Eliz Greene

Does diet soda and other artificially sweetened foods and drinks help maintain a healthy weight or hurt?

A healthy weight is essential to heart health, but consuming diet foods and drinks may be working against you. Sweetness is a natural cue to the body, signaling incoming calories and the need to ramp up digestive processes. A study in the Journal of Behavioral Neuroscience found artificial sweeteners appear to short circuit this natural cue. Rather than ramping up, your body begins to ignore the sweetness cue and does not process extra calories or signal fullness. As a result, you not only use less of the calories you take in, causing more fat to be produced, but also take in more calories without the signal of fullness. Don’t let your body be tricked into gaining weight and increasing your risk of heart disease.

Here are some tips to kick the artificial sweetener habit:

Ban the packet:

Rather than dumping chemicals into your coffee or tea, sweeten it with a small amount of sugar instead. Choose natural brown sugar with just 15 calories per teaspoon which is more flavorful and less processed than regular table sugar. Alternatively, try a sprinkle of cinnamon or nutmeg or a splash of real vanilla.

Treat soda as a treat rather than a beverage:
One regular soda per day as a treat likely won’t derail your healthy habits, however drinking soda with meals is a problem. Your body is unable to process the rapid intake of calories and creates more fat. Drinking diet soda with meals shuts off your fullness cues and will cause you to eat more. If you crave something bubbly and sweet, try sparkling water with fruit juice or Izze as a healthy alternative.

Indulge naturally:

Unless you are diabetic, skip the sugar-free sweets. In addition to containing chemicals your body doesn’t need and can’t process, you are training your body to forget how to process calorie-rich foods. If you want a treat, choose a small amount of something delicious and indulgent. Enjoy your treat and let your body react naturally.

Read the label:

Many “lite” varieties of foods contain artificial sweeteners. A healthy choice, such as yogurt, turns into a problem when it is sweetened with saccharin, aspartame, sucralose, neotame, and acesulfame potassium.

Be patient:
Changing habits can be challenging, but stick with it. Your heart will thank you.

Eliz Greene is the author of The Busy Woman’s Guide to a Healthy Heart. Drawing on her experience surviving a massive heart attack while seven-months pregnant with twins, struggling to lose the 80 pounds gained during her pregnancy, and her background as an adaptive movement specialist, Eliz developed simple strategies and tips to help other busy women be more active, eat better and manage your stress.

As the Director of the Embrace Your Heart Wellness Initiative, Eliz travels the country energizing and inspiring audiences in keynotes and workshops on women’s heart health. She writes one of the top 100 health and wellness blogs. Find more at www.EmbraceYourHeart.com.


About Eliz Greene

Eliz Greene survived a heart attack at age 35 while seven months pregnant with twins. Her down-to-earth strategies to manage stress and improve heart health and reduce stress are used by thousands of busy people all over the world. She is a motivational wellness speaker, author, and job stress researcher. Visit elizgreene.com to book Eliz for your next event.

5 Responses to “Artificial Sweeteners can hurt your heart!”

  • I have had lone atrial Fib for four years now. For the first two years, I thought it was caffiene that triggered my Afib. As a result, I went the whole year of 2011 without caffiene. I saw a significant decrease in the amount of times my heart went into afib. From 20 in 2010 to 7 in 2011. In 2012 during a period of little sleep, I started drinking coffee again. My drink of choice was sugar free vanilla latte. In just March 2012 alone, I was in afib 7 times. Over March and April I tried small cups, switching to 12 oz Diet Mt Dew which put me in adib three times a week. No matter what combination I tried, it would lead to afib. I quit in all caffiene in June thinking that any kind of caffiene was the trigger. I had almost doubled my afib episodes in 2012 over 2010. In fact, I was in afib so often, I made an appt with my cardiologist for an ablation procedure. A couple weeks later I read of a person who had atrial fib believed to be caused from artificial sweetners. I never thought that would be causing the afib. All of my coffee were latte’s and were Sugar Free (From McDonalds, Starbucks, etc). To make a long story short. I now drink coffee EVERY day. I drink caffience soda almost as often. I have regular sugar latte’s. I avoid ALL artifical sweetners and since July 1 and have not had ONE episode of afib. Nearly 5 months. I am convinced Artificial Sweetners is the trigger. Just this week, my cardiologist put me as PRN. No more scheduled appts. No more meds. And for me, no more sugar substitutes.

    • I have suspected the artificial sweeteners as well. Aspartame, sucralose, saccharin, all the same affect. I am type one diabetic. I think I would rather use more insulin and use sugar than have thes AFIB episodes.

  • In response to Michael about his atrial fib. You’re right artificial sweeteners can do this but something else you need to be aware of is hyperthyroid. You would have other symptoms in advance like shaky hands (maybe) but as time goes on you will have atrial fib (few instances at first then more as the years go by – these atrial fib episodes will be triggered by coffee, chocolate, cold water and whatever else your body sees as a stimulant. the atrial fib episodes will last from 5 minutes to 8 or more hours. I was eventually lucky to have a doctor discover my hyperthyroid by accident (I was treated as a heart patient for 3 years before another doctor discovered the root cause; by then my thyroid was way, way hyperthyroid)

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