In their quest to lose weight, many dieters turn to sugar-free soda to lower their sugar intake. Unfortunately, these beverages may not be the savior calorie-savers we imagine them to be.
There’s strong evidence that excessive diet soda consumption carries some serious hidden health risks. Here are six of them…
No. 1 — Dental Problems
According to a University of Melbourne study, diet sodas can be severely damaging to your teeth, even though they contain no sugar.
Regular soft drinks cause decay when their sugars convert to acids, which go on to attack dental enamel. Diet sodas, on the other hand, cut out a step, delivering higher amounts of phosphoric, citric and tartaric acids directly to teeth.
These acids add flavor and texture to diet drinks to compensate for the lack of sugar – but they pack a real punch to your beautiful smile.
No. 2 — Increased Risk of Diabetes
A recent study found that volunteers who took controlled amounts of artificial sweeteners, like those found in diet soda, had an impaired response to glucose in their blood.
Researchers believe this increases the long-term risks of developing Type 2 diabetes, one of the most serious medical problems in the modern world.
No. 3 — Weight Gain
Although diet sodas are most often consumed as part of a weight loss program, they can actually be counterproductive. The disruption in glucose response can lead to weight gain in people who drink large amounts.
What’s more, it’s thought that artificial sweeteners such as sucralose can disrupt metabolic rates, reducing the body’s ability to burn through calories as easily as it should.
No. 4 — Heart Problems
A 2014 study found that women who drank diet sodas daily had a 29% higher risk of heart attacks than those who drank them rarely. Also, they had a 31% higher risk of suffering a stroke.
Backed by both the American Heart Association and the American Stroke Association, this study doesn’t claim diet sodas are the direct cause of these increased risks. However, the figures certainly deserve further investigation.
No. 5 — Suppressed Gut Bacteria
Researchers have found that the six most commonly used artificial sweeteners have a suppression effect on beneficial gut bacteria, limiting their growth and reproduction.
Low gut flora levels lead to fatigue, a poor immune system, unexpected weight changes, and sleep disturbance among many other health problems. Cutting back on diet soda could be much more effective in combating low flora than drinking expensive probiotic drinks.
No. 6 — Dementia
Lastly, a 2017 study found that frequent diet soda drinkers had three times the risk of developing dementia in later life compared to those who avoided artificial sweeteners. No explanation has been found for this effect, but the researchers involved found the results significant enough to recommend further study.
It’s important to note that all these effects are linked to particularly heavy consumption of diet sodas. A glass or two per day is unlikely to carry any significant risks. Nonetheless, if diet soda makes up a large part of your weight loss program, then it’s only sensible to keep a close eye on how much you’re consuming.
As dental professionals, we are particularly concerned about the effects of sugar-free drinks on your teeth. Speak with us about your habits during your next visit!