At this point, people have been clued in to the idea that diet sodas are bad for you, but scientists have finally pinpointed why Diet Coke, in particular, is harmful to your health. The sweeteners used to give the diet cola a sugary taste, it seems, are entirely toxic to your gut health. Bottom line: it’s not worth it to reach for a diet soda when there are healthier options.
Scientists found that six sweeteners in Diet Coke and other soft drinks can damage gut bacteria, including aspartame.
The study, led by researchers from Israel and Singapore, does note that the findings offer “further evidence” that artificial sweeteners are not good for a person’s health. Those chemicals that interfere with healthy gut microbiome disrupt things like hormone regulation, nutrient absorption, digestion and immune system function.
In addition to aspartame, the scientists looked at sucralose, saccharine, neotame, advantame and acesulfame potassium-k, as well as analyzed ten sports supplements with these sweeteners.
The study, published in the journal Molecules, was led by a team at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev and Nanyang Technological University in Singapore.
Their lab trial studied six of the sweeteners, discovering that toxins are released when gut bacteria are exposed to them.
Just one mg/ml of the artificial sweeteners was all it took to turn the bacteria toxic, with the team asserting that the higher the amount of artificial sweetener, the more toxins that are released.
Professor Ariel Kushmaro, who led the team, remarked: “This is further evidence consumption of artificial sweeteners adversely affects gut microbial activity which can cause a wide range of health issues.”
Kushmaro added: “The results of this study might help in understanding the relative toxicity of artificial sweeteners and the potential of negative effects on the gut microbial community.”
Based on these findings, scientists say that diet drinks should not be considered as a healthier alternative, with artificial sweeteners being linked to obesity, cancer, type 2 diabetes, migraines and liver toxicity.
A study published in April from the Medical College of Wisconsin and Marquette University discovered that artificial sweeteners change how the body processes fat and uses energy.
Additionally, researchers in a Boston University study found last year that there was a correlation between consuming a can a day of low-or no-sugar soft drink and a much higher risk of having a stroke or developing dementia.
Among the many people who commented on the findings were those who warned of the dangers of chemicals, with one person sharing: “Never buy anything with diet on it! Packed full of artificial rubbish. Everything in moderation.”
One commenter noted: “I would rather ingest sugar than chemicals!,” with another person agreeing, noting, “Absolutely. Sugar and butter over aspartame and margarine every time!”
Others were not surprised by the findings, as one person pointed out: “Yep, no surprises there. Do not touch anything with artificial sweetners. Being skinny is not worth being sick. Just cut down on normal sugar.”
Another person shared the health benefits of kicking their Diet Coke habit, explaining: “I have been off Diet Coke for 9 weeks… I understand addiction to Diet Coke and it was hard to let go but my kidneys thank me for it. Just in the few weeks I have quit, my lower back pain is gone.”
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