When the “no-cal” or no calorie soft drink first appeared in the 50s, it was a lucrative business for soft drink companies. Originally, “diet” sodas were targeted towards women, but now they are one of the most common beverages — with one-fifth of the U.S. population drinking them on any given day. However, recent studies have indicated that “diet” sodas aren’t really the answer to a healthy diet after all. So the debate continues: Is diet soda really any better than regular soda?
What’s In a Diet Soda?
Regular sodas are notorious for their high content of sugar or corn syrup. According to the American Heart Association (AHA), the recommended amount of added sugars are:
- Men: 150 calories per day
- Women: 100 calories per day
Health experts always recommend eliminating soda consumption, especially if one is diabetic. Fitness gurus don’t even acknowledge sodas on their turf. Hence, the idea of switching to “diet” sodas appeared to be the key to drinking without worrying about your waistline. However, the artificial sweeteners in diet sodas (aspartame, cyclamate, saccharin, acesfulfame-k, sucralose) may dissuade you from drinking further.
Diet Soda Can Cause You To Crave More Sugar
“Research shows that sweet taste can increase appetite and the regular consumption of the high intensity sweetness of artificial sweeteners may encourage sugar craving and dependence.” –CNN diet and fitness expert Dr. Melina Jampolis
It may sound attractive — all components of sugar being replaced with artificial sweeteners — but this fake sugar can confuse your body into craving more sugar. When our body is designed to break down sugar, but is instead supplied with fake contents, it becomes confused as to how to respond.
Frequent consumption of diet soda can hold a risk of causing our body to become unresponsive when a person consumes real sugar. It is said artificial sweeteners are now modified with such intense flavoring that real sugar no longer meets our bodies’ physiological expectations; in other words, our bodies don’t release the hormones needed to regulate blood sugar and blood pressure.
“Artificial sweeteners trigger insulin, which sends your body into fat storage mode and leads to weight gain.” —Brooke Alpert, RD author of The Sugar Detox
Type 2 Diabetes
When a study was conducted in Europe to determine the risk of type 2 diabetes with diet beverage consumption, a high number of participants were found to be prone to type 2 diabetes.
Another study, published by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, shows that diet drinks were just as dangerous (if not more dangerous) than regular soda products if consumed on a daily basis. This was a 14 year study of 66,118 women that shows some daunting evidence.
- Diet sodas raised the risk of diabetes
- Regular drinkers of 12 ounces of diet soda had a 33 percent risk of developing type 2 diabetes
- Drinkers of 20 ounces of diet soda drinkers had a 66 percent risk of developing type 2 diabetes
- Women who drank diet sodas actually drank twice as much compared to those who drank sugar-sweetened sodas
- On average, diet soda drinkers consumed 3 diet drinks a day
According to these studies, diet sodas are shown to increase sugar cravings, leading to weight gain. What’s even scarier is they are highly addictive.
Increased Risk of Stroke and Heart Attack
In 2009, the University of Miami conducted research that concluded that people who drank diet sodas on a daily basis were at risk of stroke and heart attack.
“We had a strong bias for conducting the study, as other diet soda studies have suggest an association between diabetes, weight gain, coronary heart disease and other ailments, but we were surprised to find the strength of the results.” –Hannah Gardener, University of Miami Miller School of Medicine.
Even one diet soft drink a day could increase your risk of having a stroke, heart attack or vascular death. 43 percent were likely to experience a vascular event.
Of course, this goes with regular soda drinkers as well, but the importance here is that the reactions followed by drinking diet sodas are found to be more harmful to our bodies.
No Nutritional Value
Sugar in limited amounts is good for our body. But considering how diet drinkers prefer diet sodas because they are “safe”, there is great potential for damage. Diet sodas have no nutritional value whatsoever. Additionally, since diet sodas contain caffeine and caffeine is diuretic, your frequent trips to the bathroom can lead to dehydration which leads to dizziness, headaches and heart problems.
With nothing beneficial to the body, and the fact that these drinks actually trick the body, diet sodas are simply a can of worms.
Featured photo credit: tales of a wandering youkai via flickr.com