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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 October 16, 2018

The Ultimate Guide to Help You Sleep Through the Night Tonight

The Ultimate Guide to Help You Sleep Through the Night Tonight

It’s well past midnight and you’ve got to get up in less than six hours. You toss and turn all night. Before you know it, another hour passes by and you start panicking.

If I don’t get to sleep in the next 30 minutes, I’m going to be exhausted tomorrow!”

One thing is for sure, you’re not alone. Over 70M+ Americans have stated that they don’t get the proper sleep they need at night.[1] So what could possibly be causing this insomnia epidemic?

Throughout my entrepreneurial journey of building my language learning company, I have experimented and researched dozens of best sleep practices. Some have flopped but a few have dramatically improved the quality of my life and work.

In this article, I’ll look into the reason why you’re sleep deprived and how to sleep through the night tonight.

Why you can’t sleep through the night

The first step to improving anything is getting to the bottom of the root problem. Different studies have shown the reasons why most people cannot sleep well at night.[2] Here are the main ones that the average person faces:

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Stress

If you’ve ever stayed up at night worrying about something, know that it’s a major sleep inhibitor. When you’re feeling stress, your mind and body becomes more activated, making it incredibly difficult to fall asleep. Even when you do manage to sleep, it won’t be deep enough to help you feel rested the next day.

Exposure to blue light before sleep time

We’re exposed to harmful blue light on a daily basis through the use of our digital screens. If you’ve never heard of blue light, it’s part of the visible light spectrum that suppresses melatonin, our sleep hormones. Other harmful effects include digital eye strains and macular cellular damage.

While daytime exposure to blue light is not very harmful, night time exposure tricks our brain into thinking it’s daytime. By keeping your brain alert and suppressing melatonin, your mind is unable to shut down and relax before bedtime.

Eating close to bedtime

Eating too late can actually be an issue for many people, especially those who are older than 40. The reason is, eating before laying down increases the chances of Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), in which stomach acid backflows into the esophagus.

Another reason not to eat too late is sleep quality. Even if you manage to sleep right after eating, it’s likely that you’ll wake up tired. Instead of letting your body rest during sleep, it has to digest the food that was entered before bedtime.

Rule of thumb: eat 3-4 hours before bedtime.

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Medical conditions

In some cases, it could be medical conditions that cause your sleep problems. If you can’t relate yourself to the above reasons or any of these common sleep problem causes, you should visit the doctor.

The vicious sleep cycle

The biggest danger to repeating the bad habits mentioned above is the negative cycle that it can take you through. A bad night’s sleep can affect not only your energy but your willpower and decision making skills.

Here’s an example of a bad sleep pattern:

You get a bad night’s sleep
–> You feel tired and stressful throughout the day.
–> You compensate it with unhealthy habits (for example junk food, skipping exercises, watching Netflix etc.)
–> You can’t sleep well (again) the next night.

    You can imagine what could happen if this cycle repeats over a longer period of time.

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    How to sleep better (throughout the night)

    To help you break the vicious cycle and stop waking up in the middle of the night, I’ll explain to you a list of actionable steps to solve your trouble staying asleep.

    1. Take control over the last 90 minutes of your night

    What you do (or don’t do) before bedtime have significant impact on the quality of your sleep. Many times, it can be the difference between staying up until 4am and sleeping like a baby.

    Here are a few suggestions:

    • Go from light to dark – Darkness stimulates production of the sleep hormone melatonin. Turn off unused light around the house, and think about investing into warm light that you can use in the bedroom before bedtime.
    • Avoid screens (or wear blue light blocking glasses) – Keep the bedroom a technology-free zone as the light from electronic devices can disturb your sleep. If you need to work, wear blue light blocking glasses (also known as computer glasses) throughout or before you sleep to prevent sleep disruption.
    • Find an activity that helps you to wind down  This could be anything that calms you down, and reduces thinking (especially unnecessary stress). Fir example, listening to soothing/good feel music, taking a hot bath, reading or meditating.
    • Keep any electronics you have on the other side of the room or outside the room – One of the most harmful things that can disrupt your sleep is the notifications you get from your smartphones. The simplest way to avoid this is to keep it away from you.
    • Create a bedtime routine – A night routine is a couple of things you do prior to going to bed. By doing these things every night, you’ll have a more restful and high-quality sleep. Learn how to pick up a night routine here: The Ultimate Night Routine Guide to Sleep Better and Wake Up Productive

    2. Eat the right nutrients (and avoid the wrong ones)

    What you eat (not just when we eat) plays a critical role in your sleep quality. If you’re ever in doubt of what to eat to improve your sleep, take the following into consideration:

    • Kiwi – This green fruit may be the ultimate pre-bed snack. When volunteers ate two kiwis an hour before hitting the hay, they slept almost a full extra hour. Kiwis are full of vitamins C and E, serotonin and folate—all of which may help you snooze.
    • Soy foods – Foods made with soy such as tofu, miso and edamame, are rich in isoflavones. These compounds increase the production of serotonin, a brain chemical that influences the body’s sleep-wake cycle.
    • Fiber-rich foods – Eating more fiber could be key for better sleep. Eating fiber was associated with more restorative slow-wave sleep—the more you eat, the better you sleep—per a study published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine. Fiber prevents blood sugar surges that may lower melatonin. Get a fiber boost from beans, artichokes, bran cereal and quinoa.
    • Salmon – Most fish, especially salmon, halibut and tuna boost vitamin B6, which is needed to make melatonin— a sleep-inducing hormone triggered by darkness.

    3. Adjust your sleep temperature

    Once you’ve gone through the first 2 recommendations, the last step to experiment with is temperature. According to Sleep.org, the ideal temperature for sleep is 60-67 Farenheit. This may be cooler than what most people are used to, but keep in mind that our body temperature changes once we fall asleep.

    Rule of thumb: sleeping in cooler temperature is better for sleep quality than warmer temperature.

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    Find out how to maintain the optimal temperature to sleep better here: How to Sleep Faster with the Best Temperature

    Sleep better form now on

    Congrats on making it to the end of this guide on sleep. If you’re serious about taking the necessary steps in improving your sleep, remember to take it one step at a time.

    I recommend trying just one of the steps mentioned such as taking a hot bath, blocking out blue light at night, or sleeping in cooler temperature. From there, see how it impacts your sleep quality and you can keep doing what works, and throw away what doesn’t.

    As long as you follow these steps cautiously and diligently, I know you’ll see improved results in your sleep!

    Featured photo credit: pixabay via pixabay.com

    Reference

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