The link between soda drinking and obesity is now well established. But what about the diet kind?
Two years ago, a study at the University of Texas Health Science Center found that there was a 41% increase in the risk for being overweight for every single can of diet soda a person consumed daily.
But how can something with no calories increase the risk for obesity and heart disease?
There are several possible ways.
One theory is that the sweet taste works in the brain to create a conditioned response, and the body responds as it usually does to normal sugar—with insulin, the fat storing hormone. Those circuits in the brain are pretty primitive—as far as your brain is concerned, sweet means sugar.
It’s entirely possible that physiologically, you would respond to aspartame in the same way as you would to table sugar. It’s only a theory, but it makes sense.
Second, sweetness creates its own cravings. Just as a taste of rum creates an unstoppable craving in an alcoholic, it’s entirely possible that the taste of sweet—even if it’s fake—creates the same cascade of cravings in a carb addict that regular sugar does, leading to overeating and binging and all the rest of the reasons people put on weight.
Third, many people think that by drinking diet beverages they’re “saving” calories and they subconsciously allow themselves to eat more, figuring it’s not doing as much harm because overall their meal has less calories since they’re drinking a diet drink.
The diet drink gives them subconscious “permission” to eat more. This isn’t conscious, but it’s totally real.
Then there’s the heart disease connection. Aspartame is primarily made from three ingredients—aspartic acid, phenylalanine and methanol. Methanol—an alcohol—breaks down in the body to formaldehyde, a poison if there ever was one. Exposing children to formaldehyde levels as low as .75 mg daily for several months has been shown to cause gradual toxicity.
Plus, diet soda is frequently stored in hot warehouses, causing even more breakdown that went undetected in the original studies that looked at “ideal” conditions.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t need a double blind randomized controlled study to prove to me that water puts out fire. Soda is bad news, whether regular or diet. Period.
With diet soda—as with sugar—less is more and none is better.
If you’re going to use sweetener, I suggest you try Xylitol. It actually tastes like sugar, can be used for cooking and baking, has some health benefits (like preventing bacterial adhesion which is why it’s so good in chewing gums) and as a sugar alcohol, has a very low glycemic load.
Meanwhile, forget about the diet Cokes. They don’t help you lose weight and they may be contributing to a host of other problems you don’t want or need.
Source: Dr. Jonny Brown http://www.jonnybowden.com/2007_09_01_archive.html