In a recent article featured on CNN, Dr. Aaron Carroll, an associate professor at the Indiana University School of Medicine took on the age-old question – “is diet soda safe to drink?” In particular, Dr. Carroll examined recently renewed worries about the long-term health effects of the artificial sweetener commonly found in these zero calorie drinks – aspartame. Throughout the piece, Dr. Carroll reference various studies back the safety of aspartame, as well as highlighting the lack of scientific findings demonstrating any real adverse health effects of long-term aspartame consumption. Continually, Dr. Carroll reinforces the notion that diet soda is in fact perfectly healthy, basing his entire argument on the fact that aspartame has not been proven to be as toxic as some early studies illustrated. While I do agree that aspartame probably isn’t quite as bad as a handful of early studies seemed to indicate, I do believe Dr. Carroll’s has taken too narrow of a view-point in his defense of diet sodas.
The motivation for today’s post actually came in the form of a reader email I received last week. Apparently, someone else had stumbled upon this article, and was looking for a little clarification on the implications of including diet soda into their diet. After giving the article a good read through, it’s clear Dr. Carroll is giving the green light to those of you on the fence about diet soda. By citing a few studies which claim no negative health effects of aspartame, Dr. Carroll draws the conclusion that diet soda is not something to be avoided. But c’mon…is the safety of aspartame really the only thing questionable about diet sodas? So before you run out and blindly follow the advice of the well-meaning, though short-sighted doctor, I think it’s only fair you do a little more reading about this sugar-free beverage, and get a full picture of the health AND weight loss implications of diet sodas.
Today, we’re taking an in-depth look at diet soda and really get down to the nitty-gritty in an attempt to give you a little closure on one of life’s greatest conundrums: is diet soda REALLY safe for me to drink?
Is Diet Soda REALLY Safe to Drink?
Dr. Carroll seemed to imply that the entire safety of diet soda hinged on the corresponding safety of aspartame. Unfortunately, aspartame is just one of several reasons to question diet soda consumption – yes, even in moderation. Health effects of aspartame notwithstanding, here are some other reasons you may want to reconsider the safety of diet soda before making it a part of your diet…
- Potassium Benzoate. Potassium benzoate which forms the carcinogen benezene when combined with sodium and vitamin C (both found in diet sodas).
- Acesulfame Potassium. This mystery ingredient, which is slowly being used to replace aspartame in many diet sodas has had very little research into it. Further some studies actually claim acesulfame potassium produces a carcinogenic effect in the body.
- Synthetic Caffeine. Unlike the type of caffeine found in coffees and teas, the variety found in sodas is pure synthetic. Synthetic caffeine is metabolized by the body differently, absorbing into your blood stream faster, and ultimately leaving you with a bigger caffeine crash.
- Phosphoric Acid. This stuff leeches the bones and teeth of vital calcium, leaving them in a weakened state. Additionally, this effect is particularly worrisome to individuals under 30 years of age, as bones have not fully matured before this point.
- Formaldehyde. At 86 degrees Fahrenheit, aspartame converts to formaldehyde. Since the human body is typically 98.6 degree Fahrenheit, that “safe” aspartame found in your diet sodas is simply converting to formaldehyde inside your body. Countless studies have shown the negative effects of formaldehyde on human health, so just because aspartame may be safe sitting in a can, it doesn’t mean it’ll remain safe once consumed.
- Corrosives. Did you know the commercial trucks leaving Coke’s factories have to carry their product in trucks marked with hazard material placards? That’s right, the chemicals found in sodas (diet included) are so corrosive they are considered hazardous in their concentrate form. In addition to also being highly acidic, diet sodas has been shown to lead to corrosion and inflammation of bodily tissue, as well as damaging your skin, leaving you looking older than you should.
We could go on all day about the negative, laboratory made chemicals found in your run-of-the-mill diet soda. So just because aspartame isn’t the issue, and for argument sake I’ll go along with that, does that really mean diet soda is safe? Frankly, diet soda is nothing more than chemical water with a little added fizz – is this something you want inside your body?
While the jury is out on several chemicals found in diet sodas, why even risk it? Why stuff even more man-made chemicals into your system and run a higher risk for weight gain, cancer, metabolic syndrome, weakened teeth, bad skin, inflammation, nerve issues, kidney stones, liver disorders…..the list goes on.
If you’re making an honest effort to clean up your life, lose weight, and improve your health, I simply can’t get behind the notion that diet soda is now suddenly safe for you to drink. Eliminate the crap in your diet, eat more whole foods, plenty of veggies, drink lots of water, stay consistent in the gym and good things should happen. Whether or not diet soda is going to give you cancer or not isn’t the full issue (though same say it might be) – it’s certainly NOT going to help you reach your goals and may actually harm them, so forget the diet soda, and go for something more beneficial to your new healthy lifestyle and long-term goals.