Can Diet Soda Help You Lose Weight?

No…. but it’s a little more complicated than that.

A study was done in November of 2015 detailing that diet soda can benefit people trying to lose weight, at first it seems like a really well-thought-out study, until you realize that Coca Cola paid the authors 1000 dollars each as a grant. But does this make the data obselete? Well, it makes it untrustworthy at best. But regardless of any of this, even if this study is wrong, the answer is still No.

Diet soda would be equivalent to that of Water, or sugarless Kool-aid mix. There are no calories or almost no calories in it, therefore it CAN’T increase your weight. It also CAN’T decrease it as well. In order to lose weight you need a caloric deficient, which is to eat less than you are burning.

And before anyone uses it, there was one analysis done in 2014 that tested the “Low Calorie Sweeteners Make You Hungry” hypothesis of diet sodas, and came back with no support for it:

“Conversely, a hypothesis that LCS intake promotes, rather than prevents, weight gain by altering taste and metabolic signaling, decreasing satiety, and increasing appetite, hunger, sweets cravings, and ultimately food intake emerged nearly 3 decades ago. However, a recent review of randomized controlled trials (RCTs), and new findings from an RCT that examined the effect of low-calorie sweetened beverages (LCSBs) on overall dietary patterns, failed to support this hypothesis.”

The science does not support than diet sodas do anything other than give you non-fluoridated flavored water to drink that isn’t good for your teeth. But in terms of weight loss or weight gain, diet sodas are practically useless. They are a much better alternative than sugar-filled soda, but it’d be good to have an alternative to them as well.

Don’t demonize diet sodas for pseudoscientific ideas of weight gain, but don’t make the false assumption that they will in any way help anyone lose weight.

Medicinal Mythology: Dietary Cholesterol Is Bad For You?

Now this is less of a myth and more of a “we don’t have enough evidence” kind of thing, but it has been ongoing for decades and there is still no clear answer.

Because of the lack of evidence linking dietary cholesterol intake with LDL (bad) cholesterol, the brand new 2915 Dietary guidelines for 2015 posted on Health.gov say, and I quote:

Cholesterol. Previously, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommended that cholesterol intake be limited to no more than 300 mg/day. The 2015 DGAC will not bring forward this recommendation because available evidence shows no appreciable relationship between consumption of dietary cholesterol and serum cholesterol, consistent with the conclusions of the AHA/ACC report. Cholesterol is not a nutrient of concern for overconsumption.”

They are not the only one’s to say this either, a Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of several studies involving over 362,000 people could not find a link between Dietary Cholesterol and Blood Cholesterol. And the Harvard Egg Study, published in 2009 also showed that eggs, which are high in cholesterol, did not show any indication of increased risk of cardiovascular death no matter how many were consumed. Another study with over 100,000 participants also shows that there is little evidence linking egg consumption to CVD (Cardiovascular Disease).

But that alone does not mean that eating eggs are healthy, or even that dietary cholesterol is good for you. The American Heart Association wrote this on their blog:

“We don’t have enough information to put a limit on cholesterol,” said Eckel, a past president of the AHA and a professor of medicine at the University of Colorado School of Medicine. “That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t restrict it — it means we don’t have enough information to make a strong statement.”

Eckel called for a continued focus on eating a healthy diet that emphasizes vegetables, fruits, whole grains and low-fat dairy and that limits sodium, sugar and red meat, recommendations put forth in the AHA’s 2013 lifestyle guidelines.

So while limiting cholesterol might be a good idea, there is very little evidence as of yet that dietary cholesterol is contributed to Cardiovascular Disease, or an increase in LDL serum cholesterol, regardless of how controversial this information is to health bloggers.

Medicinal Mythology: Dairy Addiction

First published by me via ZMEScience. Also, picture created by vegan youtuber, BiteSizedVegan, definitely check her channel out.

Dairy Addiction is one idea toted not only as a notion, but as a fact by a significant number of vegans, especially ones that do not link to any reliable source (if any at all) to provide any evidence to the conclusion they have reached. So I decided that I will take it upon myself to find out whether or not the scientific literature agrees with this.

First things first though, WHY do these people believe that Dairy products are addictive? Well, YUM Universe, a known vegetarian blog, sums it up like this:

The answer is casomorphins—protein fragments, derived from the digestion of the milk protein, Casein. The distinguishing characteristic of casomorphins is that they have an opioid effect. ”

Casomorphins, or in the case of milk, Beta-Casomorphins, are indeed a form of opioid found in milk. And yes, Opioids are addictive, so that must mean milk is addictive and we can just close this case, right? Well… not quite.

One study of milks effects on rats published in 1981 called Opioid Effects of Beta-Casomorphinesmentioned that they found “none of the peptides displayed opioid activity.” This is not the only study either, as another study published in 1994 which focused entirely on this idea of the addictive qualities of milk named “An Assessment of the Addiction Potential of the Opioid Associated with Milk” concluded with the line “Ingestion of milk products containing β-casomorphin is not likely to become the focus of an addiction.”

This is not even the last of it, as there is even a case report of a woman in Germany who drank 4-5 liters of milk a day. The report wanted to know if the woman’s consumption of such high quantities of milk was pathological. It concluded that based on the fact that the woman did not have any withdrawal symptoms in the absence of milk that Milk drinking in this patient did not have the characteristic physiological, behavioral and cognitive phenomena associated with dependence and nondependence producing substances.”

Opioid containing foods go far beyond casomorphins as well, as there is Gluten Exorphin in wheat, Soymorphin in soy, and even Rubiscolin found in spinach. I see no argument that spinach and tofu is addictive by anybodies standards ever.

Now am I saying that dairy products are NOT addictive? Of course not, they certainly are in a sense, but this is not due to casomorphins. Milk is a high fat food, and as any nutritionist knows, foods high in fat, sugar, and salt can be addictive the same way drugs are. This was actually a survival mechanism in the past, as since food scarcity was an issue, it was better to consume foods that were higher in essential nutrients needed for our survival, such as fatty, sweet, and salty foods.

But this is not a milk-only issue. You can easily state this for any other high-fat, sweet, or salty foods, including avocados, fried lettuce, mangoes, nuts, juices, vinegar, and anything you add salt to. Literally ANY food that is sweet, fatty, or salty has the potential to be addicting, which is why these three food types are such an issue to anybody suffering from Binge Eating Disorder, otherwise known as a Food Addiction.

Tons of food can be addictive, but I can safely say that casomorphin, or food opioids at all, do not play any role in that.

Medicinal Mythology: Milk Causes Allergies?

It’s common to hear sites like PETA, or Natural News, or whatnot, repeat this claim ad nauseam. “milk is the leading cause of allergies in children” you hear them say, claiming that milk consumption is linked with asthma (and a wide list of other ailments, including Autism).

But what is the evidence behind this claim? Well, quack science and quotes by “Natural” toting “alternative medicine” quack scientists. Quoting from a book entitled “Complete Encyclopedia of Natural Healing” is not wonderful evidence for anything and just makes the movement this is quoted for look bad. But what does the science actually say?

Current evidence does not directly link milk consumption and asthma.” says one study which showed that BELIEVING that milk causes allergic symptoms, causes allergic symptoms. Another study from 1998 showed that  milk does not exasperate allergies either. Another study done in 1990 said the same thing.

Now if you already have a milk allergy, you can get asthma from the consumption of milk, but as of yet, there is no evidence showing that milk in and of itself causes asthma, or a worsening of asthma, in people who do not have milk allergies. In fact, a Cross-sectional Multi-centre study spanning almost 15,000 children in Europe showed that drinking farm milk, otherwise known as Raw Milk, was beneficial to preventing the onset of allergies. But then again, the study does not mention if they accounted for the fact that kids who drink the most farm milk are more likely to live in or around farms, and exposure to allergens causes resistance, and thus alleviates allergies. It’s hard to grow an immunity if you are not exposed.

Another theory is that drinking milk increases mucus and phlegm production, thus causing athsma. As of this date, that is known as a medical myth, and no evidence exists that supports it.

So in short, ilk CAN cause athsma if you are already allergic to milk proteins, but that is all. It does not cause asthma, and probably doesn’t even cure them.

Medicinal Mythology: Milk Is As Dangerous For You As Smoking?

I was working the other day, when a man walked in. He ordered some food and due to the food choices he made I asked if he was a vegetarian. He said yes and we started talking. I knew he wanted to talk my ear off, as he was a “vegetarian for 35 years,” and he did do a lot of talking. While I am always happy to hear some information from a fellow vegetarian, I have to state that this claim he made irked me a bit. He said that “drinking milk and eating cheese, especially in quantities like pizza, is more cancer causing than smoking” among other claims I won’t try to debunk all at once.

Now I am not going to state that milk is GOOD for you, because milk is a calorie laden beverage with almost no significant benefits for your health. But worse than smoking, and “by a long-shot?” I am not too sure about THAT. But since I am an amatuer journalist who has spent the better of the last 10 years researching scientific claims such as this one, I decided to look it up for myself.

The claim is “Cancer mortality was higher for high-protein [eaters] compared to current smokers.”, which was published on… you guessed it… FoxNews. It was also published on a lot of other sources that I don’t find all that reputable, and completely ignored by scientific magazines and more reputable news sources, like the NYTimes.

animal

 

That said, I had to spend forever just trying to find the source of this claim, in which, like always, no newspaper seems to provide a link to this study, because god forbid anyone check the sources. But I finally found it, the study is “Low Protein Intake Is Associated with a Major Reduction in IGF-1, Cancer, and Overall Mortality in the 65 and Younger but Not Older Population

The information does seem to pan out though, as “animal protein” is seen to cause a higher rate of mortality as compared to the consumption of plant-based proteins. However, this study doesn’t go into any detail on which “animal proteins” they are talking about, so we just have to assume that they are talking about all of them. Which is good as a minor study, but it’d be wonderful to know if milk is worse than beef, or chicken, or eggs, for instance.

There was another study published in Canada which showed a correlation between artery plaque buildup and egg yolk consumption. There are also studies that did not find a correlation between animal protein intake and all cause mortality, but did find that having a diet higher in plan protein was really beneficial in postmenopausal women, but the last studies already made a link that showed that animal proteins after the age of 65 were NOT associated with any increased death risk.

That said, more research needs to be done to find clear links, and to determine if all animal proteins are created equal. For instance, we know that red meat is associated with a higher risk of Colon Cancer, but chicken is not. So it would be best to see if this cause of death by cancer, heart disease, etc, is associated with all forms of animal protein intake, or whether it is only connected to specific forms of protein intake. And none of the studies I linked to seemed to associate milk or other dairy products as its own group, so I can’t come to the conclusion of if milk and cheese really ARE as bad as smoking. There is no evidence to connect those accusations.

Although I do agree that one thing is clear, we SHOULD reduce our intake of animal-based proteins, as vegetarians are indeed known to live longer and be in better health. However, there does not seem to be a significant difference in all-cause mortality between the types of vegetarian, and Pesco-vegetarian (vegetarian that eats fish) are more likely to live longer than strict vegans, but compared to the meat-eating population, the difference is so minor to borderline on ‘not that important’.

Being vegetarian, or even Semi-vegetarian, is a healthier diet, but like I said, I can’t find any data to show that milk or dairy products in specific causes a high increase in mortality, and lacto-ovo-vegetarians do not have a significantly higher rate of mortality than strict vegans, so I will wait for more data before coming to any conclusion.