Eating ‘unsweetened’ and ‘light’ products can cause more strokes and heart disease
For some people, soft drinks with ‘light’ labels are a good choice for health. Others believe that sugarless food might be a good choice to lose weight, but not in the eyes of scientists.
According to recent research, which has put the effects of sweeteners under scrutiny, excessive consumption of apparently unsweetened soft drinks could have negative consequences for health.
Researchers examined the association between sugar-free drinks, stroke and coronary heart disease in a group of 82,000 postmenopausal American women, aged 50 to 79 years.
After a follow-up of 12 years, the results showed that, although only 5.1% of the participants drank two or more sweetened beverages per day, that group had a 23% greater risk of stroke and 29% higher risk of heart disease than that of women who rarely or never drank diet drinks.
All the experts consulted agree on the importance and interest of the study.
This is a very important study because of the size of the sample and the long follow-up.
Although experts believe that the results might be somehow limited because the study tested only postmenopausal women, they say that “there is no basis that suggests the results could be different in men or women of childbearing age”.
The investigation shows a correlation and not a cause-effect relationship, which leaves the door open to numerous explanations.
Endocrinologist Paloma Gil agrees with the authors of the new study that “there is a clear relationship between the high consumption of light or non-caloric soft drinks and the increase in undesirable vascular events, such as cardiac or cerebral infarction.”
With these wickers, it is normal that the conclusions of the scientists disconcert placid customers to ask wonder.
The correlation of consumption of sweetened soft drinks with health problems is not new, the scientific community has known about it for years.
Several studies had already been done “with similar results”, to which Gil adds that “there are more and more works that relate the regular consumption of food or beverages with sweeteners with metabolic alterations such as an increase in body fat, glucose intolerance, and prediabetes “.
In 2013, for example, a group of researchers from the University of Purdue, in the United States, stated in an article that people who substitute sugar with sweeteners such as aspartame, sucralose and saccharin also have an increased risk of weight gain, metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
The reason, according to an interesting hypothesis, could be in the intestine.
A study published in the journal Nature links the consumption of artificial sweeteners with the development of glucose intolerance through the induction of alterations of the intestinal microbiota.
It is known that sweeteners can produce some effects at the metabolic level because they alter the microbiota of the intestine and stimulate some insulin secretion.
Sweeteners cheat the brain with its sweetness
Sweeteners are not innocuous at all. On the one hand, its extreme sweetness alters our perception of the flavors, and in the end, people stop eating fruit because they do not consider it sweet enough.
“They produce an incomplete activation of satisfaction in the brain that, in the long run, encourages them to eat more, in fact, just because they are sweet, they would incite those who consume them to eat more sweet and to be more dependent on food with these characteristics”, adds Gil.
On the other hand, we must not forget the cultural factor of the consumption of soft drinks: in the same way that we marry a baked fish with a glass of white wine, a controversial hamburger with potatoes is served with a refreshing drink.
Needless to mention the effects of neuromarketing on our perception of health. The more “sugar-free” that food is commercialized, the more people consume it, although, in the end, it may contain other ingredients that are far from ideal. It has to be added that it can give us the false confidence that light sodas could be safe by providing fewer calories.
Both the results of this study and the previous research on artificial sweeteners have piled on these additives which are extensively used by the food industry.
Is it excessive alarmism, a passing fad or are warnings justified?
The essence of the explanations offered by the experts, as well as the conclusions drawn from the main scientific studies, are the same: there is no safe dose of artificial sweeteners, so not consuming them is the best option.
There is not a recommended dose of soft drinks with sweeteners that is healthy.
Endocrinologists insist that they are not safe and send a message about the future dietary limitations of these products. “We must start to convey to people that light or sweetened products are not suitable for weight loss or to avoid diseases,” Gil says.
In this study, the undesirable effects are observed from the consumption of two light soft drinks a day, but if we take into account that in our society even children drink sweetened products since childhood, we will have a more serious outcome than that of any study ever conducted.