Because of its high sugar content, soda is known to be one of the unhealthiest beverages you can drink. But if you believe that drinking sugar-free diet soda is better, here’s something for you to think about: a recent study presented at an American Diabetes Association meeting revealed that people who drank two or more diet sodas daily had a 500 percent greater increase in waist size!
Researchers at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio followed 474 diet soda drinkers for almost a decade and found that their waistlines expanded by 70 percent compared to non-diet soda drinkers. Those who drank two or more diet sodas a day had the biggest waistlines. (Link)
Why Diet Soda Does Not Support Weight Management
In 2005, a team led by study co-author Sharon Fowler found that each can of diet soda you drink in a day increases your obesity risk by 41 percent.
Diet soda contains the artificial sweetener aspartame, which may contain zero calories but can’t fool your body and brain. When your body detects that you’re consuming something sweet, it expects that it contains calories. Since artificial sweeteners don’t provide calories, they can cause distortions in your biochemistry that may result in weight gain, Dr. Joseph Mercola explains.
Your brain knows the difference between sugar and an artificial sweetener, which tends to increase activity in your brain’s pleasure center even though it provides lower actual satisfaction. This causes your body to crave more artificial sweeteners – as well as real sugar – because your brain is not satisfied at the cellular level by the sugar imposter.
Diet Soda and Cardiovascular Disease
Another study presented earlier this year at the American Stroke Association’s International Stroke Conference 2011 suggested that diet soda can increase your risk of stroke.
Researchers from the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine and Columbia University followed more than 1,000 volunteers for over nine years. About 900 of the participants said they did not consume any diet soda, while about 160 drank one or more diet sodas daily. (Link)
At the end of the study, the researchers noted that diet soda consumption and salt intake increased the risk of heart attacks, strokes, and other deadly vascular conditions.
How to Quit Your Soda Habit
Eliminating your diet soda consumption is easier said than done – artificial sweeteners are addicting and have “positive reinforcing effects,” according to Dr. Martin Paulus, one of the authors of a study that compared the taste pathways of sugar and artificial sweeteners. “Humans will work for it, like for other foods, alcohol, and even drugs of abuse. Whenever you have that, there is a potential that a subgroup of people … will have a chance of getting addicted,” he says.
Your soda cravings may have an underlying emotional component. Dr. Mercola recommends the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), particularly Turbo Tapping, an EFT tool that allows you to resolve emotional aspects of an addictive problem in a short period of time.
After you have addressed your diet soda addiction, you can use the natural sweetener stevia, which is 300 times sweeter than sugar, has zero calories, and does not cause a spike in your blood sugar levels. Dr. Mercola uses liquid stevia that comes in flavors like English Toffee and French Vanilla, which can be added to seltzer water to produce a healthy soda alternative.