When mainstream media start to highlight a subject of concern, you know that something (that natural news sites have been saying for years) is really having an impact on our health. Drinking diet soda is popular with many - particularly those who are watching their weight. Yes, diet soda has zero calories. And yet, it can also become an addictive habit. A large and recent study (reported in mainstream media) has concluded that two or more diet drinks per day increase the risk of stroke, heart disease and the likelihood of an early death. Dr Yasmin Mossavar-Rahmani from New York's Albert Einstein College of Medicine says: "Many well-meaning people, especially those who are overweight or obese, drink low-calorie sweetened drinks to cut calories. Our research and other observational studies have shown that artificially sweetened beverages may not be harmless - and high consumption is associated with a higher risk of stroke and heart disease."
But that is not all, it is not just about long term side effects as there there can be immediate short term side effects too including headaches, cravings, mood swings and more. And diet soda drinkers might not make the connection.
Here is more about some of those short term side effects
- Diet sodas are sweetened with artificial substances including the controversial aspartame which has been linked to the appearance of headaches.
- Drinking a diet soda can have a dehydrating effect which can also dry out your skin, leading to a greater chance of acne.
- Research has shown a link between soda and depression or mood swings. While soda drinkers overall were 30% more likely to be depressed — diet soda added another 22% of risk into the equation.
Bone density is another concern. A 2006 study found that women who drank diet soda had significantly lower bone mineral density than those who did not. Sadly, low bone mineral density can set you up for osteoporosis later in life.
- We are all more aware today of the importance of gut health. While a healthy gut bacteria has a good effect on your energy levels, immunity and even mental health, research has found that artificial sweeteners may alter the type and function of the bacteria in your gut microbiome. Aspartame decreases the activity of certain enzymes in your gut.
- Some will use a diet soda as a mixer with alcohol beverages. You might not know that a diet soda mixed with any sort of spirit is likely to make you feel drunker than the liquor would on its own. Studies have found that diet soda drinks result in higher blood alcohol concentrations. This is because while sugar slows down the absorption of the alcohol, giving you a steady, more controllable buzz, artificial sweeteners do not have the same effect.
Higher blood pressure is another concern linked with frequent consumption of diet soda drinks according to research.
- The addictive nature of diet soda is because of dopamine and glutamate, two neurotransmitters in the brain’s reward center, being released from the caffeine and aspartame - and influencing your brain to crave it again after you finish your can.
- Phosphoric acid is used in most dark-colored sodas (whether they diet or regular) but unfortunately, phosphoric acid can disrupt the nutrient absorption process in your body, preventing skin and muscles from getting the nutrients they need and leading to aging with more wrinkles and a weaker frame.
- Another study from Boston University found that diet soda drinkers are up to three times more likely to develop Alzheimer’s or dementia than those who didn’t drink the soda.
It perhaps bears pointing out that water also has zero calories - but absolutely no short term or long term health side effects. Try to develop a taste for water in place of those diet sodas. You will be doing your health a big favor. And if you don't like the plain taste of water, this post will help you.
Still happy to take the risk of drinking those diet sodas? You might like to re-consider.