Why is Diet Soda Bad For You? The Truth About Diet Drinks Diet Soda – What Exactly is it? Diet sodas are carbonated beverages. Instead of sugar, they are sweetened with artificial sweeteners like aspartame, cyclamate, saccharin, acesulfame-k or sucralose. These drinks are calorie free, which technically should help people lose weight and prevent sugar-related diseases like metabolic syndrome and diabetes. 1. Diet Soda and The Metabolic Syndrome The metabolic syndrome is a group of risk factors for disease that often occur together and raise your risk of diabetes, stroke and heart disease. It is defined as having at least three of the following: • Abdominal obesity (belly fat) • High fasting glucose • High triglycerides • Low HDL cholesterol • Elevated blood pressure In a study published in the journal Circulation in 2008, which followed 9.514 people for 9 years, drinking artificially sweetened beverages was associated with a 34% greater risk of developing the metabolic syndrome (1). Another study found a 36% increased risk of metabolic syndrome and a drastically increased risk of diabetes in diet soda drinkers (2). Bottom Line: Observational studies show a correlation between diet soda and the metabolic syndrome, which can lead to serious diseases. 2. Diet Soda, Depression and Preterm Delivery There is an association between diet soda and depression In a study of 263.925 adults aged 51-70, individuals who drank soda were 30% more likely to be diagnosed with depression over a period of 10 years. The link was stronger for diet soda than regular soda. Diet soda is also associated with preterm delivery. In a study of 59.334 pregnant women in Denmark, 1 serving per day of diet drinks was associated with a 38% increased risk of preterm delivery. 4 servings per day increased the risk by 78%. Bottom Line: Diet soda consumption is strongly associated with both depression and preterm delivery. 3. Diet Soda and The Risk of Type II Diabetes Type II diabetes has increased at an alarming rate in the past few decades and now afflicts about 300 million people worldwide. This disease is highly associated with obesity and sugar consumption, so some would argue that replacing sugar-sweetened beverages with calorie-free drinks would help. However, there is no evidence of these drinks being helpful against diabetes. A study of 6.814 individuals aged 45-85 years, daily consumption of diet soda was associated with a 67% increased risk of type II diabetes In another study, 66.118 French women were followed for a total of 14 years. Women who consumed the most diet drinks had a 121% greater risk of developing type II diabetes. Data analysis from two large Harvard studies revealed that diet drinks raised diabetes risk in women, but not men. Each daily serving increased the risk of a diabetes diagnosis by 6% . Bottom Line: The association between diet soda and diabetes is very strong, especially in women. One study showed more than a doubling in risk. 4. Diet Soda, Obesity and Weight Gain The main reason people switch to diet drinks is to cut back on calories in order to lose weight. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem to work. In a study of 3.682 individuals from San Antonio, Texas, consumption of diet soda was associated with double the risk of becoming overweight or obese. Other studies determine that drinking diet soda can make you fat, leading to obesity and its associated problems. For example, one study found that individuals who drink a diet soda two or more times a day had a five times increase in waist circumference over a period of 10 years compared to individuals who did not drink any diet soda. The reason for the association between diet soda and weight gain was previously unknown. However, researchers at the Institute of Food, Nutrition, and Health in Zürich, Switzerland recently assessed the impact of dietary energy (sugar) on gut microbial communities (microbes in the intestines) and metabolism. According to the study, consuming high amounts of fructose (a type of sugar), artificial sweeteners, and sugar alcohols (another type of low-calorie sweetener) significantly changed the microbes in the gut that are responsible for signalling satiety and for metabolism. Additionally, drinking artificially sweetened diet soda can make your body crave sugar. In other words, drinking diet soda causes your body to think that you are never full and to slow down your metabolism, both of which can lead to obesity. As reported on Today Health, Amanda Payne, PhD and lead author of the research, comments, “An evolution of the gut flora to this new sweetener-rich environment has a potential to negatively impact our health.” Payne, herself, says that she tries to stay away from foods that might damage the balance of the microbes in her gut: “I will say from a personal perspective that I don’t drink sodas–diet or regular–and I rarely eat processed foods, especially if they have high-fructose corn syrup listed on their label.” Diet soda in large quantities negatively impacts the composition of the microbes in the intestines Bottom Line: Observational studies show a strong link between diet soda and obesity and drinking diet soda can negatively affect your metabolism and your ability to feel satisfied from eating reasonable amounts of healthy foods. 5. Diet soda is loaded with artificial sweeteners and chemicals that can be harmful to your body. Most diet sodas are sweetened with at least one of these sugar substitutes: acesulfame potassium ), And, yes, they are approved by the FDA, but now hear this: For the past few decades, scientists have studied the effects of artificial sweeteners on both animals and humans. The scientific studies vary significantly: Some show no conclusive, harmful effects to humans, while other studies, mostly on laboratory rats, link these sugar substitutes to cancers, tumors, thyroid issues, and — ironically — even weight gain. According to the National Cancer Institute, laboratory rats that were given cyclamate and saccharin had higher rates of bladder cancer. This led the FDA to ban cyclamate in the United States in 1969. Aspartame was linked to lymphoma and leukemia in rats at very high doses (eight to 2,083 cans of diet soda daily). Bottom line: Although aspartame and other sweeteners including acesulfame potassium, sucralose, and neotame, are still legally considered safe for humans to consume, is it really worth the risk to your health? 5. Diet sodas can cause tooth decay. This one comes from my sweet hubby the dentist. He says without exception whenever he has a patient with rampant tooth decay they are a soda drinker. And surprisingly many are diet soda drinkers. His explanation is that soda (especially if sipped through out the day) changes the acidic balance in the mouth allowing those organisms that cause tooth decay to multiply and flourish. His advice if you must drink soda is to drink one thinking of it as a dessert and immediately go brush your teeth when you have finished. Bottom line: One of the worst things you can do for your teeth is to buy a giant soda (yes even if it is diet) and sip it throughout your day. You are bathing your teeth in disease causing solution.