On the surface, substituting sugar-laden soda for diet alternatives, seems like a good idea. This substitution seems so logical that millions of people have bought into this very idea. Although many prescribe to this seemingly harmless practice, doesn’t mean it’s healthy or even safe for that matter. In fact, the opposite is true. Check out why you should stop drinking diet soda, and the sooner the better.
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Why You Should Stop Drinking Diet Soda
Diet drinks that contain sucralose (Splenda) or aspartame (NutraSweet, Equal, and Spoonful) are implicated in obesity, an increase in cancer-risk, gut flora imbalances, and diminished immunity and brain function:
1. Drinking Diet Soda Promotes Obesity
I know it seems counter intuitive, but diet soda actually promotes obesity, rather than preventing it. Studies have confirmed that those who consume diet beverages gained more abdominal weight per decade than people who drank regular soda. This weight gain corresponds with metabolic imbalances, changes in gut bacteria, along with its effect on the brain, namely alterations in the appetite control mechanisms.
Diet soda is not only addictive, (thank you caffeine and artificial sweeteners), it intensifies food cravings rather than satisfying them. This is particularly sobering, considering the public has been told the exact opposite, to the detriment of their health.
2. Diet Soda Does A Number On Your Gut Bacteria
Artificial sweeteners, including aspartame and sucralose, are known to damage gut flora. We have a teeming ecosystem of microbes in our GI tract, which are imperative for good health. Artificial sweeteners adversely influence health by promoting imbalances in intestinal flora.
The gut microbiome is integral for synthesizing vitamins, aiding in detoxification, and promoting healthy immunity. Processed foods, antibiotics, and artificial sweeteners are all harmful to the gut microbiome. Your health will take a hit anytime this vibrant ecosystem is damaged.
3. Soda With Artificial Sweeteners Diminishes Immune Function
80% of the immune function resides in the gastrointestinal tract. This means that whatever impacts gut flora will also directly affect immunity. Aspartame is a chemical stressor that leads to an increase in corticosterone levels, lipid peroxidation, and free radicals. This in turn results in variations in cytokine levels, which alters immune function.
Artificial sweeteners have been found to suppress the secretion of IL-6, an endogenous chemical associated with inflammation, and B cell maturation. B cells, part of the humoral immune system, produce antibodies against extra-cellular antigens.
Blood cells exposed to sucralose under stressful conditions were found to reduce interleukin-10, another biomarker of humoral immunity. This suppression of both interleukin-6 and interleukin-10 may correlate to the inability to of the immune system to mount an effective humoral immune response when faced with external threats.
4. Aspartame Decreases Brain Function
Diet sodas can do a number on brain function, in part due to the impact on gut flora. When you drink soda with artificial sweeteners, it produces substances in the intestines that are able to pass through the blood brain barrier into the brain. Aspartate, an excitatory amino acid and neurotransmitter, is released from aspartame during digestion.
Neurotransmitters, such as aspartate and glutamate, can easily cross the blood brain barrier. The problem lies in excessive amounts of these excitatory neurotransmitters gaining access to the brain, which can result in nerve cell death within the brain and spinal cord. Aspartame and glutamate can accumulate to levels that are toxic. This is particularly concerning when it comes to the developing nervous systems and brains of growing children.
Aspartame is also metabolized in the GI tract into methanol, phenylalanine, and aspartic acid. Methanol is then converted into formaldehyde, which can lead to neurological oxidation. Oxidative stress is associated with neurodegenerative diseases and brain aging. Formaldehyde is a known carcinogen that is associated with depression, mood swings, and a susceptibility to headaches. Let’s leave formaldehyde to the embalming industry.
5. Diet Soda Increases The Risk Of Developing Cancer
Aspartame is a known carcinogen that is associated with DNA damage, an increased frequency of chromosomal aberrations, and cancer. Add to this the impact that artificial sweeteners have on obesity, gut flora and the immune system, and you have recipe for dysfunction and disease. These toxic sweeteners have been linked to certain types of cancer, including leukemia, lymphoma, and liver cancer.
Even more alarming is the connection researchers have found between formaldehyde, aspartame, and breast cancer. A study conducted in 2012 in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that men who consume at least one diet soda a day were at increased risk of developing non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and multiple myeloma.
Please ditch the diet soda, and all soda for that matter, if you have cancer, have several risk factors for cancer, have an any type of inflammatory condition, or are not at your ideal weight. Drinking diet soda will most definitely sabotage your well-laid plans and weight-loss goals.
Obesity in itself is a risk factor for cancer so this is a serious issue. Simply put: drinking diet soda is not worth the risk, not to mention, it offers zero nutrition value.
If you enjoy fizzy drinks, consider substituting your diet soda for healthy alternatives like sparkling water or Zevia, a carbonated beverage that is sweetened with stevia. Both your immune system and the scales will thank you!
Did you realize that diet soda posed so many risks? Let me know in the comments:)
(1) BeatCancer.org: The Truth About Diet Soda and Cancer
(2) National Library of Medicine National Center for Biotechnology Information: Aspartame as a dietary trigger of headache
(3) US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health: A review of the genotoxic and carcinogenic effects of aspartame: does it safe or not?
(4) Oxford Academic: The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition: Consumption of artificial sweetener– and sugar-containing soda and risk of lymphoma and leukemia in men and women
(5) Cancer Therapy Advisor: Aspartame and Cancer
(6) Endocinologia y Nutricion: Longer period of oral administration of aspartame on cytokine response in Wistar albino rats
(7) US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health: IL-6 in Inflammation, Immunity, and Disease
(8) US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health: The in vitro effects of artificial and natural sweeteners on the immune system using whole blood culture assays
(9) Healio Lean ImmunoOncology: Adaptive Immunity- Humoral and Cellular Immunity
(10) healthline: Do Artificial Sweeteners Harm Your Good Gut Bacteria?
(11) Brainadvance.org: Aspartame – A Bitter Sweetener