Are you under the assumption that drinking diet soda is a better choice than drinking regular, sugared soda? We have some bad news for you: diet soda contains no nutritional value, and is detrimental to one’s health. Yet, one of the first dietary changes people make when learning that they are diabetic or want to lose weight is they switch to drinking diet soft drinks.
The bad news gets worse. To avoid raising blood glucose, The American Diabetes Association and other organizations actually recommend drinking zero (or low) calorie, and low carb beverages — including diet soda and other diet drinks — as part of a plan to limit sugar intake. However, diet soda’s harmful ingredients have no place in any diet. What we eat and drink impacts every aspect of our health.
The Health Dangers of Diet Soda
“Brain cell death, high blood pressure, weight gain, and demineralized bones and teeth are just a few of the trade-offs one gets when mistakenly thinking that a zero calorie diet soda is a good choice,” advises Dr. Shelly Jones, of Columbia, South Carolina, owner of the Chiropractic Wellness Center. “Magnify that by the addictive qualities of the chemicals, artificial sweeteners and other additives, and diet soda consumption is a major cause of repetitive stress to the nervous system.”
Dr. Jones also adds that when they see patients whose health doesn’t stabilize or they can’t seem to get the best results, they immediately look at the patient’s dietary habits. And eliminating diet soft drinks is the first step they recommend to help them feel better, get better results, and start to lose that excess weight.
Most people drink diet soda to reduce their caloric intake as part of a weight loss regimen. However, studies have shown that consuming the artificial sweeteners in diet drinks intensifies sugar cravings, making them addictive, while increasing the appetite and the likeliness of unwanted weight gain. In fact, a study conducted by the University of Texas Health Center found a higher correlation of obesity with diet soft drink consumption than with consumption of regular soft drinks containing sugar.
Artificial sweeteners in diet sodas have been linked with various health problems: headaches and migraines, and thymus gland damage. They have been reported to kill necessary bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract, thus leading to irritable bowel syndrome, and other gastrointestinal disorders.
Soda contains acidic chemicals which have an extremely acidic effect on the body when ingested. When the body is more acidic rather than alkaline, inflammation and disease, including heart disease and cancer are more likely to occur. As Dr. Jones stated, the acids in diet soda demineralize the bones and teeth, which can lead to fractures and osteoporosis. An overly acidic state can also cause premature aging of the skin. There are better ways to cut calories and reduce sugar in our diet.
Kicking the Soda Habit!
If you drink soda, but want a healthier alternative, you don’t have to give up fizzy, carbonated beverages. Removing something from your diet is easier to do when you find a tasty replacement. Try these ideas:
- Don’t stock your pantry or refrigerator with cans of soda. Once you open a can, you’ll be tempted to drink the entire drink at once.
- Keep a bottle of carbonated water chilled in the refrigerator at all times.
- Cut wedges of fresh lemon, lime or oranges and keep a supply on hand in the refrigerator to squeeze into your glass of sparkling water. Or, fill a jug with sparkling water; add wedges of your favorite fresh citrus, cucumbers or sprigs of fresh mint or lemon balm, and store in the refrigerator.
- A carbonation machine can turn your chilled water into a healthy, sparkling water beverage in about a minute. It will also help you save money over time. Machines start around $90.
- To sweeten your beverages without adding calories, use stevia. It is a natural, herbal sweetener extracted from the leaves of the Stevia rebaudiana plant. It contains zero calories, yet is sweeter tasting than sugar. Stevia is sold in liquid and powder form.
Black Cherry-Vanilla Soda
Yield: 6 servings
3 cups 100% black cherry juice, unsweetened
1 vanilla bean, 6 inches long
Seltzer or soda water
To make simple syrup:
Place black cherry juice and a vanilla bean in a medium-size pot. Cover and bring to a gentle boil over medium-high heat, then reduce heat to low and simmer uncovered for about 35 minutes, or until liquid has reduced to 1 cup. Remove from heat and let cool.
Once cooled, remove vanilla bean from the pot and chill the syrup in a sealed glass jar in the fridge. It will stay fresh for up to 2 weeks.
To serve: Fill a tall glass with crushed ice. Pour in 1/4 cup cherry vanilla syrup, and top with 6 to 8 ounces chilled seltzer or soda water, and stir.
Soda Recipe Credit: www.womenshealthmag.com