We’ve been trained to believe that sugar is the primary villain in the human story. After all, sugar is basically empty calories and increases weight, risk of diabetes, risk of heart disease, and the risk of certain types of cancer. It makes sense, after seeing all of the overwhelming evidence, that we decided to seek out a different favorite beverage than sugary colas and other sodas.
The problem is that we didn’t find a better alternative. We thought we did. Drinks with reduced or no sugar were advertised as being able to help us cut calories and lose weight. We were basically told that diet sodas were the healthy alternative to sugary sodas. The problem is that not only are these artificially sweetened drinks no healthier than the ones filled with sugar – they may even be worse!
Sugar-Free, Not Health-Risk-Free
Since diet sodas have long been marketed as the healthier and calorie-free option, many people have imbibed gallons per week, thinking they were making a better health choice. Today, research reveals that not only were we wrong, but we had actually traded something bad for something even worse. Consider some of the effects of diet sodas that are stuffed full of artificial sweeteners:
- Hormone disruption – Hormone imbalances are at the heart of many different health problems. From food cravings and insomnia to poor memory and weight gain, the underlying problem is often in the hormones. What is one of the most overlooked causes of hormone disruption? The artificial sweeteners in diet sodas may be causing all of these issues and more.
- Increased diabetes risk – Not only have diet sodas been linked to weight gain rather than loss, but they have also been linked to increased insulin spikes in the body. This, in turn, can make insulin sensitivity worse and can eventually lead to an increase in blood sugar levels. Therefore, diet soda may still lead to diabetes and isn’t a good alternative if you already have diabetes.
- Increased cancer risk – There’s one result of diet soda that is worse than all the others. Increased cancer risk may make diet sodas even more dangerous than regular soda. By leading to weight gain, diet soda immediately puts you at a greater risk for cancers that are related to obesity, including breast cancer, colorectal cancer, uterine cancer, kidney cancer, and pancreatic cancer. Other research has linked diet sodas to urinary and bladder cancers. And these are just the ones we know about now.
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Cancer isn’t the only big risk that comes from diet soda. Other health problems that are related to this habit include:
- Headaches – Studies have linked aspartame, in particular, with unexplained headaches.
- Increased acne – This is caused by dehydration of the skin.
- Depression – A survey involving more than a quarter million people revealed soda drinkers suffer from depression 30% more frequently than non-soda drinkers, and that drinking diet soda added an additional 22% risk even oer regular soda drinkers.
- Gut health – A 2014 study was published, revealing how artificial sweeteners damage gut health.
- Blood alcohol levels – Studies have revealed that mixing your alcohol with diet soda results in a higher blood alcohol level.
- Reduced sense of taste – Artificial sweeteners affect the amygdala, which is a key component of the nervous system when it comes to your sense of taste.
- High blood pressure – People who drink diet soda are more likely to have high blood pressure according to a study involving teens.
- Kidney function – The National Kidney Foundation reported that diet cola could reduce kidney function. The kidneys play a pivotal role in the body, clearing out toxins.
- Heart attack – Even one diet soda per day increases a person’s risk of having a heart attack.
- Stroke and dementia – Follow this link to see a previous article from our blog that discusses the link between diet sodas, stroke, and dementia.
This isn’t even a comprehensive list of the dangers of diet soda. But it wouldn’t be fair for us to spend the entire article talking about how bad the favorite drink of many people is without offering some alternatives.
Breaking the Diet Soda Addiction
Research also shows that people who drink diet soda are often addicted, much in the same way a person can be addicted to smoking, gambling, or any other bad habit. So how can you quit the diet soda habit and improve your health? Here are a few tips:
- Acknowledge the health risks – In order to break an addiction, you have to want to stop. That means taking time to reflect on how damaging diet sodas are to your health. Your loved ones will want you to be around for all those important events. Don’t let something like diet soda stand in your way.
- Go cold turkey – Pick a date, get it all out of the house, and be determined never to drink it again. For some people, this is the only way to break a habit.
- Wean yourself off – Alternative, you may be less moody if you reduce the number of diet sodas you have per day over a period of time. Be sure to set specific dates and stick to your schedule. No cheat days!
- Replace soda with water and healthier options – You may immediately feel the health benefits if you switch to water, and that may be enough to help you stay away from diet sodas for good.
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