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Diet Drinks Can Be More Harmful Than Regular Sodas in Causing Heart Disease, Study Finds

Diet Drinks Can Be More Harmful Than Regular Sodas in Causing Heart Disease, Study Finds

Adding the word diet to something makes most of us think of it as healthy – and very often, this is the way misnomers are born. It’s only natural for us to think of diet soda being a healthier alternative to the normal, calorie and sugar-laden sodas. Unfortunately, a 10-year study shows this to be very untrue, for the waistline as well as the heart.[1]

The 10-Year Diet Soda Study on Women

The study conducted by the University of Iowa, in which over 60,000 women were tested for nearly a decade, indicates that diet soda may actually increase the risk of heart disease in women.[2]

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While the study did not conclusively prove so, it did point to an association, which basically means more study is needed in this direction. The results of the study showed that compared to women who rarely or never consumed diet soda, those who regularly drank two or more diet drinks every day were 30% more likely to have a heart problem and 50% more likely to die from a cardiovascular event or a heart-related disease. The scientific community is unanimous in calling these results alarming and in urgent need of more research, lest we now enter into the diet soda-caused heart disease pandemic.

How is Diet Soda Bad for the Heart?

Frankly, with sugar receiving so much flak for being bad and unhealthy, diet soda seems like a healthier alternative. You get the taste and the fizz – without the sugar and the calories. An average soda or sweetened drink has about 140 calories per serving. Diet soda and drinks replace that sugar with one or more chemicals like aspartame, saccharin or sucralose, and make a diet drink relatively calorie free. But what do these chemicals do to us once consumed?

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  1. Artificial sweeteners have no calories themselves to speak of, but they do trigger an insulin rush in the body – thus actually making the body store fat.
  2. Taste-wise, artificial sweeteners are a tad too sweet – thus deadening the ‘sweet’ taste buds and ending up making us consume even more sugar.
  3. According to a University of Minnesota study, diet soda increases the risk of Metabolic Syndrome and type-2 diabetes by over 30%.[3]

The term Metabolic Syndrome, basically points to a host of lifestyle-related events such as higher cholesterol and triglyceride levels, elevated glucose and lowered insulin levels, higher blood pressure and a larger waist circumference. These factors in turn contribute to a higher risk of heart disease and/or stroke in later years.

Are There Other Studies Pointing to This?

There have been many studies conducted by various research organizations over the recent years that reveal rather alarming associations between the consumption of diet soda and an increased risk of heart disease.[4] The MESA study shows that people who drink diet sodas on an everyday basis have a 36% greater risk of developing the above-mentioned metabolic syndrome and a 67% increased risk of developing diabetes.

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Are Men At Risk Too?

In case you thought your male gender means you can consume all the diet sodas in the world, hang on just a minute.

A 2015 study[5] in Sweden linked a 23% increased risk of heart failure and disease in men who regularly drank sweetened and artificially sweetened drinks every day.

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But other research presented at the American Heart Association’s International Stroke Conference demonstrates that drinking even one diet soda every day can increase your risk of contracting heart disease by an astounding 48%![6]

While all studies point to an association between an increased risk of heart disease and cardiovascular events, none of them can actually prove an undeniable association, and more studies are needed to do so, rather urgently. Until then, it’s best to avoid that sweetener-laden sip!

Featured photo credit: HuffPost via i.huffpost.com

Reference

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Rima Pundir

Health, Wellness & Productivity Writer

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Last Updated on December 9, 2019

5 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress Effectively

5 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress Effectively

Everyone experiences mental stress at one time or another. Maybe you’re starting a new career, job, or business, or you feel incredibly overwhelmed between work, parenting, and your love life (or a lack of it). It could even be that you simply feel that you have way too much to do and not enough time to do it,  plus, on top of everything, nothing seems to be going the way it should!

Yup, we all experience mental stress from time-to-time, and that’s okay as long as you have the tools, techniques and knowledge that allow you to fully relieve it once it comes.

Here are 5 tips for relieving mental stress when it comes so you can function at your best while feeling good (and doing well) in work, love, or life:

1. Get Rationally Optimistic

Mental stress starts with your perception of your experiences. For instance, most people get stressed out when they perceive their reality as “being wrong” in some way. Essentially, they have a set idea of how things “should be” at any given moment, and when reality ends up being different (not even necessarily bad), they get stressed.

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This process is simply a result of perception and can be easily “fixed” by recognizing that although life might not always be going as YOU think it should, it’s still going as it should—for your own benefit.

In fact, once you fully recognize that everything in your life ultimately happens for your own growth, progress, and development—so you can achieve your goals and dreams—your perception works in your favor. You soon process and respond to your experience of life differently, for your advantage. That’s the essence of becoming “rationally optimistic.”

The result: no more mental stress.

2. Unplug

Just like you might need to unplug your computer when it starts acting all crazy, you should also “unplug” your mind.

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How on earth do you unplug your mind? Simple: just meditate.

It isn’t nearly difficult or complicated as some people think, so, if you don’t already meditate, give it a try. Whether you meditate for 5 minutes, 30 minutes, or 2 hours, this is a surefire way to reduce mental stress.

Meditation has been scientifically proven to relax your body (resulting in less mental stress), while also reducing anxiety and high blood pressure.

3. Easy on the Caffeine

Yes, we know, we know—everyone loves a nice java buzz, and that’s okay, but there’s a fine line between a small caffeine pick-me-up and a racing heart and mind that throws you into a frenzy of mental stress.

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Try giving up caffeine for a while and see how you feel. And, if that’s completely out of the question for you, at least try to minimize it. You might find that lots of your mental stress mysteriously “disappears” as your caffeine intake goes down.

4. Attack Mental Stress Via the Back Door

That’s right: your body and mind are part of the whole being, and are constantly influencing and affecting each other. If you’re experiencing a lot of mental stress, try to reduce it by calming your body down—a calm body equals a calmer mind.

How do you calm your body down and reduce physical stress? A  great way to reduce physical stress (thereby reducing mental stress) is to take natural supplements that are proven to reduce stress and anxiety while lifting your mood. Three good ones to look into are kava-kava, St John’s wort, and rhodiola rosea:

  • Kava-kava is a natural plant known to have mild sedative properties, and you should be able to find it at your natural health food store or vitamin store. It’s available in capsules or liquid extract form.
  • St John’s wort is a natural flower used to treat depression. Again, it’s found at your local health store in capsules or liquid. Because it uplifts mood (enabling you to see the brighter side of all experiences) it helps relieve mental stress as well.
  • Rhodiola rosea is a natural plant shown to reduce stress and uplift mood, and Russian athletes have been using it forever. Like the other two supplements mentioned, rhodiola rosea can be found at your natural health store in capsule or liquid form.

While these supplements are all natural and can be very helpful for most people, always check with your health care provider first as they can cause side-effects depending on your current health situation etc.

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5. Good Old-Fashioned Exercise

This tip has been around forever because it works. Nothing relieves mental stress like running, kickboxing—you name it. Anything super-physical will wipe out most of your mental stresses once the exercise endorphins (happy chemicals) are released into your brain.

The result: mental stress will be gone!

So, if you’re feeling overwhelmed or just plain stressed, try using some of the above tips. You can even print this out or save it to refer to regularly.

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Featured photo credit: Radu Florin via unsplash.com

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