People drink a soda diet – it’s refreshing, it tastes almost as good as the real thing and satisfies our cravings for sugar, without all those pesky calories. This billion-dollar industry has been deemed safe by government authorities, so what could be wrong with reaching for that diet soda every now and then?
Here’s why: The soda diet has many negative effects on your body. Aspartame, cyclamate, saccharin (tar derivative), acesulfame-k or sucralose, are all chemical sweeteners found in diet soda that are hundreds of times sweeter than regular table sugar, and what they do to our bodies is completely counterproductive to the reason why most of us drink diet soda: to avoid sugar and keep body weight. There are many reasons why a soda diet is just as bad as a regular soda, but here are 10 reasons that will make you put that drink down right away.
1. Your body does not know it is artificial.
When we ingest these artificial sweeteners we may not be ingesting all the calories of real sugar, but our bodies react in the same way. They trigger insulin, sending our bodies into fat storage mode, and guess what results in? Weight gain. Studies over a ten-year period showed that participants who drank the soda diet had a 70% greater increase in waist circumference than those who did not, and those who drank two or more a day had an incredible 500% higher increase. It’s a huge amount of weight gain product that includes “diet” in its name.
2. It is bad for your blood vessels.
Numerous doctors have agreed that we need to reduce sugar intake, one physician from Columbia University said that a soda diet is no better for you than regular soda. He referred to a study in which consuming diet soda increased the risk of stroke, heart attack, and other vascular diseases.
3. We don’t know the long-term effects.
An epidemiologist at the University of Texas states that individuals differ greatly in their reactions to artificial sweeteners and that the possibility of irreversible cumulative effects cannot be ignored. She equates our ignorance of diet soda with “in the middle of a big experiment” that involves “pouring large amounts of artificial chemicals into our bodies day after day”. As she rightly points out, how could there not be any consequences from that?
4. Diet soda is linked to depression.
Research on just under a quarter of a million people found that over ten years, people who drank soda were 30% more likely to be diagnosed with depression. This connection was stronger for those who drank diet soda over regular soda.
5. It has been linked to diabetes.
In a study in which participants who drank just one diet of soda a day had a 36% increased risk of metabolic syndrome and diabetes. Metabolic syndrome describes a range of conditions including high blood pressure, elevated glucose, and large waist circumference.
6. You’ll lose your sense of taste.
Aspartame is 200 times sweeter than normal table sugar. Sucralose (AKA Splenda) is 600 times sweeter. The lesson of the story? Your taste buds are full of sweetness, and other foods lose their flavor. Studies from Columbia University have also shown that diet soda alters the receptors in your brain, so instead of satisfying the craving for sugar, it prolongs them.
7. It can cause kidney problems.
A 2009 study of over 3,000 women found a link between diet soda and kidney problems. Women who drank two or more soda each day had up to a 30% decline in kidney function.
8. Aspartame has been linked to headaches.
Early studies linked aspartame to migraines and headaches. This may only act as a trigger for some people, but if you suffer from regular headaches, it might be worth putting off that diet soda and see if it makes a difference. Laboratory studies have shown that aspartame can alter brain chemicals, nerve signals, the brain’s reward system, leading to headaches.
9. It increases the risk of pre-term delivery.
A recent study of nearly 60,000 pregnant women in Denmark, in which one soda diet a day was associated with a 38% increased risk of preterm birth. Four diet sodas per day increased the risk by 78%.
10. It’ll ruin your smile.
In one study that examined the teeth of cocaine users, methamphetamine users, and diet soda drinkers were examined over time. Guess what? They all had the same level of tooth erosion. The citric acid in the soda diet eventually destroys the enamel on your teeth over time.
There is really only one justification for this drink, and that is to reduce sugar intake and fight today’s obesity crisis. But is this a valid excuse when diet soda has been shown to contribute to obesity, heart disease, depression, and diabetes as significantly as regular soda? Try to give up soda completely and quench your thirst with good water, moderate amounts of fresh, fruit juice rich in vitamins or unsweetened iced tea that is rich in antioxidants.