Diet Soda’s worse than regular soft drinks?

They may be calorie-free, but diet sodas could be even worse for your waistline and health than regular sodas, according to a new report.

It’s now believed that in the long run, artificial sweeteners like aspartame, saccharine and sucralose may disrupt our sugar metabolism, so that our bodies manage less well to metabolize the sugars we get from other carbohydrate foods, such as fruit, cakes and pastas.

Scientist Susan Swithers from Purdue University found in a meta-analysis of 26 different studies that sodas which had been artificially sweetened were linked with many of the same health problems as people who drink sugary soft drinks. Indeed, it appeared that the risk of obesity, Type 2 Diabetes and metabolic syndrome may actually be worse.

The problem appears to be that when the body receives an artificial sweetener, it believes that it will be accompanied by some ‘energy’ in the form of calories, and it activates mechanisms to capture that energy. However, there are no calories, and therefore no energy and nutrients, and we stand the risk that by ‘crying wolf’ the body will begin to ignore the signal of sweet food and fail to metabolize even the genuine sweet foods such as fruit.

There may, of course, be other explanations for people who consume diet sodas still developing the same health issues as those who drink sugared sodas. It may also be the case with some people that, as they have ‘saved’ calories by having diet sodas, they can now treat themselves to cake or an extra portion of chips or French fries.

Over time, whatever calories people think they are cutting with artificial sweeteners might just be returning to them in the form of poorly metabolized sugars from other foods.

Whatever the reason, diet sodas do not seem to be associated with weight loss, and certainly not with better sugar metabolism leading to diabetes etc. As little as one diet soda per day can be detrimental in a variety of health conditions, such as metabolic discorders, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, and weight gain.

Artificial Sweeteners Produce the Counter-Intuitive
Effect of Inducing Metabolic Derangements
Susan E. Swithers

As the negative impact of consuming sugar-sweetened beverages on weight and other health outcomes has been increasingly recognized, many people have turned to high-intensity sweeteners like aspartame, sucralose and saccharin as way to reduce risk of these consequences. However, accumulating evidence suggests that frequent consumers of these sugar substitutes may also be at increased risk for excessive weight gain, metabolic syndrome, Type 2 diabetes (T2D) and cardiovascular disease. This paper reviews these findings and considers the hypothesis that consuming sweet-tasting, but non-caloric or reduced-calorie food and beverages, interferes with learned responses that normally contribute to glucose and energy homeostasis. Because of this interference, frequent consumption of high-intensity sweeteners may have the counterintuitive effect of inducing metabolic derangements.