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Diet Soft Drinks: Reasons You Should Kick All Soda To The Curb

Back in the late 1950s, marketing campaigns trumpeted zero-calorie beverages as a weight loss solution. Some 60 years later, scientists haven’t yet proved that diet soda can help us lose weight, and some studies have raised alarm about the artificial sweeteners that give diet soda its distinctive taste.1 As more potential health problems are revealed, it’s time to finally kick soda to the curb and switch to healthier alternatives such as sparkling water or unsweetened iced tea.

Non-nutritive Sweeteners (NNSs)

artificial sweeteners | NucificThere are six ultra-sweet Non-Nutritive Sweeteners (NNSs) licensed in the US.2 The most common are aspartame and neotame. Artificial sweeteners like these are labeled ‘zero-calorie,’ but they’re called NNSs because they have no nutritional value; they pass through us like water, without being metabolized into simple sugars.3 The problem is, they taste as though they’re packed with glucose and calories, and this tricks our bodies into anticipating a sugary treat. In other words, although NNSs don’t have the same nutritional profile as sugar, the taste receptors in our mouths are unable to tell the difference and respond as though calories are coming, even though no sugar actually arrives in the body.4,5

NNSs And Insulin

But what’s the issue? Anticipation of sugar (whether real or not) causes the pancreas to release insulin. This hormone instructs cells to grab glucose from your bloodstream and make use of it. Very frequent doses of sugar or sweeteners can fatigue the pancreas, wearing out the cells that produce insulin. As a result, instead of being used by our cells, the glucose is stored as fatty tissue, leading to the risk of serious health issues.6,7 As our bodies become used to high levels of insulin, leading to insulin resistance, higher blood sugar levels (which can damage the nerves, kidneys, and heart), and eventually, even more serious health issues.8,9

Additionally, research has connected NNS consumption is with weight gain issues, cardiovascular disease, and liver problems.10

Diet Soda And The Gut

gut health | NucificLike water and everything else you consume, diet soda passes through the large and small colon on its journey. These complex areas of the body are home to important communities of bacteria and fungi which form a ‘microbiome’ within the gut which is essential to digestive efficiency – and may have significant implications for bodily and mental health.11 Here’s the problem: Diet soda is singularly unsuited to this fragile environment.12

For one thing, diet soda is even more acidic than acid rain, and this may have a direct impact on the gut microbes which might influence how nutrients are absorbed.13 Artificial sweeteners may induce glucose intolerance because of changes in the gut microbiota and might be responsible for inflammation and gut permeability, which allows fragments of food to escape the gut. This brings the immune system into action, and it generates the increased stress levels and inflammation of the ‘flight or fight’ state.14,15

Is Regular Soda Any Better?

sugar in soda | NucificThe dangers of regular soda are just as worrying. Studies show these potential implications stemming from the frequent consumption of sugary drinks:

  • Addiction: Sugar can mess with your dopamine system, which influences levels of happiness and wellbeing, in much the same way as some illegal narcotics.16
  • Nutritional Value: Soda contains no vitamins, minerals or fiber, just calories from sugar. Sugar doesn’t make you feel full, even though you’ve taken in plenty of calories. This can lead to overeating and weight gain.17
  • Insulin Resistance is just as much a problem with regular soda as with diet soda. This is a major gateway to type 2 diabetes.18
  • Leptin Resistance is a separate but connected problem. Leptin, known as the ‘satiety hormone’ helps regulate our urge to eat. Regular sugar dosing interferes with its natural patterns and can lead to weight gain, especially the accumulation of visceral belly fat.19
  • Liver Problems: Fructose can only be broken down in the liver. When the liver is inundated with sugar, it is converted into fat, which can lead to serious liver issues.20
  • Dentists would prefer we drink water instead, as highly acidic beverages can damage tooth enamel.21

Learn More:

Soda, Alcohol, And Dieting: Are Drinks Sabotaging Your Weight Loss Goals?

Sugar Alternatives: 6 Great Alternatives To Sugar

Probiotics Guide – Everything You Ever Wanted to Know