by: Dr. Craig A. Maxwell
I have had many patients over the years give up their regular soda and switch to diet soda in an effort to lose weight. To their dismay, their weight either stayed the same or increased. Thirty years ago, I was just as mystified as they were by what seemed like an unexplainable phenomenon.
How could one switch from a high-calorie drink to one with zero calories and still pack on the pounds? It made no sense at the time.
Today, science has a much better understanding of how diet drinks sabotage not only your weight-loss efforts, but your overall health. Now I pass this critical information on to my patients. When I do, they not only experience weight loss, they also find that unusual symptoms they’d been experiencing for years often begin to disappear.
Diet soda is one of the worst drinks on the market and giving it up is the best decision you can make for your health.
Diet Soda Packs on the Pounds and Leads to Diabetes
Counting calories is an ineffective weight loss method because it doesn’t take nutritional content into consideration. The calories in regular soda are “empty.” They are devoid of nutritional value so your body cannot make healthy use of them. And all that high fructose corn syrup can have detrimental effects on your health.
Diet soda is no better. Though you’re not consuming any actual calories, you are drinking a synthetic sweetener called aspartame. According to a study published on appetite, rats fed yogurt containing aspartame or saccharin gained more weight than rats fed yogurt sweetened with sugar, even though they consumed the same amount of calories.
The aspartame in diet soda causes a spike in both insulin and leptin levels. Insulin is a hormone that regulates your metabolism and the amount of glucose in your blood. Leptin is a protein hormone that tells your body when you’re hungry, when you’re full, and how much fat to store.
Just drinking one can of diet soda drastically affects the way these hormones work in your system. Continued intake of diet soda eventually leads to chronic resistance of both of these hormones. This throws your entire metabolic process off, leading to increased fat storage and high blood sugar levels that could develop into type II diabetes.
Another way diet soda causes you to gain weight instead of losing it is through dehydration. Diet soda is a diuretic, which means it increases frequency of urination. The caffeine content also dries your mouth and throat, causing you to crave more liquids…..probably in the form of diet soda. This is one of the sneaky ways soft drink manufacturing companies keep you coming back for more.
Alarming Side Effects Associated with Aspartame
Aspartame doesn’t just lead to weight gain; it also has some very alarming side effects associated with it. Over the years many of my patients have come to me complaining of chronic dizzy spells, headaches, anxiety attacks, depression, and more. Upon questioning, I discovered that many of them were regular consumers of products containing aspartame. Eliminating aspartame from their diet resolved many of these symptoms within days or weeks.
Before I made the connection, I was quite mystified. I would do complete exams and lab testing to rule out medical conditions, but couldn’t find the source of the problem. Although I suspected aspartame as the culprit early on, it wasn’t until research results began to surface about the incredible amount of side effects from this sweetener that things began to make sense. I realized that through the process of diet elimination I had come to the same conclusion as early as 1983.
Aspartame has an incredible 92 different symptoms associated with it.
I’ve broken the most common of these reported symptoms down based on the system they affect:
Aspartame appears to have a profoundly negative effect on the nervous system. It has been shown to cause seizures, headaches, hyperactivity, restless legs, dizziness, numbness in extremities, tinnitus, noise intolerance, facial pain, and slurred speech. These effects occur because aspartame is a potent neurotoxin that destroys healthy brain cells over time.
Oftentimes, patients would present with anxiety, depression, irritability, mood swings, and even personality changes that couldn’t be explained. Once they stopped drinking the diet soda, their moods often slowly and steadily returned to normal after a period of weeks. Aspartame has also been linked to phobias, suicide attempts, and even homicidal thoughts and actions!
Consumption of diet soda has been linked to nausea, diarrhea, blood in the stool, chronic abdominal pain, and pain with swallowing.
Shortness of breath, heart palpitations, and sudden blood pressure spikes has been associated with increased aspartame consumption.
Endocrine and Metabolic
Diabetes, PMS, thinning hair, sudden weight loss or gain, and hypoglycemia can also be caused by aspartame.
Your Natural Soda Alternatives for Healthy Weight Loss
In order to lose weight the healthy way, I believe most adults need 6-8 glasses of pure, filtered water each day. If you’re not a big fan of plain water, try adding an organic lemon wedge or a splash of organic fruit juice.
Alternatively, you can drink unsweetened herbal tea. Choose an organic tea variety that has strong flavor. Steep the bags for several hours and add the tea to a glass or BPA-free plastic bottle. Add a little bit of honey or raw sugar for a bit of added sweetness.
If you’re in the mood for a soda as a once-in-the-while treat, try selecting an organic brand. Most organic sodas are sweetened with natural sugar, Stevia or fruit juice.
Soda manufacturing companies would like you to believe that diet soda can help you lose weight but it can’t. It’s a terrible synthetic product that can do serious damage to your health.
I recommend slowly tapering off of soda by drinking one less can each day and replacing it with a natural alternative. Doing it like this instead of quitting cold turkey can help you avoid the caffeine and aspartame withdrawal that can make giving up soda so difficult.
When it comes to losing weight the healthy way, there are no quick fixes but there are plenty of scams out there to avoid. Diet soda is a big one. So is diet food. It’s just as bad for you and won’t help you get the results you’re looking for. Today aspartame is in literally thousands of products, so you will want to read labels closely.
Instead, eat a healthy, well-balanced diet of organic vegetables, fruits, beans, legumes, nuts, seeds, meat, poultry, fish, and healthy fats like coconut oil and butter. Not only will you shed pounds, you may find yourself feeling better than you have in years.