Having run through practically every substance found on earth that could realistically be described as having health benefits as part of our Magic Ingredient series, we’ve opted to kick off a new regular – on health facts. This week it's the diet soft drinks back story.
By Robert Carry
With the New Year upon us and ambitious plans to get back in shape floating around all over the shop, many will be examining how to cleave calories from our daily intake.
Fizzy drinks, for those who are into them, will be looked upon immediately as an easy area where a caloric saving can be made. They are well worth scrapping – they have no nutritional value and a can of coke, for example, has 149 calories.
Diet drinks strip the calories right back to effectively zero but are they a suitable replacement?
Well, apparently they’re not very good for you either.
While manufacturers use a variety of chemicals to sweeten low calorie and sugar-free drinks, few have escaped medical controversy.
The first popular non-sugar sweetener to be mass produced and used in diet drinks were cyclamates – which were later found to cause cancer in lab rats. But while they were banned by the FDA in the US, many other countries still use them in diet soft drinks.
Aspartame moved into the gap and has been adopted my many of the major soft drink players. However, this too has not been without controversy. Some curious conflicts of interest at the FDA meant its approval has never been looked at as all that sound by many.
Later, the European Ramazzini Foundation of Oncology and Environmental Sciences (ERF) reported that aspartame is a potential carcinogen at normal dietary doses while claims that the chemical has neurotoxic effects (leading to neurological or psychiatric symptoms such as seizures, headaches, and mood changes), have also been made.
Another major issue is that while Aspartame is consumed by people attempting to lose weight, it has also been blamed for causing individuals to crave sugary foods. This was backed up by a study that discovered people who drink diet soda were more likely to be obese.
So, while diet fizzy drinks may lack the calories of their more sugary counterparts, they are still well worth ditching. Stick to water and fruit juice where possible.
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