It’s a well-known fact that soda has detrimental effects on your health so as an alternative many people choose to drink “diet” versions of their favorites such as Diet Coke, Sprite Zero, Diet Mountain Dew etc. What many people don’t realize is that despite having no sugar, diet drinks contain many other chemicals – some which are a lot more harmful than sugar.
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A study by the University of Texas at Austin found that 59% of Americans drink diet soda regularly. I think what appeals to people about these diet drinks is the big fat “0 CALORIES” printed on their labels. I mean, if a drink is calorie free then it must not be bad for you, right? Wrong. Unfortunately, diet sodas contain other addictive, dangerous and artificial sweeteners that have a serious negative impact on your health. The most common artificial sweeteners are aspartame, sucralose and saccharine.
Aspartame is much sweeter than sugar, it is used in small amounts which as a result reduces the amount of calories. It is the combination of the amino acids: aspartic acid and phenylalanine. Aspartic acid in liquid form is absorbed much quicker by the body and can cause an individual to have headaches, nausea, sleep problems and fatigue. The consumption of excessive aspartic acid could eventually lead to neuron damage in your brain which could lead to chronic illnesses, including: ALS, Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease. On the other hand, phenylalanine decreases the levels of serotonin in your brain which leads to depression.
Although sucralose and sugar taste extremely similar, they have one big difference: our bodies can’t metabolize sucralose so it goes right through us. Our body detects that something sweet has been eaten and activates mechanisms to capture the energy that sugars usually provide but receive nothing. After some time, our body stops responding to all sugars, even the real ones from sweets and fruits! As a result, people who drink diet drinks are 34% more likely to develop metabolic syndrome (which could lead to various heart diseases as well).
Saccharine is considered to be sweeter than sugar but has a bitter aftertaste. Until 2010, anything with saccharine had a warning label on it because it was considered that dangerous. Although it has no calories, the two main potential side effects of consuming it are weight gain and diabetes. A study done with rats, showed that the group given artificially sweetened food had a slowed down metabolism, higher calorie intake and gained more weight (compared to rats given real sugar food).
To conclude, I think regular sodas might just be better than diet sodas. Excessive consumption of either one could lead to serious health issues but if you’re desperately craving soda, drinking regular in a small amount is probably best. However, if you want a calorie free drink but don’t want to be obese, have diabetes or rotting teeth, stick with water!
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