News Roundup: Ditch the Diet Soda?

Discourse on diet soda has raged for years, with arguments both for and against artificial sweeteners. In 2014, the American Diabetes Association and the American Heart Association gave their stamp of approval to artificial sweeteners; however, this week’s news roundup looks at new evidence that diet sodas, and the artificial sweeteners therein, may not be as good for you as we once thought.

Nonnutritive sweeteners and cardiometabolic health. Canadian Medical Association Journal. “Evidence from RCTs does not clearly support the intended benefits of nonnutritive sweeteners for weight management, and observational data suggest that routine intake of nonnutritive sweeteners may be associated with increased BMI and cardiometabolic risk.”

Artificial sweeteners may actually cause you to gain weight. Healthline. “Sugar is receiving a lot of attention lately as a major cause of these conditions. It’s important to study ‘sugar substitutes’ in parallel, to understand their impact on the same conditions. If we don’t do this, consumers may (understandably) assume that artificial sweeteners are a healthy choice — but this may not be true. Reducing consumption of sugar and artificially sweetened products in general is likely a good strategy.”

Artificial sweeteners linked to weight gain, finds new research. Independent. “[C]aution is warranted until the long-term health effects of artificial sweeteners are fully characterized.”

Diet drinks are associated with weight gain, new research suggests. Washington Post. “The causality could go in the other direction, too — people who are gaining weight for other reasons may seek out more artificially sweetened foods. Or, as other research has shown, people who go on diets (and who may be more likely to drink diet sodas) often lose weight but then gain more afterward.”

News Roundup: Artificial Sweeteners

 artificial sweeteners

New research published this week in the Canadian Medical Association Journal showed emerging data indicating that artificial sweeteners may be associated with long term weight gain and increased risk of heart and metabolic disease.

This week’s news roundup brings a collection of articles related to the new findings on artificial sweeteners and what it means for our no calorie sweet tooth.

Artificial Sweeteners Are Linked to Weight Gain—Not Weight Loss. TIME. “’I think there’s an assumption that when there are zero calories, there is zero harm,’ says study author Meghan Azad, an assistant professor in the department of pediatrics and child health at the University of Manitoba in Canada. ‘This research has made me appreciate that there’s more to it than calories alone.’”

Artificial sweeteners linked to risk of weight gain, heart disease and other health issues. Medical Xpress. “Consumption of artificial sweeteners, such as aspartame, sucralose and stevia, is widespread and increasing. Emerging data indicate that artificial, or nonnutritive, sweeteners may have negative effects on metabolism, gut bacteria and appetite, although the evidence is conflicting.”

Artificial sweeteners could cause weight gain over time, review of studies says. ABC News. “’We found that consumption of nonnutritive sweeteners was associated with modest long-term weight gain in observational studies. Our results also extend previous meta-analyses that showed higher risks of Type 2 diabetes and hypertension with regular consumption.’”

Sorry, but artificial sweeteners won’t help you lose weight. Popular Science. “The good news is that the scientific verdict on this stuff is actually pretty clear. The bad news is that none of those artificial sweeteners will help you lose weight.”

Artificial Sweeteners Don't Help People Lose Weight, Review Finds. NPR. “The health effects of artificial sweeteners are important to study, because so many people use them. Another study published earlier this year found that a quarter of U.S. children and 41 percent of adults reported consuming them, most of them once per day.”

The Impact of Sleep Apnea on Soldiers


Sleep Disturbances in the Military

Sleep disturbances in military personnel can be attributed to several factors such as PTSD, increases in high operational tempo environments, deployments across multiple time zones, and the physical and emotional stressors of training and combat deployments. Sleep impairments can develop early on in one’s military career and may continue throughout. In one past study, Soldiers reported a reduction in sleep from an average of 8 to 9 hours at home to 5 to 6 hours per night during basic combat training. According to another research study, sleep disturbances are also among the most common symptoms of military personnel who return home from deployments.

As such, sleep apnea has become an increasing problem in the military. The growing rate of Soldiers experiencing sleep apnea over the last decade continues to affect operational readiness, troop welfare, and health care costs over time. According to a recent research study, rates of military service members experiencing obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) are increasing at a higher frequency than the civilian population. 


The Military has continued to play a vital role in implementing medical policies related to sleep, including screenings for troubled sleep using the Post Deployment Health Assessment (PDHA) and Post Deployment Health Re-Assessment (PDHRA) programs. However, recent studies found that policies related to sleep problems are usually service-specific and sometimes lacking in the amount of information given on sleep issues. Improving sleep in military training and operational contexts is a growing need given the recent increase in the number of Soldiers that are experiencing sleep apnea and other sleep disturbances.


Sleep Apnea Symptoms

The most common cause of obstructive sleep apnea is excess weight /obesity which is associated with the soft tissue of the mouth and throat. During sleep when the throat and tongue muscles are more relaxed, this soft tissue can cause the airway to become blocked.

Common symptoms related to Sleep Apnea include:

  • Chronic snoring
  • Sleeplessness
  • Difficulty Concentrating
  • Depression
  • Irritability
  • Learning and memory difficulties
  • Excessive daytime sleepiness (hypersomnia)
  • Shorts episodes of not breathing during sleep
  • Awakening with a dry mouth or a sore throat                                                                    

Implications of Untreated Sleep Apnea

As a result of airway blockages during sleep due to sleep apnea, the body undergoes repeated moments of suffocation and the brain does not get enough oxygen. If left untreated, these symptoms can lead to high blood pressure, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, heart attacks, congestive heart failure, cardiac arrhythmia, and more health issues.

As a result of airway blockages during sleep due to sleep apnea, the body undergoes repeated moments of suffocation and the brain does not get enough oxygen. If left untreated, these symptoms can lead to high blood pressure, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, heart attacks, congestive heart failure, cardiac arrhythmia, and more health issues.

Sleep disturbances and sleep apnea have adverse effects on our Soldiers, including overall health, their ability to perform their missions, and overall quality of life. This directly affects the overall operational readiness and Soldier welfare of our military.


Click here for additional wellness resources for the military community related to sleep disorders and sleep apnea.







News Roundup: Aluminum Foil

The use of Aluminum Foil is very common in most kitchens for cooking and wrapping our foods. Studies have shown that Aluminum is a known neurotoxin. Neurotoxic metals can also be a factor in many neurological diseases including Alzheimer’s. There has also been some recent debate around whether or not cooking with aluminum foil is bad for our health. This week’s news roundup presents news stories related to this discussion.

Doctors Are Now Warning: If You Use Aluminum Foil, Stop It Or Face Deadly Consequences: Best Healthy Guide. “Additionally, it has been scientifically shown that cooking with aluminum foil impacts the bones, due to the fact that the metal accumulates in the bones and leads to loss of calcium which is of utmost importance for proper bone health. Cooking with aluminum foil was also found to cause pulmonary fibrosis and other respiratory issues.”

Why You Shouldn’t Wrap Your Food in Aluminum Foil Before Cooking It: Huffington Post.  “Scientists are exploring whether over-exposure to aluminum may be posing threats to human health. For instance, high concentrations of aluminum have been detected in the brain tissue of patients with Alzheimer’s disease.”

The Dangers of Aluminum Foil: Sciencing. “Aluminum foil is a great tool to use in cooking, baking and food storage. However, there are dangers associated with its use. These dangers include safety and health risks, such as food contamination and the absorption of too much aluminum into the body. There is some controversy as to the extent of aluminum foil's impact in these situations, but scientists continue to investigate its safety in everyday use.”

Myth or Fact? Cooking with Aluminum Foil Is Bad for Your Health: Food Network. “More research may be needed to warrant tossing all your foil in the trash. Determine if the food you prepare comes into contact with foil and assess if this could potentially contribute to a higher than desirable intake of aluminum. If you are concerned about your intake, reserve foil for food storage instead of cooking.”

Summer Workouts


What better way to enjoy the summer than to get outside with family and friends and take advantage of the sun in an active way? It’s warm enough to get out of the gym and into the fresh air. There are many easy ways to incorporate fitness into your summer days, whether it’s finding a tough workout to do without overheating, or trying to add a workout component to things you are already doing with others. Out of the gym usually means out of equipment, but here are a few good exercise ideas that incorporate a typical park or outdoor environment.

1. Plyometric Circuits

Instead of lifting heavy, focus on moving fast! Plyometric exercises are focused on explosive bursts of energy (think maximum force in a short amount of time). The goal of these type of movements is to improve power, combining increases to both speed and strength.

Try the following exercises, going through them a total of 3 times for a full workout:

  • Squat jumps (10 reps)

Start in an athletic position.  Swing arms back and bend knees slightly.  Explode (jump) upwards from the hips, bring knees up and toes up, and land gently back down on the ground with knees bent.

  • Plyo push-ups (10 reps)

Facing downward, keep your body in a straight line with your hands and feet contacting the ground. Lower your body by bending your elbows.  Push yourself back up quickly and forcefully to push yourself off the ground. Be sure to keep your arms close to your body to minimize shoulder wear.

  • Sit ups (15 reps)

Lay on the ground with your knees bent and feet flat.  Cross arms to chest and sit up quickly (1 second), bringing your arms to your knees. Lower your upper body back down to the ground slowly for a 3 second count.

  • Skaters (8 reps each)

Start on your left foot. Swing the right foot behind you and use the momentum to jump to the right and land only on your right foot. Repeat to the other side.

  • Mountain Climbers (15 reps each)

Start in the plank position. Alternate moving each knee to chest, keeping the body in a straight line.

  • Scissor Lunges (8 reps each)

Start with one foot in front of you and one foot behind you, both bent and in the lunge position. Explode upwards and switch leg positions to land with the opposite foot now in front and behind. Repeat.

  • Burpees (10 reps)

From a standing position, put your hands on the ground a few inches in front of your feet. Kick your legs back into the plank position and then replace them back next to your hands. Come up into a jump and repeat.

2. Park Bench Workout

If you are walking the dog or taking a leisurely stroll through a local park, try to add some exercises that can be done on a park bench or table. These require no equipment other than an elevated surface and yourself.

Try the following exercises, going through them a total of 3 times for a full workout:

  • Step Ups (10 reps each)

Start with the bench in front of you.  Step up with one leg while maintaining good posture. Step down with the same leg and switch.

  • Touch Squats (10 reps)

Stand with your feet hip distance apart in front of the bench with the bench about a foot behind your back. Slowly squat backwards, keeping your weight on your heels, until your seat touches the bench. Return to standing without resting on the bench.

  • Bench Jumps (10 reps)

Stand facing the bench. Swing arms back and bend knees slightly.  Explode (jump) upwards from the hips, bring knees up and toes up, and land gently on the bench with knees bent. Repeat.

  • Single Leg Squat (8 reps each)

Start facing away from the bench with one leg in front of you and the other behind you with your toe on the bench. Slowly squat and return to standing. Repeat each side.

  • Push-ups (10 reps)

Start with your hands on the bench and your feet extended out away from the bench so that you are in a plank position. Push yourself up and down. This should be easier at this angle.

  • Dips (10 reps)

Sit on the bench facing away from it with your hands on the bench on either side of you. Scoot yourself forward, while leaving your hands on the bench. This should create clearance for you to bend your arms and push yourself up and down, dipping your body.

3. Interval Run with Strength Stops

Running in the summer heat can be overwhelming at times. Instead, break up your run into intervals with stops in the shade for water breaks and strength exercises. Try running for either a half a mile or a timed 5 minutes, then stop and do an exercise set or 2 exercises, 3 times each.

An example of exercise sets could be:

  • 30 sec Plank + 10 back extensions
  • 10 mountain climbers + 10 lunges (each side)
  • 10 squat jumps + 10 calf raises
  • 10 burpees + 10 bicycles (each side)

4. Bicycling

A fun activity to do with others, especially if they are visiting from out of town and want to peruse around, is bicycling. Take a ride through the local park or neighborhood to catch up and cool off in the bike breeze. A lot of local markets are open and selling fresh goods in the summer months. Try biking to a farmer’s market or local festival to take advantage of the nice weather and exclusive summer activities

5. Get in the Water

Finally, a fool-proof way to exercise in the hottest days of summer is to get in the water! Whether you kayak, paddleboard, or swim, it’s a good way to have fun while getting some exercise into your routine. Sure, bodies of water are fun, but they can also be a great workout! Try practicing some strokes for distance or even incorporate gym exercises simply using the water as resistance instead of weights.

Visit our fitness tool in the Army H.E.A.L.T.H. program for more exercises with pictures and videos, complete workouts, and fitness tips: