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Those who are trying to lose weight often cut calories by substituting regular soda for diet. Doing so is not beneficial, as the harmful effects of diet soda are far greater than the benefits.
People often drink diet soda because they wish to lose weight; however, research from the University of Texas shows that doing so could actually cause you to gain extra pounds. A study followed people for more than a decade, and found that diet soda drinkers had a 70% greater increase in waist size than those who did not consume diet soda. Those who had two or more diet sodas each day showed a 500% increase in waist circumference, which means the odds of you gaining weight may actually increase with the number of diet sodas you drink.
One of the most harmful effects of diet soda involves an increased risk of developing diabetes. A University of Minnesota study concluded that those who consumed only one diet soda per day had a 36% greater risk of diabetes and metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome describes a group of conditions such as high glucose and cholesterol levels, elevated blood pressure, and an oversized waist that increases a person’s risk of developing diabetes and other conditions such as stroke and heart disease.
Diet sodas typically contain a sweetener known as aspartame, which has been linked to frequent headaches. Michael T. Murray, author of Natural Alternatives, claims that food allergens or intolerance is a leading cause of migraine headaches, and that a good number of people who consume aspartame will eventually develop them. Dr. Mary Eades agrees, claiming that aspartame may be the trigger for as many as ten percent of all migraine patients. A University of Florida study also reported that aspartame increased the frequency of migraines in more than half of the participants. Many migraine patients are able to obtain relief by simply avoiding artificial sweeteners such as those found in diet sodas.
A Nurse’s Health Study was performed on 3,000 women over a 20-year period. Those who drank diet soda noticed a 30% greater reduction in kidney function as opposed to women who did not consume any soda. The glomerular filtration rate is an indicator of kidney function, and naturally declines by around 1 mL per minute per year after age 40. Women who drank diet sodas during this 20-year period noticed a decrease of around 3 mL per minute per year, which is three times as fast as normal. This figure remained constant even when researchers accounted for other health factors such as diabetes, obesity, smoking, and the presence of cardiovascular disease. There was however no connection between the consumption of sugared beverages and decreased kidney function.
The harmful effects of diet soda far outweigh the benefits of saving a few calories. If you are trying to lose weight, your best bet is to cut out all soft drinks, especially diet sodas, and consume only water or sports beverages instead.