It’s hot, and you’re thirsty, and just seeing the image of soda above may make you thirsty for some of the bubbly sweetness. But read this before you reach for that soda!
Companies have spent billions of dollars to convince us that diet soda will not add inches to our waistlines, because it’s “calorie free”. But not all calories are created equal, and you don't even need to consume calories to affect the body. So what do you need to know about diet soda?
First, the ingredients: What are the ingredients, and what do they do to your body?
1. Artificial sweeteners (aspartame, sucralose, saccharin, acesulfame-K):
- Aspartame coverts to FORMALDEHYDE in the body (eew!)
- Dulls taste receptors to naturally sweet foods (such as fruit), since it is 200 times sweeter than natural sugar. These taste receptors also trigger the body to react to the soda as if it had calories, so you see an INCREASE IN INSULIN (the “fat fertilizer” hormone) and LEPTIN (too high levels of this prevent you from feeling full, so you end up hungry and overeating). So you end up increasing your APPETITE…
2. Citric acid: ERODES TEETH
3. Phosphoric acid: gives soda its tangy flavor; pulls calcium out of the bone, which weakens bone and increases risk of OSTEOPOROSIS and bone fractures; this also affects teeth, and increases risk of kidney stones
4. Caffeine: diuretic which DEHYDRATES the body
5. Artificial coloring: STAINS TEETH
Now, what does the scientific research show?
- Significantly higher risk of developing DIABETES, METABOLIC SYNDROME (this syndrome increases the risk for heart attack, stroke), DEPRESSION, PREMATURE BIRTH in pregnant women, doubles risk of weight gain and OBESITY, HEADACHES.
- Not to mention, studies on “meth”, cocaine users, and diet soda drinkers found the same level of tooth erosion in each group
Finally, what do you do if you have an addiction to diet soda (or regular soda)?
Recognizing that the ingredients in soda are meant to be addictive (i.e. control your behaviour), and have no nutritional value, are the first steps towards cutting this out of your diet. The best way to quit drinking these is to quit cold turkey - stop the addiction cycle.
You can use bubbly substitutes, such as Zevia, in the short term. But these are very sweet, even though they are calorie free and mostly chemical free, so they will also stimulate your taste receptors on your tongue and still produce a response in the body. If you need a daily fix of "bubblies", we recommend seltzer water or flavored sparkling water (such as LeCroix).
Having trouble weaning off soda? Look beyond the taste and delve further into why you choose soda over something healthy. Try eliminating soda completely for 2-4 weeks, and track how you feel. You might be surprised as to why you truly reach for that soda! For example:
- Are you tired or stressed?
- Do you find that you drink soda to “justify” dessert, a second helping of food, etc?
- Do you habitually pair soda with another activity?
- Do you drink these because you’re bored, or around others that drink soda?
- Are there factors that drive your dietary choices (social, emotional, physical) that have nothing to do with what you eat?
There is no nutritional benefit to drinking any kind of soda, and if you want to lose weight, avoid diabetes and heart disease, have pretty teeth, keep your bones strong, and just be happy – avoid soda!
If you're still not convinced, check out this article