Diet soda makers would have you believe that using their products will improve your life: you will look better, feel better, and get more out of life. Unfortunately, all that rhetoric is as phony as the artificial sweeteners they use in their beverages, because diet soda can screw up your brain and your body.
Many people think they are making a healthy move when they switch from sugar-based sodas to diet soda, which typically contain aspartame, saccharin, sucralose, or acesulfame potassium. After all, they are consuming less sugar, which should translate into fewer calories and perhaps even some help with weight loss. That’s what the diet soda manufacturers like to say.
Read more about reasons to kick the diet soda habit
Yes, you can lose weight by cutting calories, but replacing sugar sodas with artificially sweetened ones is not a wise road to take for various reasons. Why? I’m glad you asked.
- Research suggests that drinking diet soda over the years screws up the body metabolism by making it respond as if you were consuming sugar. The results of one study in Diabetes Care, for example, found that individuals who consumed diet soda daily had a 67 percent greater risk of type 2 diabetes than those who did not drink diet soda. The authors did not see a significant risk between drinking sugary sodas and diabetes.
- Diet soda can have a negative impact on heart health. A 2013 study from Purdue University reported that frequent use of artificial sweeteners in products such as diet soda may increase the risk of cardiovascular disease. The authors proposed that these fake sugars interfere with the body’s learned responses related to glucose and energy balance.
- Use of artificial sweeteners can alter the microorganism environment in the intestinal tract (gut) and result in glucose intolerance in otherwise healthy individuals.
- There is increasing evidence that artificial sweeteners are associated with an increased risk of cancer. In a new study in Drug and Chemical Toxicology, exposure of cells to different artificial sweeteners showed greater DNA fragmentation and cell alterations (indications of cancer) in colon cancer cells than in kidney cells.
- Weight loss is certainly not guaranteed if you choose diet sodas. According to Brooke Alpert, who wrote The Sugar Detox, when you ingest artificial sweeteners, insulin production is triggered, which tells your body to store fat and, you guessed it, weight gain.
- Can diet soda make you more intoxicated? A study in Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, investigators found that when you mix alcohol with diet soda, breath alcohol concentrations are higher than when you combine liquor with a sugary mixer. The reason is that sugar slows down alcohol absorption from the stomach to the bloodstream while diet soda is faster.
- Diet soda can be a bone buster. Actually, both diet soda and regular soda are guilty of this health hazard. In a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, daily consumption of cola, regular or diet, was associated with significantly lower bone mineral density in women when compared with those who drank less than one serving of cola per month. The National Osteoporosis Foundation also recommends not drinking too many soft drinks daily if you want to maintain bone health.
- Did you drinking diet soda may be depressing? A 2014 study published in PLoS ONE reported that frequent consumption of diet drinks, including diet soda, “may increase depression risk among older adults.”
- Do you like your smile? Drinking diet soda and regular soda can cause erosion of the enamel on your teeth. Over time, the citric acid in these beverages weakens and wears away your tooth enamel.
Are you going to let an empty calorie, nutrition-free beverage screw up your body and brain? Before you or your kids reach for that diet soda, think about all the refreshing alternatives (e.g., green and herbal teas, infused water, sparkling water, 100% fruit and vegetable juices) and make a wise choice.
Image: Joe Loong