Diet soda aka diet drinks, diet Coke, diet Pepsi. Everyone drinks them right? Zero- calories that allow us to have the cake and eat it too. I have friends who live off diet coke so it’s an issue very close to my heart. There is so much circulating information out there about diet soda, it can be hard to navigate through. Let's address some of the latest research.
·Contributes to weight gain:
Contrary to popular opinion, evidence is increasingly mounting to support diet soda’s link to weight gain. A recent large-scale study found those who consumed diet soda gained almost triple the abdominal fat over nine years, in comparison to those who didn’t drink diet soda. Even after the researchers adjusted for factors such as physical activity, diabetes and smoking, diet soda drinkers gained around 3.2 inches on their waist in comparison to non-diet soda drinkers with a 0.8 waist circumference gain. This mechanism is thought to be due to the sweetness in diet soda tricking the body into believing sugar (and energy) is on its way. As no calories or energy follows, this promotes overeating in order to seek out energy. The fat storing hormone insulin is also released which increases abdominal fat.
Increases risk of heart disease
A large 2009 study researched nearly 60,000 post-menopausal women over 10 years and found women who drank 2 diet sodas a day were 30% more likely to have a cardiovascular event (e.g heart attack, stroke) and 50% more likely to die from heart related disease.
May alter gut bacteria & increase diabetes risk:
A 2014 study looked at the effects of zero calorie sweeteners such as aspartame and sucralose when fed to mice and found them to develop glucose intolerance. In humans that consumed high levels of artificial sweeteners, increased levels of HbA1C (a fancy name for a prolonged measurement of blood sugar) were seen. What I find very interesting about this study is they also took 7 volunteers who don’t normally consume diet drinks and told them to consume 10-12 artificial sugar packets over a week. More than half of the volunteers developed glucose problems and some demonstrated pre-diabetic blood sugar levels after only a few days of beginning consumption. The artificial sweeteners were found to be altering gut bacteria within the mice and humans and leading to glucose intolerance. This illustrates the power of our gut microbes on our overall health. A large-scale study is obviously required, however these results suggest a link between diet soda and diabetes development.
With many of us, it can be easy to create habits of consuming foods where we're no longer consciously mindful of what we're ingesting - favouring foods due to bad habits or taste, rather than nourishment. However it's so important we are mindful with what we eat - is this aiding my body and all the processes it will undertake today or weakening it?
So what should you drink? WATER WATER WATER. Every cell in your body will thank you for it. If you need fizz, go soda water (not tonic!). The earth knows what’s up and provides a wide array of beverage options. My favorites after water are of the tea variety: fennel, dandelion, peppermint, ginger - endless options that will nourish and not destroy x
Iowa Now 2014, < http://now.uiowa.edu/2014/03/ui-study-finds-diet-drinks-associated-heart-trouble-older-women>
Fowler, S, Williams, K & Hazuda, H 2015, ‘Diet soda intake is associated with long term increases in waist circumference in a biethnic cohort of older adults: the san Antonio longitudinal study of aging, Journal of American Geriatrics Society, vol. 63, no. 4,
Suez, J, Korem, T, Zeevi, D et al 2014 ‘Artificial sweeteners induce glucose intolerance by altering gut microbiota’, Nature, vol . 514, pp. 181-186
NPR 2014 http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2014/09/17/349270927/diet-soda-may-alter-our-gut-microbes-and-the-risk-of-diabetes