After nearly three decades as a cardiologist, Dr. Chauncey Crandall has found that the vast majority of overweight patients who drink diet soda do not get slimmer. “For years, I thought this was due to the inclination of diet soda drinkers to justify eating fattening foods. But new research finds that there’s another reason,” says Dr. Crandall. According to an article in Trends in Endocrinology & Metabolism, there may actually be something about diet soda that signals your brain to eat more to make up the lost calories. Purdue University Professor Susan Swithers reviewed several studies on diet soda, and noted that it had, in fact, been found to promote weight gain.
The research also showed that people who drink diet soda increase their risk for deadly conditions such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and metabolic syndrome. Dr. Swithers suggests that high-intensity sweeteners used to flavor diet soda interfere with the body’s learned responses, in which sweetness is paired with caloric intake. In other words, artificial sweeteners confuse the body’s ability to manage calories based on taste. Instead, we seek out more food to balance the response. As a result, the brain directs the body to go into overdrive, seeking out more calories. Another recent study in the journal Dentistry found that diet soda can damage teeth as badly as methamphetamine or crack cocaine. Start your way to better heart health by replacing diet soda with a glass of ice cold water. Flavor it with lemon, lime, or even a sprig of mint for a drink that’s not only refreshing, but healthful as well.