Diet drinks are popular among those who want to enjoy the taste of their favorite beverage but without all the calories. Most people think no calories means the drink must be healthy. But while the calories are missing, many other serious health risks still exist. Diet drinks are often full of artificial sweeteners and ingredients not approved by the Food and Drug Administration. Here are some significant health risks associated with drinking diet beverages.
Contrary to popular belief, drinking diet soda causes weight gain. According to a recent nine year study, adults who drank diet soda continued to gain weight over the years. The study went on to state that drinking diet soda everyday increases the risk of becoming obese within the next decade by sixty five percent. Another study found a link between diet soda and an increase in metabolic syndrome, which may lead to diabetes and heart disease.
Migraines, Anxiety And Insomnia
Diet beverages containing the artificial sweetener ingredient aspartame may cause migraines and impaired concentration because they alter nerve signals, brain chemicals and the brain’s “reward” system. This may lead to insomnia or anxiety. A recent animal study found damaged cells and nerve endings in the cerebellum of rats who drank diet soda. The cerebellum is the part of the brain that controls motor skills.
Altered Taste Buds And Cravings
Drinking diet soda impairs the taste of other foods, often times making them less enjoyable. Artificial sweeteners found in diet drinks overwhelm taste buds with a fake sugary effect. Aspartame tastes two hundred times sweetener than regular table sugar. Splenda is six hundred times sweeter. Brain scans show that diet soda alters the brain’s perception of sweet foods and increases cravings of more sugary sweets. Giving up diet drinks allows palate sensitivity to increase and in most cases the craving for sugary snacks stops.
Many diet soft drinks contain phosphoric acid, which increases calcium excretion in the urine, putting drinkers at an increased risk for osteoporosis. A recent study found that every soda consumed increased the risk of hip fracture in postmenopausal women by fourteen percent. Another study found an associated between low bone density in older women and diet cola drinkers.
Stroke And Heart Attack
A recent study found that drinking diet cola increases the risk of stroke by fifty percent. According to the authors of the study, “This study suggests that diet soda is not an optimal substitute for sugar-sweetened beverages, and may be associated with a greater risk of stroke, myocardial infarction, or vascular death than regular soda." A stroke occurs when blood clots prevent blood flow from reaching the brain, causing brain cells to die. The longer the brain goes without oxygen, the more susceptible a person is to lasting damage.
Diet soda greatly affects a person’s hormones, which may explain why so many people gain weight when they drink it. According to a study in Diabetes Care, drinking diet soda before eating a meal caused the pancreas to release insulin, a hormone that stores fat, among other things. Diabetes occurs when the pancreas becomes overworked from creating insulin. The more soda a person consumes means the harder their pancreas has to work and the greater the risk of diabetes.
Researchers found that kidney function in women who drank more than one diet soda per day declined over a period of two decades. When compared with women who did not drink diet soda, the diet soda drinking women experienced a thirty percent greater reduction in kidney function over twenty years. There was no connection between kidney function and drinking sugary beverages, indicating that a substance in diet cola may be harder for the kidneys to filter.
Development Of Unhealthy Food Habits
While drinking diet beverages has many physical health risks, it also alters mental health. Drinking a diet beverage with zero calories is not better for a person’s health than drinking organic green tea sweetened with local, raw honey. Although there are calories in raw honey, it provides enzymes and antibacterial activity that may boost health. Lifelong poor food choices are created by the mindset that all calories are bad.
Drinking extremely large amounts of diet soda was linked to brain cancer, leukemia and lymphomas in one Italian study. Researchers noted the amounts of diet soda fed to the animals in the experiment were not likely to be consumed by a human. While the threat to humans is low according to this study, staying clear of diet beverages is not a bad idea for decreasing one’s risk of developing cancer.
According to a decade long study of over sixty thousand women, drinking diet soda sweetened with aspartame was linked to a thirty percent increase in having a heart attack and a fifty percent increase in the risk of premature death. Aspartame is a neurotoxin chemical compound made from the feces of genetically engineered bacteria. When digested, aspartame turns into a chemical known to cause toxicity in the body called formic acid, which may explain the increased risk in premature death.