Diet Soda May Do More Harm Than Good

Diet soda drinkers have the same health issues as those who drink regular soda, according to a new report published Wednesday.

Purdue University researchers reviewed a dozen studies published in past five years that examined the relationship between consuming diet soda and health outcomes.

Artificial sweeteners in diet soda fulfill a person’s craving for a sweet taste, without the calories. But that’s the problem, according to researchers. Think of it like crying wolf.

The fake sugar in diet sodas teases your body by pretending to give it real food. But when your body doesn’t get the things it expects to get, it becomes confused on how to respond. While the studies they reviewed only looked at diet soft drinks, the researchers suggest that this could apply to other products that contain artificial sweeteners as well.

On a physiological level, this means when diet soda drinkers consume real sugar, the body doesn’t release the hormone that regulates blood sugar and blood pressure.

The artificial sweeteners also dampen the “reward center” in your brain, which may lead you to indulge in more calorie-rich, sweet-tasting food, according to the report.

The American Beverage Association says the report was “an opinion piece, not a scientific study.”

“Low-calorie sweeteners are some of the most studied and reviewed ingredients in the food supply today,” the association said in a statement. “They are safe and an effective tool in weight loss and weight management, according to decades of scientific research and regulatory agencies around the globe.”

There are five FDA-approved artificial sweeteners: acesulfame potassium (Sunett, Sweet One), aspartame (Equal, NutraSweet), neotame, saccharin (SugarTwin, Sweet’N Low), and sucralose (Splenda).

“Saccharin was one of the first commercially-available artificially sweeteners, and it’s actually a derivative of tar,” says Swithers.

Even natural sweeteners like Stevia, which has no calories and is 250 times sweeter than regular sugar, are still processed extracts of a natural plant and may have increased health risks.

“Just because something is natural does not always mean that it is safer,” says Jampolis.

There more studies and research that need to be done. But in the meantime, experts say: Limit consumption.

“No one is saying cut it out completely,” says Swithers. “But diet soda should be a treat or indulgence just like your favorite candy, not an everyday thing.”

Read More: http://thechart.blogs.cnn.com/2013/07/10/diet-soda-may-do-more-harm-than-good/

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