The Diet Soda Lie

When moving toward a new, health-conscious lifestyle, many people make the switch to diet soda under the assumption that this change will allow them to indulge in their favorite drink without the negative impact on their health. Unfortunately, this is just not the case.

The diet soda lie began when Coca-Cola introduced “diet” soda in 1963 with Tab. Tab was sweetened with cyclamates and saccharin instead of sugar, and big food corporations started spreading the perception that diet soda could help soda-drinkers to become thin. Marketers pitched that you could enjoy a sweet treat and lose weight at the same time, and the strategy worked. Diet soda experienced a surge of popularity, and other major soda companies followed suit.

But Americans didn’t get thinner; they actually got fatter… a lot fatter!

A recent study at the University of Sydney found that drinking diet soda caused study participants to increase their calorie intake by as much as 50%. The artificially flavored soft drinks cause strong hunger cravings.

Why? Because when the brain senses the intense sweetness of the incoming soda it also expects a flood of calories to follow! When the calories don’t arrive, the brain demands them. The result is intense hunger pangs, causing diet soda drinkers to take in more calories than they would have had they not been drinking sugary soda.

Diet Soda Health Dangers

Beyond obesity and weight management concerns, artificial sweeteners in soft drinks have been linked to some serious and even deadly health conditions:

  • Saccharin (Sweet ‘N Low)

    Animal studies show this sweetener increases the risk of uterine and bladder cancers. Some people react to saccharin and suffer from headaches and diarrhea. The FDA unsuccessfully tried to ban saccharin in 1972, but fell short against big food corporations.

  • Aspartame (NutraSweet, Equal)

    This sweetener is linked to cancer in lab animals. Babies born to mothers who consume aspartame during pregnancy face a higher risk of metabolic syndrome.

  • Sucralose (Splenda)

    Italian researchers found that mice fed sucralose developed leukemia, and this sweetener has been linked to bladder, rectal and breast cancers. It is on the consumer watchdog group’s list of most dangerous foods.

What Can We Do?

Dump the diet sodas and switch to fruit infused sparkling water instead. This soda replacement is low in calories and high in cancer fighting antioxidants. Just cut up your favorite fruits and add to sparkling (or even plain) water.

There are also safe, natural sugar alternatives, such as coconut sugar, raw honey, molasses, maple syrup and date sugar, just to name a few. Coconut sugar has the same amount of carbs as regular sugar, but it’s lower on the glycemic index scale and has fiber to slow down absorption.

But remember: when consuming any type of sugar – even healthier, natural sugars – you have to be mindful. 70% of Americans have some form of diabetes or pre-diabetes.

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