From Prevention Magazine:
Pop quiz! What’s the single biggest source of calories for Americans? White bread? Big Macs? Actually, try soda. The average American drinks about two cans of the stuff every day. "But I drink diet soda," you say. "With no calories or sugar, it’s the perfect alternative for weight watchers . . . Right?"
Not so fast. Before you pop the top off the caramel-colored bubbly, know this: guzzling diet soda comes with its own set of side effects that may harm your health — from kick-starting kidney problems to adding inches to your waistline.
Unfortunately, diet soda is more in vogue than ever. Kids consume the stuff at more than double the rate of last decade, according to research in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Among adults, consumption has grown almost 25 percent.
But knowing these six side effects of drinking diet soda may help you kick the can for good.
Kidney Problems Here’s something you didn’t know about your diet soda: it might be bad for your kidneys. In an 11-year-long Harvard Medical School study of more than 3,000 women, researchers found that diet cola is associated with a twofold increased risk for kidney decline. Kidney function started declining when women drank more than two sodas a day. Even more interesting: since kidney decline was not associated with sugar-sweetened sodas, researchers suspect that the diet sweeteners are responsible.
Messed-Up Metabolism According to a 2008 University of Minnesota study of almost 10,000 adults, even just one diet soda a day is linked to a 34 percent higher risk of metabolic syndrome, the group of symptoms including belly fat and high cholesterol that puts you at risk for heart disease. Whether that link is attributed to an ingredient in diet soda or the drinkers’ eating habits is unclear. But is that one can really worth it?
Obesity You read that right: diet soda doesn’t help you lose weight after all. A University of Texas Health Science Center study found that the more diet sodas a person drank, the greater their risk of becoming overweight. Downing just two or more cans a day increased waistlines by 500 percent. Why? Artificial sweeteners can disrupt the body’s natural ability to regulate calorie intake based on the sweetness of foods, suggested an animal study from Purdue University. That means people who consume diet foods might be more likely to overeat, because your body is being tricked into thinking it’s eating sugar, and you crave more.
Diet sodas contain something many regular sodas don’t: mold inhibitors. They go by the names sodium benzoate or potassium benzoate, and they’re in nearly all diet sodas. But many regular sodas, such as Coke and Pepsi, don’t contain this preservative.
That’s bad news for diet drinkers. "These chemicals have the ability to cause severe damage to DNA in the mitochondria to the point that they totally inactivate it - they knock it out altogether,” Peter Piper, a professor of molecular biology and biotechnology at the University of Sheffield in the U.K., told a British newspaper in 1999. The preservative has also been linked to hives, asthma, and other allergic conditions, according to the Center for Science in the Public Interest.
Since then, some companies have phased out sodium benzoate. Diet Coke and Diet Pepsi have replaced it with another preservative, potassium benzoate. Both sodium and potassium benzoate were classified by the Food Commission in the UK as mild irritants to the skin, eyes, and mucous membranes.
With a pH of 3.2, diet soda is very acidic. (As a point of reference, the pH of battery acid is 1. Water is 7.) The acid is what readily dissolves enamel, and just because a soda is diet doesn’t make it acid-light. Adults who drink three or more sodas a day have worse dental health, says a University of Michigan analysis of dental checkup data. Soda drinkers had far greater decay, more missing teeth, and more fillings. (Note from Sandee: My husband is a dentist and he concurs with these findings. Across the board he sees more tooth decay in the mouths of soda drinkers whether it is sugar filled or diet soda)
Women who drink just one fizzy drink each day dramatically raise their risk of suffering a deadly stroke, according to researchers at Osaka University, and the risk applies to both sweetened and low-calorie alternatives.
Japanese researchers followed almost 40,000 men and women between the ages of 40 and 59 for 18 years. Their eating habits were tracked, including how many soft drinks they consumed. During the study period almost 2,000 of the participants had a stroke.
At the end of the study, scientists analyzed the drinking habits of the volunteers and compared the soda consumption of the stroke victims to those who didn't have strokes. Although drinking soda raised men's risk of stroke slightly, the increase for women was dramatic.
The scientists discovered that women who drank soft drinks every day increased their risk of suffering an ischemic stroke — when a weakened blood vessel bursts and causes hemorrhaging inside the brain — by 83 percent when compared to women who never or only rarely drank soft drinks.
Diet sodas fared no better, increasing the risk of hemorrhagic stroke, triggered when a weakened blood vessel bursts and causes hemorrhaging inside the brain. The risk for both types of stroke was higher in women than men, but a new Japanese study shows just how high that risk is — more than 80 percent.
THIS NEXT WEEK’S CHALENGE WILL BE EASY PEASY FOR SOME OF YOU, AND MAY BE THE HARDEST ONE WE’VE DONE FOR OTHERS. YOU GUESSED IT. TO EARN 5 POINTS PER DAY FOR THE NEXT WEEK’S CHALLENGE YOU MUST TOTALLY ABSTAIN FROM ANY SODA- DIET OR SUGAR FILLED. AND YOU MUST REALLY THINK ABOUT HOW MANY SODAS PER WEEK YOU WANT TO INCLUDE IN YOUR REGULAR LIFE ONCE THE CHALLENGE ENDS. REMEMBER OUR GOAL IS TO FORGE HEALTHY HABITS TO BLESS YOUR ENTIRE LIFE- NOT TO JUST TRY A HEALTHY HABIT ONE WEEK AT A TIME AND THEN ABANDON IT.