By Heidi Toy, BS, FNTP
Regular sodas contain sugar, and sugar is bad, right? Plus, look at the calorie count on a regular soda! But you love soda. You HAVE to have it. So you feel like you’re making the healthier choice by going with diet soda–no “sugar” and no calories.
It sounds too good to be true because it is.
Diet sodas are filled with artificial sweeteners such as aspartame, saccharin and sucralose. These sweeteners produce a more intense flavor than real sugar, thus building up the body’s tolerance to naturally sweet foods (like fruit). What’s more, sweeteners trigger insulin (just like real sugar) and send your body into fat storage mode, causing weight gain. Calorie count has nothing to do with it.
Consuming diet soda can lead to increased risk of:
Obesity: A decade-long study from the University of Texas found that diet soda drinkers had a 70 percent greater increase in waist circumference than non-drinkers. AND, participants who imbibed in 2+ sodas a day experienced a 500 percent greater increase.
For some, diet soda might contribute to obesity issues from a psychological standpoint: No calories with your drink, so how about dessert instead?
Type Two Diabetes: According to a study performed by the University of Minnesota, one diet soda per day could increase your risk of metabolic syndrome (high blood pressure, blood sugar handling issues, high cholesterol) by 36 percent.
Headaches: Migraine sufferers often eliminate diet soda from their diets as aspartame can be a trigger.
Rapid Tooth Decay: Citric acid weakens and corrodes tooth enamel over time.
Gentle Dentistry journal found the same level of tooth decay in the mouths of cocaine users, meth users, and diet soda drinkers. Ew.
Rapid Intoxication: The body can process artificial sweeteners faster than real sugar, and this might open up the bloodstream to faster absorption of alcohol in mixed drinks as well.
Osteoporosis in Women:
While women are more susceptible to osteoporosis than men to begin with, soda (regular and diet alike) compounds the situation. Studies show lower bone mineral density in the hips of soda drinkers than women who do not drink soda.
Vascular Disease: Just one diet soda per day can increase your risk of stroke, heart attack or vascular death.
Want an alternative option? Good ol’ water.
Since the body is made up of mostly water, drinking water is one of the best things you can do for yourself. If you like the fizziness of soda, try sparkling or mineral water or kombucha (fermented drink sold in the healthy food refrigerator section at most grocery and speciality stores). Also, it will be easier on your pocketbook. Let’s say you drink a 12 pack of diet soda per week (1-2 cans per day). If the average cost of a 12 pack is $5, you’ll be saving around $20 per month, and $240 per year. Think of all the things you could buy with that, and it wouldn’t involve medically related purchases due to the risks of consuming diet soda.
While my title for this blog (The Word “Die” Is in “Diet Soda” for a Reason) might be a tad dramatic, is clearly isn’t doing anything good for you. So go on a diet soda diet. Don’t put it in your cart at the grocery store, and you won’t be tempted to drink it at home. In fact, don’t even go down the soda aisle at all. Don’t bring cash when you pass the vending machine at work. Don’t look at the soda fountain machines when you’re out to eat–sit with your back to them.
Start small. Many people who are habitual soda drinkers can’t quite cold turkey. If you drink multiple diet soda beverages per day, cut it down to just one per day for a week or two. Then maybe one every other day. Then try it as just a treat for getting through the work week, or month. Soon you will find that you don’t “need” soda to help you “get by.” You might even start craving water. And if this one small change starts to make you feel better, think of how making other small changes to your diet (and lifestyle) might have an impact.
Also, this is hard. The diet soda companies make it hard on purpose. I will be your best friend and biggest cheerleader through your wellness journey. Sign up for a Health Discovery Session with me and we’ll get you on the right path toward better health today!
Does this sound like you on repeat? I GET IT! And I know how to help you so your body can start healing. Sign up for a 20-minute Health Discovery Session with me for $49 and we’ll get you started on a path toward better health today.