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Diet Sodas Good or Bad?

Everyday I answer the question, “Can I drink diet sodas?”

My answer is usually, “Sure, but drinking diet soda has several ways it can affect your health.”

First, multiple studies show how artificial sweeteners affect blood chemistry in diabetics. Most studies suggest higher blood sugar averages, faster weight gain, difficulty with weight loss, as compared to non-soda/diet-soda drinkers.  (See 5-point Friday Oct 9th, 2015)

Who wants that?

Most of us want to feel good and “look good!”

Why consume something that aggravates obesity or risk for developing diabetes?

Second issue with diet sodas, most are sweetened with aspartame. This product has neurotoxic effects and addictive properties.

At first I was surprised when patients got upset when I suggested they stop drink their diet soda!

Now I understand the psychiatric and psychologic dependency these chemically laden foods can produce.

Ultimately each person must decide for themselves. My clinical experience suggest many would do better to avoid sodas/diet sodas all together.

Comments? Weigh in on this one…it gets asked so many times…let’s get all your questions answered!

{ 4 comments… add one }
  • Milly November 4, 2015, 10:46 am

    Red Bull & Diet Coke. Seriously addictive. About 5 years later I still sometimes fight a craving. I am so much healthier especially with fatigue issue but what powerful & destructive products!

    • William Curtis MD November 15, 2015, 7:04 am

      Yes, they activate the stress response stimulating cortisol and adrenaline release. Essentially they tax your system with the faux benefit of a quick jolt of adrenaline giving you momentum temporarily.

      I’m glad you learned to save your adrenaline for when you really need it…like a life threatening situation.

  • Lois November 13, 2015, 10:21 am

    Last week for 5 days I was put in a place where lots of wonderful, high carb, sugar-laden food was offered to me. Thankfully, I resisted those foods, and chose to stick close to the NRG plan! But, when it was all over, on my way home, and exhausted, I drank a Diet Dr. Pepper, and really only part of it. It was my “reward” for not eating the pecan pie, chocolate cake, key lime cheese cake and all those thousands of cookies! What would have been a better “reward”?

    • William Curtis MD November 15, 2015, 7:14 am

      Lois, Your question is tough because I do not know what you intrinsically value as a “reward.” Sugar, sweets and starchy foods have culturally become the “Go To” treat given their ability to trigger pleasure centers in the deepest portions of our brain.

      I’m not such a Food Nazi that I also am not opposed to the “lessor of evils” such as cheese cake. But these types of dietary choices can’t come very often (Like a few times a year), especially if weight loss or diabetes are a concern.

      That said, think about other activities that give you pleasure…

      If food is the quickest method, but you want to limit gross sugar /carb excess, consider a few dark chocolate-covered almonds, or better yet a fruit cup with mixes of almonds and coconut shavings.

      Fruit is usually the go-to if you feel the insatiable desire for something sweet. Adding protein or fat (Nuts, cheese, etc.) will often satisfy a sweet craving while slowing the impact of blood sugar “Hit” that occurs when we eat fruit.

      Overall however, the more you stay away from this cycle the less the craving occurs.

      Hope that helps.

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