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fizzy drinks

Once hailed as the 'healthy' alternative to sugar laden fizzy drinks, diet substitutes were the drink of choice for the calorie-counters among us.

However, recently it seems that consumers have fallen out of love with the 'sweet' stuff after a number of studies found links between artificial sweeteners and higher risks of dementia and stroke.

And now, new research has suggested that diet fizzy drinks may contribute to weight gain.

In 2014, both American Diabetes Association and The American Heart Association gave their stamp of approval to artificial sweeteners, but not everyone was convinced.

Following the statements, a group of international researchers set out to determine whether or not low-calorie sugar substitutes really lived up to the hype.

Meghan Azad, a researcher at the University of Manitoba, and others reviewed dozens of studies about the long-term health effects of sugar substitutes and identified a very interesting common thread.

The study found that not only did artificial sweeteners have an adverse effect on weight management, but people who drank them often had an increased body mass index and risk of developing cardiovascular disease.

Speaking to The Washington Post, Meghan explained:

“I think originally it was calories were the problem, and we've made something that was zero calories, so we're good. But we're learning that it's not just about the calories.”

What's more, even if fizzy drinks aren't your thing, there's a chance you may be inadvertently consuming artificial sweeteners in products such as yoghurt and granola.

“We need more evidence from better quality studies to know for sure the cause and effect, but there does seem to be at least a question about the daily consumption of these drinks,” she said.

It should be noted that until such studies are conducted, researchers suggest taking these results with a pinch of salt.

However, after concluding that “nonnutritive sweeteners (are) significantly associated with modest long-term increases,” it might be worth keeping on eye on your consumption in the meantime.

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OK, so arguably we still have another few weeks of eating and drinking with abandon before having to consider New Year detoxes and stabs at 'clean' diets. 

However, there is also no doubt that sugar is by now a year-round issue. 

Indeed, during 2016 the backlash against it really picked up pace – so much so that family-friendly and health-conscious brands are scrambling to reduce the sugar content in their produce.

From simply cutting down the amount to finding new innovative processes, manufacturers are taking the matter seriously.

Just recently, and partially in response to the Irish government's A Healthy Weight For Ireland plan, Tesco released a statement confirming it has reduced the amount of sugar in all its own-brand soft drinks.

The World Health Organisation advises that our sugar intake should not exceed 5 percent of our total daily calories, including the sugar “hidden” in the foods we eat.

This represents about five to six teaspoons daily. Given that the average Irish person consumes an astonishing 24 teaspoons every single day, there is still a lot to be done to reach the WHO recommendations.

Tesco isn’t the only brand trying to cut down the amount of sugar they use in their food. Between 2000 and 2013, Nestlé reduced the amount of sugar in its products by a third, especially in its range of children’s food.

Recently, the food giant also announced that its in-house scientists had found a method to cut sugar in their chocolate by as much as 40 percent. The exact process, which is being kept a secret, supposedly alters the structure of sugar, making it taste sweeter in smaller amounts; a reduced-sugar chocolate could hit the shelves as early as 2018.

“We want people to get used to a different taste, a taste that would be more natural,” Stefan Catsicas of Nestle explained in an interview with Bloomberg. “We really want to be the drivers of the solution.”

And in the UK, Lucozade, Orangina, and Ribena will all also reduce their sugar content reduced by half in order to avoid forthcoming tax penalties.

According to DailyMail.com, coffee chains Costa, Starbucks, and Caffe Nero are also trying to cut the sugar from their festive drinks, which contain up to 80g of sugar per cup.

In Ireland, we have another year or so before the arrival of the so-called sugar tax: during the Budget 2017 announcement in October, Finance Minister Michael Noonan confirmed that a tax a sugary drinks will be imposed from the spring of 2018 – in line with similar legislation in the UK.

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Knowing something is bad for you doesn't necessarily stop you from doing it, which is why you probably drink fizzy drinks from time to time. 

And while you'll be hard-pressed to find someone who'd recommend drinking a can of Diet Coke a day, new research suggests that it's not one can that will put your health at risk, but two or more regular servings a day could really tamper with your health – especially when it comes to your heart. 

A Swedish study published in the medical journal, Heart, tracked soda consumption and risk of heart failure among more than 42,000 individuals over 12 years.

The individuals who drank at least two fizzy drink servings a day had a 23 percent greater risk of developing heart failure during the study.

However, what the researchers didn't mention is if there's a difference between sugar-sweetened beverages (like regular Coca-Cola) and artificially sweetened beverages (like Diet Coke), so rather to be safe than sorry, both diet and regular sodas appear to have an equal risk with heart failure.

We think we'll stick to water now…

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For some time now we have been told that excessive sugary drinks can cause some serious health problems for us.

If you ever needed some motivation for cutting fizzy drinks out of your life entirely, then you need to see this latest infographic. The Renegade Pharmacist website has revealed your body’s reaction for an hour after you take your first sugar filled sip.

The former UK-based pharmacist included a seven stop breakdown in a blog post.

Speaking to the Daily Mail Niraj Naik said when he worked as a community pharmacist he had great success helping people get off long –term medication for blood pressure and diabetes.

“I created my own system to help my patients where I would write little shopping lists for people based on their conditions. My first advice to them would be to do a simple swap, replacing fizzy drinks with water with fresh lemon or lime juice.”

His attempt to tackle people consuming too much sugar easily explains how damaging excess sugar is and how we often don’t even realise the damaging effects.

He explains in the first 10 minutes you consume 100% of your recommended daily sugar intake but “don’t immediately vomit” because they have added “phosphoric acid” that cuts down the flavour so you don’t notice.

After 45 minutes, the effects of sugar on your brain are something similar to how heroin works according to Mr Naik.

Well, we might just be reconsidering what we choose as a Friday treat from now on.

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