Making these simple dietary changes will have a significant impact on your health and vitality. For tips 1 through 10, check out my previous blog posts:

11. Artificial sweeteners—a poor substitute. Food manufacturers would have you believe that the calorie-free sweeteners in their products are healthier than regular sugar and less likely to cause weight gain. Research, however, tells a different story. A study by the University of Texas published in the Journal of Obesity in 2008 found that people who drank artificially sweetened beverages gained 47 percent more weight over a 7 to 8 year period than people who avoided these sweeteners.

Why is this so? Researchers aren’t sure, but speculate that because calorie-free sweeteners are up to 13,000 times sweeter than regular sugar they create a craving for intensely sweet, high-caloric food. Also, they may trigger the release of insulin and disrupt the blood sugar balance in the body.

It’s best to limit your intake of sweeteners such as saccharin (Sweet ‘N Low), aspartame (Nutrasweet/Equal), and sucralose (Splenda). Any product labeled “sugar free” will most likely contain one of these sweeteners. So read those labels.

If you enjoy your beverage sweetened, it’s best to stick with sweeteners that are less processed and closer to their natural state, such as raw sugar, honey, agave nectar, and maple syrup.