We are becoming a nation of soda addicts. What used to be a beverage enjoyed occasionally with lunch or dinner has become a daily dependent staple for many. Because of the excessive amounts of sugar regular soft drinks contain, many Americans are making the switch to diet soda. While those who switch think they are doing themselves a healthy favor they don’t realize the dangers of diet soda.
Dangers Of Diet Soda
Part of the problem lies with the fact that nowadays people are consuming a vast amount of diet soda. Rather than drinking from moderate-sized glasses people are purchasing mega-sized cups of the carbonated beverage. The average local convenient store is notorious for these large-scale soda sales. These gigantic gulp sizes seem more appropriate for King Kong rather than the average human being. Even the standard cup holders of most cars can’t accommodate the girth of these ginormous soft drinks. If you guilty of the big gulp you may want to read on to learn about the other dangers of diet soda – even though it may be difficult to swallow.
The sinister side of Sucralose
How does diet soda taste sweet without the use of sugar? It’s not magic. It’s through the use of artificial sweeteners. A very common one that many diet sodas contain is called Sucralose. Sucralose was invented in a laboratory as a sweetener through a complex, chemically involved process in the 1970’s. It was later approved for use by the Food and Drug Administration in 1998. Since its approval, Sucralose has been used as a sweetener by a plethora of companies that manufacture diet soda.
Because Sucralose is derived from actual sugar many companies (i.e. those that make the sweetener) claim that Sucralose is more natural than other artificial sweeteners. But the process to make Sucralose is anything but natural. In fact, numerous chemicals come into play in the manufacturing of the sweetener.
One of those chemicals is chlorine. Therefore, when you drink diet soda a lot of that chlorine stays in your body, especially if you drink a lot of diet soda. Studies have already revealed that one of the dangers of this chlorinated sweetener is that it kills the healthy bacteria that lives inside the intestines. This bacteria is a vital part of maintaining a healthy digestive system.
Also, just think of the unpleasant effects that chlorine has on the outside of your body if you are a frequent pool user. It bleaches our hair and our swimsuits. It makes our hair and skin feel extremely dry. Some individuals even break out with rashes because of the harsh chemical. Over time many swimmers find that their hair becomes brittle (or a greenish hue) and that their swimsuits start to deteriorate from the chemical. Knowing all the negativity that chlorine can have on our external body, do we really want to expose this harmful chemical to our insides with every sip we take?
The Weight gain factor
It would seem ironic for diet soft drinks to result in weight gain, but sadly that is one of the dangers of diet soda. Again, this factor is a result of the use of artificial sweeteners. In a sense, artificial sweeteners mess with the body’s overall internal system. The more artificial sweeteners consumed, the more it throws off a body’s regulation system. Some of the weight-gaining side effects these sweeteners can lead to are as follows:
- increase cravings for carbohydrates
- hampers the body’s ability to control calories
- can lead to metabolic syndrome which increases the risk of developing Type II diabetes
As if these effects weren’t distressing enough it has been shown that drinking diet soda can actually double the risk of obesity. Considering that the main reason most consume diet soda is to maintain a healthy weight. It’s disturbing to learn that the very opposite can occur.
Also read: Why Exercise Doesn’t Work
The Sodium Factor
When looking at the nutrition facts label on the side of a diet soda can it can be refreshing to see a bunch of zeros. Especially when it comes to unhealthy nutrients such as carbohydrates, fats and sugars. However, one nutrient that diet soda does contain is sodium. A 12 ounce can of a diet soft drink contains approximately 40 milligrams of sodium, which accounts for two to three percent of the FDA’s recommended daily values. While this initially doesn’t seem like much, it may be beneficial to ponder a couple of things here.
One, most people do not drink just one “serving” of soda, especially those who frequent convenient stores. Some of those behemoth beverages are more than five times larger than what is deemed a single serving size. Hence, the sodium dangers of diet soda become more significant with these larger portions.
The other problem that comes into play has to do with the foods that people typically eat while drinking diet soda. Most people aren’t pairing their diet soft drinks with fruits and veggies. Because of the sweet taste of diet soda most have a tendency to reach for something salty instead, like potato chips. These salty munchies have a ton of sodium. Drinking large quantities of diet soda and eating salty foods results in the body having excessive amounts of sodium.
Consuming too much sodium has been proven to lead to many dangerous health issues. A common issue eating foods with excessive sodium can lead to is high blood pressure. Those who have high blood pressure are much more at risk of having a stroke, heart failure or a heart attack.
Aside from high blood pressure, studies have shown that those who consume a lot of sodium can have other health problems as well. Lovers of sodium-filled foods are also more at risk of developing stomach cancer. In addition, high amounts of sodium can result in a decrease in the amount of calcium within the body. Having low levels of calcium can lead to bone-density problems and even Osteoporosis, a disease that is due to a thinning of the bones.
Reducing the dangers of diet soda
Obviously the easiest way to alleviate the dangers of diet soda is to not drink diet soda. But “easier said than done,” is probably the immediate thought that comes to mind. Perhaps it can be a more realistic goal to monitor your intake. Instead of purchasing a soda size that would seem more appropriate for an elephant, perhaps buy one that can easily fit in your hand.
Or, maybe sip on some alternative beverages. If you like a cold drink that is accompanied with a kick of caffeine, there are a variety of iced green tea blends on the market. If you need to sweeten it up a bit, add some natural sweeteners. Honey or agave nectar are naturally sweet and have additional health benefits. It may take some adjusting to if consuming diet soda is habitual. However, over time it does get easier and hopefully you will feel healthier.