after all. So the debate continues: Is diet soda really any better than regular soda?

What’s In a Diet Soda?

Regular sodas are notorious for their high content of sugar or corn syrup. According to the American Heart Association (AHA), the recommended amount of added sugars are:

  • Men: 150 calories per day
  • Women: 100 calories per day

Health experts always recommend eliminating soda consumption, especially if one is diabetic. Fitness gurus don’t even acknowledge sodas on their turf. Hence, the idea of switching to “diet” sodas appeared to be the key to drinking without worrying about your waistline. However, the artificial sweeteners in diet sodas (aspartame, cyclamate, saccharin, acesfulfame-k, sucralose) may dissuade you from drinking further.

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Diet Soda Can Cause You To Crave More Sugar

“Research shows that sweet taste can increase appetite and the regular consumption of the high intensity sweetness of artificial sweeteners may encourage sugar craving and dependence.” –CNN diet and fitness expert Dr. Melina Jampolis

It may sound attractive — all components of sugar being replaced with artificial sweeteners — but this fake sugar can confuse your body into craving more sugar. When our body is designed to break down sugar, but is instead supplied with fake contents, it becomes confused as to how to respond.

Frequent consumption of diet soda can hold a risk of causing our body to become unresponsive when a person consumes real sugar. It is said artificial sweeteners are now modified with such intense flavoring that real sugar no longer meets our bodies’ physiological expectations; in other words, our bodies don’t release the hormones needed to regulate blood sugar and blood pressure.

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“Artificial sweeteners trigger insulin, which sends your body into fat storage mode and leads to weight gain.” —Brooke Alpert, RD author of The Sugar Detox

Type 2 Diabetes

When a study was conducted in Europe to determine the risk of type 2 diabetes with diet beverage consumption, a high number of participants were found to be prone to type 2 diabetes.

Another study, published by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, shows that diet drinks were just as dangerous (if not more dangerous) than regular soda products if consumed on a daily basis. This was a 14 year study of 66,118 women that shows some daunting evidence.

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  • Diet sodas raised the risk of diabetes
  • Regular drinkers of 12 ounces of diet soda had a 33 percent risk of developing type 2 diabetes
  • Drinkers of 20 ounces of diet soda drinkers had a 66 percent risk of developing type 2 diabetes
  • Women who drank diet sodas actually drank twice as much compared to those who drank sugar-sweetened sodas
  • On average, diet soda drinkers consumed 3 diet drinks a day

According to these studies, diet sodas are shown to increase sugar cravings, leading to weight gain. What’s even scarier is they are highly addictive.

Increased Risk of Stroke and Heart Attack

In 2009, the University of Miami conducted research that concluded that people who drank diet sodas on a daily basis were at risk of stroke and heart attack.

“We had a strong bias for conducting the study, as other diet soda studies have suggest an association between diabetes, weight gain, coronary heart disease and other ailments, but we were surprised to find the strength of the results.” –Hannah Gardener, University of Miami Miller School of Medicine.

Even one diet soft drink a day could increase your risk of having a stroke, heart attack or vascular death. 43 percent were likely to experience a vascular event.

Of course, this goes with regular soda drinkers as well, but the importance here is that the reactions followed by drinking diet sodas are found to be more harmful to our bodies.

No Nutritional Value

Sugar in limited amounts is good for our body. But considering how diet drinkers prefer diet sodas because they are “safe”, there is great potential for damage. Diet sodas have no nutritional value whatsoever. Additionally, since diet sodas contain caffeine and caffeine is diuretic, your frequent trips to the bathroom can lead to dehydration which leads to dizziness, headaches and heart problems.

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With nothing beneficial to the body, and the fact that these drinks actually trick the body, diet sodas are simply a can of worms.

Featured photo credit: tales of a wandering youkai via flickr.com

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Last Updated on October 23, 2018

Science Says Knitting Makes Humans Warmer And Happier, Mentally

Science Says Knitting Makes Humans Warmer And Happier, Mentally

My mother was a great knitter and produced some wonderful garments such as Aran sweaters which were extremely fashionable when I was young. She also knitted while my father drove, which caused great amusement. I often wondered why she did that but I think I know the answer now.

Knitting is good for your mental health, according to some research studies. The Washington Post mentions a 2013 survey of about 3,500 knitters who were asked how they felt after a knitting session. Over 80% of them said they definitely felt happier. It is not a totally female occupation as more and more men take it up to get the same benefits. Harry Styles (One Direction) enjoys knitting. So does Russell Crowe although he does it to help him with anger management!

The Neural Knitwork Project

In Australia, Neural Knitworks was started to encourage people to knit and also become aware of neuroscience and mental health issues. Knit-ins were organized but garments were not the only things created. The knitters produced handmade neurons (1,665 of them!) to make a giant brain. The 2015 project will make more neural knitted networks (neural knitworks) and they will be visible online. You can see some more examples of woolly neurons on the Neural Knitworks Facebook page.

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While people knitted, crocheted and crafted yarn, they listened to experts talking about mental health issues such as addiction, dementia, depression, and how neurons work.

The knitting and neural connection

The human brain has about 80 billion neurons. Learning new skills, social interaction, and physical activity all help to forge neural connections which keep the brain healthy and active. They are creating networks to control movement and make memories. The knitters learn that as they create the woollen neurons, their own neurons are forming new pathways in their brains. Their creations are mimicking the processes in their brains to a certain extent. At the same time, their brains are registering new and interesting information as they learn interesting facts about the brain and how it works. I love the knitworks and networks pun. What a brilliant idea!

More mental health benefits from knitting

Betsan Corkhill is a physiotherapist and has published some results of completed studies on her website, appropriately named Stitchlinks. She conducted some experiments herself and found that knitting was really helpful in reducing panic and anxiety attacks.

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“You are using up an awful lot of brain capacity to perform a coordinated series of movements. The more capacity you take up by being involved in a complex task, the less capacity you have for bad thoughts.”- Betsan Corkhill

Knitters feel happier and in a better mood

Ann Futterman-Collier, Well Being Lab at Northern Arizona University, is very interested in how textile therapy (sewing, knitting, weaving and lace-making) can play an important role in mood repair and in lifting depressive states.

She researched 60 women and divided them into three different groups to do some writing, meditating and work with textiles. She monitored their heartbeat, blood pressure and saliva production. The women in the textiles group had the best results when their mood was assessed afterwards. They were in a better mood and had managed to reduce their negative thoughts better than those in the writing and meditation groups.

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“People who were given the task to make something actually had less of an inflammatory response in the face of a ‘stressor’.” – Dr. Futterman Collier

The dopamine effect on our happiness

Our brains produce a chemical called dopamine. This helps us to feel happy, more motivated, and assists also with focus and concentration. We get a boost of dopamine after sex, food, exercise, sleep, and creative activities.

There are medications to increase dopamine but there are lots of ways we can do it naturally. Textile therapy and crafting are the easiest and cheapest. We can create something and then admire it. In addition, this allows for a little bit of praise and congratulations. Although this is likely not your goal, all these can boost our dopamine and we just feel happier and more fulfilled. These are essential in facing new challenges and coping with disappointment in life.

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“Sometimes, people come up to me when I am knitting and they say things like, “Oh, I wish I could knit, but I’m just not the kind of person who can sit and waste time like that.” How can knitting be wasting time? First, I never just knit; I knit and think, knit and listen, knit and watch. Second, you aren’t wasting time if you get a useful or beautiful object at the end of it.” – Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, At Knit’s End: Meditations for Women Who Knit Too Much.

If you thought knitting and textiles were for old ladies, think again!

Featured photo credit: DSC_0012/Mary-Frances Main via flickr.com

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