Think you are doing yourself a favour health-wise by swapping regular sugar-laden soft drinks for the artificially sweetened variety?
Think again. Especially is you are pregnant.
A new study published in JAMA Pediatrics says consuming artificially sweetened beverages like soft drinks and juices during pregnancy may lead to having overweight babies.
Many women are being warned by their GP or midwife to lay off sugary food and drinks to avoid putting on too much weight during pregnancy, but it now looks like we should be stearing clear of the sugar substitutes as well.
Researchers out of the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg looked at 3,000 mother-infant pairs for the study. Pregnant women were asked to fill out questionnaires about how often they imbibed certain drinks like diet soda or tea or coffee with artificial sweetener added, as well as sugar-sweetened drinks, such as regular soda or coffee or tea with regular sugar or honey added. Then the BMI of their babies was measured at one year of age.
What the researchers found was that infants of women who drank artificially sweetened beverages daily during pregnancy were twice as likely to be overweight.
And while regular sugar is best limited as well, lead researcher Meghan B. Azad, Ph.D. recently explained to CBS News why artificial sweeteners are so potentially detrimental to a developing baby’s future health:
“There is some evidence that consuming artificial sweeteners at least in adults changes the microbiome. We know that our gut bacteria are important for a variety of health issues, including our metabolism. Bacteria help us digest the food we eat and they play a role in how much calories we extract from that food. And so if these artificial sweeteners are changing the mom’s microbiome, which then gets passed on to the baby, that might be one mechanism.”
She added, “Our bodies have evolved to respond to sugar in a certain way, and some of these responses are triggered by the perception of sweet taste. With artificial sweeteners, we get the perception of sweet taste without any actual sugar to metabolize. There’s some evidence in adults that routinely consuming artificial sweeteners may disrupt or ‘reprogram’ our metabolism, leaving us more at risk for obesity and related complications.”
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