A recent article in the Journal of the American Medical Association questions the health benefits of artificially sweetened beverages, such as diet soft drinks. While a myriad of health problems from overconsuming refined sugars, such as those found in regular sodas is well documented, their calorie free diet counterparts may also pose some health problems.
The problem lies in their sweetness and its effect on the complex pathways that regulate body weight. Overconsumption of hyper-intense artificial sweeteners may cause taste preferences to revert to an infantile state and decrease tolerance of complex flavors such as those found in vegetables. Also, since diet beverages contain no calories they may cause dissociation between sweet tastes and calorie content which could disrupt the pathways regulating hunger.
In rodent studies, artificial sweeteners when compared to glucose caused diminished calorie compensation ability, increased caloric intake, and increased body weight. Rodents also preferred saccharin solutions over cocaine, highlighting the potentially addictive nature of these sweeteners. Some studies in humans have also shown relationships between diet drink consumption and obesity, metabolic syndrome, and type-2 diabetes. However, further research needs to be conducted before these relationships can be considered causal.
Although further research is need to confirm the long term health effects of artificially sweetened beverages, their potential health hazards warrant reconsidering their consumption. The authors of the JAMA article conclude that for now diet drinks may best be considered an aid to transition from high-calorie sugar sweetened beverages, such as regular soda, to minimally sweetened beverages such as water, mineral waters, teas, and coffee (with out sugar of course).
A recent study on the effect of exercise on quality of life, published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, found that among sedentary postmenopausal women with high blood pressure, exercise significantly improved quality of life. The study also found that the improvement was dose dependent, meaning that the more the women exercised the greater their improvement in quality of life. Furthermore, the study found that the improvement was independent of weight change. So whether or not you end up losing weight, exercising is still an effective method of improving your quality of life. The study examined eight aspects of quality of life including measures of both physical and mental health such as bodily pain, vitality, and mental health. We would all like to improve our quality of life and exercising an affordable and even enjoyable way of doing so. Current physical activity recommendations advise at least 8 kilocalories/kilogram/week of exercise. For a person weighing 155 lbs, this translates into a little less than two and half hours of walking at a moderate pace per week, or about 20 minutes a day.
A recent study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine found that unhealthy lifestyles could be responsible for nine out of ten new cases of diabetes mellitus among older US adults. Specifically, the study suggested that if all men and women aged 65 or older exercised more, stopped smoking (or never started), ate a healthy diet, drank moderately, and had a body mass index of less than 25 the incidence of drug dependent diabetes in this age group would fall by 89%. The study also found that the risk of diabetes fell in a stepwise fashion with each extra healthy lifestyle factor. This study highlights the enormous importance of having a healthy lifestyle even if you are over 65. Seemingly small changes in lifestyle can have a big effect whether it’s taking a daily walk, cutting back on junk food, or losing a few pounds.
Kernersville Primary Care will be celebrating it’s 33rd anniversary on July 16th,2017. Thank you, to the wonderful Kernersville Primary Care community, especially our patients, you rock!