The Dangerous Effects of Drinking Diet Soda

A Toxic Storm

Nothing is more alluring than getting something for free. How about getting 200 times the sweetness and a lifetime of toxic side effects for an eight ounce beverage with zero calories? Right!

Well like most people wanting to get all the taste with no calories diet soda has been their beverage of choice.

Trying to shed some pounds usually means making sacrifices and compromising in what we consume and the soda industry has made it the "freebie" that those trying to diet or just avoid sugar cannot refuse. However, the cost to our bodies comes later and we pay it back with interest.

Neurotoxin:

A substance that damages, destroys, or impairs the functioning of nerve tissue.

Gale Encyclopedia of Medicine. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved

Neurotoxins

Okay let me start with the really serious stuff. Neurotoxins. It's a serious word, but what is it and why is it in my Diet Coke? I am not a scientist, but the easiest way to define it is a toxin that acts directly on the tissues of the central nervous system. In terms of diet soda, the neurotoxin I am speaking of is Aspartame.

It all started when...

The world of carbonated beverages was rocked with the introduction of Aspartame, an artificial sweetener also known by the brand name NutraSweet. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the sweetener in 1983 and it remains the most popular artificial sweetening product today despite the vast number of adverse reaction reports made to the FDA. The approval almost did not go through due to the objections of the lead researchers working on the approval at the FDA. Strangely FDA Commissioner, Dr. Gerard Gogan, was replaced by a new FDA commissioner, Dr. Arthur Hull Hayes, following the Election of Ronald Reagan in 1981 and Aspartame was almost immediately approved. Two years later it was in diet beverages across the country.

In ASPARTAME - The Shocking Story of the World's Bestselling Sweetener, by Pat Thomas, he explains that the sweetener is three amino acids weakly linked together. Aspartic, phenylalanine and methanol. Because this link is so weak, it is a very volatile substance that rapidly breaks down into the toxic by-products formaldehyde, formic acid and aspartylphenylalanine diketopiperazine when ingested by humans.

Excitotoxins- The Brain Slayers

Aspartame is also an excitotoxin. Another serious word. Excitotoxins are deadly amino acids that react with neuron receptors in the brain or spinal cord in such a way as to cause cell death to a wide variety of neurons. These excitotoxins cause the neurons to misfire and in some cases burn out or die.The term "brain slayers" has been coined to describe them. Excitotoxins are directly linked to a broad range of chronic neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, stroke, dementia and AIDS dementia. It has also been suggested that their effect on the human body can cause symptoms that mimic these neurological diseases and force people into treatment for diseases they do not actually have.

Diet Soda and Weight Gain

Let's face it, most of us became hooked on diet soda as a way to indulge in something sweet while we watched our sugar intake. Sadly it looks like we were doing more harm than good. Studies have shown that diet soda has a huge impact on weight gain and obesity. In a University of Texas Health Center Survey, diet soda consumption had a higher correlation with obesity and weight gain than soda containing sugar and high fructose corn syrup. Not that the word "correlation" means "causes", but there is definitely enough suspicion to cause countless hours of research into the dangers of drinking diet soda.

Although diet soda has few to zero calories, research is showing that it may have a huge impact on insulin levels because it mimics sugar ingestion. This happens because our brain plays a trick on the rest of the body. The diet soda tastes sweet so the brain reads the taste as sugar and signals the pancreas to release insulin to counter the increase in sugar the body thinks it is ingesting. Boom! Weight gain. Well it is not that simple, but there definitely is a link between the habit of drinking diet beverages and insulin levels.

According to healthland.time.com, "Data presented recently at the American Diabetes Association’s (ADA) Scientific Sessions suggest that diet drinks may actually contribute to weight gain and that the artificial sweeteners in them could potentially contribute Type 2 diabetes."

Acid

Diet soda tastes great, but it is literally turning our bodies acidic. The acid levels in the body need to stay in check. Consuming several diet sodas a day can throw this balance off dramatically which can lead to inflammation which can cause a number of maladies. The acid in diet soda is like drinking battery acid and consequently wreaks havoc in our mouths. Our teeth in particular are very sensitive to this acid imbalance and the the enamel becomes porous and wears down causing dental erosion.

Chronic diet soda drinking can also lead to osteoporosis some claim. The acid in the soda leaches out calcium in our bones.

Diet soda can also cause the acid in our stomachs to build up causing acid reflux.

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So What's a Diet Soda Addict to Do?

If drinking diet soda has become a habit like it has for many of us there are some steps you can take to slowly wean yourself off of the beverage.

First of all, prepare for the caffeine withdrawal if you are drinking caffeinated diet soda. Have your tylenol ready or a cup o' Joe on hand to counter the grogginess and the withdrawal headache for the next week or so. You could add lemon or other fruit juice to plain water and add lots of ice for a light sweet beverage without any chemicals. If you are like me craving something more sensory and miss the carbonation add fruit juice to seltzer or soda water for the effervescence. And there is always going cold turkey. Also, there are many other sweetened beverages that have "reduced sugar" that in moderation may be a better alternative for you.

Guide to Other Artificial Sweeteners

• Sucralose (Splenda) is sucrose chemically combined with chlorine. The final product is a chemically-altered product that contains no sugar.

Sugar alcohols (sorbitol, xylitol, maltitol, lactitol, isomalt) considered safe, but poorly digested. May cause diarrhea, gas and bloating.

• Acesulfame (Sweet One) A synthetic chemical that has not been adequately tested.

Saccharin (Sweet 'N Low) Another synthetic chemical. Research on humans resulted in bladder cancer.

Stevia (Truvia) From a shrub that grows in South America. BIG RED FLAG! For safety reasons the FDA will not allow Stevia to be included in any products as an ingredient, but they will let you consume it on your own by lifting the red tape up to sneak through labeling Stevia as a supplement and therefore less strict guidelines.


Is there enough evidence for you put the can down?

I know you are thinking, "Everything I eat is bad for me," or "I'm going to die someday, anyway, why not enjoy my diet soda?"

Although the research on diet soda is still in its infancy, there is enough evidence in the FDA shenanigans over the Aspartame approval, the dental x-rays of thousands and waistlines of those ever faithful diet soda consumers to make every one of us who value our health to take a closer look at what diet soda is doing to our bodies. But is it enough to make us put the diet coke can down?

How much diet soda do you consume a day?

  • One can a day
  • Two to four cans a day
  • Five to seven cans a day
  • Eight or more cans a day
See results without voting

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Comments 16 comments

LA Elsen profile image

LA Elsen 3 years ago from Chicago, IL Author

Thanks for the reply. I know if we get our diet from natural, unmodified foods we would have much healthier people and less obesity in the world.


charlie cheesman profile image

charlie cheesman 3 years ago from England

I have been telling people about aspatain foe ages know one really knows as the big company's hide the facts great article and i will point people to it to help emplane what i try telling them that diet things are usually worse for them, even sugar free gum i believe,


LA Elsen profile image

LA Elsen 3 years ago from Chicago, IL Author

Thanks for commenting Anna.


Anna Haven profile image

Anna Haven 3 years ago from Scotland

Interesting article with a lot of helpful information. Definitely enough to make me think twice about opening the juice can!


Boulism profile image

Boulism 3 years ago from Short Beach, CT

I recently cut out coffee from my diet, but I'm still having an afternoon diet coke, I'm hoping to to stop that soon too.


LA Elsen profile image

LA Elsen 4 years ago from Chicago, IL Author

Thanks for reading this hub. Its scary that my insides may be as shiny as a new coin.

I know something must be in every bottle of Coke that makes me come back for more. It cannot be the sugar or the caffeine because I am not that addicted to any other beverages. Perhaps its the fizzzzzz? I won't speculate too much. The Cola police may be listening.


alancaster149 profile image

alancaster149 4 years ago from Forest Gate, London E7, U K (ex-pat Yorkshire)

At one time I'd have an ordinary Coke every now and then, as the whim took me. I was never that fond of fizzy drinks anyway, but a cold Coke in summer, with a block of ice sort of revives your jaded senses when you've been roasting yourself. I don't do either any more - not for yonks - and I wouldn't any more. Got better things to do with my time!

I wouldn't bother drinking any type of Coke, Pepsi or Coca-Cola, any more either for one simple reason: you can use the stuff (especially flat Cola) to clean metals with, such as bringing old coins up to exhibition standard. Fill an old jam ('jellow' in your neck of the woods) jar lid, tipping in some flat, or even new, Coke up to just over the depth of your coin, chain or brooch or whatever, leaving it for 24 hours and - 'Hey Presto', a nice, shiny clean, new-looking coin or whatever!

Makes you wonder what else is in there? Just give it up.

Next thing you know the Pepsi/Coca-Cola people will have put out a 'Fatwa' on me... Watch this space (and I'll slip out the back way with the cat).


LA Elsen profile image

LA Elsen 4 years ago from Chicago, IL Author

RTalloni, I gave up aspartame and now my husband has as well. We both feel so much better. I can't speak for everyone, but it has improved our health


calculus-geometry profile image

calculus-geometry 4 years ago from Germany

Nice article with lots of good information. I can see another reason why diet sodas might cause weight gain; they always make me hungrier. Then again some people I know say drinking diet beverages makes them lose their appetites. Anyway, I usually stick to water and tea when I'm thirsty.


RTalloni profile image

RTalloni 4 years ago from the short journey

Glad to see this post. Because the products are so common it is important to continue highlighting the topic.


LA Elsen profile image

LA Elsen 4 years ago from Chicago, IL Author

I have to say I was not worried when my daughter would sneak sips of my diet cola. I thought at least it wasn't sugar and the caffeine never bothered her that much. It wasn't until I was researching another hub that I stumbled upon the history of diet soda and was shocked. Thanks for reading and commenting.


mlzingarella profile image

mlzingarella 4 years ago from Massachusetts

Scary, I know parents who won't let their kids drink soda, but they let them drink diet soda. They think they're doing the right thing, no calories right?!?

When I kicked the habit I transitioned to green tea a much better alternative.


LA Elsen profile image

LA Elsen 4 years ago from Chicago, IL Author

nishlaverz, I totally believe it. Europe seems to be more on top banning food additives than the US. I know certain food coloring is banned in Germany as well. Thank you for reading and commenting.


LA Elsen profile image

LA Elsen 4 years ago from Chicago, IL Author

Amanthkr01 Thanks for reading and voting. That's really scary that aspartame can weaken memory and we still have it (at least in the US) in so many products. I know that consuming in moderation of any food is important, but I am now trying to cut Aspartame out completely.


amanthkr01 profile image

amanthkr01 4 years ago from India

This hub is really an eye opener for diet coke addicts. I was also a frequent user of diet coke to chill in the hot summer but now has quit this habit due to serious ill effects of the same.

Few days earlier I have read an article claiming that aspartame can also weakens your memory. Thanks for sharing this hub with the community to make other hubbers aware of the fact.

Voted up and shared!!!!!!!!!!


nishlaverz profile image

nishlaverz 4 years ago from N.E England

A friend of mine who is originally from Hungry told me that in parts of Europe like Germany the use of aspartame in food and drink products is band.

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