What are the long and short term risks of drinking diet soda? Well, Kyle and Michelle review a few of the potential problems with diet drinks. We also visit with a registered dietitian, Christie Benton about the problems with added sugars in our foods. This is a sweet show. Check it out at Huntsman World Senior Games Active Life podcast.

 

Speaker 1:
(Singing).

Kyle Case:
Hello and welcome to the Huntsman World Senior Games Active Life. My name is Kyle Case, and I'll be your host on this amazing journey as we attempt to help you get the most out of your life. Joining me in the studio today, filling in for Jeff Harding who is away this week, is Michelle Graves. Michelle?

Michelle Graves:
Hi Kyle.

Kyle Case:
How are you today?

Michelle Graves:
I'm great.

Kyle Case:
Good.

Michelle Graves:
We don't often get to be on the radio together.

Kyle Case:
I know.

Michelle Graves:
What a treat.

Kyle Case:
Well, it is a treat for both of us.

Michelle Graves:
Yes.

Kyle Case:
Today's topic for our intro may not be a very popular one.

Michelle Graves:
Okay. I'm intrigued.

Kyle Case:
Let me ask you this. Do you drink diet soda?

Michelle Graves:
Oh, I think you know I do.

Kyle Case:
You're going to hate this one.

Michelle Graves:
I know.

Kyle Case:
You're going to hate this one. Today Michelle, I'm going to share 10 facts about diet soda that might make you finally stop drinking it.

Michelle Graves:
Okay. I'd be surprised if I didn't already know them. But, if you have a patch or something that could help me, that would be very beneficial.

Kyle Case:
We'll see. We'll see. I found this article on the Daily Meal, it was written by Holly Van Hare. And she says, unfortunately, that it's probably worse for you than you think. Those are her words. The fact of the matter is, that many people drink diet sodas and the fact of the matter is, that many people drink many diet sodas, right? That's pretty common.

Michelle Graves:
Many per day? Or many over a lifetime?

Kyle Case:
Yes to all of those questions and all of the ones in between.

Michelle Graves:
Okay.

Kyle Case:
A lot of people choose to drink a diet soda because they think that it's a healthier choice. But here's the deal. Yes, diet soda has zero calories or very, very low calories depending on the situation, but the question here is, are those diminished calories worth it when you look at the long term health benefits. Some of the things that can happen to your body can cause some immediate side effects when you're partaking of diet sodas. Not to mention the long term effects that may occur if you drink it every day. So, again, Michelle [crosstalk 00:02:15]-

Michelle Graves:
I feel a little bit targeted, but let's go.

Kyle Case:
It's not intentional. No. It's not intentional, I just think there's some interesting and may be helpful information that you may find useful and if not, maybe someone else will.

Michelle Graves:
Yes. I agree. I agree. Let's go.

Kyle Case:
Let's jump right into them. I'm going to go pretty fast because there's several of them and we have a great guest that we want to get to. But a couple of things right up front. Artificial sweeteners have been known to trigger painful headaches. Do you ever feel like you get unexplained headaches?

Michelle Graves:
Only when I don't have one.

Kyle Case:
Well, that's probably the caffeine talking there. But, many diet sodas are sweetened with this aspartame, aspartame, however, you say that. A lot of different ways and I've heard it pronounced ... It is a controversial sweetener. They say that it tastes 200 times sweeter than regular refined sugar. So it's very sweet. Some studies have linked that sweetener to headaches, suggesting that it might trigger some of that unexpected pain.

Kyle Case:
Here's what I thought was really interesting. Diet soda drinkers are more likely to be depressed. So, they did a survey. Listen to this survey. They did a survey of 263,925 adults. So this is a significant survey. It's not like they asked their three best friends. This is a lot of people.

Michelle Graves:
I'm starting to feel a little depressed already I must say.

Kyle Case:
In that survey, they were looking at a lot of different things. But one of the things they looked at was the correlation between soda and depression and the study suggested that consumption of soda, diet soda, in particular, was associated with an increased chance of depression and a clinical diagnosis of depression. They found, interestingly enough, that soda drinkers overall were 30% more likely to be depressed, but diet soda added another 22 percentage points of risk into the equation. And I want to clarify, correlation is not necessarily causation. I think that's important to understand. But there seemed to be a strong correlation therebetween drinking soda and depression. Something to consider.

Michelle Graves:
Do they talk at all about quantity?

Kyle Case:
In some of the studies, they talk specifically about quantity. In others, they didn't specifically mention that.

Michelle Graves:
I'm just asking because you know [crosstalk 00:04:31] those vitamins. Do you know that vitamin brand called One A Day? That's kind of what I adhere to. So in the scope of things, how bad am I? We'll get some advice probably on that later in the show.

Kyle Case:
Potentially [crosstalk 00:04:45]. Let me run through a few of these other things about diet soda that I thought was interesting. Diet soda drinkers have a tendency to have lower bone density. They did a study in 2006 where they studied women who drank diet soda and they found that they had a significantly lower bone mineral density than those who abstained. And as we know, low, bone mineral density can set you up for osteoporosis later on in life, so that's a consideration.

Kyle Case:
They found that diet soda could potentially interfere with your natural gut bacteria. And we know how important a healthy gut is. Not only is it important for digestive comfort, but other aspects of your health as well are affected by gut bacteria. Some evidence suggests that healthy gut bacteria has an effect on your energy levels, your immunity, and even your mental health. So you want to have a healthy gut. Diet soda may disrupt things when it comes to a healthy gut. A study published in the Journal of Nature showed that artificial sweeteners may alter the type as well as the function of the bacteria in your gut microbiome. Additional, aspartame, however you want to pronounce that, decreases the activity of certain enzymes in your gut. So something to consider as you're downing your diet soda every day or every other day or once a week or whatever it is.

Kyle Case:
They also found that drinking diet soda puts you at a higher risk for hypertension. So diet soda drinkers may be more likely to experience high blood pressure than those who avoid diet soda according to a study conducted on adolescents. Frequent consumption of diet soda drinks was correlated with increased blood pressure. So there's kind of some serious things here that we're talking about.

Michelle Graves:
Definitely. It's a killer.

Kyle Case:
They say that drinking too much diet soda can be bad for your kidneys. This is according to the National Kidney Foundation. Diet soda could be bad news for your kidneys. They say that one study shows that women who drink several diet sodas a day showed a significant decline in kidney function and you want your kidneys to work.

Michelle Graves:
It's kind of important.

Kyle Case:
Yeah. We want our kidneys to work. They filter out the toxins from our bodies, so it's an important organ that we have. Drinking too much diet soda could be a problem there. Listen to this one, this is talking about quantity as well, Michelle.

Kyle Case:
Just one diet soda a day boosts your risk of a heart attack.

Michelle Graves:
Oh, see, that's what I'm talking about.

Kyle Case:
So this is according to a study from the University of Miami.

Michelle Graves:
Now you're speaking to me.

Kyle Case:
Yeah, regularly drinking diet soda can significantly escalate your risk of a heart attack they say. Regular soda drinkers who opted for the sugary drink instead did not have as strong a risk. So, I don't know if the lesson here is to drink sugary soda necessarily. I think water's a better choice, but [crosstalk 00:07:35].

Michelle Graves:
Well, quite frankly, the reason I drink diet is that I don't like the taste of sugary substance.

Kyle Case:
Interesting.

Michelle Graves:
Because I do try to watch my sugars and you know it's interesting in nutrition trends how really those sweeteners took the place of sugar and now we're finding out they're so much worse than the sugar itself.

Kyle Case:
In a lot of ways, that seems to be the case right? I know a lot of people who actually don't like the artificial taste of the artificial sweeteners, but they're drinking it because they think it's better for them or whatever. I got two more things real quick, then we're going to get to our guest because I know she's going to want to weigh in on this.

Kyle Case:
Too much diet soda can give you brain damage. This is according to a study-

Michelle Graves:
Oh, that's the problem.

Kyle Case:
This is according to a study from Boston University. Diet soda drinkers are up to three times more likely to develop Alzheimer's or dementia that people who don't drink diet soda. You'd be better off loading up your diet with foods that can protect you from Alzheimer's and leave the sodas behind obviously.

Kyle Case:
The last one, in that same study, they found that diet soda increases your risk of stroke as well. So, there's a lot of things going on there with your diet sodas. Just things to consider right?

Michelle Graves:
Yeah. I mean they're going to have to give it up or at some point, jump off a bridge. I gotcha.

Kyle Case:
So I feel like I didn't really convince you.

Michelle Graves:
No. No. I don't need convincing, I just need to stop. That was very good to hear and I think will help a lot of people. I mean, we have a problem with soda in general. I think if we could get it out of our diets, we'd all be better off.

Kyle Case:
I think we all know-

Michelle Graves:
100%.

Kyle Case:
As you said, we all know some of these risks, whether we knew all of them or not, we know that maybe it's not good for us. We know that water's probably the best beverage for us, but yeah, it's out there. It's definitely out there.

Michelle Graves:
That is very informative. Thank you for sharing.

Kyle Case:
Today's guest is interestingly enough, is a registered dietician. Christie Benton received her degree in dietetics and food administration from California State, Long Beach. She currently provides her services at the Live Well Center at Dixie Regional. Christie, I wonder if you have any thoughts on any of those things that I just shared.

Christie Benton:
Oddly enough, I do.

Kyle Case:
I thought you might. I thought you might.

Christie Benton:
What are the chances? So sugar is just a really hot topic and of course, if we downplay the intake of sugar, people are going, well, what am I supposed to do if I need something sweet? And of course, we turn to the artificial sweeteners and there's always going to be some controversy. There's always going to study out there saying, this is what we found when you consumed these numerous artificial sweeteners that are out there.

Christie Benton:
But I think you came to the right point at the very end of your conversation is that, are there better choices out there? And I think rather than looking at all the negative, we want to go, what's good? What would be the best hydration? And of course, we want to turn to water and leave the sugar-sweetened beverages alone. And if you're not a fan of the diet, leave them alone. No one's going to twist your arm.

Christie Benton:
But, having said that Kyle, you know, everything that is generally recognized as safe and aspartame has passed that test, it's in there and it will be okay to consume that. But there are certainly members of the population who are allergic or have other issues. The headache is very common. The taste that people don't like is very common. And as we go forward, you're right, we may see trends in impacts in our health as we consume more.

Christie Benton:
Sometimes it's a little early. Having said that, when ... Great big headlines make the news, it's like oh my gosh, I'm giving up my soda and I'm like, you're going to have to go a little further before I give them up.

Kyle Case:
Well, your point is right on and of course, as we mentioned correlation is not necessarily causation. So you know, these studies come out and they're looking for things and they're finding a lot of correlations. It's worth noting that as you said the FDA is still approving these substances, until or if that changes, they're still there and available. But it is interesting that every day we're finding new things and different studies find different things. And of course, different, additional studies contradict the studies that were just shown. So there's this whole jungle of health and wellness that we're trying to navigate through.

Michelle Graves:
I think another consideration is quantity. I mean, I think if we look back on history years ago, people had a little four-ounce soda once in a while for a special occasion and it wasn't a big deal. And now we're consuming liters every day and we can say that about all sugary and processed foods and I'm sure you'll speak more on it, but I think maybe the concern has really become a quantity [crosstalk 00:12:36] issue instead of safety-

Christie Benton:
Sometimes it's the dose that makes the poison.

Kyle Case:
Right. Exactly. And I think that could be true for anything, right?

Kyle Case:
So today Christie, we wanted to talk a little bit about added sugar. We talked about some of the potential risks of artificial sweeteners. Now I just want to talk about what we all consider as the sweetener, sugar. And specifically added sugars. It's everywhere.

Christie Benton:
Everywhere.

Kyle Case:
So give us an idea of added sugar and where do we find added sugar in our diets?

Christie Benton:
Well, if you look at what the sources are, generally speaking, we always think it's just table sugar. It's sucrose. It's what did the manufacturer add to the cookie? The sodas, the cakes, the ketchup, the yogurt. All these products that we take for granted as okay. I will put ketchup on my hamburger, but did it really need to have sugar added to it? And those are the ones that are being highlighted these days as do we really need these in the products we're consuming.

Christie Benton:
What would be the difference if I didn't put sugar in my ketchup? I don't know. I've not tasted ketchup without some kind of sweetener. But they are getting a lot of attention, headlines, you mentioned the sugar-sweetened beverages and the fact that so many of our go-to foods, and I'm not necessarily pointing fingers to anybody in this room, but a lot of folks go to foods are sugar-laden snacks.

Kyle Case:
Sure they are. Yeah.

Christie Benton:
Hi-C or whatever. Ding-Dongs and things like this, and we're getting a lot of sugar. If you look at the history, sugar at one time was treated sort of like a very expensive herb or spice. It wasn't common. And then all of a sudden, I would hate to say it got to the U.S., and it just exploded, but it kind of looks like that. It hit the U.S. market and our growth in sugary food intake just exploded in the latter part of the 20th century. It's kind of leveled off now, but the fat was demonized. You couldn't [crosstalk 00:14:47] eat anything.

Kyle Case:
We went through this real trend in the 80s-ish. In that decade there, where fat was just horrible, horrible, horrible, and so a lot of manufacturers of processed foods removed all that fat, which is kind of what makes things taste good.

Christie Benton:
Another one, yeah.

Kyle Case:
And they replaced it with sweeteners [crosstalk 00:15:08] or with sugars, right?

Christie Benton:
Or white flour. Yeah.

Kyle Case:
Now we're trying to figure out the balance thereof that. It seems like there's an adjustment that's trying to take place.

Christie Benton:
It has. I don't know if it's just a general population observation, but as we just alluded to, at the end of the 20th century, fat was just downplayed. You could get low-fat everything. Fat-free this, fat-free that. And as we cleared most of the fats names, not all of them, as you said, sugar rose in consumption and then studies started to come out with what are we doing to our bodies with all of this sugar? Under normal consumption, and don't ask me what normal consumption-

Kyle Case:
That was my next question, Christie.

Christie Benton:
Normally, if a person were to consume ... Put a little sugar on their cereal and they had yogurt in the afternoon, I mean these are not going to hurt them. It's the folks who are eating sugar-coated cereal and their yogurt is laden with sugar and they have to drink Hi-C and sugar-sweetened beverages because that's why they do. And their snack foods are going to ... As I said, Hostess cupcakes. I'm sure these are brand names [crosstalk 00:16:24].

Christie Benton:
But all these sugar-laden foods, those folks are tipping the scales for the overabundance of sugar intake. And in those folks, we're going to see some effects. Normally speaking, probably not.

Michelle Graves:
Well, I think too, one of the concerns is that so much of the sugar is hidden in foods that most Americans deem healthy. You know, peanut butter [crosstalk 00:16:48] and yogurt and things that you would just think are health foods, are really laden with sugar and that just accumulates in the consumption of then having a sugary snack for dessert and things like that.

Christie Benton:
People do get hooked on sugar. Then certainly, that's their go-to treat no matter what time of the day. But you're right, it's that hidden sugar that seems to be the issue. Now obviously, if you're eating sugar-coated cereal, it's not hidden. It's in plain sight.

Kyle Case:
I don't think any of us are surprised that Twinkies have sugar in them. Or a cake or cookies right? But there a lot of things that do have added sugar that many of us would not be aware of.

Christie Benton:
I think you'd be surprised if you started reading labels, how much sugar is the second or third ingredient [crosstalk 00:17:38]. A lot of the foods that we eat. Creamers, I mean we love our flavored ... Well, a lot of folks love their flavored coffees, but they don't grasp that the flavor is pretty much fat and sugar and some of these are 700 calories. It's not the coffee. The coffee's got no calories. It's the stuff we added. And I start my day with one of those and you've got several hundred calories of sugar right there.

Kyle Case:
Right on you are first ... Beverage of the day, without even really realizing it. Right? That's the hard part. What are some of the health consequences that come with too much-added sugar?

Christie Benton:
The biggest one, and I'm going to say the most obvious, is that over-consumption of sugar, if it leads to an over-consumption of calories, then it goes down the pathway to the extra weight. And so when we see the extra weight, then, of course, that leads to the increased cardiovascular risk, the increased risk for diabetes. The increased risk for certain cancers. So it's linked there to obesity, although that overconsumption of calories can come from anything. Right now, we're seeing a lot of them come from sugars.

Kyle Case:
In theory, yeah, they can come from anything. But most people are not consuming too many calories with their broccoli and their carrots.

Christie Benton:
Unfortunately, now.[crosstalk 00:19:08]

Kyle Case:
-Getting too many calories, it's probably not from whole fruits and vegetables.

Christie Benton:
It's the whole pound of broccoli.

Kyle Case:
[crosstalk 00:19:17] from the cakes and cookies and the treats and the drinks and the things that we are consuming, right?

Christie Benton:
Those unconscious or conscious grabs that we make. We do in to getting gas and guess what's sitting right there? Giant cookies or sweet rolls or whatever. And there's nothing like grabbing two or three, putting them in there with your sugar-sweetened beverages as you dash out the door for your next family adventure. We don't think of putting something healthier in the car before we even get to the gas station for example. And we could certainly take responsibility for ourselves and our family if we did that, think ahead.

Christie Benton:
And we've talked about this before. Plan ahead, put the stuff in the car, put the fruit in stuff, put the veggies ready to go. Wash them, put them in baggies as opposed to, oh look, it's a giant [crosstalk 00:20:03] churro. Exactly.

Kyle Case:
That's so true. Now you mentioned diabetes. That's such a hot topic today in our society. A lot of people being diagnosed, especially with Type 2 Diabetes, that's connected to weight gain or whatever. In your estimation and the ways that you understand it, does sugar cause diabetes, or is sugar like the periphery part that it leads to.

Christie Benton:
It's certainly a factor and I'm going to come back to say that, if you looked at a study and you overfed rat with sugar, it's not going to be the sugar that's causing diabetes. It's the cause and effect. It is the adipose tissue, the extra fat resulting from the extra calories, we get insulin resistance. We get pre-diabetes and then it goes into Type 2.

Christie Benton:
So again, I don't want to bring it back to weight, because that really isn't the topic. But in this case, it's that weight that seems to be related to the increased risk with again, the cardiovascular issues, even hypertension. The brain issues that some people are feeling, memories and so forth and certainly diabetes. It's so close to weight-related that it's ridiculous.

Kyle Case:
Yeah. So we've talked a lot today about things we need to avoid and the negative effects of including some of these substances in our diet. Whether that's artificial sweeteners or sugar itself. Back to Michelle's question. How do we break the cycle? How do we get out of that cycle? What are things that we can do on a positive side that can have health benefits and help us avoid some of these substances?

Christie Benton:
We talk about planning and that's one thing that's very key. But you're right about reading labels. We like to think and hope that our manufacturers are truthful in those labels and ingredients are listed certainly by weight predominance. What's going to happen is this added sugar, since it's been such a hot topic now since the turn of the century, is going to be singled out on your labels. And if you've got a food label and every food out there will, your added sugar, what did the manufacturer add to this product is going to be singled out. And that's going to be very crucial for our consumers. For our public. If they would just pick it up and read the labels. Do a little comparison shopping. Yogurt's great, but if you've got 12 grams of added sugar and this one's only got two. I'm going over here.

Michelle Graves:
Okay. So I have a quick question about that because I just did read those labels because I was buying some liquid yogurt for my daughter and I got her the least amount of sugar because they have a lot of sugar in them. And she took one sip of it and she said, "Oh. I can't drink this."

Kyle Case:
They definitely taste different.

Michelle Graves:
Do we just need to get used to it?

Christie Benton:
Yes.

Michelle Graves:
As a population? That's what I think. Or is there anything ... I mean, I guess she could put granola in it.

Christie Benton:
Put a little granola or a little fruit. Fruits are naturally sweet. I hate that term naturally sweet, but the fruit does not have added sugar unless the manufacturer added it in the manufacturing. So fresh berries of any kind. Fresh cut up fruit, fresh cut up melon. Add it to the yogurt and you'll start getting that natural sweetness.

Michelle Graves:
But we really need to get rid of kind of that taste in our brain chemistry that says everything has to taste sweet, right?

Christie Benton:
It's weird, but it comes back to survival. But that's a whole other topic.

Michelle Graves:
Next episode.

Christie Benton:
Yeah. Next episode. You're not going to get rid of the sweetness on your tongue. I'm sorry. It's going to be there. But you're right, you can make better choices. You can enhance the choices that you make with the flavors you enjoy. An example might be salsa. Something like that, where you're picking up a hot, spicy type of thing. And lead yourself away from the sugars. You can do this. And I'll tell you, people who have done this are happier.

Kyle Case:
You'll be glad that you did.

Christie Benton:
They're telling themselves, they are happier.

Kyle Case:
Christie, thank you so much for joining us today.

Christie Benton:
Always a pleasure.

Kyle Case:
I really appreciate your expertise, and you giving us a lot of things to consider and think about. Thank you so much.

Christie Benton:
Thank you.

Kyle Case:
Michelle.

Michelle Graves:
Hi.

Kyle Case:
It's June.

Michelle Graves:
I know.

Kyle Case:
It's time. It's time to register for the Huntsman World Senior Games [crosstalk 00:24:29] if you're interested.

Michelle Graves:
There's no better time.

Kyle Case:
If you're interested in competing, being a part of the games, now is the time. In fact, we've registered over 6,600 athletes so far, which is really, really good for this time of year. If you want to be a part of the games, it's very easy to do. All you have to do is visit seniorgames.net and click on the register tab. The process is simple, it's fast, it's secure. And before you know it, you'll be ready to become one of our more than 11,000 athletes who will complete this year. The dates of the games are October 7 through the 19th for 2019. So put them on your calendar and be a part of it.

Michelle Graves:
It's my first year to compete. I'm very excited.

Kyle Case:
I know. It's exciting. So, be like Michelle and register and be a part of the games this year. Remember also to tune in live next to and every Thursday at 5:30 p.m. mountain time on AM 1450 or FM 93.1 for the Huntsman World Senior Games and Active Life.

Kyle Case:
Of course, you can subscribe to our podcast pretty much anywhere that podcasts are found. Our inspirational quote comes from the great American poet, Walt Whitman, Michelle. He said, "Keep your face always toward the sunshine and the shadows will fall behind you."

Kyle Case:
Until next Thursday, stay active.

Michelle Graves:
Goodbye.