Drinking soda is a habit that millions in the country — and around the world — indulge in. But as society becomes more aware of the importance of making healthier choices, and the high calorie content of the beverage, many have opted to replace regular soda for a low-calorie variation which delivers the same taste and kick for a fraction of the calories and sugar content. That said, the low-calorie sweeteners used in these beverages have long been questioned with many scientists believing that the seemingly “healthier” sodas are more unhealthy than the regular formula.
Take, for example, a study from the Weizmann Institute of Science that found the three most popular artificial sweeteners — saccharin, sucralose, and aspartame — results in glucose intolerance, which make it more difficult to process sugar. Each of these sweeteners was linked to obesity and glucose intolerance by the Israeli researchers, who will be publishing their findings in online journal Nature.
“Our relationship with our own individual mix of gut bacteria is a huge factor in determining how the food we eat affects us,” warned lead researcher Professor Eran Elinav in a university release. “Especially intriguing is the link between use of artificial sweeteners – through the bacteria in our guts – to a tendency to develop the very disorders they were designed to prevent. This calls for reassessment of today’s massive, unsupervised consumption of these substances.”
But the health hazards of drinking diet sodas does not end there. Here are four side effects associated with drinking soda:
1. Cellular Damage: Most diet sodas contain mold inhibitors (e.g. sodium benzoate), which regular sodas, generally, do not have. This controversial preservative is believed to cause cellular damages by changing the DNA in the human mitochondria. And, according to the Center for Science in the Public Interest, the preservative is associated with allergic conditions like hives and asthma. While some companies have replaced sodium benzoate with potassium benzoate, both preservatives are considered to be irritants.
2. Poor Metabolism: A University of Minnesota study, published in Diabetes Care, uncovered a link between diet soda intake and metabolism: Those who consumed even one diet soda a day were 34% more likely to suffer from metabolic syndrome. What makes metabolic syndrome such a health concern is the fact that symptoms of the syndrome (such as belly fat and high cholesterol) place patients at risk for heart disease.
3. Kidney Problems: According to an eleven-year study by Harvard Medical School, with over 3,000 subjects, diet soda has a terrifying impact on your kidney. Specifically, consuming diet soda doubles your risk of kidney problems, as the subjects were seen to have a decline in kidney function when they drank more than two cans of soda a day. What’s more, since the decline in kidney function was not seen in regular sodas, the researchers believe low-calorie sweeteners in diet sodas are the culprit.
4. Heart Disease: Another decade-long study, published online in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, from researchers at University of Miami and Columbia University found that daily diet soda drinkers were more at risk of suffering from a stroke or heart attack (or dying from vascular disease) than their peers who did not have the diet soda habit.