At a conference I recently attended, I sat next to a woman who told me about the terrible side effects of drinking diet soda. I’d honestly never thought much about my love for Diet Coke and how it might be affecting my body. So, I decided to see if she was right (and not just some naturalist espousing the philosophy that I should only drink water and only eat tree bark with a side of seaweed).
Turns out, she might have a good point. Here are some of the results researchers have seen in studies on diet soft drinks.
- Kidney trouble—processing the chemicals in diet drinks stresses the kidneys. A Harvard Medical School study found that women who drank two or more diet drinks per day doubled the risk of kidney decline. This concerned me because I’m prone to kidney stones already.
- Metabolic Syndrome—according to a University of Minnesota study, consuming just one diet soda a day puts you at a 34% higher risk of metabolic syndrome (symptoms include belly fat, high cholesterol and higher risks of heart disease).
- Headaches—most of the evidence on this one is anecdotal, but drinking diet soda has been known to trigger headaches and migraines in susceptible people (some of this may also be due to the caffeine in the soda, not the artificial sweetener).
- Teeth—all soft drinks are acidic and diet soda is no exception. The citric acid in soda (pH of 3.2, compared to water with a neutral pH of about 7) will weaken and destroy tooth enamel. A case study in the journal General Dentistry compared the mouths of cocaine/methamphetamine users with habitual diet soda drinkers and found similar levels of tooth erosion in both.
- Bones—the phosphate in diet drinks leaches the calcium out of your bones, putting you at higher risk of osteoporosis and fractures.
- Type 2 Diabetes/Obesity—this is the big one (pun intended). Drinking diet soda can actually make you gain weight. Researchers have seen these effects but aren’t sure exactly why it happens. The leading theory is that the artificial sweetener in diet soda fools the body into thinking it is sugar, which triggers a flood of insulin to counteract the sugar in the blood stream. This then causes the body to go into fat storage mode, turning anything you eat into fat, plus it makes you more likely to overeat. One study from the University of Texas found that over 10 years, diet soda drinkers had a 70% greater increase in waist circumference when compared with non-diet drinkers.
Whew! That was a long list. Based on all of this, I have started a Diet Coke fast. It’s only been a week and it’s been harder than I thought it would be. Apparently, there’s something in there my body is craving (I don’t think it’s the caffeine because I usually drink caffeine-free diet). But I’m determined to stick with it for at least a month and see how my body feels after that.
How about you? If you’re a diet soda drinker, are you up for fasting with me?
As more research is done on the chemicals in our food and drink, it becomes more obvious to me that what God put down here for us to eat originally are the best things to put in our body—water, fruits, vegetables. I get it. I really do, but I just wish all the other stuff didn’t taste so good.
photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/58596940@N00/273375137″>IMG_0244</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/”>(license)</a>