With the bad publicity that popular junk foods were receiving due to being linked to weight gain and cardiovascular diseases, one stood out above them all. Soda was the high sugar, empty-calorie beverage that took the biggest hit from critics and understandably so. One can of your favorite carbonated soda contains well over 40 grams of sugar and no other usable calories! In response to this, corporate beverage giants set out to find a way for consumers to have their soda and drink it too. What they came up with was diet soda. These zero calorie beverages captured the same taste as its predecessor without the dangers of weight gain.
Modern research is now revealing that diet soda may be just as harmful to your health as regular soda. Let’s review the top 3 reasons you should steer clear of diet soda.
1. Diet soda may increase your risk for disease
Have you ever wondered how diet soda could taste just as sweet as regular soda although it contains no sugar? Artificial sweeteners are the key to providing that sweet taste in a zero calorie beverage. It’s not just soda. Most low-calorie processed products, from energy drinks to snacks, may contain one or several artificial sweeteners. When it comes to diet soda, here are the two biggest culprits.
High Fructose Corn Syrup
- Sugar substitute.
- Very inexpensive to produce.
- Long shelf life.
- Widespread use of HFC may be linked to the increase in cardiovascular diseases worldwide. (1)
- Made by chlorinating table sugar.
- Creates organochlorine compounds.
- These compounds may be linked to causing and/or worsening reproductive system cancers, infertility, and neurotoxicity. (2)
2. Diet soda may increase your risk for diabetes
When it was first released, diet soda was thought to be an effective tool for weight loss. Weight gained via regular soda was accompanied with an increased risk for diabetes, assuming you didn’t develop it before seeing your doctor. The idea was that by removing the very thing that caused the initial weight gain (sugar) it would follow that the weight would disappear as would the diabetes. This was a pre-mature assumption as diet soda consumption was discovered to lead to insulin resistance. Diet soda has a direct impact on our gut flora, essentially weakening them. Becoming insulin resistant increases your risk for Type II diabetes. (3)
3. Diet soda causes tooth decay
Remember how regular soda was linked to tooth decay and cavities due to the sugar content? Well diet soda provides that very same risk without sugar. Researchers have compared the severity of tooth decay through excess diet soda consumption to that of someone using methamphetamines. While this comparison was made for extreme soda drinkers, making soda a part of your daily diet can still pose the risk of tooth decay and cavities. (4)
Although it may be easier said than done, ditching diet soda as well as regular soda would be the safest and healthiest option. The risks that are associated with both can have a direct impact on your short-term and long-term health. If you find that you must indulge, try making it a special and rare treat. Drink it once in awhile and chase it down with a glass of water for the sake of your teeth and body.
1. Flavin, Dana. Metabolic Danger of High-Fructose Corn Syrup. Life Extension Magazine. December 2008.
2. Gourounti, K. Mechanisms of Actions and Health Effects of Organochloric Substances: A Review. Health Science Journal. 2008. 2:2.
3. Jotham Suez, Tal Korem, David Zeevi, Gili Zilberman-Schapira, Christoph A. Thaiss, Ori Maza, David Israeli, Niv Zmora, Shlomit Gilad, Adina Weinberger, Yael Kuperman, Alon Harmelin, Ilana Kolodkin-Gal, Hagit Shapiro, Zamir Halpern, Eran Segal, Eran Elinav. Artificial sweeteners induce glucose intolerance by altering the gut microbiota. Nature. October 2014. Volume 514.
4. Bassiouny, MA. Dental erosion due to abuse of illicit drugs and acidic carbonated beverages. Gen Dent. 2013 Mar-Apr;61(2):38-44.