Sounds like it would be a good option while you’re trying to get healthier. After all, it has the word ‘diet’ in it so it has to be good, right?
In fact, a Purdue researcher says public health officials should tell people to avoid diet soda much like they do with regular, sugar-sweetened soda. Susan E. Swithers, PhD, a professor of psychological sciences and a behavioral neuroscientist at Purdue says warnings may need to be expanded to include limiting intake of all sweeteners, including artificial and no-calorie sweeteners.
That means sodas with the word zero or light in them are just as bad (i.e. Coke Zero, Coke Light, Pepsi True, etc.)
Artificial sweeteners seem to confuse the body’s natural ability to manage calories based on tasting something sweet.
What many people don’t realize is that artificial sweeteners also can cause a dangerous addiction — an addiction to overly sweet foods. They retrain the taste buds to need more and more, sweeter and sweeter foods. This leads to even greater incidences of obesity, type 2 diabetes, kidney damage and so much more.
So how does the use of artificial sweeteners contribute to addiction? Researchers believe that part of the reason is that individuals will just find other foods to fill the calorie gap in order to become satiated.
We’ve all seen people order diet sodas, only to then order one of the most calorie-ridden items on a menu. That’s because non-nutritive sweeteners provide virtually no sense of satisfaction.
PepsiCo Inc. recently announced it’s reformulating Diet Pepsi, Caffeine Free Diet Pepsi and Wild Cherry Diet Pepsi sold in the United States. It’s removing aspartame from the formula and replacing it with sucralose and Ace-K due to declining sales. According to Senior Vice President Seth Kaufman,
To Diet Pepsi consumers, removing aspartame is their No. 1 concern. We’re listening to consumers. It’s what they want.
This does not make diet sodas with artificial sweeteners any safer. Sucralose and Ace-K both have dangerous side effects; Pepsi is switching the formula not for the health of its consumers — after all, they are keeping Diet Mountain Dew exactly the same — but because consumers are aware of the dangers of aspartame.
Unfortunately, the general population isn’t as aware of the dangers of sucralose and Ace-K, and PepsiCo believes that this change in formulation will increase sales. Don’t be tricked by marketing ploys; aspartame, sucralose and Ace-K are all bad for your health.
No calorie sweeteners may sound like a good idea when you look to lose weight, but they aren’t. Their side effects far outweigh potential benefits of a low-calorie sweetener, and they are actually linked with weight gain, not weight loss.
Beyond that, there’s lots of research linking diet soda drinking to all sorts of health troubles. Read on to find out just how bad diet soda is to your health!
DIET SODA DANGERS
New research from the American Academy of Neurology has found that sweetened drinks—especially of the diet variety—are associated with a heightened risk of depression.
Those who downed at least four cans of soda per day were 30% more likely to suffer from depression than people abstaining from pop, and people who consumed the equivalent in fruit punch were 38% more likely to develop depression.
Here’s the worst news for those who prefer calorie-free drinks: Those who consumed diet soda and diet fruit punch had an even greater risk of depression than those who drank sugar-sweetened drinks.
On the flip side, drinking four cups of coffee or tea a day seemed to offer protective effects, lowering depression risk 10 percent.
Here’s something you didn’t know about your diet soda: It might be bad for your kidneys. In an 11-year-long Harvard Medical School study of more than 3,000 women, researchers found that diet cola is associated with a two-fold increased risk for kidney decline.
Kidney function started declining when women drank more than two sodas a day. Even more interesting: Since kidney decline was not associated with sugar-sweetened sodas, researchers suspect that the diet sweeteners are responsible.
TYPE 2 DIABETES & METABOLIC SYNDROME
A 2009 study published in the journal Diabetes Care found drinking diet soda daily is linked to a 36 percent higher risk of metabolic syndrome and a 67 percent higher risk of type 2 diabetes compared to non-diet soda drinkers.
In fact, the artificial sweeteners may tamper with the gut-brain connection. This can lead to brain trickery that leads to “metabolic derangements.” Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel researchers were surprised when they found diet soda actually alters gut microbes in a way that increases the risk of metabolic diseases. When researchers fed mice zero-calorie sweeteners found in these drinks, including saccharin, aspartame and sucralose, they developed glucose intolerance.
According to a 2008 University of Minnesota study of almost 10,000 adults, even just one diet soda a day is linked to a 34% higher risk of metabolic syndrome, the group of symptoms including belly fat and high cholesterol that puts you at risk for heart disease. Whether that link is attributed to an ingredient in diet soda or the drinkers’ eating habits is unclear. But is that one can really worth it?
Diet soda doesn’t help you lose weight after all. A University of Texas Health Science Center study found that the more diet sodas a person drank, the greater their risk of becoming overweight. Downing just two or more cans a day increased waistlines by 500%.
Why? Artificial sweeteners can disrupt the body’s natural ability to regulate calorie intake based on the sweetness of foods, suggested an animal study from Purdue University. That means people who consume diet foods might be more likely to overeat, because your body is being tricked into thinking it’s eating sugar, and you crave more.
University of Miami and Columbia University researchers followed more than 2,000 adults for 10 years and found that those drinking diet soda daily were more likely to suffer a stroke or heart attack. They were also more likely to die from cardiovascular disease. This increase risk remained even when researchers adjusted for smoking, exercise, weight, sodium intake, high cholesterol and other factors that could have contributed to the difference.
Diet sodas contain something many regular sodas don’t: mold inhibitors. They go by the names sodium benzoate or potassium benzoate, and they’re in nearly all diet sodas. But many regular sodas, such as Coke and Pepsi, don’t contain this preservative.
That’s bad news for diet drinkers. “These chemicals have the ability to cause severe damage to DNA in the mitochondria to the point that they totally inactivate it – they knock it out altogether,” Peter Piper, a professor of molecular biology and biotechnology at the University of Sheffield in the U.K., told a British newspaper in 1999. The preservative has also been linked to hives, asthma, and other allergic conditions, according to the Center for Science in the Public Interest.
Since then, some companies have phased out sodium benzoate. Diet Coke and Diet Pepsi have replaced it with another preservative, potassium benzoate. Both sodium and potassium benzoate were classified by the Food Commission in the UK as mild irritants to the skin, eyes, and mucous membranes. Your best bet? Stay away from these soft drinks altogether!
Drinking soda, including diet soda, increases your risk of developing asthma and COPD symptoms. The more soda a person drinks, the higher the risk. (That’s called a “dose-response relationship.”)
An Australian study found that 13.3 percent of surveyed participants with asthma and 15.6 percent of those with COPD drank more than two cups of soda each day.
A LESS PROTECTED BRAIN
Aspartame, a common artificial sweetener in diet sodas, seems to chip away at the brain’s antioxidant defense system.
Aspartame is also linked to:
- migraines & headaches
- short term memory loss
- multiple sclerosis
- hearing loss
- weight gain
- brain tumors
- chronic fatigue syndrome
- birth defects
- Alzheimer’s disease
- arthritis (including rheumatoid)
- chemical sensitivities
With a pH of 3.2, diet soda is very acidic. (As a point of reference, the pH of battery acid is 1. Water is 7.) The acid is what readily dissolves enamel, and just because a soda is diet doesn’t make it acid-light.
Adults who drink three or more sodas a day have worse dental health, says a University of Michigan analysis of dental checkup data. Soda drinkers had far greater decay, more missing teeth, and more fillings.
With all of these nasty side effects of drinking diet soda, why does anyone still drink this poison? The soda industry has brainwashed us into thinking that what they are selling is healthier than regular soda and sadly, we have bought into that way of thinking.
They are masters at advertising and marketing to even appeal to children and start the addiction at a young age.
Research shows that artificial sweeteners don’t satiate you the way real foods do. Instead, you end up feeling less satisfied and prone to eating and drinking more, resulting in weight gain, in addition to potentially suffering the dangerous side effects associated with artificial sweeteners.
If you, or someone you know, is a habitual diet soda drinker, please pass along this information to them. You could save their life by opening their eyes to the dangers of what they are putting into their bodies.
If you, yourself, are addicted to diet soda, the best way to wean yourself off of this daily habit is to start slow. Replace one can a day with a cup of Oolong tea for the first couple of days and gradually substitute the tea for the soda until you are completely free from the diet junk.
Oolong tea is known for curbing cravings, giving you an energy boost without the caffeine crash, and benefiting your body in ways the diet soda NEVER did! Not only will it aid in weight loss, but it does wonders for regulating blood glucose, lowering cholesterol, revving your metabolism, clearing your skin and boosting your immune system. It also has the ability to fight free radicals in your body which are known to do damage and cause disease.
If you aren’t a tea drinker, try our convenient Oolong tea capsules or brew up the tea and mix into your favorite smoothie or iced tea recipe – you can even cook with it, too! The possibilities are endless and there really isn’t any excuse not to try it out!
Do you have a diet soda addiction? Let me know in the comments below if you learned something new today about the dangers of diet soda and if you plan on kicking the habit!
Yours in Health & Happiness,