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The Dangers of Diet Soda

While it’s a much better alternative than its full-calorie counterparts, here are some reasons you’ll want to veer away from diet soda.

By now, you should have it drilled into your head that soda is bad. Dentists, scolding coworkers, and your mother all tell you to give up the carbonated beast, but it’s tough quitting cold turkey, so how about a compromise? Well, it turns out that diet soda isn’t all that great, either. While it’s a much better alternative than its full-calorie counterparts, here are some reasons you’ll want to veer away from diet soda.

You’re More Likely to Have a Bigger Belly
One of the benefits touted by drink companies and fans alike is that you’re making a healthy choice by switching to diet soda. They also tell you that you’ll be less likely to gain weight than if you were drinking regular pop. That’s true, but it might not be the whole truth. Actually, there’s a chance that you’ll still gain weight by drinking diet soda.

A study tracked people who drank diet soda occasionally, people who drank it frequently, and people who didn’t drink it at all. Occasional drinkers saw their stomach size grow an inch more than those who don’t drink. Frequent drinkers’ stomachs grew more than two inches wider than abstainers. That’s certainly some troubling evidence, but there is one important thing to note about this study. While the survey showed a strong link between drinking diet soda and weight gain, it doesn’t necessarily prove a cause-effect relationship.

It Might Not Give You That Sweet Fix
While the lack of sugar in diet soda is cause for celebration, don’t start cracking open bottles quite yet. Too much sugar, we know, is bad for you, but artificial sweeteners don’t effectively replace sugar when it comes to how they affect your brain.

A University of Colorado study found that sucralose, a popular sweetener found in major diet sodas, doesn’t reward the brain quite like sugar does. So, while you’re intaking diet soda and tasting sweetness, your brain isn’t getting the fix that it expects. This alone isn’t cause for too much concern, but if you decide that than can of diet soda isn’t quite doing the job, you might instead reach for another sweet treat.

It Affects Your Gut and Could Predispose You to Diabetes
Along with the threat of weight gain, you have other problems to worry about. Those pesky artificial sweeteners are again the culprit here, as studies have shown link to risk of diabetes.

The study published in Nature shows us that when mice were fed artificial sweeteners, microbes in their guts altered, predisposing the mice to glucose intolerance. In other words, artificial sweeteners made the mice more likely to develop diabetes. Further studies have shown people who consume a lot of artificial sweeteners have higher blood sugar levels than those who don’t. So much for the benefits of a sugar-free diet soda, right?

The true impact of diet sodas is still a little murky, and it’s clear that researchers need to conduct more tests to prove once and for all that these drinks are bad for us. That said, the signs are starting point toward these sweet refreshments being anything but good for you. Thirsty? Drink water instead.

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