The Skinny on Diet Soda

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I know how tempting diet soda can be. When you want to enjoy a bubbly flavored drink without the calories, a diet soda seems like the perfect solution. But, bad news for all your diet drinkers out there — put down that can of diet Coke and listen up!

Diet soda is made with artificial sweeteners like aspartame and sucrolose. While you’re not actually ingesting calories, the sweet taste of these ingredients causes your body to THINK you are, according to LiveStrong.com. Normally, when your body takes in calories, your metabolism responds quickly through a feedback loop involving your brain, stomach and hormones. But, when your body loses its ability to gage how many calories are consumed, as when you drink diet sodas regularily, it actually confuses your body and slows down your metabolism. In fact, some experts are saying that artificial sweeteners actually increase your cravings, causing you to eat more than you normally would.

Scary, right?

Well, that’s not all. A study presented at the American Stroke Association’s International Stroke Conference in February 2011 found that people who drank diet soda every day had a 61 percent higher risk of vascular events, including stroke and heart attack, than those who avoided diet drinks all together.

Wait, there’s more. Do you like your smile? Then maybe you should consider staying away from diet drinks, which contain high amounts of phosphoric acid. Regular consumption of this acidic compound leads to tooth enamel erosion and other dental problems. While I like my dentist, I don’t want to see him more than twice a year for my routine cleaning!

Additionally, high amounts of phosphoric acid leaches calcium out of your bones, which can tilt your pH balance to an unhealthy and possibly dangerous level. This can harm your body’s natural detoxification processes.

In Eastern medicine, overconsumption of acidic drinks, like diet soda, are considered highly corrosive to the GI tract, possibly leading to a number of digestive disorders. Drop a nail in a cup of diet soda and another nail in a cup of regular soda. Come back an hour or two later. The results will shock you. Now, imagine what’s going on in your stomach!

What’s even more alarming than thinking about these effects on your body is considering what’s happening to your child’s body when you let them drink diet soda. While the debate on the risks of diet soda is still going strong and nothing is set in stone, your child’s little body is still maturing so it’s best to avoid offering them anything containing such controversial ingredients.

If this information has got you thinking twice about your afternoon diet soda fix, here are some healthier alternatives. If you keep it to a minimum, drinking regular soda may be a better option for your body. It’s even been shown to reduce nausea symptoms. A glass of skim milk will provide you with calcium and can be pretty filling as well. Fruit juice provides nutrients along with flavor, while unsweetened iced tea adds flavor without the sugar or calories. But, of course, water is the absolute best option for your body. Squirt some lemon in it if you’re craving a little more flavor. So, the next time you reach for a drink to quench your thirst, think about what’s best for your body.

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