Gut Microbiota and Nutrition

Gut Microbiota and Nutrition

Gut Microbiota and Nutrition

Human gut is home to many species of microbes, collectively referred as ‘gut microbiota’. They can be both symbiotic and pathogenic in nature, coexisting together without causing any trouble. Sometimes this balance could be disturbed due to infectious illnesses, unhealthy diets patterns, prolonged use of antibiotics, sleep fragmentation and short sleep duration, etc. It can cause dysbiosis, stopping these normal interactions. Evidence suggests that the gut microbiota plays a crucial role in digestion and absorption of nutrients and thus impacting the health and nutrition status of an individual. In this article, we will discuss this in detail.

                                                                                                                                Richa Pande

In our body, digestion and absorption of nutrients takes place primarily in the stomach and small intestine. Gut microbes play a crucial role in digestion and absorption of macronutrients. They also play a critical role in fermentation of dietary fibre for the production of Short Chain Fatty Acids (SCFA), which are absorbed and utilized for different processes of the body. The gut microbiota is also important for synthesis of vitamin B12 in the colon, and facilitates the synthesis of nutrients such as thiamine, folate, biotin, riboflavin, and pantothenic acid. Gut microbes have been found be helpful in also helping us to meet our daily requirement of vitamin K. Gut microbiota is also linked with release of many gut hormones that controls our appetite and satiety levels thus impacting our weight status. 

Gut Dysbiosis  

Several factors including diet, physical activity, genetics, drugs, caffeine, alcohol, and psychological status can play a role in influencing the gut microbiota. It further impacts the digestion, bioavailability, and absorption of the nutrients, thus impacting our health and nutrition status. 

Imbalance in the gut bacteria is referred to as dysbiosis. It causes a variety of digestive disturbance symptoms, such as indigestion, bloating, cramps, diarrhoea, and constipation.

Causes of Gut Dysbiosis 

  • Diet modifications such as increased consumption of more proteins, sugar, or food additives
  • Stress
  • Infections
  • Alcohol 
  • Smoking
  • Antibiotics 
  • Hygiene Practices
  • Vitamin D deficiency
  • Poor Dental Hygiene

Source: Role of the gut microbiota in nutrition and health, Ana M Valdes et.al 

Dietary Tips to Correct Gut Dysbiosis

Gut dysbiosis can be initially treated through medications and a healthy diet can help heal the gut to its normal stage and enable it to function normally. It takes at least a couple of weeks of healthy diet changes before gut dysbiosis is healed.

  1. Have fermented foods- Fermented foods have probiotics i.e., good gut bacteria. Probiotics stay in our digestive tract and helps in improving the digestion, absorption and keeping the gut healthier. Examples of fermented foods are yogurt, kombucha-tea, fermented soybeans, fermented cabbage, etc. When buying yogurt, go for the ones with live and active cultures of probiotics.
  2. Have green leafy vegetables– Green leafy vegetables are a good source of insoluble fibre which helps in normalization of the bowel movement.
  3. Add fruits to your diet– Have fruits daily. Pectin found in apple is a soluble fibre which is good for constipation, diarrhoea, and reduces the risk of intestinal infections. Papaya contains papain, a type of digestive enzyme that helps in breaking down the protein fibre.
  4. Have fibre rich foods– Apart from fruits and vegetables, whole grains and pulses are also good sources of fibre. Dietary fibre helps in constipation as the make the stool bulky. Dome grains fibre are prebiotic in nature which promote the growth of healthy gut bacteria. To increase the fibre intake, you can also add different types of seeds and nuts can be added to the diet either as snack or can be added to the smoothies.
  5. Some spices and herbs are good for the digestion process. They help in relaxing the muscles in the digestive tract and help with bloating and cramping, nausea, heartburn etc. Example- ginger, mint, fennel seeds.
  6. Have polyphenol rich foods such as green tea, red wine and dark chocolate which are good for your gut health.
  7. Have foods rich in Omega-3 fats-Many gut problems can be attributed to gut inflammation. Having Omega-3 rich foods from salmon can reduce inflammation thus restoring the gut’s normal function.
  8. Avoid sugary and fatty foods-They  can increase the growth of unhealthy bacteria which can lead to health disorders 
  9. Avoid artificial sweeteners such as aspartame and saccharin which reduces beneficial bacteria in the intestines.
  10. Have Vitamin D rich foods and take supplements after consulting a health practitioner.
  11. Have foods rich in B-complex vitamins, such as B-6 and B-12, calcium, magnesium, beta-carotene, and zinc.
Choosing Quality Eggs

Choosing Quality Eggs

Choosing Quality Eggs

Eggs are one of nature’s most nutrient-dense foods. They are rich in essential micronutrients and provide high-quality protein. There are innumerable benefits of eating eggs regularly. Selection of eggs is simple, but presence of different varieties of eggs in the market and different health claims on egg cartons might confuse consumers. In this article, we talk all about how to choose quality eggs, and have also listed some tips that could help in safe handling of eggs.

                                                                                                                           Richa Pande

Eggs contain 13 essential vitamins and minerals and are a good source of protein of high biological values. Biological value refers to the proportion of absorbed protein from a food item which is incorporated into the proteins of the organism’s body. Eggs are one of the few dietary sources of vitamin D which has several health benefits. They are also a good source of biotin, which plays a vital role in assisting enzymes to break down fats, carbohydrates, and proteins in food. They also contain antioxidants such as lutein and zeaxanthin that help protect our body from free radicals.

The nutritive values of eggs differ from each other. The table below summarizes the nutritive values of eggs of different bird species-

 

Chemical Constituents

In (%)

Chicken Turkey

Guinea

Fowl

Quail Duck Goose
Water (%) 72.8 -75.6 71.6-75.7 71.3-74.1 73.1-76.4 68.2-71.4 68.9-72.3
Proteins (%) 12.8 – 13.4 12.6-13.6 12.8-14.2 12.5-13.4 13.1-14.2 13.4-14.3
Fats (%) 10.5 – 11.8 10.8-12.6 11.2-12.8 10.6-11.7 13.8-15.0 12.4-13.6
Carbohydrates (%) 0.3 – 1.0 0.6-0.8 0.7-0.9 0.8-1.0 1.1-1.3 1.1-1.3
Ash (%) 0.8 – 1.0 0.7-0.9 0.7-0.1 1.0-1.2 0.9-1.0 1.0-1.4

Egg Yolk Vs Egg White 

Many health-conscious people discard egg yolk and prefer only the egg white portion of the egg as it is rich in proteins, and has very less amounts of fat and cholesterol. But it must be noted that fat-soluble vitamins like vitamin A & D are present only in the egg yolk portion. The yolk also contains many essential B-Complex vitamins.

Health Claims on Egg Cartons: What do they mean?

  • Organic Eggs: If you see a Jaivik Bharat Logo or USFDA Organic Logo on any egg carton, it means that the birds were given only organic feed and it had no fungicides, herbicides, commercial fertilizers, and pesticides. It also ensures that the birds were not given any antibiotics.
  • Antibiotic-Free: Usually, birds are given antibiotics in their feed, to prevent any disease in animal farms. Constant use of these antibiotics leads to antibiotics residue in birds, leading to anti-microbial resistance in the population. Birds raised organically are not given antibiotics. It is always recommended to pick antibiotics free eggs and other meat products. 
  • Omega-3: Eggs labelled to have Omega-3 are the ones from birds that are fed with Omega-3 fatty acids rich feeds. The Omega-3 fatty acids are known to have several health benefits.
  • No added hormones: Farmers aren’t allowed to give their egg-laying hens hormones, so “no added hormones” is basically a marketing term. Because all eggs could technically be labelled “no added hormones”. Don’t spend extra cash looking for a carton based on this. 
  • Brown vs. White: Whether the egg is brown or white has no bearing on its nutritive values. Different breeds of laying hens lay different colours of eggs. Eggs can be white, brown, and tan, depending on the breed. 

Myths about Eggs

Egg yolk should be discarded due to the cholesterol content 

A single egg contains about 180-200 mg of cholesterol which is over half of the recommended daily intake of 300 mg, and this is a concern for many health experts which is why they refrain from recommending regular daily consumption of eggs. It has been found that eating egg yolk affects different people, differently i.e., the response to eating whole eggs varies between individuals. One study suggests that in 70% of people, eggs don’t raise cholesterol at all, and in 30%, eggs can raise total and LDL cholesterol. It is recommended that individuals with genetic history of hypercholesterolemia should limit the consumption of egg yolks. Also, it is advisable to eat egg yolks in moderation. So, suppose if you are having two eggs a day, it’s better to eat one whole egg and discard the yolk of the other egg to keep the cholesterol intake in check.

If eggs are dirty, wash them to remove the dirt 

Eggs become porous when washed, hence never wash eggs. Also, due to washing, Salmonella (a kind of bacteria that causes food borne infection) can move into the inside of the egg through pores in the shell, increasing the risk of infection.

Eggs remain fresh if stored at room temperature and need not be refrigerated 

Refrigerating eggs keeps them fresh for longer duration as compared to storing them at room temperature and also minimises the risk of any bacterial growth. 

Raw eggs are better than cooked eggs and aids recovery from any disease

Never give raw eggs to anyone including pregnant woman, infants or older people as eating raw eggs enhances the risk of Salmonella infection. It should never be given in raw form to those who are seriously ill, especially when they are sick. It is preferably better to consume cooked eggs in which egg white is firm and yolk is completely thickened. Cooking eggs does not reduce the protein content or nutrients present in them to an unavailable form. 

Storage and Food Handling Tips

  • Always check the best before date before buying eggs. 
  • Don’t buy packages with cracked eggs, they are more prone to bacterial infection. If your purchased pack has a cracked egg, throw it away. 
  • Refrigerate eggs in their carton only to prevent cross-contamination. Avoid storing in side doors where the temperature varies. 
  • Cook eggs until the whites and yolks have solidified, to prevent food-borne illnesses. 
  • Try to consume cooked egg recipes within 2 hours. Don’t leave it for more than 2 hours at room temperature.
  •  Bad or rotten eggs smell bad and can taste fine.So, if an egg smells bad, throw it away.

Testing the Freshness of Eggs

If the egg floats, it indicates that it is a stale/ rotten egg. The egg might float beacause of its weak shell and fine cracks.

Healthy Workplace, Healthy You: Preparing workforce for a safe, healthy and sustainable food system through the Eat Right Campus

Healthy Workplace, Healthy You: Preparing workforce for a safe, healthy and sustainable food system through the Eat Right Campus

Healthy Workplace, Healthy You: Preparing workforce for a safe, healthy and sustainable food system through the Eat Right Campus

Apart from your own home, which place do you eat most frequently on a daily basis? If you think about it, it is likely to be your office, college or an institution that you visit regularly. In today’s fast-paced environment, a large number of working professionals and students are spending the majority of their time at the workplace or college campus. The long working hours, classes or client meetings and short deadlines are only increasing the time spent at these places with little time left for eating healthy or exercising. Hospitals and call centers have workers who spend entire days and even nights working, often at the cost of their health. When we are at work, we are not always mindful of what we eat or drink, often resorting to unhealthy food, drinking excessive tea or coffee or even skipping meals altogether.

                                                                                        Shri Arun Singhal, CEO, FSSAI

In addition to this, safe and healthy options are often not available at most workplaces, leaving no choice but to rely upon what is available to satisfy one’s hunger. Hence, there is a need to ensure that the food we eat at campuses is safe and healthy, given that diet related diseases such as obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure and heart diseases are rising at an alarming rate.

To address these concerns and support campuses for ensuring availability of safe, healthy and sustainable diets for their employees, students, patients, inmates, etc., the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has introduced a nation-wide programme called the ‘Eat Right Campus’ (ERC). This initiative has been launched with two objectives, one is to create an environment of safe and healthy food habits for people in various campuses through compliance to a set of well-defined parameters; and continuously reiterating the message of “mindful eating habits’ through awareness activities within the campus premises for continuous behavioural change. 

Under this initiative, benchmarks have been created on four different parameters based on which campuses are evaluated and certified as ‘Eat Right Campus’. These parameters include food safety measures, steps to ensure provision of healthy and environmentally sustainable food and building awareness among individuals in the campus to make the right food choices.

Steps Involved in Certification of Campus

Why it is useful for a food service establishment within the campus premises?

A detailed checklist has been created based on the above four parameters, outlining the best practices to be followed by the food handlers within the campuses. This goes beyond the mandatory requirement of licensing and registration of food service providers within the campuses. The certification is a powerful tool that ensures that food cooked/ handled/ served and stored in the campuses is safe and hygienic. Further, it ensures that food vendors comply with food safety and hygiene standards as per Schedule 4 of the Food Safety and Standards (FSS) Act, 2006. Additionally, the third party audit/ hygiene rating audit of the campus kitchen provides a sense of recognition to the campus, thereby reducing the chances of frequent inspection visits by the food safety department in that area.

Benefits to Campuses

Eat Right Campus recognizes the efforts of a campus towards ensuring the health of its people, adds prestige and brand value to its name and inspire others to adopt similar best practices. In particular, it provides a unique opportunity to workplaces to showcase their efforts around employee health and wellbeing. This serves as a key incentive to attract new talent and top performers, thereby boosting high quality recruitment and employee performance. Investing in the health and wellbeing of employees also reduces absenteeism and healthcare costs and ultimately serves to build the reputation of the organization. Many workplaces strive to acquire a high rank in global workplace related ratings/indices. The ERC certification similarly aims to create a sense of competition among campuses across the country towards raising the standards of food safety, nutrition and food sustainability.

With as many as 1346 certified campuses now, this initiative is targeting varied sectors like government organisations, private workplaces, colleges/ universities, tea estates, etc.  Recently, a wide range of Government bodies like Anganwadi Centres, Police stations, Jails, Legislative Assembly, Delhi, etc. are covered under the ambit of Eat Right Campus initiative. As this initiative grows to include all campuses in the country, it will contribute to the productivity and economic growth of the country while also safeguarding people’s health.

FSSAI is following a holistic approach by engaging with various institutions of national importance, government colleges, universities, IITs, IIMs, hospitals, and Central government ministries, to enrol them into the programme. Additionally, the Food Authority is working with various industry associations to enrol their member companies under this programme. Similarly, food service establishments like hotels (with a separate staff canteen/ kitchen) are being sensitized to join this initiative and contribute to the productivity and economic growth of our country while also safeguarding people’s health.

Eat Right Challenge

Eat Right Challenge

Eat Right Challenge

Healthy Food

Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), has initiated the Eat Right India movement. The movement is based on three key themes, ‘if it’s not safe, it’s not food’ (safe food), ‘food should not only serve the palate but is also meant for body and mind’ (healthy diets) and ‘food has to be good both for people and the planet’ (sustainable diets).

                                                                                                                      Shri Arun Singhal, CEO, FSSAI

The Eat Right Challenge was envisioned as a competition among districts and cities to recognize their efforts in adopting and scaling up various initiatives under Eat Right India. Further, it was meant to motivate States/UTs to improve performance and encourage others to join.

Salient Features

The Eat Right India Movement is working on three key themes through a graded “Food Systems Approach” (FSA) to address these issues in a holistic manner by building on the collective action of all stakeholders – consumers, food businesses, community organizations, experts, professionals, and the government. Multiple actions, not only on the supply-side, but also on the demand-side are needed. Therefore, various actionables under the Challenge have been categorized under four sectors:

  • Robust food regulatory system:The food authority has taken informed steps to formulate new and strengthen the existing food standards in the country. This includes setting globally-benchmarked standards, credible food testing, surveillance and various enforcement activities. Through the Challenge, the aim is to broaden the reach of registration/licensing, enforcement, surveillance, among other core regulatory activities of FSSAI.
  • Self-compliance of food businesses and capacity building:Food may be contaminated with a variety of microorganisms at various stages across the supply chain – post-harvesting, storing, processing or during handling operations. Through training and certification of both big and small businesses, and unorganized vendors, self-compliance to regulations and standards set by the Authority can be achieved through a graded approach.
  • Changing food environments:Preventive healthcare is critical and lowers the burden of disease on the country and hence boosts productivity of its people. As food is a common thread linking citizens everywhere, the food authority’s approach is to transform the ‘food environment’ in the country to provide safe, healthy, nutritious, and sustainable diets to all. While doing so, engagement with both the consumers and the food industry is strengthened.
  • Mass mobilization:To make Eat Right India a people’s movement, the authority is planning to organise large-scale citizen-centric campaigns to bring about social and behavioural change. This includes awareness generation about reduction in the consumption of High Fat, Trans-fat, Salt and Sugar foods, while promoting consumption of local, seasonal and fortified foods for better health outcomes. This will create an environment of opting for informed healthier choices.

Outcomes and Effects

  • To strengthen food safety through the food regulatory environment:Under the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006, the Food safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) and the food safety administrations in the States / UTs are expected to create food environments where safe and wholesome food is available for all. This will ensure that a database of licensed/registered food businesses is available with FSSAI.
  • To provide for safe and healthier food options by enabling the supply side:The food environment today is working towards delivering healthy diets. They are still at the risk of malnutrition, and increasing incidence of foodborne illnesses. This can be addressed by adoption of healthier menus, reducing high fat, trans-fat, sugar and salt foods, and adequately disposing used cooking oil for production of biodiesel at the food industry end. Nudging the food businesses to provide for healthier options in their food menus and products is, therefore, necessary. Food safety can thus be achieved by building capacities of the businesses and ensuring self-compliance to regulations.
  • To engage with citizens for adoption and demanding healthier diets:Eat Right India is people’s movement with targeted promotion of dietary diversity and balanced diets, eating mindfully and timely, and promoting large-scale fortification of staples to address micronutrient deficiencies are some ways to encourage the consumer demand for healthier diets. This will ensure lower incidence of disease and increased focus on preventive healthcare through social behaviour change.

The Eat Right Challenge for Cities and Districts received participation from 188 cities and districts and 75 have been declared as winners based on their performance across five broad parameters. Grant of Rs. 5, 00,000/- (Rupees Five Lakh Only) to each district/city was provided for undertaking various Eat Right India initiatives. During the Challenge, participating cities and districts had taken various efforts to improve the food environment in their respective areas. The top 10 districts in order of their ranks in top 75 are Indore (Madhya Pradesh), Varanasi (Uttar Pradesh), Bhopal (Madhya Pradesh), Vadodara (Gujarat), Ujjain (Madhya Pradesh), Thiruvallur (Tamil Nadu), Jabalpur (Madhya Pradesh), Kancheepuram (Tamil Nadu), Salem (Tamil Nadu) and Lucknow (Uttar Pradesh).

Further, looking at the overwhelming response from participating districts in Phase I, the Phase II of the Eat Right Challenge for Districts has also been initiated. The Eat Right Challenge for Districts (Phase II) is envisioned as a competition among districts to recognize their efforts in adopting and scaling up various initiatives under Eat Right India. Further, it is meant to motivate States to develop a food strategy that supports a healthy, safe, and sustainable food environment, through participating districts.

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Chocolates: Are they Good or Bad for Health?

Chocolates: Are they Good or Bad for Health?

Chocolates: Are they Good or Bad for Health?

Chocolates

Chocolates are either critiqued to have negative impact on health or are portrayed by the marketers to have health benefits especially dark chocolates. The truth is that the composition of every chocolate is different from the other one, and this along with the amount of chocolate plays a role in determining if it’s healthy for you or not. In this article, we attempt to list out some factors to understand about this in detail.

                                                                                                                                Richa Pande

Chocolate is made from cacao beans also known as cocoa beans. The beans are roasted and pressed to release the fat known as Theobroma oil or cocoa butter. The solids are separated and made into cocoa powder. Both cocoa butter and cocoa powder/ nibs are known to have a range of health benefits. For instance, cocoa butter is rich in vitamin E, polyphenols, and a combination of saturated and unsaturated fatty acids. Cocoa powder too is rich in polyphenols which have strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. Flavanols in cocoa powder have been proven to improve blood flow to brain tissues, and thus could be helpful prevention of age-related brain degeneration, such as in Alzheimer’s disease. Evidence also suggest that eating flavanol-rich dark chocolate improves insulin sensitivity, has cancer protective impacts, and is good for skin health. Consuming chocolate have also been interlinked with release of  endorphins in our body which are help relieve pain, reduce stress and improve your sense of well-being.

These two cocoa components (both cocoa butter and cocoa nibs/powder) are mixed with several other ingredients and different chocolate formulation are prepared. These are some of the common types available in the market-

  • Dark Chocolates- Dark chocolate is made combining cocoa liquor, cocoa butter and sugar. Emulsifier is added to bind all products. Sometimes Vanilla or any other essence is added to impart it a distinct flavour. The percentage of Cocoa in dark chocolates can range from 50-90%. They are generally bittersweet as the percentage of sugar added is very less.
  • Milk Chocolates– Milk chocolates are the most popular variation of chocolates available in the market. They contain only 10-40% cocoa along with sugar and milk. They are much sweeter in taste as compared to dark chocolates as the content of cocoa is less and sugar is high.
  • White Chocolates- They do not contain cocoa powder but have cocoa butter in them. Technically, at least 20% cocoa butter is a must for white chocolates. Milk and milk solids are also an essential ingredient of milk chocolates. Sometimes, Vanilla essence is also added to them to enhance the flavour. It is sweeter than other chocolates, and mostly has high sugar content.
  • Unsweetened chocolates- They have no added sugar in them. If you want to consume chocolate for its benefits, this is probably the best choice. But it is bitter in taste, and it is used majorly for baking purpose.
  • Sugar Free Chocolates- These chocolates are made from cocoa but instead of sugar, Maltitol is added to these chocolates. Maltitol is sugar alcohol which is caloric in nature but has less calories than sugar. It is known to have laxative properties, and thus it must be taken in limited amounts. Its glycaemic index is 35, which is much lower than that of regular table sugar, which is 65.

Nutrition Composition of different type of Chocolates

Per 100 g

Calories

Total Fats

Saturated fats

Added Sugar

Protein

Ingredients

Brand 1

Milk Chocolate

545 Kcal

31.4

19 g

43 g

8.2 g

Sugar, Cocoa Butter, Milk Solids, Cocoa Solids, Permitted Emulsifiers (E322, E476). Contains Added Flavours (Artificial Flavouring Substances – Vanilla, Cocoa And Condensed Milk).

Brand 2

Milk Chocolate

530kcal

30.5g

18.5g

56.0g

7.5g

Sugar, Milk Solids (22%), Cocoa Butter, Cocoa Solids, Emulsifiers (442, 476). CONTAINS ADDED FLAVOUR (NATURAL, NATURE IDENTICAL AND ARTIFICIAL (ETHYL VANILLIN) FLAVOURING SUBSTANCES). Allergen Information: Contains Milk, manufactured on equipment that also processes products containing tree nuts and wheat.

Brand 1

Dark Chocolate

99 % Cocoa

587 Kcal

42.3

26 g

0g

15.1

Cocoa Solids, Permitted Emulsifiers (E322, E476)

Brand 2 Dark Chocolate

55 % Cocoa

557 Kcal

33.7 g

20g

43g

6g

Sugar, Cocoa Solids, Cocoa Butter, Permitted Emulsifiers (E322, E476). Contains Added Flavours (Artificial Flavouring Substances – Cocoa And Vanilla).

Brand 1 Sugar free Chocolate

(55% COCOA)

475 Kcal

33.7 g

20g

0g

6g

Maltitol, Cocoa Solids, Cocoa Butter, Permitted Emulsifiers (E322, E476). Contains Added Flavours (Artificial Flavouring Substances – Cocoa And Vanilla).

It is important that most of the negative impacts attributed to chocolate is because of its high sugar content such as acne, diabetes, obesity, hypercholesterolemia, heart disease, etc. Additionally, chocolates decrease oesophageal sphincter pressure which causes acid reflux and heartburn. It is always recommended to pick a chocolate that has low sugar content, and high amounts of cocoa in it. Always pick chocolates after thoroughly going through the ingredient list and the nutritive values.

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Diet Soda: Are they good for your health?

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Diet Soda: Are they good for your health?

Diet sodas are a popular beverage all over the world, among people of all ages who are anxious to reduce their sugar or calorie intake. Instead of sugar, artificial sweeteners, such as aspartame, cyclamates, saccharin, acesulfame-k, or sucralose, are used to sweeten them. There is no doubt that diet soda is a better option for reducing calorie and sugar intake, but that’s not all. There is hardly any other nutritional value in these drinks. Although we do not have many scientific trials to document the long-term health outcome of diet soda, we cannot be mindless in the consumption of these drinks. Consumers are seeking a ‘healthier’ alternative to high-calorie-high-sugar beverages. However, should we straightaway assume that a food or drink that doesn’t contain calories or natural white sugar is ‘healthy’, without a thorough risk assessment? In this article, we share some recent research on artificial sweeteners and their adverse health effects raises multiple questions about regular diet soda consumption.

                                                                                                                           Richa Pande

 Diet soda is composed of water, artificial sweeteners, synthetic colours, preservatives, and flavours. These sodas provide low or zero calories, contain no refined sugar, and zero nutrients to support overall health. Worldwide, millions consume diet soda to avoid weight gain or manage complications of diabetes without having to give up on their favourite soda. It is mindful to know the general composition of something that we consume. Given below are some ingredients commonly present in diet soda drinks:

  1. Carbonated water- Most diet sodas have carbonated water in them. Carbonated water is water that has been infused with carbon dioxide gas under pressure Carbonated water itself has not been associated with side effects such as negatively impacting the bone and teeth health but having it may lead to bloating and gas if you are sensitive to it.
  2. Caffeine- Just like regular soda, many diet sodas contain caffeine. Almost every cola soda has caffeine in it. Your sleeping patterns can play a significant role in maintaining your health, and caffeine can greatly influence it. Cola sodas have around 10 mg of caffeine in 100 ml in it. An average soda can is of about 350 ml. A can of Diet Soda can contain 35- 46 mg of caffeine. It is always recommended to mind its consumption.
  3. Sugar substitutes– These include common artificial sweeteners, such as aspartame, saccharin, sucralose, or a natural sweeteners like stevia, which are 200–13,000 times sweeter than regular sugar.
  4. Acids-Certain acids, such as citric, malic, and phosphoric acid, are used to add tartness to soda drinks. Having too much of some of these ingredients such as phosphoric acid isn’t good for your teeth and bone health.
  5. Artificial colours, flavours, and preservatives-
Contents of three diet sodas picked from the market
    Ingredients
1 Brand 1 Sugar Free Soda Carbonated Water, Acids (Citric Acid, Malic Acid), Natural Lemon and Lime Flavouring, Acidity Regulator (Sodium Citrate), Sweeteners (Aspartame, Acesulfame K), Potassium Chloride, Stabiliser (Pectin).
2 Brand 2 Diet Soda Carbonated Water, Acidity Regulator (338), Sweeteners (951, 950), Preservative (211), Caffeine. Contains Permitted Natural Colour (150D) And Added Flavours (Natural Flavouring Substances), Contains No Fruit.
3 Brand 3 Zero Calorie Soda Carbonated Water, Colour (Caramel E150d), Acids (Phosphoric Acid, Citric Acid), Flavourings (including Caffeine), Sweeteners (Aspartame, Acesulfame K), Acidity Regulator (Sodium Citrate), Preservative (Potassium Sorbate). Contains A Source of Phenylalanine.
4 Brand 4 Fizz Classic Cola

 

Carbonated Water, Sweeteners (Steviol glycosides, Erythritol), Acidity Regulator (330, 331), Vitamin C, Herb Ashwagandha, Salt, Added Permitted Natural Food Colours (150D), Flavours.

 

Phenylketonuria Warnings on Diet Soda

Phenylketonuria is an inherited disorder that increases the levels of a substance called phenylalanine in the blood. Some diet soda contain aspartame, which is an artificial sweetener composed of two amino acids: aspartic acid and phenylalanine. It thus poses a severe health concern to phenylketonurics, or individuals afflicted with phenylketonuria. Hence Diet Coke using aspartame to provide sweetness while remaining sugar-free, needs to be avoided by phenylketonurics.

Diet Soda and Gut Health

It has been found that sugar substitutes such as saccharin, sucralose and stevia can change the composition of the gut microbiota. Some polyols such as maltitol, lactitol, and xylitol, increase the numbers of bifidobacteria in human beings. Intriguingly artificial sweeteners like saccharin & sucralose that are widely used in manufacturing diet soda could impact the gut bacteria- E. coli and E. faecalis. Due to excessive consumption of diet soda that has above ingredients, pathogenic bacteria like E. coli and E. faecalis can adhere to the gut wall, invade the Caco-2 intestinal cell lining, and cause multiple health hazards.

Diet Soda Teeth and Bone Health

Although diet soda doesn’t contain sugar like regular soda, it’s highly acidic and can take a serious toll on your smile if you drink a lot of it on a regular basis. One study found that both regular soda and diet soda significantly affects the surface roughness of tooth enamel, indicating that both can contribute to tooth erosion.

Diet soda contains several compounds that may negatively affect bone health and lead to bone loss. These compounds include caffeine and phosphoric acid. Caffeine consumption has been reported to decrease bone mineral density, increase the risk of hip fracture, and negatively influence calcium retention.

Diet Soda and sugar cravings, weight gain, and type 2 diabetes

Some research suggests that the artificial sweeteners found in diet soda may have the same effect on the food reward pathway in the brain as regular sugar, which could lead to increased hunger and food intake. Whether, and how, these phenomena contribute to weight gain is still unclear. Research on this topic is mixed, so additional studies on diet soda and sugar cravings are needed.

Take Home Message

Take Diet Soda in Moderation!

Switching from regular soda to diet soda is an easy way to reduce your intake of carbohydrates and calories. However, diet soda doesn’t contain many nutrients, and drinking too much is associated with some short and long-term side effects. For this reason, if you want to drink diet soda, it’s best to enjoy it in moderation. Consider pairing it with a nutritious, well-balanced diet. You can also enjoy plenty of healthier beverage options to help you stay hydrated during summers.

Few alternative drinks to consider-

coconut water, cold-pressed juice with no added sugar, freshly prepared lime soda.
 

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