My last post (here) talked about a woman I saw that was walking out of a gas station carrying 3 Diet Sun Drops…I discussed the drawbacks to consuming brominated vegetable oil (BVO), but she was carrying a double whammy…not just a soda filled with BVO, but it also had artificial sweeteners in it. In this blog I will discuss some of the reasons why you should avoid artificial sweeteners, including how they can hinder weight loss…at the very end I will discuss a line of Sodas that I prefer if you’re looking for a 0 Calorie soda with out all of the junk.
One of the most popular artificial sweeteners found in diet soda is Aspartame…
Aspartame is made up of three components–aspartic acid, phenylalanine, and methanol–individually these components can be toxic; so, combined they’re even more toxic. Additionally, when aspartame is broken down by the body it is converted into formaldehyde, a known cancer causing agent. The formaldehyde is then converted into formic acid. When methanol is by itself, the body has a hard time ridding itself of this chemical, so it can build up and embalm living tissues, damage DNA, can cause cancers like lymphoma, leukemia, as well as other forms of cancer. If too much formic acid builds up in the system it can cause methanol poisoning, which can lead to death (which is unlikely to happen by drinking diet soda, but depending on other environmental factors and diet habits…not out of the realm of possibility).
In addition to toxic properties of aspartame, some studies are now showing that chemicals like aspartame can be more damaging because they can cause weight gain independent from total caloric intake (umm…no thanks! I don’t need help with weight gain!). One theory on why this happens is because they believe it alters the body’s production of hormones that regulate appetite and sugar cravings.
Consuming Aspartame can cause: headaches, muscle spasms, irritability, heart palpitations, loss of taste, joint pain, dizziness, weight gain, tachycardia, difficulty breathing, tinnitus, blurred vision, seizures, rashes, insomnia, hearing loss, depression, vertigo, nausea, blindness, slurred speech, fatigue, memory loss, numbness, heart attack, and sleep disorders.
Acesulfame-K (aka Acesulfame Potassium or Ace-K) is another sweetener that sometimes is used in addition to aspartame in “light” sodas, yogurts, protein powders, etc…but sometimes you will find it on it’s own or combined with sucralose. Ace-K is a potassium salt that contains methylene chloride, a known cancer causing agent. Ace-K can cause nausea, headaches, disturbances in mood, impaired liver and kidney function, problems with eyesight, some cancers, bladder issues, and hypoglycemia.
Sucralose– (Splenda) Sucralose is made by chlorinating regular refined white sugars (which should also be avoided…but are better than a sugar alternative!). The body has a system that naturally detoxifies it self of lots of chemicals and toxins, and it does a pretty good job of keeping your system clean…however, it does have a hard time detoxing itself of “organochlorine” substances, like sucralose. There are lots of organochlorine substances that are banned because of their ability to stay in the system, build up and become toxic. These compounds have been linked to cancer, immune system dysfunction (auto-immune diseases), and birth defects.
Another issue with sucralose is that new research is suggesting that it can actually exacerbate diabetes. A study done by Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis found that participants that were given a drink solution with sucralose vs regular water, had higher insulin levels and higher blood sugar levels than those that drank water…which is exactly what sucralose is marketing toward consumers to prevent (you can read more about those studies here and here). So what exactly does this mean? This means that individuals that do not have diabetes are putting themselves at risk for developing the disease…because when they are consuming this substance it is causing their system to constantly produce more insulin…which can lead to the cells becoming immune to the hormone. Translation=insulin resistance…diabetes.
Research on diet soda consumption by the American Diabetes Association shows that individuals that consume diet soda regularly have larger waist lines than those that drink regular soda AND they have shown that there is an association between diet soda consumption and diabetes.
The moral of the story here is…drink water often. Drink soda occasionally…and if you’re going to splurge and drink a soda, rethink the diet soda (if you have diabetes and are sensitive to sugars in soda, then skip it all together or look into Zevia)
Zevia is a soda company that makes sodas that are free of coloring and food dyes. They have knock offs for a lot of your mainstream sodas…like Mountain Zevia (Mountain Dew), and Dr. Zevia (Dr. Pepper)…these knock offs still contain the caffeine, so you’re not missing out on that, just all the other chemicals that go along with it. Zevias are also sweetened with stevia, so no worries there either. Kroger carries them (and regularly offers a coupon on their app)…you can also procure a coupon from the Zevia website. If you do venture into a Kroger to find these babies, look in the health food section and not with all the other sodas. All the Krogers that I have been into carry them in the health food section.
If you are interested in learning more about food chemicals, or if you are looking for an easier way to track down chemicals in your food….down load the “Fooducate” app. This app allows you to scan bar codes of food products and it will rate them on an alphabetical scale of how healthy or full of chemicals they are.