Artificially Sweetened Drinks May Increase Risk Of Heart Disease
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Often at times, people switch to no-sugar or “diet” aerated drinks, or artificially sweetened drinks to avoid excess sugar consumption over sugary beverages. However, cutting down on sugar is not a guarantee that your beverage will become healthier. A study titled ‘Sweetened Beverages, Genetic Susceptibility, and Incident Atrial Fibrillation: A Prospective Cohort Study,’ published recently in the journal Circulation: Arrhythmia and Electrophysiology, states that drinking two litres or more of artificially sweetened beverages per week raises the risk of an irregular heartbeat by 20 per cent, in contrast to the people who had none. The condition that causes irregular heartbeat is called atrial fibrillation (AFib). 

Besides, the dangerous impact of artificially sweetened beverages on heartbeat, the study also noted down the link between atrial fibrillation risk and drinking added-sugar beverages or pure, unsweetened juices. Here is what it found:  

  • Drinking a similar number of added-sugar beverages (two litres or more per week) raises the risk of atrial fibrillation by 10 per cent.  
  • Drinking around four ounces of pure, unsweetened juices, such as orange and vegetable juice is associated with an 8 per cent lower risk of atrial fibrillation.  

Who Is Likely To Drink Artificially Sweetened Beverages?  

The study was carried out on nearly 202,000 people participating in a large, biomedical database called the UK Biobank. The age group of the people ranged from 37 to 73 years old. More than half of the participants were female. The experiment was conducted on people for an average of 10 years.  

The study found that the females were the higher consumers of artificially sweetened beverages. The females are more on the younger side, weigh more, and have a prevalence of type-2 diabetes. The younger males, who weigh more and have a prevalence of heart disease were found to consume more sugar-sweetened beverages.   

Other Notable Side Effects Of Drinking Artificially Sweetened Drinks 

Artificial sweeteners are included in several drinks such as diet soda. They can also be included in the beverages which contribute to achieving the desired level of sweetness. Although artificial sweeteners are fewer or zero in calories, they pose several health problems: 

  • Disrupt Gut Health 

Artificially sweetened drinks may alter the composition of gut bacteria, potentially leading to imbalances in the microbiome. According to the study, ‘Gut Microbiome: Profound Implications for Diet and Disease,’ in Nutrients journal gut microbiome plays a key role in many aspects of health, including immune function, nutrient absorption, heart health and more. 

  • Increases Weight 

Artificial sweeteners in drinks can disrupt the body’s ability to regulate calorie intake, leading to overeating and weight gain. In the study, ‘Gain weight by “going diet?” Artificial sweeteners and the neurobiology of sugar cravings’ by Yale Journal of Biology And Medicines suggests that there is a correlation between consumption of artificial sweeteners and obesity. 

  • Increases Craving For Sweet Foods 

Artificially sweetened drinks can increase cravings for sugary food and cause a prefernce for sweet flavours. This might lead to an increase in calorie intake. As a result, you can indulge in overconsumption of high calorie and unhealthy foods. 

  • Digestive Issues

If you consume artificially sweetened drinks in excessive amounts, this can lead to digestive problems like bloating, gas and diarrhoea. This can disrupt the balance in the gut and cause digestive discomfort. Besides, intake of these drinks can cause bowel issues, and might alter the health of your gut bacteria. 

  • Cause Headache 

Often consumption of artificially sweetened drinks may cause headaches. This is due to artificial sweeteners such as aspartame in some of the drinks. As per ‘Neurophysiological symptoms and aspartame: What is the connection?’ in Nutritional Neuroscience, aspartame is linked to several side effects like headaches, migraine and irritability.