Diet soda isn’t a health drink or cure or solution for being overweight. Although switching from regular soda to diet soda will save you calories, some studies have shown drinking soda of any type leads to obesity and other health problems.
There are healthier choices.
Start your day with 12 – 16 ounces of cold water. Studies have shown that coffee has health benefits — just don’t load it up with sugar or cream. In fact, try to get used to coffee with just a splash of cream only and no sugar.
Put down the sweet tea and go for unsweetened. Try 8 ounces of whole, organic milk with meals. Sip water throughout the day. For variety, you can try sparkling water or squirt a bit of lemon or lime in it.
If you have to satisfy your sweet tooth, the occasional diet soda isn’t going to hurt you. Just know that there are healthier options. More and more evidence is pointing to the consumption of sugar as a major factor in metabolic syndrome and other disorders such as diabetes. Although diet soda doesn’t have sugar, it does perpetuate your sweet tooth and craving for sweetness. That can make it hard to cut out sugar from the other aspects of your diet.
When you reach for that diet soft drink, here’s what you’re getting:
|Aspartame||Sweetener||Breaks down easily in heat and during storage to its neurotoxic components phenylalanine, aspartic acid and methyl alcohol. While most people can consume aspartame without problems, some people report aspartame to be associated with headaches, dizziness, loss of balance, mood swings, nausea, memory loss, muscle weakness, blurred vision, fatigue, weakness, skin rashes, joint and musculoskeletal pain. The most recent evidence shows that aspartame ingested at levels that are currently found in daily soft drink consumption associated with rare brain tumors known as lymphomas.|
|Acesulfame K||Sweetener||Has been observed to causes cancer in animals. Acetoacetamide, a breakdown product, has been shown to affect the thyroid gland in rats, rabbits, and dogs. Although it’s commonly blended with aspartame to cover its bitter taste, there are no studies to show if the combination is safe or whether it produces other toxic by-products.|
|Phosphoric acid||Acidifier||Acidic and can contribute to erosion of tooth enamel; leaches calcium from bones. Children with high intake of phosphoric acid suffer from brittle bones and a higher risk of fractures that can follow them throughout life. Children consuming at least six glasses (1.5 litres) of phosphoric acid-containing soft drinks daily have more than five times the risk of developing low blood levels of calcium, compared to children who don’t drink sodas.|
|Citric acid||Preservative, acidifier||Also acidic. On its own relatively harmless, though it can be hard on tooth enamel. When mixed with potassium or sodium benzoate (see below) during storage, and especially at raised temperatures, it can aid the formation of carcinogenic benzene.|
|Caffeine||Flavoring||A stimulant, psychoactive compound that can provoke mood changes, lethargy and headache. Caffeine is addictive and ingestion of high levels can cause miscarriage as well as contribute to peptic ulcers and heart ailments. At the levels added to soft drinks caffeine adds virtually no flavor but can, if consumed regularly, trigger caffeine addiction. Children consuming caffeine have higher incidences of illness, headaches, sleep problems and iron depletion. A 330ml bottle of cola contains about half the caffeine of a cup of coffee.|
|Sodium Benzoate (E211)||Preservatives||People who suffer from asthma, rhinitis or urticaria may find their symptoms get worse following the consumption of benzoates. In acidic solutions (such as sodas), benzoates can break down into benzene, a known carcinogen.|
|Sulphite ammonia caramel (E150d)||Coloring||Made by heating sugar, ammonia and sulphite-containing compounds. Ammonia is toxic by all routes of exposure, and caramels made by an ammonia process may damage genes, slow down growth, cause enlargement of the intestines and kidneys and may destroy vitamin B. This coloring has never been fully evaluated for its potential carcinogenicity or reproductive toxicity.|
So maybe that diet soft drink isn’t looking so tasty about now?
Cutting out sugary drinks (and sugary tasting drinks like diet soda that perpetuate your sweet tooth) can be a fantastic first step toward a healthier diet.