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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

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Rima Pundir

Health, Wellness & Productivity Writer

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Last Updated on August 12, 2019

12 Best Foods That Improve Memory and Brain Health

12 Best Foods That Improve Memory and Brain Health

Nutrition plays a vital role in brain function and staying sharp into the golden years. Personally, my husband is going through medical school, which is like a daily mental marathon. Like any good wife, I am always looking for things that will boost his memory fortitude so he does his best in school.

But you don’t have to be a med student to appreciate better brainiac brilliance. If you combine certain foods with good hydration, proper sleep and exercise, you may just rival Einstein and have a great memory in no time.

I’m going to reveal the list of foods coming out of the kitchen that can improve your memory and make you smarter.

Here are 12 best brain foods that improve memory and brain power:

1. Nuts

The American Journal of Epidemiology published a study linking higher intakes of vitamin E with the prevention on cognitive decline.[1]

Nuts like walnuts and almonds (along with other great foods like avocados) are a great source of vitamin E.

Cashews and sunflower seeds also contain an amino acid that reduces stress by boosting serotonin levels.

Walnuts even resemble the brain, just in case you forget the correlation, and are a great source of omega 3 fatty acids, which also improve your mental magnitude.

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2. Blueberries

Shown in studies at Tuffs University to benefit both short-term memory and coordination, blueberries pack quite a punch in a tiny blue package.[2]

When compared to other fruits and veggies, blueberries were found to have the highest amount of antioxidants (especially flavonoids), but strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries are also full of brain benefits.

3. Tomatoes

Tomatoes are packed full of the antioxidant lycopene, which has shown to help protect against free-radical damage most notably seen in dementia patients.

4. Broccoli

While all green veggies are important and rich in antioxidants and vitamin C, broccoli is a superfood even among these healthy choices.

Since your brain uses so much fuel (it’s only 3% of your body weight but uses up to 17% of your energy), it is more vulnerable to free-radical damage and antioxidants help eliminate this threat.

Broccoli is packed full of antioxidants, is well-known as a powerful cancer fighter and is also full of vitamin K, which is known to enhance cognitive function.

5. Foods Rich in Essential Fatty Acids

Your brain is the fattest organ (not counting the skin) in the human body, and is composed of 60% fat. That means that your brain needs essential fatty acids like DHA and EPA to repair and build up synapses associated with memory.

The body does not naturally produce essential fatty acids so we must get them in our diet.

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Eggs, flax, and oily fish like salmon, sardines, mackerel and herring are great natural sources of these powerful fatty acids. Eggs also contain choline, which is a necessary building block for the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, to help you recall information and concentrate.

6. Soy

Soy, along with many other whole foods mentioned here, are full of proteins that trigger neurotransmitters associated with memory.

Soy protein isolate is a concentrated form of the protein that can be found in powder, liquid, or supplement form.

Soy is valuable for improving memory and mental flexibility, so pour soy milk over your cereal and enjoy the benefits.

7. Dark Chocolate

When it comes to chocolate, the darker the better. Try to aim for at least 70% cocoa. This yummy desert is rich in flavanol antioxidants which increase blood flow to the brain and shield brain cells from aging.

Take a look at this article if you want to know more benefits of dark chocolate: 15 Surprising and Science-Backed Health Effects of Dark Chocolate

8. Foods Rich in Vitamins: B vitamins, Folic Acid, Iron

Some great foods to obtain brain-boosting B vitamins, folic acid and iron are kale, chard, spinach and other dark leafy greens.

B6, B12 and folic acid can reduce levels of homocysteine in the blood. Homocysteine increases are found in patients with cognitive impairment like Alzheimer’s, and high risk of stroke.

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Studies showed when a group of elderly patients with mild cognitive impairment were given high doses of B6, B12, and folic acid, there was significant reduction in brain shrinkage compared to a similar placebo group.[3]

Other sources of B vitamins are liver, eggs, soybeans, lentils and green beans. Iron also helps accelerate brain function by carrying oxygen. If your brain doesn’t get enough oxygen, it can slow down and people can experience difficulty concentrating, diminished intellect, and a shorter attention span.

To get more iron in your diet, eat lean meats, beans, and iron-fortified cereals. Vitamin C helps in iron absorption, so don’t forget the fruits!

9. Foods Rich in Zinc

Zinc has constantly demonstrated its importance as a powerful nutrient in memory building and thinking. This mineral regulates communications between neurons and the hippocampus.

Zinc is deposited within nerve cells, with the highest concentrations found in the hippocampus, the part of the brain responsible for higher learning function and memory.

Some great sources of zinc are pumpkin seeds, liver, nuts, and peas.

10. Gingko Biloba

This herb has been utilized for centuries in eastern culture and is best known for its memory boosting brawn.

It can increase blood flow in the brain by dilating vessels, increasing oxygen supply and removing free radicals.

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However, don’t expect results overnight: this may take a few weeks to build up in your system before you see improvements.

11. Green and Black Tea

Studies have shown that both green and black tea prevent the breakdown of acetylcholine—a key chemical involved in memory and lacking in Alzheimer’s patients.

Both teas appear to have the same affect on Alzheimer’s disease as many drugs utilized to combat the illness, but green tea wins out as its affects last a full week versus black tea which only lasts the day.

Find out more about green tea here: 11 Health Benefits of Green Tea (+ How to Drink It for Maximum Benefits)

12. Sage and Rosemary

Both of these powerful herbs have been shown to increase memory and mental clarity, and alleviate mental fatigue in studies.

Try to enjoy these savory herbs in your favorite dishes.

When it comes to mental magnitude, eating smart can really make you smarter. Try to implement more of these readily available nutrients and see just how brainy you can be!

More About Boosting Brain Power

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Reference

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