“Diet” Artificial Sweeteners may Actually Expand Your Waistline

In a new analysis of studies involving more than 406,000 patients, researchers found that people who substitute artificial sweeteners for sugar – even the natural kinds – actually gained weight, instead of losing it. [1]

Published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, the study looked at the long-term effects of artificial sweeteners on heart health, weight, stroke incidence, and blood pressure levels.

The researchers wrote:

“We found that consumption of nonnutritive sweeteners was associated with modest long-term weight gain in observational studies.”

Artificial sweeteners were once touted by doctors as healthy for diabetics who didn’t want to give up sweets, but who also realized that continuing to eat sugar could cause serious complications or death. But the analysis showed that the consumption of artificial sweeteners may increase a person’s risk for developing the disease, and other potentially serious health conditions.

The team says:

“Our results also extend previous meta-analyses that showed higher risks of type 2 diabetes and hypertension with regular consumption.”

Some of the Findings

For the analysis, researchers reviewed 30 studies that followed groups of people that used artificial sweeteners, including aspartame (Equal), sucralose (Splenda), and stevioside (Stevia). The studies involved in the review including longer, larger studies with follow-ups every 4-9 years. Study participants not only gained weight using artificial sweeteners, they also had higher risks of obesity, high blood pressure, and stroke.

Read: The Dangers of Sucralose/Splenda Revealed Again by Extensive New Review

Specifically, the observational studies noted a small increase in body mass index (BMI) associated with consumption of artificial sweeteners, a 14% greater chance of developing Type 2 diabetes for those who consumed the most artificial sweeteners, and a 32% higher risk of cardiovascular events for those who ate the most, compared to those who ate the least. [2]

Those who had hoped to lose weight in the short-term were met with disappointment; participants in the 7 shorter randomized, controlled studies reviewed in the analysis didn’t show consistent weight-loss after 6 months.

Lead author Meghan Azad, of the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, Canada, said:

“From all that research, there was no consistent evidence of a long-term benefit from the sweetener, but there was evidence for weight gain and increased risks of other cardiometabolic outcomes.” [2]

Tricked into Poor Health

The fact that sugar causes obesity and a host of other health problems is fairly common knowledge these days, but the reason why artificial sweeteners appear to do the same things is less understood. To put it in simple terms, artificial sweeteners “trick” the brain into thinking the body is consuming real sugar.

See, artificial sweeteners are chemically different than sugar. When you taste something containing artificial sweeteners, receptors are activated on the tongue that lets the brain know you are eating or drinking something sweet. [3]

When you eat something sweet, the brain’s reward center is activated by a surge of dopamine. Leptin, an appetite-regulating hormone, is also released. When you eat something with calories, leptin eventually signals to your brain that you are full.

However, when you eat something sweet but with no calories, your brain’s pleasure pathway still gets activated, but the lack of calories means there is nothing to shut it off.

Watch: How Diet Sodas Mess With Your Brain (Video)

In turn, your body signals that it needs more calories, which results in carb cravings. In the end, you wind up eating more than you should, taking in more calories than you should, and those carbohydrates get converted into sugar.

Artificial sweeteners have been shown to alter gut microbes, some of which have been linked to obesity.

Furthermore, researchers have discovered that artificial sweeteners alter metabolic pathways linked to metabolic disease.

Stevia is considered the “safest” artificial sweetener, because it is natural. However, if you have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, or extra weight, then you have insulin sensitivity issues, and you should probably avoid artificial sweeteners entirely.

According to a study published earlier in 2017, 1/4 of U.S. children and 41% of American adults consume artificial sweeteners, most of them at least once per day. Though people likely consume more artificial sweeteners than they realize, since they’re in everything from granola bars to yogurt. [2]

Your safest bet is to learn to enjoy your coffee black, and choose foods free of sugar and artificial sweeteners.

Easier said than done, I know, but you can do it!

Sources:

[1] ABC News

[2] NPR

[3] Mercola.com


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The BMI Chart is Antiquated and Misleading, Scientists Say

The Body Mass Index (BMI) was invented in the 1800’s and became the international standard for weight and health by the 1980’s. Current BMI standards were approved by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in 1998. But the BMI scale is considered antiquated by many, including doctors, scientists and nutritionists.

A study supports the conclusion that the Body Mass Index is outdated and provides misleading data. This means more than 34 million Americans may have been wrongly told they are either overweight or obese when they are actually healthy individuals.

The BMI is a measure of body fat based on a person’s weight in relation to their height. The index applies to most adults over age 20. For kids, BMI percentile is considered the best valuation of body fat.

According to the chart, the entire roster of the Broncos AFC football team is considered overweight, despite being some of the healthiest men in the world.

“This should be the final nail in the coffin for BMI,” says lead author A. Janet Tomiyama, a psychologist at UCLA.

According to study author Jeffrey Hunger, 47% of people deemed “overweight” by the chart are perfectly healthy.

“So to be using BMI as a health proxy – particularly for everyone within that category – is simply incorrect.”

This also means many people who are considered by the chart to be of healthy weight aren’t healthy when you look at underlying clinical indicators.

“The public is used to hearing ‘obesity,’ and they mistakenly see it as a death sentence,” says Tomiyama. “But obesity is just a number based on BMI, and we think BMI is just a really crude and terrible indicator of someone’s health,” says Tomiyama.

The findings published in the International Journal of Obesity could have major ramifications for patients, doctors, companies, and insurers. The U.S. Equal Opportunity Commission recently proposed rules that would make it legal for employers to penalize employees for up to 30% of their health insurance costs if they don’t meet 24 health criteria, including meeting a specific BMI. If the chart continues to be used, millions of people could be unnecessarily penalized.

image-BMIChart

Read: Study Finds This Factor to be a Huge Contributor to Heart Disease

The UCLA researchers sought to determine whether BMI correlated with actual markers of health by analyzing data from more than 40,000 people who participated in the 2005-2012 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. The team considered respondents’ blood pressure, triglycerides, cholesterol, glucose, insulin resistance and C-reactive protein data — markers that are linked to heart disease and inflammation, among other issues.

The team discovered that nearly half of overweight respondents and 29% of obese ones were healthy, from a metabolic standpoint. About 30% of individuals of “normal” weight were found to be unhealthy.

In other words, by BMI standards, 7.9 million adults in the U.S. have been incorrectly assessed, including 34.4 million people who are considered overweight, and 19.8 million people who are considered obese.

Tomiyama told the Los Angeles Times:

“The reason I think people rely on BMI is because it’s easy; if you know someone’s weight and you know someone’s height, then out pops this magical number. But getting blood pressure is pretty easy too. It takes maybe 20 seconds if you have the machine. And so I really think focusing on better health markers like blood pressure is a better way to go about it — particularly when we’re talking about financial penalties.

“Many people see obesity as a death sentence. But the data show there are tens of millions of people who are overweight and obese and are perfectly healthy.”

Sources:

Sharecare

Medical News Today

The Guardian

Los Angeles Times


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Avocados Could be Key in Avoiding Metabolic Syndrome, Numerous Ailments

Did you know that in past studies, avocado-eaters have been shown to be healthier than non-eaters? Chowing down on the fruit (yes, avocados are technically berries!) is associated with a lower body weight, a lower body mass index (BMI), a lower intake of added sugars, higher nutrient levels, and a better-quality diet overall. It makes perfect sense, then, that a new review of medical literature shows that eating avocados may help you avoid metabolic syndrome.

Dubbed the “new silent killer,” metabolic syndrome is a cluster of conditions that occur together and put you at greater risk for heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. [1]

These conditions include:

  • Abdominal obesity
  • High triglycerides
  • Low HDL “good” cholesterol
  • High blood pressure
  • High blood sugar [2]

Some 23% of U.S. adults are affected by metabolic syndrome. [3]

For the review, Iranian researchers looked at 129 previously published studies that examined the effects of avocado consumption on the different components, or conditions, of metabolic syndrome. The majority of the reviewed studies examined the fleshy part of the avocado that people normally eat, but some also looked at the leaves, peels, oils, and pits of avocados. [1]

Avocados were shown in the studies to have the most beneficial effects on cholesterol levels. Furthermore, the researchers concluded that avocado consumption can influence LDL “bad” cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, triglycerides, total cholesterol, and phospholipids. Phospholipids, along with protein, are major components of cell membranes.

The authors, who recommend eating avocados on a daily basis, wrote:

“The lipid-lowering, antihypertensive, antidiabetic, anti-obesity, antithrombotic, antiatherosclerotic, and cardioprotective effects of avocado have been demonstrated in several studies.” [1]

So, to translate, there isn’t really any aspect of metabolic syndrome that avocados can’t fight, and there isn’t any part of the avocado that doesn’t have these abilities. The creamy fruit even “melts” belly fat, considered the most dangerous type of fat to carry on the body.

Source: Mercola.com

Yes, metabolic syndrome has been dubbed the “new silent killer,” but avocados have been deemed a “perfect food” because of their countless health benefits. Avocados are a reliable source of vitamin E, which is vital for protecting brain health and preventing Alzheimer’s disease. They’ve even been shown to reduce the signs of aging by combating free radicals.

So whip up a batch of guacamole, throw some avocado slices on a sandwich, or cut one in half and bake an egg inside of each half. This is one food you should make a part of your daily routine.

Sources:

[1] Time

[2] American Heart Association

[3] Medical News Today

Mercola.com


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Replace Junk Food Snacks with This FATTY Snack to Lose Weight?

The simple decision to toss back a handful of peanuts a few times a week in place of other junk food snacks could go a long way to help people fight the battle of the bulge and could prevent childhood obesity, researchers say.

Peanuts are packed with vitamins and nutrients that make the tiny legumes one of the healthiest foods around. Look at the nutritional punch you get from just a 1/4 cup:

  • 88% biotin
  • 47% copper
  • 36% manganese
  • 28% vitamin B3
  • 24% molybdenum
  • 22% folate
  • 20% phosphorus
  • 20% vitamin E
  • 19% vitamin B1
  • 19% protein

Peanuts are rich in heart-healthy monounsaturated fats, high in oleic acid, and loaded with antioxidants, too. In fact, previous research found that consuming more nuts was associated with decreased overall disease mortality.

But continuing with the original study at hand …

According to scientists, eating peanuts 3 to 4 times a week could help lower body mass index (BMI). That could be especially good news for children and teens with developing bodies. U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) statistics show obesity affects about 12.7 million children and adolescents between the ages of 2 and 19. (The only problem is that BMI is a bit antiquated.)

For the study researchers at the University of Houston, Baylor College of Medicine, and Texas Woman’s University followed 257 Latino adolescents over the course of 6 months. Each was in the 85th percentile or greater for BMI.

image-bmi-growthchart_example1
Source: CDC

image-girls_chart_OL

During the study period, about half the group snacked on peanuts or peanut butter right after school 3 to 4 times a week. The other half of the group had the same snack less than once a week. All of the students were taught proper nutrition and engaged in physical activity.

The group eating the most peanuts during that time reduced their BMI more than twice as much as the group eating peanuts less than once a week.

“Peanuts provided an acceptable, healthy snack for children. Although peanuts were relatively high in fat, the weight loss intervention of replacing energy-dense and unhealthy snacks with peanuts and peanut butter helped children maintain a healthy body weight.”

Lead study author Craig Johnston, assistant professor at the University of Houston’s department of health and human performance, said in a statement:

“Schools are doing a great job of teaching kids, getting them workforce ready, and a whole bunch of other things. We’ve just got to make sure that our kids are going to live long, happy lives with that kind of education.”

Snacking is more common among teenagers, who are usually left to their own devices in the food department, and that can lead to serious weight gain.

Johnston said:

“What we found is that kids get home from school around 4 p.m. There’s less supervision by parents and less structure. Kids are sitting down at the TV and eating, eating, eating because they really didn’t eat at school.”

The researchers recommend schools cut out energy-dense unhealthy snacks and replace them with healthier ones like peanuts to get kids in the habit of eating nutritious foods in proper serving sizes.

Johnson said obesity “is the most pressing health issue facing us today We’d like to think it’s preventable, but from where I sit right now, there hasn’t been a lot shown to be very effective on a large scale.”

As snacks go, peanuts have been shown to be more universally liked than “health foods” like vegetables, and the protein found in peanuts can help kids feel full longer.

The study was published in the Journal of Applied Research on Children.

Sources:

Medical Daily

Newser

CDC


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