October 31, 2012

Is Diet Soda Bad for You?

Diet Soda: Good or Bad?Is diet soda bad for you? Are you trying to lose weight? Thinking of reaching for that diet soda?  Think again!

Are diet sodas bad for you? Do they really increase the risk of heart disease and stroke? Isn’t diet soda supposed to be good for weight loss?  Those are all good questions – let’s take a look and answer them for you.

The whole thought behind diet drinks was that a healthier alternative to regular soft drinks could be made by removing the sugar and replacing it with a non-caloric artificial sweetener.  And, that this would help people indulge and lose weight, or at least not gain weight. Makes sense, right?  “Drink as much diet soda as you like, because you’re not going to get fat” was the mentality.

Diet Soda and Increased Waist Size

A study from the University of Texas Health Science Center San Diego revealed some interesting findings related to consumption of diet soft drinks and waist circumference. This was a fairly large study involving 474 participants that were followed on average 9.5 years.  Here are the shocking results.  People who consumed diet soda realized a 70% greater increase in their waist size compared to non-users of diet soft drinks.  Those who consumed 2 or more diet drinks a day had a 500% greater increase in waist size than non-users.

So avoid the diet drinks if you’re trying to get into that wedding gown.

Why is that?  The results of a second study may explain the connection between diet soda and increased waist circumference.

Aspartame Use and Diabetic Risk

Aspartame is the most frequently used artificial sweetener used in diet drinks.  You probably know it better by the name NutraSweet®. This second study was done on 2 groups of mice.  Both were fed a high fat diet, but one group also received aspartame, and the other did not. After 3 months the mice fed aspartame had higher blood glucose levels. Too much blood glucose can lead to weight gain as it gets converted into fat in the liver, and too high of glucose level leads to diabetes, and weight gain increases the risk of heart disease and stroke.

Diet Soft Drinks and Heart Disease

A study published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine,  and which was funded by the NIH, showed that daily consumption of diet soft drinks was associated with a 43% increase in vascular events (heart disease and stroke). Again these findings pertained to people who drank diet soft drinks daily.  There was no association with lighter consumption of diet drinks or with consumption of regular sodas.

Diet soft drinks may not be that healthier alternative that we originally thought.  And, that brings us to us this point.  When it comes to what you put in your body or on your body opt for the most natural choice.

See related to articles.

“Sweeteners: to Sweeten or Not Sweeten”

“Sugar: the News Isn’t So Sweet”

“Beer, Chocolate, Good for You?”

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Dr. Joe Jacko

Dr. Joe is board certified in internal medicine and sports medicine with additional training in hormone replacement therapy and regenerative medicine. He has trained or practiced at leading institutions including the Hughston Clinic, Cooper Clinic, Steadman-Hawkins Clinic of the Carolinas, and Cenegenics. He currently practices in Columbus, Ohio at Grandview Primary Care. Read more about Dr. Joe Jacko

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