All Soda, Including Diet Soda May Cause Early Death

The beverage industry is anchored, in large part, by soda sales. And this makes a lot of sense. Not only are sodas refreshing, but they are also incredibly sweet and satisfy our sugar cravings. As society became more health conscious, diet sodas were introduced using artificial sweeteners rather than sugar or high fructose corn syrup. With refinements in taste, today’s diet sodas offer much the same enjoyment, while not adding calories. On the face of it, it sounds like a great compromise. But soda, whether diet or regular, can be detrimental to health and ultimately shorten one’s lifespan.

Why is this?

While diet soda does not contain any sugar, and that in and of itself reduces the likelihood of diabetes, it can still alter the gut microbiome – the trillions of bacteria that keep our gastrointestinal system healthy. And, you guessed it, these alterations can, in fact, lead to type-2 diabetes anyway. Further, diet “sweetness” still triggers the part of the brain that craves sweetness. Despite eliminating sugar, we are still consuming something very sweet. And the cycle continues — not only will we crave sweets from other places – like cakes or ice cream – but our palate can become desensitized to levels of sweetness, requiring us to over-sweeten everything else, whether it be coffee, tea, food or otherwise. Ultimately, unless you have Herculean self-discipline, it is easy to revert back to sugary foods.

Diet soda is also linked to poor oral health, just as regular soda, not because of sugar content, but because all sodas and carbonated beverages are acidic. Patients may develop tooth decay due, in part, to the constant wash of acid over the teeth, especially if they drink many diet sodas over the day. Poor oral hygiene, and specifically periodontal disease, has been linked to bacteria entering the bloodstream and eventually causing or worsening heart disease.

Much like regular soda, diet soda can also cause kidney failure. While it is not fully known why this happens, it is thought that the high phosphorus content in soda puts additional strain on the kidneys, ultimately worsening kidney disease, in severe cases.

Study Thoughts

One of the major confounding factors in any study associated with diet soda revolves around why people are drinking diet soda in the first place. In other words, it is assumed that most people drink diet soda because they already have an unhealthy diet.  After all, why drink diet soda if your weight or blood sugar is not a problem? Further, the thought of “I’d like to indulge, so I’m going to ‘save’ the calories of regular sugar soda and ‘use them’ on a highly-caloric meal” is no mantra to live by. This daily (sometimes multiple-times-daily) behavior adds up to result in compromised weight, skin, teeth and overall health.

Ultimately, regardless of whether diet soda is the cause or the effect of an unhealthy lifestyle, avoiding it altogether can be beneficial in so many ways, not least of which is being able to enjoy wholesome fresh foods again. It is worth noting that switching to certain teas and fruit juices may not be the solution, as they contain a significant amount of sugar – sometimes even more than soda. Ultimately, water is the best, lowest-calorie way to get your hydration each and every day.

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