Why Diet Beverages Are Even Worse Than You Thought from Why Diet Beverages Are Even Worse Than You Thought

Why Diet Beverages Are Even Worse Than You Thought

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Why Diet Beverages Are Even Worse Than You Thought

About one-fifth of the U.S. population consumes diet drinks on a given day, according to the Centers of Disease and Control Prevention (CDC). From 1999‒2000 through 2009‒2010, the percentage of people choosing “sugar-free” increased. This is bad news. Blame artificial sweeteners.

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Belly fat

Several studies have suggested that diet soda causes weight gain, not loss. In one research study in particular, which included 749 people who were 65 and older, those who had sugar-free sodas gained three times more weight around the waist – 3.2 inches – than those who didn’t. In another study people who drank two or more diet sodas a day had waist sizes that were six times bigger than those who didn’t. The 470-plus participants were observed for about a decade.

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Heart problems

A study that observed 42,400 men over 12 years found that only two sweetened drinks a day can increase the risk of heart problems by almost a quarter. Less than half of the people first diagnosed with the condition live longer than five years, according to the Heart Failure Society of America.

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Dull senses

Artificial sweeteners in diet soda are stronger than even regular sugar. Consuming them consistently can cause the body to get used to the stronger taste, which means your tastebuds will be dull to healthier naturally sweet drinks. Researchers have found that the more diet soda an individual consumed, the lower their activation was in the caudate nucleus, which plays a vital role in how the brain learns, specifically the storing and processing of memories. Thus, people that drank the most diet soda had the least activity in the caudate head region.

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Kidney failure

Kidney function declined over two decades in women who drank several diet sodas a day, according to research. Compared with women who did not drink diet soda, soda-drinking women had a 30 percent greater reduction in kidney function in 20 years.

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You feel hungrier

Artificial sweeteners stimulate appetite. Inside the brain’s reward centers, sweet sensation is integrated with energy content. When sweetness versus energy is out of balance for a period of time, the brain recalibrates and increases total calories consumed, according to research. Chronic consumption of artificial sweetener sucralose increases the sweet intensity of real nutritive sugar, and this then increases a person’s overall motivation to eat more food.

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Bad for your gut

Diet sodas may alter gut microbes in a way that increases the risk of metabolic diseases, research has found. Aspartame, sucralose, and saccharine, which can be found in diet drinks, can wreak havoc on your body. In initial studies with mice, they developed glucose intolerance. In the subsequent study people who consumed more artificial sweeteners had a slightly elevated measure of blood sugar compared with people who rarely or never consumed artificial sweeteners.

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High blood pressure

People who drink sugar-free and artificially sweetened soft drinks are more likely to have high blood pressure, possibly because they are more likely to gain weight. Caffeine can cause a spike, too. Research shows that in hypertensive individuals, caffeine intake produces an acute increase in blood pressure for 3 or more hours.

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Diabetes

Diet sodas trick the brain by triggering its “awards” regions, causing “metabolic derangements.” That basically means that you end up eating more or changing your diet in an unhealthy way, eventually leading to the diseases you are trying to avoid, such as obesity and diabetes. Another study has linked artificial sweeteners to a change in gut microbes, increasing the risk of Type 2 diabetes.

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Fatty liver

The artificial, non-saccharide sweetener aspartame, found in diet sodas, is the culprit here. A study has shown it to increase insulin resistance and trigger fatty liver disease, which means there is a buildup of extra fat in the liver cells.

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Heart attack

Researchers had said that consuming as little as one diet soda a day could increase your risk of heart attack and stroke by 48 percent. The body releases insulin after it “tastes” the sweetness from the artificial sweeteners in the diet soda. Too much– without any actual sugar – causes an overload, making the cells less responsive to the hormone.

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Seizures

Aspartame-sweetened soft drinks have been linked to seizures, according to the Epilepsy Foundation. The chemical has also been known to induce convulsions. This synthetic chemical can evade the blood-brain barrier, allowing the chemicals to directly alter the brain’s neurological function. It is believed that aspartame, which contains phenylalanine, can raise the levels of phenylalanine in the brain. It then reduces the production and flow of the neurotransmitters that protect against seizures.

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Stroke and dementia

There is a connection between higher sugary beverage intake and brain atrophy, including lower brain volume and poorer memory. People who drank diet soda daily were almost three times as likely to develop stroke and dementia when compared to those who did not consume diet soda, a recent study has found.  

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Cancer

Experiments on rats have shown that aspartame, the market names of which are NutraSweet® and Equal®, can cause the development of cancerous cells in different parts of the body. The common sweetener’s carcinogenic effects are increased when exposure begins in the womb.

Why Diet Beverages Are Even Worse Than You Thought