The Top 5 Reasons to Stop Drinking Diet Soda
If you would like to give up diet soda for good, here are five big reasons why diet sodas can be so damaging to your health and energy. Hopefully this list can provide the motivation needed to follow through with the 10 Step Plan for Giving Up Diet Soda coming up next.
1) Aspartame in Diet Soda
The artificial sweetener aspartame, found in most diet sodas, is made from two free-form amino acids, phenylalanine and aspartic acid, and the toxic alcohol methanol.
Without the usual slow digestion and other competing amino acids, free-form phenylalanine can hit the bloodstream very quickly and potentially cross the blood brain barrier in unnaturally large amounts.
Too much free-form phenylalanine may reduce serotonin (the ‘happy’ neurotransmitter) in the brain and excessive phenylalanine has been linked to hypertension, headaches, aggression and behavior problems with children.
The free-form aspartic acid in diet soda is also believed to cross the blood brain barrier and in large enough amounts is classed as an excitotoxin – a substance that overexcites nerve function in the brain, potentially even to the point where the brain cells actually die.
The methanol in aspartame converts in the body to toxins formaldehyde and formic acid. While these substances are in small amounts with a single can of diet soda sweetened with aspartame, why you’d want such potentially destructive substances in your body in any amount is beyond me.
Besides, who drinks just one can of diet soda these days? With the amount of diet soda some people claim to be drinking each day, is the amount of methanol going into their bodies really all that small?
2) Diet Soda and Addictive Caffeine
Caffeine is an addictive substance added to colas (perhaps to ensure repeat business) that elevates our stress hormones like cortisol, norepinephrine and adrenaline and increases our heart rate and blood pressure.
Adrenaline should really only be triggered by the body’s ‘fight or flight’ response. Having it ‘on’ all the time, in the way regular caffeine consumption can make it, leads to a lot of stress on our adrenal glands. While we may have energy (or is it anxiety) while the coffee is hitting our adrenals, once it wears off most people end up feeling more tired and irritable than they would have without it.
Caffeine is also a diuretic that can increase fluid flushing through our kidneys, leading to a frequent need to visit the bathroom and a loss of minerals and other important health nutrients.
Caffeine addiction is a very common problem in the USA and around the Western world. The series on giving up diet soda has details on caffeine withdrawal support. In it, there is a herbal adaptogen that can help our adrenal glands when we’re getting over a caffeine addiction and reduce caffeine withdrawal symptoms.
3) Phosphoric Acid and Diet Cola
Diet Cola is rated as very acidic with a pH of around 3.2. Phosphoric acid is responsible for most of this acidity.
Aside from the potential damage to the digestive tract itself from this acid, phosphoric acid seems to reduce the secretion of hydrochloric acid when we drink it with a meal. This reduction of hydrochloric acid leads to poor digestion of food, particularly with protein meals. Undigested protein in the gastrointestinal tract leads to many digestive problems and is a major cause of flatulence.
Another health problem can be created by diet cola’s phosphoric acid when it reaches our small intestine. The small intestine will not tolerate this kind of acidity and it has a buffering system to neutralize it. This phosphate buffering system utilizes minerals like calcium phosphate, stored in the body to counteract acids like phosphoric acid.
When we drink acid drinks like diet soda regularly, the buffering system needs more and more minerals to do its job. Eventually, unless your intake of minerals like calcium is extremely high, your body is forced to draw minerals from your bones just to neutralize all of the acids you keep pouring into it.
Once that happens often enough, we are on a slippery slope to osteoporosis and more likely to fracture our bones as they become brittle and weakened.
4) Sulfite-Ammonia Caramel Coloring E150d in Diet Cola
Sulfite-ammonia caramel coloring E150d is made by applying high heat and pressure to sugar mixed with ammonia and sulfites. The food safety agency actually lets manufacturers call this chemical ‘natural coloring’. I’d say it’s pretty far from that.
In fact, this very unnatural E150d caramel coloring has been shown to produce the byproducts 2- and 4-methylimidazole. There are concerns these two byproducts may be carcinogenic and the Center for Science in the Public Interest has formally requested the FDA to remove sulfite-ammonia caramel coloring from the list of generally recognized as safe foods.
5) Weight Gain from Drinking Diet Soda
Many people think they will lose weight drinking diet soda. Paradoxically, there is evidence showing diet soda consumption may actually cause weight gain and an increase in body fat. Not through calories, but through the way our bodies respond to it.
It seems we taste sweet on the tongue and the body is designed to expect nutrition. Instead, with diet cola in particular, nothing comes but chemicals and acid. Confused, the body stimulates more and more hunger and we start really craving junk food (conveniently, the biggest makers of diet soda are usually big manufacturers of those junk foods too).
The Aspartame Weight Gain Link in Research Studies
Dr. Ludwig’s research in ‘Artificially Sweetened Beverages – Cause for Concern’ is interesting reading on the subject. He makes the point that – “overstimulation of sugar receptors by frequent consumption of hyper-intense sweeteners may cause taste preferences to remain in, or revert to, an infantile state (ie, with limited tolerance for more complex tastes).”
He goes on to suggest that by using artificial sweeteners we may be, in effect, training ourselves to find healthy foods, with their more complex flavors, unpalatable. Essentially, by eating and drinking aspartame laced foods, we could be training our taste buds response to flavors back to an infantile state, where everything we eat and drink has to be sweet, sweet, sweet. How long do you think it takes us to get fat eating like that?
More research from University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio suggests that the more diet soda a person drinks, the more likely they are to get fat. Surprisingly, people drinking diet soda were actually even more likely to put on weight than those drinking regular soda, loaded with fattening sugar or high fructose corn syrup.
Two particularly telling sections from the researches stuck out to me – “On average, for each diet soft drink our participants drank per day, they were 65 percent more likely to become overweight during the next seven to eight years, and 41 percent more likely to become obese.”
And “…it didn’t matter whether people were drinking diet or regular soft drinks: drinking sodas of any kind seemed to increase the risk of weight gain. In fact, drinking diet soft drinks seemed to be much more closely related to the incidence of becoming overweight or obese.”
Aspartame Weight Loss Verdict
Aspartame provokes appetite, particularly carbohydrate cravings. But because there’s no nutrition in it, your body remains unsatisfied and stimulates more hunger.
This is how diet soda makes you fat. Drinking no calorie drinks is pretty pointless if you end up eating many more calories as a result.
If you’re ready to replace these damaging aspartame drinks with healthier alternatives that still taste good and can do you good, then please have a read of the next post with (as far as I’m aware) a new kind of homemade diet soda alternative that’s actually healthy.
Following on from there is a 10 Step Plan for Giving Up Diet Soda that covers soda alternatives, caffeine and aspartame withdrawal support and simple steps for soda replacement.
Photo 1 credit with thanks: Michael Scheltgen / Photo 2 credit with thanks: procsilas