President Trump Reportedly Drinks 12 Diet Cokes a Day. Here’s What That Does to Your Body

[brightcove:4874680279001 default]

This article originally appeared on Time.com.

A recent New York Times feature about a day in the life of President Donald Trump revealed that the commander in chief guzzles 12 Diet Cokes every day. Few health experts recommend drinking any diet soda—so how bad is a dozen-a-day habit?

While it’s likely better than drinking 12 sugar-filled sodas per day, it’s largely too soon to say what Trump’s soda swilling is doing to his health, says Dr. Dariush Mozaffarian, the dean of the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University. “The long-term health effects of low-calorie or artificial sweeteners are not really well-known,” Mozaffarian says. “We’re kind of conducting a national public health experiment on the entire population.”

What we do know, Mozaffarian says, is that “there’s very little reason to drink diet soda” over beverages like water and seltzer, and the amount of caffeine in 12 servings exceeds medical guidelines for adults, potentially leading to jitters, insomnia, migraines, a faster heartbeat and more. Another worry with diet soda—which includes intensely sweet-tasting artificial sugars—is that it raises the bar for what your body normally considers to be sweet. Mozaffarian says he worries that habitual diet drinkers will “gravitate toward naturally sweet, healthy foods less, because they’re so primed for that intense sweet.”

While the research about diet soda isn’t yet conclusive, a number of studies have pointed to more serious potential health consequences associated with the beverages.

Diet soda may make you gain weight

Based on animal studies, some researchers believe that because diet soda delivers an incredibly sweet taste without the calories necessary to satisfy it, the body is triggered to crave the energy it would have gotten from real sugar, potentially causing you to overeat later. Other animal research has pointed to physiological changes that may lead to weight gain, including disturbances to hunger-regulating hormone levels and gut bacteria.

Diet soda may increase your risk for type 2 diabetes

While research has not shown that drinking diet soda causes type 2 diabetes, the habit is at least associated with the disease. A 2009 study, for example, showed that daily diet soda sippers were 67% more likely to develop type 2 diabetes than non-drinkers, although it’s possible that people prone to type 2 diabetes are more likely to drink diet soda in the first place.

Diet soda might be bad for your heart

The same 2009 study that showed a strong connection between diet soda and type 2 diabetes also found that those who regularly drank the beverages were 34% more likely to develop metabolic syndrome than those who abstained. Metabolic syndrome includes a number of symptoms—including high blood pressure, high blood sugar, high cholesterol and excess belly fat—that can raise your risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease and stroke, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Diet soda may be bad for the brain

A study this year found that people who drank at least one daily diet soda had twice the risk of stroke compared to those who didn’t drink the stuff. It also found a significantly heightened risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease for diet drinkers. The research does not definitively prove that diet sodas cause Alzheimer’s—but, interestingly, the same connection was not present among people who drank sugar-sweetened beverages.

How Eating Breakfast Can Help Your Metabolism

[brightcove:5522542845001 default]

This article originally appeared on Time.com.

Plenty of research has found that eating breakfast is important for weight maintenance, metabolism and overall good health. Now, the evidence gets even stronger: a small new randomized controlled trial finds that regularly eating a substantial morning meal directly affects how fat cells function in the body by changing the activity of genes involved in fat metabolism and insulin resistance. The findings suggest that eating breakfast every morning may help lower people’s risk for type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease, the study authors say—and that even if a morning meal increases a person’s total calorie consumption, those calories may be offset by other energy-burning benefits.

In the study, published in the Journal of Physiology, researchers asked 49 people ages 21 to 60 to either eat breakfast or fast until mid-day, every day for six weeks. Those in the breakfast group were asked to eat at least 700 calories by 11 a.m., and at least half of those calories within two hours of waking. They could choose the foods they wanted, but most people opted for typical breakfast foods like cereals, toast and juice.

Before and after the study, the researchers measured everyone’s metabolism, body composition and cardiovascular and metabolic health. They also took biopsies of their fat cells to measure the activity of 44 different genes and proteins related to metabolism and other physiological processes, as well as the cells’ ability to take up sugar, which is the body’s response to changing insulin levels.

They found that in people who had normal weights, eating breakfast decreased the activity of genes involved in fat burning. In other words, there was some evidence that skipping breakfast actually increased fat burning, says lead author Javier Gonzalez, associate professor in nutrition and metabolism at the University of Bath in the UK, in an email. But total energy balance—the most important aspect for weight loss or weight maintenance—did not drastically differ between groups. “Breakfast consumption increased total calorie intake in lean people, but this was offset by breakfast also stimulating physical activity energy expenditure in lean people,” he says.

MORE: Here’s What Skipping Breakfast Does to Your Body

More importantly, eating breakfast also decreased the activity of genes involved in insulin resistance and increased the amount of sugar the cells took up—which could potentially protect against diabetes and other chronic illnesses over time. This finding is “in line with our previous observations that breakfast consumption is associated with better glucose control in fat cells,” Gonzalez says. “This may have implications for disease risk, but we need to work more on this.”

However, that’s not what they found in people with obesity. The more body fat a person had, the less their fat cells responded to insulin. At least one gene associated with fat burning was also more active among people with obesity in the group that ate breakfast, compared to the fasting group.

Fasting, meanwhile, seemed to increase the activity of genes associated with inflammation—but only in people with obesity. “Therefore, the guidelines for breakfast consumption should perhaps differ depending on whether people are lean or obese,” says Gonzalez. More research is needed, he adds, before such recommendations can be made.

Because the people in the study ate breakfasts high in carbohydrates, the researchers are unable to say whether other types of breakfasts—like high-protein meals—would have the same effects. “However, we are now exploring how different types of breakfast influence health,” Gonzalez says, “and how breakfast interacts with other health behaviors such as exercise.”

By better understanding how fat responds to food at different times of day, Gonzalez says, scientists may be able to target those mechanisms more precisely. “We may be able to uncover new ways to prevent the negative consequences of having a large amount of body fat,” he says, potentially by doing something as simple as eating breakfast on a daily basis.

You Asked: Should I Eat Collagen Powder?

[brightcove:5590657975001 default]

This article originally appeared on Time.com.

The word “collagen” comes from the Greek word for glue, and that’s a helpful way to think about the role collagen plays in your physical health. In your skeleton, tendons, muscles, skin and even your teeth, collagen is a structural protein that binds cells and tissues together while helping them maintain shape and integrity.

But your body produces less and less collagen as you age. And some supplement- and food-makers are marketing collagen products as a way to boost your body’s levels of it.

“Collagen is basically the sale of amino acids,” says Dr. Mark Moyad, director of preventative and alternative medicine at the University of Michigan, and author of The Supplement Handbook. Amino acids are protein’s building blocks, and supplements and foods that have collagen contain chains of collagen-derived protein amino acids—or sometimes just the amino acids themselves, separated from their bonds, Moyad says. There are different types of collagen; some are derived from animal bones or skin, and others from animal cartilage.

It makes sense that consuming extra animal-sourced collagen—whether as a supplement powder or in a food like bone broth—could help the body replenish its stores of diminished collagen. And some research supports this idea. “There are many preliminary trials showing potential benefits for everything from osteoarthritis to skin improvement,” Moyad says.

One 2008 study from Penn State University found that athletes who, for six months, took a hydrolyzed collagen supplement—basically collagen proteins that have been broken down into easily digestible amino acids—experienced less joint pain during activity and at rest. Similar studies have linked collagen supplements to lower rates of back pain or reduced knee pain among people with osteoarthritis.

Meanwhile, research has also linked collagen supplements to improved skin elasticity and skin moisture.

But Moyad emphasizes that all of this research is preliminary. “The studies are weak in general,” he says—meaning small in scope, short in duration or not yet replicated by follow-up experiments.

Also, it’s not at all clear that eating collagen increases your body’s levels of it. As nutrition researchers have shown over and over again when it comes to dietary fat, just because a food contains something doesn’t mean your body will absorb or produce more of it.

Moyad says he also worries about contaminants in collagen supplements and foods. “Since this stuff comes primarily from ground-up animal parts, I would want to know the heavy metal content of these supplements, and also the creatinine content,” he says. Harmful heavy metals like copper and arsenic have turned up in meat products, and creatinine is a toxic breakdown product that comes from muscle tissue.

“I do not want heavy metals or creatinine in my body,” Moyad says. He adds that he’s also seen collagen supplements linked to side effects like nausea, diarrhea and other gastrointestinal issues.

It isn’t yet clear how much collagen, or exactly which type, is most effective. Moyad says that cheap grocery store gelatin—which is derived from animal collagen—may be just as good for your joints and skin as pricey supplement powders. “But no one’s done the studies, so we don’t know,” he says.

He says he doesn’t see any major risks in someone trying a collagen supplement for a couple months to see whether it works for them. But stop if you experience any side effects or have any GI issues.

If you’re going to give collagen a go, Moyad says he’d also want you to consider the lifestyle choices that damage collagen as you age. These include smoking, high blood sugar, sun exposure, a sedentary lifestyle and weight gain.

“If you are taking these [collagen] supplements but not making lifestyle changes, that’s kind of like putting premium gas in your car but not changing the engine oil or doing anything else to maintain it,” he says.

How to Feel Less Bloated After a Huge Thanksgiving Meal

[brightcove:4411677795001 default]

Thanksgiving dinner, your house: After downing a couple of helpings of turkey and stuffing, your stomach gives a firm nuh-uh to that slice of pumpkin pie. A voice in your head has another idea, replying, "but today’s a holiday, you have to eat it.” After you consume the last delicious bite, your stomach gets revenge in the worst way: with a monster food baby spilling over your jeans.

Belly bloat is your body’s way of saying, "you stuffed me," Keri Gans, RD, a New York City nutritionist, tells Health. This can be hard to avoid during holidays, when stuffing yourself is expected. Bloating can also be triggered by eating something your stomach doesn’t agree with, chowing down too quickly, and fasting all day and then indulging in a huge meal, all of which are encouraged on Turkey Day, says Cynthia Sass, MPH, RD, Health’s contributing nutrition editor.

RELATED: Bloated All the Time? 11 Reasons Why

The bloat can last up to 24 hours, totally putting a damper on your Black Friday plans. It’s best to try to prevent bloating before it happens, but if the damage is already done and you don’t want to be asked when your due date is, these easy tips will help you recover fast.

Drink water

Many Thanksgiving dishes (you know who you are, green bean casserole and pumpkin pie) are loaded with sodium, which makes your body hang onto excess water and leaves your entire body, not just your middle, feeling distended. Downing lots of H20 after the meal will help flush out the sodium and help shrink your stomach, says Sass.

Get off the couch

If you and your muffin top just want to sink into the sofa after dinner, we hear you. Though it may be the last thing you feel like doing after a long day of eating, getting up and burning off some of those calories could help take the pressure off your tummy and stimulate your digestive system. Gans recommends going for a walk Thanksgiving evening—even 15 minutes will help—or doing a yoga or spin class the next day. 

RELATED: 12 Breakfast Recipes You Can Eat for Dinner

Eat breakfast the next morning

“If you overate on Thanksgiving and feel terrible, the best thing you can do is resume healthy eating the following day,” Gans says. “Make sure you have a nutritious and well-balanced breakfast as opposed to having a poor-choice breakfast.” Gans suggests filling, energizing dishes high in protein and complex carbs, like scrambled eggs and whole wheat toast or oatmeal and almond butter. 

Snack on a banana or avocado slices

If drinking lots of water doesn't seem to be getting rid of the beached whale feeling, try foods rich in potassium—a mineral that prompts excess fluids to exit your system, says Sass. Bananas, oranges, pistachios, avocados, and a holiday staple, sweet potatoes, are super options. 

Sip hot tea

Drinking a cup of hot tea can relax the muscles in your GI tract and alleviate the gas that could be causing you to feel puffed up and crampy. Sass recommends mint-flavored tea, which can also help if your Thanksgiving feast has left you feeling nauseous.

Go with high-fiber foods

If you want that belly bulge to work its way out of your body, look to fiber-packed foods, which get your digestive tract moving. Whole grain breads and cereals, fruits, and vegetables are the way to go. Just don't overdo it; Gans says that eating fiber can have a reverse effect and cause even more bloating if you consume too much.

RELATED: The Healing Power of Tea

Give your stomach a break

It can be tempting to keep eating if you are surrounded by lots of leftovers—and lots of pushy relatives egging you to chow down for a second round. But if you're not actually hungry, this is the worse possible thing to do when you’re feeling backed up.

“If you have a huge Thanksgiving dinner, don’t find yourself grabbing a midnight snack; be done with it,” Gans says. Remind yourself that the leftover pie will still be in the fridge the next day, and promise yourself you'll enjoy a slice in the afternoon when your stomach is back to its normal size.

This Nutritionist Can’t Eat Tree Nuts or Gluten—These Are the Snacks and Meals She Eats All the Time

When it comes to healthy foods and snacks, nuts always win top honors. The same goes for many products made with whole grains that contain gluten. But when folks with nut or gluten allergies or sensitivities get hungry, they can't just grab a pack of almonds or pour a bowl of wheat cereal. They have to constantly scan ingredients lists, especially since nuts and gluten hide in so many other items, like salad dressing and energy bars.

But having a food allergy or sensitivity doesn't mean deprivation, says Lindsey Janeiro, RD, owner of the online nutrition consulting company Nutrition to Fit. The nutrients that make nuts so healthy, for example, can be found in plenty of other foods too. "Take chia seeds and flax seeds; just like walnuts, they're an excellent source of alpha-linolenic acid," says Janeiro, who has a very severe tree nut allergy and gluten sensitivity herself.

RELATED: 17 High-Protein Snacks You Can Eat On the Go

"While it can be difficult to manage food allergies and sensitivities, it's more than possible to eat a healthy, balanced diet," Janeiro says. Here are her picks for the best meals and snacks if nuts or gluten are on your no-go list.

Breakfast

Avocado toast and egg: Janeiro uses whole-grain, nut-free, gluten-free breads (her favorite brands are Canyon Bakehouse and BFree Foods) topped with mashed avocado, a fried or poached egg, and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. "This combo always keeps me satisfied through a busy morning," she says.

Oatmeal: Mix pumpkin purée, banana, diced apples, hemp seeds or chia seeds, or spices into your oats. "I also love making a batch of my baked vanilla oatmeal custard for an easy make-ahead breakfast packed with fiber and protein," Janeiro says.

Yogurt bowl: Combine plain yogurt with fresh or frozen fruit, a drizzle of honey, chia or flax seeds, and some type of nut-free cereal or granola. Fold the ingredients in the night before to save yourself time in the morning, Janeiro recommends.

RELATED: The 20 Best Foods to Eat for Breakfast

Lunch

Turkey wrap: "I love loading a gluten-free wrap with hummus, turkey, avocado, and any and all veggies I can find in my fridge," Janeiro says. (The BFree wraps in particular are yummy and very pliable, she notes.)

A "fatty" salad: "If I'm going to have a salad for a meal, it always seems to be the most appealing at lunchtime," Janeiro says. Instead of topping a bowl of greens and veggies with nuts, like many restaurant salads, she points out, "I top with other sources of healthy fat, like pumpkin or sunflower seeds, avocado, or an olive-oil based dressing."

Leftovers: Make enough for dinner so you can save some and have it for lunch the following day, Janeiro says. "I used to hate leftovers but have totally changed my tune since launching my own business and having a baby," she explains. "Dinner leftovers are the easiest way to get a balanced meal into all members of my family for lunch."

RELATED: 15 Healthy Gluten-Free Recipes

Dinner

Sheet-pan suppers: Janeiro pairs her sheet pan chicken and veggies recipe with a sweet potato, gluten-free whole grain, or even a gluten-free pasta on the side. "Plus, it makes the best leftovers," she adds.

Salmon: Any dinner plate that has salmon on it is a winner in Janeiro's book. "It's one of my favorite foods and is a great source of protein and omega-3 fatty acids," she confirms.

Frozen veggie burger: "I've got to be honest—I love a convenient dinner to help with busy weeknights," Janeiro admits. "I always stock my freezer with foods I trust to help make a delicious dinner come together quickly." In her freezer you'll find frozen chicken breasts, bags of frozen vegetables, and Dr. Praeger's veggie burgers.

Snacks

Smoothie: Smoothies are a simple way to add more fruit and vegetables to your day, Janeiro says. "And smoothies can be made into a more balanced snack with the addition of things like milk or soy milk, yogurt, or seeds," she adds. If you're purchasing a smoothie, be cautious: "Many places now have smoothies with nuts and nut butters, and there can be a high risk for cross-contamination," she warns.

A piece of whole fruit with cheese or seed butter: The combo includes carbs, protein, fat, and plenty of fiber, Janeiro says. Plus, "The pairing of sweet and savory makes it satisfying," she adds.

Vegetables and hummus: "I love pairing crisp veggies, like carrots or bell pepper slices, with hummus for a fresh snack that's hydrating," Janeiro says.

Nut-free energy bar: It's hard to deny the convenience of an individually packaged bar you can throw in your purse or bag for an emergency snack on the go, Janeiro points out, which is why she has a trusted company—88 Acres—as her go-to for nut-free and gluten-free bars. "Their Chocolate & Sea Salt bar is amazing," Janeiro says.

Tea or a coffee latte: Craving a snack, but not sure if you're truly hungry? Tame your appetite with tea or coffee instead. "A milk or soy coffee or tea latte offers carbs and protein from the milk to make a snack between meals," Janeiro says.