It’s oh-so-tempting to believe the labeling. You’re on a diet, you’re trying to eat healthy, so of course a food item labeled “diet” should be safe – right? Well, just like you can’t believe everything you read on the internet, so you can’t believe everything that gets printed on a label. Diet soda is one example. Soda in general is hard on your body, but diet sodas, containing the highly controversial additive aspartame, have been linked to several particularly unpleasant health issues. These seven symptoms could be proof your diet soda habit is undermining your heath.
Diet soda has been linked to heart disease
Recently, the University of Iowa published a study (the largest of its kind) showing a strong correlation between regular consumption of diet soda and heart disease. Of the 60,000 women who participated, those who drank diet soda (one or two per day) were “30 percent more likely to have a cardiovascular event and 50 percent more likely to die from related disease.1”
Takeaway: If your heart health is questionable, cutting out diet soda could help get you back on the road to health.
Aspartame may cause headaches
It’s been a long-standing suggestion that aspartame could be the culprit in causing migraines, and one study2 showed a definite connection between aspartame and headaches. This is thought to be due to the aspartic acid in aspartame3, which affects how the brain processes.
Takeaway: If you suffer from frequent, otherwise inexplicable headaches, try going without diet soda and see if your headaches improve.
The connection between diet soda and diabetes
Even though the American Diabetic Association (ADA) recommends diet soda for diabetics4, there is compelling evidence that aspartame may actually precipitate diabetes in at-risk individuals. In fact, one study showed one diet soda a day increased participants risk of developing diabetes by 36%5.
Takeaway: Drinking diet soda increases your risk of developing diabetes and could cause complications if you already have it.
Diet soda may increase hunger...
There has been research done showing some proof that consuming drinks containing aspartame could actually cause people to eat more calories2 after drinking the beverage. While more detailed research needs to be done, it seems scientists performing the study were on to something in linking diet soda to increased hunger.
Takeaway: Diet soda could cause you to feel hungrier, thus causing you to eat more calories than you would had you not had the soda.
... and is linked to weight gain...
Similarly, diet soda has been proven to increase the risk of obesity by 41%5 in individuals who consumed one or more can per day. After ten years, that number jumps up to 500%. Drinking two diet sodas a day causes the development of belly fat5.
Takeaway: If you’ve been trying to lose weight and are doing everything right – but still drink diet soda – take a break and see if you start to get better results.
... as well as depression
A study was conducted measuring how aspartame affected people with depression2, but had to be stopped because the reactions of participants was so severe. The researchers concluded that people with mood disorders are sensitive to aspartame, and should avoid it.
Takeaway: It might not be the root cause, but if you struggle with depression or other mood disorders, aspartame might be making matters worse.
Is there a connection between diet soda and cancer?
You’ve probably heard aspartame touted as a carcinogen. Many, many studies have been conducted, some of which seem to prove this is true, some of which seem to contradict the claim. Either way, there is evidence the initial findings on aspartame were falsified4 and the substance could potentially cause brain tumors.
Takeaway: More research is being done, but why run the risk?
Some splurges are worth it. Others are not. Soda is one food you’re better off skipping completely. The health risks of diet soda aren’t worth it in the long run. Get a glass of water instead – you’ll be doing your body a favor!