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Is diet soda bad for you? 6 awful things it does to your body

Yes, they are fat-free and zero-calorie, but diet soda not doing much good to your heart health © Shutterstock

Just calling it diet soda doesn't make it healthy.

Written by Sandhya Raghavan |Updated : November 7, 2017 4:28 PM IST

One of the most terrible things about going on a diet is staying away from your favourite fizzy drinks. That's when diet soda came to the rescue, giving you the same amazing cola flavour without all the unwanted calories that come with it. Putting a "healthy" spin on your favourite sugary beverage, diet drinks bragged of having as less as just one calorie in them. Blame it on the fear of sugar, but weight watchers have been increasingly gravitating towards these drinks, thinking that diet sodas will help them with their weight loss goals. But be warned. Fewer calories don't mean it is healthier or safer. In fact, there is a lot of debate whether diet sodas actually help you lose weight in the first place. The low-calorie sweeteners used in these drinks may not be healthier than sugar, and studies say that excessive consumption of these sweeteners like aspartame, sucralose and saccharin through diet drinks can, in fact, increase the risk of weight gain. Here are some other ways in which diet drinks can ruin your health.

1 Weight gain: Many dieters choose diet drinks in a bid to reduce caloric consumption and to maintain their weight. Subconsciously, they think that it is healthier to drink diet drinks than regular sugar-sweetened ones. But multiple studies have shown that diet drinks could contribute to weight gain than loss. One study has also tied it to the epidemic of abdominal obesity, where people tend to pile weight around the waist.12

2 Depression: A study published in the PLOS in 2014 compared the effects of unsweetened coffee and tea with sweetened diet drinks and soda. The researchers were able to positively tie diet drinks to higher risk of depression and tea and coffee to a lower risk.3

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3 Kidney damage: A team of researchers in 2011 concluded that having more than two servings of sweetened diet soda was associated with faster decline in kidney functions. There was a two-fold increase in the risk of decreased kidney functions in women who consumed these artificially sweetened drinks.4

4 Metabolic syndrome: Diet drinks rich in artificial sweeteners can lead to a cluster of metabolic disorders like increased blood pressure, abnormal levels of cholesterol, diabetes and increased concentration of fat around the waistline.5

5 Brain risks: Study shows that long-term consumption of aspartame, a common sweetener used in diet drinks has the ability to cause an imbalance of antioxidant/pro-oxidant status in the brain through glutathione-dependent system.6

6 Asthma risk: An Australian study conducted in 2012 examined almost 17,000 participants who regularly drank more than half a litre of diet drinks every day. The study showed that there was a positive correlation between soft drink consumption and increased risk of COPD conditions like asthma among the participants.7

Diet drinks should be made an occasional indulgence not a daily If it is sugar that you are afraid of, there are many other healthier substitutes like stevia, honey, agave nectar and jaggery you opt for instead of artificial sweeteners.

References:

1.Yang, Q. (2010). Gain weight by going diet? Artificial sweeteners and the neurobiology of sugar cravings: Neuroscience 2010. The Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine, 83(2), 101 108.

2. Fowler, S. P., Williams, K., & Hazuda, H. P. (2015). Diet soda intake is associated with long-term increases in waist circumference in a bi-ethnic cohort of older adults: The San Antonio Longitudinal Study of Aging. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, 63(4), 708 715. http://doi.org/10.1111/jgs.13376

3.Guo, X., Park, Y., Freedman, N. D., Sinha, R., Hollenbeck, A. R., Blair, A., & Chen, H. (2014). Sweetened beverages, coffee, and tea and depression risk among older US adults. PloS one, 9(4), e94715.

4.Lin, J., & Curhan, G. C. (2011). Associations of Sugar and Artificially Sweetened Soda with Albuminuria and Kidney Function Decline in Women. Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology : CJASN, 6(1), 160 166. http://doi.org/10.2215/CJN.03260410

5.Crichton, G., Alkerwi, A., & Elias, M. (2015). Diet Soft Drink Consumption is Associated with the Metabolic Syndrome: A Two Sample Comparison. Nutrients, 7(5), 3569 3586. http://doi.org/10.3390/nu7053569

6. Abhilash, M., Sauganth Paul, M. V., Varghese, M. V., & Nair, R. H. (2013). Long-term consumption of aspartame and brain antioxidant defense status. Drug and chemical toxicology, 36(2), 135-140.

7.Shi, Z., Dal Grande, E., Taylor, A. W., Gill, T. K., Adams, R., & Wittert, G. A. (2012). Association between soft drink consumption and asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease among adults in Australia. Respirology, 17(2), 363-369.

Image source: Shutterstock

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