Loaded with tons of empty calories and sugar, soda can be a part of your healthy diet plan when rarely enjoyed as a special treat. But which one should you go for when you are in a mood for soda? Diet soda or the regular one filled with artificial sweeteners. There has been a lot of controversy spinning around sugar substitutes. Artificial sweeteners are being added to most of the foods including health drinks, sodas, yogurt, and desserts and are being marketed as a healthy option for those looking to control diabetes or lose weight. However, people are often perplexed and hesitant about the safety of sugar substitutes. Despite being low in calories, diet beverages are high in artificial sweeteners. But are they really healthy and safe? Do they help in weight loss? Let us explore if diet carbonated drinks are a healthier alternative to the regular versions.
Almost half of the Americans drink soda every day. With so much of soda consumption, it has become crucial to evaluate the effect of soft drinks on health. Soda is a mixture of carbonated water, high quantities of sugar, caramel coloring, caffeine and other chemicals. No matter how much you try, it is not easy to give up soda. So what is it that makes this soft drink so addictive? It is the presence of caffeine. While caffeine can increase alertness and could work as a short-term fix to boost energy levels, its prolonged use can make you feel fatigue as well as lead to a set of health problems including insomnia, tiredness, anxiety and low blood pressure. The other ingredients in soda have also been associated with a host of health issues.
Regular Soda and Health
Regular soda tastes great and does not give the strange aftertaste. Moreover, it is preferred by those who are looking to stay away from artificial sweeteners. But being rich in sugar, regular soda is high in calories which can cause tooth decay and other health problems. Survey reveals soda to be the highest source of sugar in your diet. Further, studies have found that people who drink a large quantity of soda tend to consume fewer nutrients, drink less milk and have poor bone health. The presence of high amount of phosphates in soda has been linked to calcium deficiency. High soda consumption can deplete calcium in your body.
Regular soda contains table sugar which is a combination of glucose and fructose. Sugar may be safe when consumed in moderation but an excess of it can be unhealthy and contribute to weight gain as well as several diseases. High sugar intake can cause a spike in your blood sugar levels. Xxx. This results in the release of anti-stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline. The more sugar you consume, the higher is the release of these hormones, resulting in inflammation and metabolic imbalances which can cause mood disorders and depression. High sugar consumption can raise the risk of inflammation which can further lead to depression because inflammation interferes with the functioning of your immune system which may increase the chances of developing depression, studies shows.
Diet Soda and Health
You would find that most of the artificially sweetened beverages in the present market are tagged as diet or light version. As these drinks are termed “calorie-free”, technically they should help in weight loss and prevent any sugar-related issues such as diabetes and metabolic syndrome. However, there is hardly any evidence to support these health claims.
Diet Soda contains artificial sweeteners and is less in calories when compared to regular soda. Hence they are preferable if you are on a diet and would like to enjoy a soda once in a while. However, note that the presence of artificial sweeteners in diet beverages and foods can cause numerous health issues.
So far, six artificial sweeteners have been approved safe by the Food and Drug Administration: aspartame, saccharin, neotame, acesulfame potassium, advantame, and sucralose. And all these go into sugar substitute packets including your diet soft drinks. Recent studies suggest that artificial sweeteners are not inert by nature. They can alter the gut bacteria, metabolism and can also be linked to type-2 diabetes. Therefore, it is still unclear whether sugar substitutes are healthier than regular sugar.
Research on Diet Soda, Artificial Sweeteners and Weight Gain
New research suggests that just 20 ounces of diet soda consumption per week can raise the risk of diabetes by 66 percent. Researchers conducted a study to understand the correlation between diet soda, diabetes, and weight gain. The research revealed that blood sugar level was relatively higher in people who consumed artificial sweeteners than in people who didn’t. In some people, the blood sugar level increased with just a week of fake sugar consumption. The research was also conducted on mice by feeding them artificial sweeteners. The group showed higher blood sugar levels when compared to the mice which fed on regular sugar. The study suggests that artificial sweeteners can alter the gut bacteria and metabolism which may be linked to diabetes.
While certain studies have linked consumption of artificial sweeteners with weight gain, other studies have reported no such change in weight. These conflicting results could be due to various reasons such as food choice, physiological condition and the period of study. Studies that last for a short period of time can overlook the long-term effects of artificial sweeteners.
Further, there is strong evidence which shows that artificial sweeteners may raise the risk of inflammation, cancer, neurological and metabolic problems. There is no solid evidence which suggests diet beverages can help in weight loss. Scientists believe that more research is required to determine the safety of sugar substitutes as well as understand how artificial sweeteners interfere with metabolism.
How Drinking Diet Soda Can Tax Your Adrenals
Artificial sweeteners in diet soda can affect your gut flora and interfere with your digestive process which can give rise to unpleasant side effects such as allergic reactions, migraines, and digestive stress. To cope up with these side effects, your adrenals are forced to work harder. Stress is not only caused by the physical environment and physiological factors. The food you eat also plays a vital role and artificial sweeteners can exert a significant amount of stress on your body which can make you feel fatigue.
The NeuroEndoMetabolic (NEM) Stress Response System is your body’s natural stress-fighting system. It is a delicate network of various organs and six circuits that work in close unison. Under stressful situations, the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, which is a component of the NEM stress response system, signals your adrenal glands for producing anti-stress hormone cortisol. However, repeated stress can overwhelm your adrenals decreasing cortisol secretion and reducing your body’s stress-fighting ability. This results in adrenal fatigue. When you frequently experience fatigue along with symptoms of brain fog, anxiety, difficulty in waking up, insomnia, low energy levels, craving for salty and fatty foods then you might be dealing with Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome (AFS).
Soda should be avoided in AFS as it can cause additional stress on your body and worsen the symptoms. Your body is not designed to accept artificial sweeteners and soda. Drinking filtered water is best for your body and adrenals as it keeps you hydrated, flushes out excess toxins and ensures optimal functioning of all organs. Consider adding a handful of fresh herbs such as basil or mint leaves to your water for a refreshing flavor as well as increased health benefits.
What Soda Does to Your Health
With numerous health supplements, sugar substitutes, diet beverages, and foods in the market, eating healthy can be quite tricky. Chances are high that you might not be eating healthy at all. For example, most might think diet soda is a healthier alternative to regular soda. However, the underlying truth is that soda in any form including the diet version can raise the risk of type-2 diabetes. In fact, sodas have been linked with an increased rate of kidney damage, obesity and certain types of cancer. They have zero nutritional value and come with added chemicals, sugar and artificial sweeteners which can deplete your body’s nutrients.
When soda enters your body, it creates certain acids which deplete the minerals in your body as well as deteriorates your bones. Further, diet soft drinks contain artificial sweeteners which trick your body into believing it to be sugar. As a result, you might have more sugar cravings which can negatively affect your metabolism. You may also end up consuming more sugar to satisfy the cravings. You will be surprised to know that diet beverages can contain sugar substitutes that are dangerous. For instance, aspartame has been linked with vision problems, diabetes, brain damage, heart palpitations, memory loss and certain emotional issues which can trigger stress.
When it comes to beverages, there are several healthy alternatives to soda. All you need to be is a little creative. Here are a few healthy options that you might like to try:
- Homemade kefir is naturally sweet and comes with the goodness of probiotics
- Make your own flavored drink by adding few slices of lime and oranges into a pitcher of water
- Add fresh cilantro, ginger root or even mint leaves to water for a refreshing flavor
- Tender coconut water is both refreshing and healthy. It is rich in numerous vitamins and works as a natural electrolyte
- Consider replacing sugar with natural sweeteners such as honey, agave syrup, stevia or jaggery
- Pour water into a clean saucepan and bring it to a rolling boil. Switch off heat and add spices of your choice such as cinnamon, cardamom or cloves. Allow the spices to infuse flavor. Now stir in natural sweetener and allow to cool in the refrigerator
When enjoyed rarely as a special treat, soda can be a part of your healthy eating regime. Regular soda does not have a strange aftertaste but contains more table sugar making it high in calories. On the other hand, the diet version containing artificial sweetener comes with low calories making it preferable among diabetics and people looking to cut down calories. Whether you have a diet soda or the regular one, both contain artificial flavors, chemicals, high amount of sugar and sweeteners which can cause several health issues including obesity, certain types of cancer, bone depletion and type-2 diabetes.
Diet carbonated drinks do more harm than good due to the presence of artificial sweeteners which have been linked to causing certain types of cancer, increase sugar cravings, increase chances of diabetes, disturb gut flora and alter your metabolism. People with AFS should avoid soda as it can trigger symptoms and worsen the condition. Nature has given fresh water which is the best drink you can have for optimal health and wellbeing. To make it more interesting, you can always add a handful of fresh herbs such as basil or mint leaves which come with added health benefits.
© Copyright 2018 Michael Lam, M.D. All Rights Reserved.
Dr. Lam’s Key Question
How can drinking diet soda affect your health?
Diet soda does not have any nutritional value. Drinking a large amount of diet soda has been linked with several health problems including risk of developing diabetes, certsain types of cancer, osteoporosis, high blood pressure, obesity, dehydration, metabolic syndrome, cavities, and gum disease.