It’s been a long day. You just finished your lunch, but feel like you need a pick-me-up. You reach for a diet soda. You drink diet because you don’t want all the sugar and would like to spare a few calories so they don’t appear around your belly in the form of fat a few months down the road. Most of us have come to grips with the fact that chemically processed foods have some sort of effect on our body in the long run, and how diet soda affects your health and weight is no exception.
Artificial sweeteners are in an enormous amount of foods. Many of which you’d never even suspect, including nearly all popular sugar free beverages, but also yogurts, like Yoplait Light & Fit, prepared oatmeal like Quaker Low Sugar Instant Oats and Popsicles marketed to kids.
Diet sodas make up the lion’s share of products consumed in this category. Even though we’re drinking less diet soda today than in years past, the CDC reports that about 2 in 10 people over the age of 2 (that’s right, toddlers), consumes some sort of artificially sweetened product regularly.
If that’s not enough, here are a few other really good reasons to ease off of artificial sweeteners:
- According to the Yale Journal of Biology, artificial sweetener consumption actually decreases appetite control. You read that right. People who eat or drink foods and beverages with artificial sweeteners want to eat more.
- Another large-scale study showed that waist circumference tripled among those who regularly drank diet soda over those who did not.
- This is bad news for diabetics and pre-diabetics, too, as artificial sweeteners have been shown to alter our gut bacteria, which has a profound impact on our body’s ability to manage blood sugar levels. People who consumed diet soda were more likely to develop glucose intolerance.
- If weight loss is your motivation, it might be helpful for you to know that a study of nearly 80,000 women showed that those who drank diet soda were more likely to gain weight over the course of a year than those who did not.
- A study of over 2,500 men showed that those who drank more than one diet soda a day were more likely to suffer a vascular event, including stroke and heart attack, etc.
The argument has always been that artificial sweeteners, particularly aspartame, are one of the most researched and tested ingredients in foods today – proven time and again to be safe. Clearly this additive is not 100% safe, at least with some people – and not just a sliver of the population either. It’s not unreasonable to think that the impact of a chemical, either synthetic or organic, could have a detrimental effect on one’s unique physiology. And as we continue to bombard our systems with processed foods, further damaging our bodies, the impact and sensitivity to these foods could be greater.
If you eat something that is sweet, but doesn’t have very many calories, there is a good chance it has an artificial sweetener. Consider cutting out foods that contain this class of ingredients.
Common Artificial Sweetener Names
- Aspartame or NutraSweet
- Sucralose or Splenda
- Acesulfame Potassium or Ace-K