by Kimberly Allen, RN
The holiday season is winding down and many are already thinking about how their going to lose that 10lbs they put on splurging on decadent desserts and drinks. One thing many people do when the are trying to lose weight is switch to diet, low calorie or calorie free drinks. Diet sodas may be low on calories or calorie free however, that doesn’t mean that they can’t cause weight gain or lead to other health issues.
A recent study by the American Diabetic Association indicated that there is a link between a bigger waist line and drinking diet soda. The study showed that over a ten year period people that drank diet soda on a daily basis had waist lines that expanded 70% more than people that did not drink diet soda. The experts state that only 2 diet sodas a day can cause your waist line to expand five times more than those that don’t drink diet soda. In addition to that the increased abdominal fat increases your risk for other health problems like high blood pressure and diabetes.
There are many women that like to reward themselves with a diet soda after working out thinking they’re getting a zero calorie reward. However, the potential risks including undoing the positive effects of exercise on their bones may not be worth the “reward’. A study by Tufts University showed that women that consume 3 or more 12 ounce containers of cola, both diet and regular, had a bone density 4% lower than women that did not drink cola beverages. Experts believe that cola’s whether diet or regular pose a significant risk for bone loss in middle age to older adults. The reason is phosphoric acid. Phosphoric acid is a flavoring ingredient used in many different types of soda, however, colas contain more than the others. Though phosphorus is an important mineral in bone growth and development too much increased the risk the blood acidity. In an attempt to neutralize the extra acid the body pulls calcium from the bones.
A study by Boston University found that drinking as little as one glass of diet soda a day increases your risk for developing metabolic syndrome which includes high cholesterol levels, high triglycerides, high blood pressure, and an increased fasting blood sugar, which in turn lead to heart disease and diabetes. According to one survey done as part of an extensive research study approximately 23% of adult women suffer from metabolic syndrome. Even when researcher factored in all the other factors like the amount of fiber and saturated fats in the diet as well as total calorie intake and amount of exercise and they also factored in smoking, and despite all the other factors there was still a clear link between diet soda and metabolic syndrome.
Another study found that if you consume 2 or more diet sodas on a daily basis your risk of impaired kidney function doubles. While it’s true that kidney function decreases as we age the study showed that participants that drank diet soda lost their kidney function 3 times faster than those that didn’t drink diet soda. Some experts believe that the artificial sweeteners used in diet drinks causes scarring in the kidneys.
There are several theories being tossed around about why diet sodas are more harmful than we thought. One is called the “over stimulated sweet receptors” theory. This theory states that over time the taste buds of someone that drinks diet soda change how their body react to sweetness leading them to crave foods that are extremely sweet. There is also a new theory linking diet soda and weight gain called the behavior phenomenon. This is when people think “Oh, I can have a large fry with my Big Mac cause I’m drinking diet soda”. The calories consumed far out weigh those “saved” with a diet drink. If you really have to have that Big Mac and fries make it a small fry and drink water.
Kimberly Allen is a registered nurse with an AND in nursing. She has worked in ACF, LCF and psychiatric facilities, although she spent most of her career as a home health expert. She is now a regular contributor to HealthAndFitnessTalk.com, dispensing advice and knowledge about medical issues and questions. You can reach her with any comments or questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.