Soda is one of the most popular treats in modern society, it is also one of the most controversial and polarizing. For many people, quitting soda is a lifetime achievement. Soda addiction is real.
But for many others, the thought of giving up soda is either much too tragic to consider or not something the person cares to do. I mean, what’s life without a little fun? Coca-Cola is one of the most popular sodas on earth. The brand alone is often associated with almost every soda brand. I grew up in the south where “I’ll take a Coke!” could have meant a Pepsi.
Diet Coke might be the most popular version of Coca-Cola. For many people, Diet Coke is the hedged bet on their health. Soda is bad, so diet soda must be fine, right? That’s been the pitch for decades. And it’s been a profitable pitch to say the absolute least. However, the number of diet soda drinkers is now on the decline. We would suspect that some people have ultimately given up soda completely, while others potentially transitioned back into their regular soda predecessors. In fact, diet soda sales have declined almost 30% since 2005, according to Beverage Digest data.
As it turns out, 2005 was the top for diet soda when 3 billion cases were sold in one year. Shortly after, studies, research, science, and all that jazz interfered with diet’s absurdly powerful marketing prowess. Diet soda was no longer a justifiable option and for man, just drinking regular old Coke with regular old sugar was a better, healthier option.
And its worse than that. Diet sodas have accounted for 94% of all carbonated soft-drink declines since 2010.
This may be all for good reason, however, as it has been shown that only one diet soda a day can triple your risk for dementia. It can also massively increase your risk for a stroke, according to Boston University researchers.
The problem is artificial sweeteners, such as aspartame, which as noted above, have been heavily studied and determined to be nasty demons for our health. Aspartame’s reputation is so bad that even Pepsi stopped using it. Diet Coke, however, remains committed to its use.
There isn’t much of a question anymore about whether or not aspartame is bad for us, it is a matter of how bad for us it is.
“Sugar substitutes like aspartame are designed to promote weight loss and decrease the incidence of metabolic syndrome, but a number of clinical and epidemiologic studies have suggested that these products don’t work very well and may actually make things worse.” Richard Hodin, a surgeon at Massachusetts General Hospital, said.
Dr. Hodin should know, his study, which was published in Applied Physiology, Nutrition and Metabolism, determined that aspartame doesn’t help people lose weight.
Less eloquently, the President of the United States noted the same issue back in 2012. (no, we aren’t being serious, but the Tweet is real).
I have never seen a thin person drinking Diet Coke.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 14, 2012
More scientifically, Hodin and his team learned that artificial sweeteners such as aspartame inhibit intestinal alkaline phosphatase (IAP). IAP is a gut enzyme that’s been shown to be an important fighter of obesity. This means that drinking diet soda is literally destroying your obesity defenses.
Using mice, the researchers explained, “while there was little difference between the weights of the two groups fed a normal diet, mice on a high-fat diet that received aspartame gained more weight than did those on the same diet that received plain water.” Worse more, the mice on the aspartame feed ended up with high blood pressure.
Dr. Hodin said, “While we can’t rule out other contributing mechanisms, our experiments clearly show that aspartame blocks IAP activity, independent of other effects.”
For diet soda, declining sales and proven detriments to our health have combined to usher this once popular drink off into the history books. No, the diet soda craze certainly isn’t over just yet, but it does seem to have early indications of a fork stuck in it.