The Dark Side of Diet Soda and What It Really Does to Your Body

The Dark Side of Diet Soda and What It Really Does to Your Body
The Dark Side of Diet Soda and What It Really Does to Your Body

It makes sense at first glance: switch to diet soda to cut down on the calories and sugar associated with soda. Less sugar = healthier option…right?
Unfortunately, research tells us that this assumption may not be true. According to Yale University scientists, diet soda may be directly responsible for disrupting your metabolism, and in effect, could make you gain more weight than you ever lose.
It seems the impact on our metabolism has to do with the sweetness, not the fact that the drink contains sugar or aspartame. The sensation of sweetness alone is enough to tell the body that foods contain energy, even if that’s not necessarily true. As a result, the body misinterprets what it’s consuming and processes calories differently. Researchers believe that may lead a person to overeat because the body doesn’t properly signal that it’s full.
Dana Small, professor of psychiatry at Yale University School of Medicine, explains that it’s an issue with our overall understanding of calories and how they’re processed that’s at fault.
“The assumption that more calories trigger greater metabolic and brain response is wrong. Calories are only half of the equation; sweet taste perception is the other half.”
So what’s at stake? The same research tells us that when we perceive sweetness (even from aspartame), the body is more likely to store calories as fat rather than metabolizing them directly. Thus, you pack on the pounds. Because obesity is closely linked with Type 2 Diabetes, there’s also a correlation with this disease.
Worse yet, that’s not the only way soda can harm you. Overall, sugary carbonated drinks are associated with a whopping 45 different medical conditions. The chemical 4-methylimidazole, found in the caramel coloring used in colas, is linked to heightened cancer risks, while aspartame itself in high doses may result in neurotoxicity and cognitive decline. High-fructose corn syrup may worsen or cause cirrhosis. Most sodas also strip the body of calcium, worsening or causing osteoporosis.
Your stomach isn’t safe, either; most Americans over the age of 40 know first-hand how soda impacts this vital organ. Soda’s high acidity can cause or worsen gastritis, ulcers, and irritable bowels. Add to the list of risks migraines, memory loss, emotional disorders, blurred vision, cardiovascular disease, swelling, stroke, high blood pressure…
It’s difficult to quantify a reason why we should drink diet soda given all of these correlations. Most experts agree that the occasional soda won’t harm you, but if you’re the type of person who drinks two to three cans a day, that’s putting yourself at a significant risk.
Switching out to carbonated mineral water with a fruit infusion will allow you to enjoy your fizzy sweetness with less risk, but remember: it’s the sweetness itself that directly influences how your body metabolizes food and drink. Whenever possible, skip the soda and stick with a water instead.