So are diet sodas really as bad as
people make them out to be? It takes just a few searches online and the negativity
and fear-mongering around diet drinks is really clear to see. But what if the
truth about diet sodas? Is there justification for all the fear or if
people’s attitudes been formed by sensationalist media pieces and content
designed purely to drive high views? So as someone who consumes diet drinks I’ve
always been of the “everything in moderation” mindset. I think they taste
good, I think they’re great at helping you deal with sugar cravings and helping
you stick towards a calorie controlled diet. But with all the negative press out
there it made me wonder am i risking my health by drinking them? So in this video
I’ve looked at some of the most common objections to drinking diet sodas and
looked to see if there’s any science for actually backing any of these things up. Now
every brand of diet soda will have slightly different ingredients so for simplicity
I focused on Diet Coke and Coke Zero as this is the most popular brand. So
something I hear a lot is that diet drinks are just full of chemicals and in
fact these chemicals are so toxic that you’re probably better off just drinking
the full sugar equivalent. Now this is a classic appeal to nature fallacy and
just because something is natural doesn’t mean that is automatically
healthy and in the same way just because something is synthetic doesn’t mean that
it’s automatically unhealthy. Now it’s worth mentioning that everything is a
chemical and in fact Layne Norton recently posted about this on his
Facebook page and he posted the chemical ingredients for an organic banana. Now
when you read through that list it all sounds pretty scary especially if you
don’t know what a lot of these chemicals are but of course you would never
normally be worried about eating an organic banana. Now there are nine
ingredients within a Coke Zero the most controversial of which is probably going
to be aspartame. Now I’m going to go into more details specifically about aspartame in
just a moment but it’s one of the most thoroughly tested and studied food
additives the FDA has ever approved. So despite diet drinks having zero
calories there are still plenty of claims that they still cause weight gain
and diabetes. However from all the studies I’ve seen
they definitely show a correlation but not a causation. In the same way that the
annual number of people that drowned falling into a pool
Correlates very strongly with the number of films Nicolas Cage was in, again
correlation does not equal causation. So from the diabetes studies it seems that
most of the participants were already overweight and predisposed to having
type 2 diabetes. In other studies it seems like there were some behavioral
reasons why the participants kept gaining weight while drinking diet sodas. The most likely theory is that the participants were eating additional food
because of the calories they saved by not drinking the full sugar versions of the
sodas. So as mentioned earlier aspartame has
been highly criticized and highly controversial ever since it was first
approved by the FDA in the early 1980s. It is now one of the most widely used
and well studied sweeteners in the world. There have been lots of studies where
participants have ingested huge amounts of aspartame over long periods of time
and there have never been any observable side effects or results. As such there
are no scientific links to brain tumors or cancer. Observational studies are
often sensationalized by the media which then leads to lots of anxiety amongst
consumers. Now from these studies there is an ADI value for aspartame, which is
the Acceptable Daily Intake. This is the maximum amount of a chemical that can be
ingested daily over a lifetime with no appreciable health risk. Now the very
conservative ADI value for aspartame is 50 milligrams per kilogram of body
weight. Now there’s 184 milligrams of aspartame
in a can of Coke Zero so an 80 kilogram person could have up to 22 cans of diet
soda per day over a lifetime with no appreciable health risk. Which is insane.
Now when we consume aspartame it’s broken down into our body into three
different compounds. It is 50 percent phenylalanine 40 percent aspartic acid
and 10 percent methanol. Now methanol raises the most eyebrows as this is
actually converted into formaldehyde within the body. Now this sounds
absolutely horrendous but formaldehyde is actually used for
certain processes within the body including making certain amino acids, and
it doesn’t actually build up or store within the body. Any excess of
formaldehyde is actually converted into formic acid which is excreted from the
body when you pee. Now it’s also worth noting that the amount of methanol
produced by aspartame is very very small and in fact there’s a higher amount of
methanol found naturally within fruits and vegetables. So as such an equivalent
amount of fruit juice can have five times the amount of methanol than a diet
soda. So BPA otherwise known as bisphenol A is
an industrial chemical used to produce certain plastics and resins. It’s shown to
have quite a nasty effect on human body and it’s already been restricted across
the EU, Canada, China and Malaysia. So BPA can actually seep into beverages and
food if it’s within the containers. This is why you’ve probably heard of BPA-free
plastics when you’re talking about drinks bottles, food containers and baby
bottles. So even though diet sodas are most commonly contained within an aluminium container they actually have a very very thin plastic lining. Now this is very
well designed and very difficult to see, however someone dissolved the aluminium
can using sodium hydroxide – very “Breaking Bad” style, and revealed the inner plastic
lining. This lining is designed to stop the metal being corroded by the drink
inside. Now looking online that lining does actually seem to contain BPA but it
is trace amounts. The FDA has said that BPA levels are safe at around 50
micrograms per kilogram of body weight, so again for an 80 kilogram person
we’re talking four thousand micrograms per day. Within each can of diet soda
there’s between 1.7 and 3.5 micrograms of BPA, so again we’re really talking very small amounts. So our blood sugar levels increase when
we eat carbohydrates. When they’re digested they’re broken down into sugar
and absorbed into our bloodstream, and this increase in blood sugar levels
triggers the release of insulin. So insulin is a hormone that transports
sugars from our bloodstream into our cells for energy, or to be stored as
fat. So because aspartame doesn’t contain any
sugar it shouldn’t cause an insulin response. Now despite a lot of claims
that it does, in 1998 the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition performed
a study on 48 healthy people where they were given large dosages of aspartame
for 20 days, and equivalent to 20 cans of diet soda. The researchers found that
there is no effect on their insulin levels. So the impact of gut bacteria on
overall health is still being explored but the research suggests that your
balance of gut bacteria could be an indicator as to your susceptibility to
different health conditions and may even be the key to preventing or even
treating certain diseases. So one study has shown a change in the balance of gut
bacteria in mice when they were fed artificial sweeteners, and this included a
reduction in some of the good bacteria. This definitely needs further
investigation and human studies to determine the effects on people. The
issue is that everyone’s balance of gut bacteria is very different and unique,
and so complex that is very difficult to measure or even say for certain which
bacteria are the most beneficial. There are trillions of good bacteria made up
of thousands of different species and 5,000 bacterial strains. So as it stands
nothing can be said for certain about the effects of artificial sweeteners on
the gut microbiome but I’m definitely interested in finding out more from
further studies. So most people think about tooth decay
and cavities they typically think about sugary foods and sugary drinks being the
issue. However despite the fact diet sodas have no sugar in them whatsoever, they’ve
been found to create a similar amount of dental erosion as their sugary
counterparts. Now the reason for this is because the ingredients in the diet
sodas are actually quite acidic and can actually dissolve the protective enamel
on your teeth. Now this can be minimized by drinking through a straw or having a
drink with a meal. So another popular belief is that diet drinks can actually
impact your bone density and there is an element of truth to this. Now diet drinks
contains phosphoric acid and while phosphorus is an important bone mineral
in itself, a disproportionate intake of phosphorus compared to your intake of
calcium could lead to bone loss. Now it’s worth pointing out however that the
amount of phosphorus in diet drinks is very very small compared to things like
chicken or cheese. Another possible issue is that the caffeine in diet drinks can
actually prevent calcium from being absorbed, however the negative effects of
calcium absorption by caffeine can be fully offset by as little as one to two
tablespoons of milk. So try and form some kind of meaningful
conclusion to this, my thoughts are that there’s a lot of media sensationalism
around diet sodas. Ultimately it’s a matter of choice but from what I found
out I’m more than happy to consume them in moderation as part of a balanced healthy
diet. Now of course if you’re worried about it or you’re experiencing any kind
of negative side effects from drinking diet sodas, or you have some kind of
underlying health condition, then obviously stop drinking them. My only
real concerns were about the tooth enamel which I found pretty eye-opening
and I’ll definitely be keeping an eye out for further studies only the gut
microbiome. However I think there are a lot of health benefits to losing weight, and if
drinking diet sodas helps you achieve that, I think that’s a good thing. So if
you watched this video to the end, thank you very much for watching and I hope
you found it useful. And comment below let me know what you think about
drinking diet sodas.