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Zero calorie doesn’t necessarily mean
by Sarah Haan
In 2005, carbonated soft drinks comprised 28.3 percent of the liquids
Americans consumed. The Beverage Marketing Corporation estimates this
is more than bottled water and milk combined. Much of this percentage
consists of diet sodas.
If asked why they choose diet over regular, diet soda drinkers will
probably give an array of answers, but I can guarantee a common one
will be, “It’s better for me.” And with zero calories in the fizzy
“diet” potions, how could it not be a better choice, right? Recent
studies are showing that beneath the glorious “0 Calorie” label lurks
hefty health effects you’ll want to know about.
Arguments on the safety of aspartame and other artificial sweeteners
have been discussed since the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) began
investigating saccharine in 1907. Some studies have shown it to cause
cancer in rats, while others claim to prove its safety. Recent studies
focused more on the effects artificial sweeteners have on appetite. A
Purdue study suggests that the sweet taste offered by zero calorie
sweeteners sends a mixed signal to our brains. They hypothesize that we
taste the sensation of sweetness, yet get no energy from the diet soda,
creating a physiological effect which drives us to overeat. This study,
however, was conducted with rats. Much more research is needed to draw
Another risk of diet soda comes with any carbonated beverages dark in
color. A fact not disputed among scientists is that dark colas have
phosphoric acid, a substance that leeches calcium from our bones. This
is a huge problem for a society already stricken with bone health
issues from diets low in vitamin D and calcium. Adding phosphoric acid
to your diet via soda can put you at further risk for osteoporosis and
And we all know caffeine—an enemy for some people and a daily
requirement for others. The average caffeinated diet soda contains 35mg
of caffeine, less than a cup of coffee, but if four cans of soda are
consumed a day, it will add up.
Caffeine, in large amounts, can cause dizziness, anxiety and disrupted
sleep patterns. It has also been proven to have a withdrawal effect if
one discontinues use abruptly. The FDA recommends no more than two
cups, or 16 fluid ounces per day for optimum health. Caffeine is also a
diuretic, causing your body to excrete water when consumed. This, on
top of the fact that your diet soda consumption is probably replacing a
more beneficial bottle of water that might be on your desk, can lead
your body to becoming dehydrated.
So the next time you’re picking up your third diet soda for the day,
thinking you’re doing your body a favor, remember a few of these facts.
You’ve probably heard that moderation is key, and even with zero
calories, diet soda is no exception.
Friday, March 21, 2008
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