Diet Soda is really just making us fat (and sick)…
The ongoing battle in New York City over the ban on super-sized sugary beverages has revealed our nation’s obsession or dare I say, addiction to sodas. The fervor with which opponents of the ban have fought to protect their “constitutional right” to a Big Gulp is a testament to the “state” and size of our democracy. I am certain the founding father’s felt that among our unalienable rights, together with life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, was unfettered access to 64 oz. or more of high fructose corn syrup. Amazingly, reading the letter of the law, the ban did not apply to diet sodas or so-called low calorie drinks (less than 25 calories per 8 oz.) Herein, lies the great fallacy of the diet soda…
These findings come from eight years of data collected at the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio. The research team looked at seven to eight years of data on 1,550 Americans aged 25 to 64. Of the 622 study participants who were of normal weight at the beginning of the study, about a third became overweight or obese by the end.
“For regular soft-drink drinkers, the risk of becoming overweight or obese was:
26 percent for up to 1/2 can each day
30.4 percent for 1/2 to one can each day
32.8 percent for 1 to 2 cans each day
47.2 percent for more than 2 cans each day.
For diet soft-drink drinkers, the risk of becoming overweight or obese was:
36.5 percent for up to 1/2 can each day
37.5 percent for 1/2 to one can each day
54.5 percent for 1 to 2 cans each day
57.1 percent for more than 2 cans each day.
For each can of diet soft drink consumed each day, a person’s risk of obesity went up 41 percent.”
Why? Artificial sweeteners can disrupt the body’s natural ability to regulate calorie intake based on the sweetness of foods. That means people who consume diet foods are more likely to overeat, because our body is being tricked into thinking it’s eating sugar, and we crave more.
Major side effects of drinking diet soda:
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 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,” according to a professor of molecular biology and biotechnology at the University of Sheffield in the U.K. 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.
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.
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.
So, it seems that with all the health risks and weight implications it’s just not worth it. I’ve heard that it takes 21 days to break a habit. So, I challenge you for 21 days to kick the can. As an alternative, replace it with carbonated (plain or fruit infused) water and just watch how your body responds to shedding those unwanted unnatural substances from your system and ultimately, pounds off your frame!