If you’ve enjoyed diet soda as your go-to drink for years and have finally decided to call it quits, congratulations!
Maybe your doctor or dentist has advised you to put down the fizz you’re so fond of or maybe it was a nutrition expert; who or whatever is forcing you to make the change is potentially saving your life.
It sounds a little dramatic, but it’s true.
Diet sodas contain controversial artificial sweeteners that are doing more harm to your body than you may realize, but before that aspect gets explored, let’s start with the positive changes that will come about as a result of you finally breaking it off with your favorite diet soda, according to Jordan Davidson over at Prevention:
Migraines Disappear and Focus Sharpens
“It turns out the headaches you expected from a diet soda withdrawal didn’t materialize. And now that you’ve quit the stuff, you probably find yourself thinking clearly for the first time in a while. That’s because the chemicals that make up the artificial sweetener aspartame may have altered brain chemicals, nerve signals, and the brain’s reward system, which leads to headaches, anxiety, and insomnia, according to a review in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition. And a 2013 animal study found that rats that drank diet soda had damaged cells and nerve endings in the cerebellum—the part of the brain responsible for motor skills.”
Taste Buds Are More Sensitive
“It’s not your imagination: Without your usual diet soda chaser, you may find that food has more flavor. It has subtlety. It’s more enjoyable. That’s because the artificial sweeteners in your diet soda overwhelmed your taste buds with an onslaught of sweetness. Aspartame ranks 200 hundreds times sweeter than table sugar. Splenda? 600 times. In fact, brain scans show that diet soda alters sweet receptors in the brain and prolongs sugar cravings rather than satisfies them. “We often see patients change snack choices when they give up diet soda,” says Heather Bainbridge, R.D., from Columbia University Medical Center Weight Control Center. “Rather than needing sugary treats or something really salty like pretzels and chips, they reach for an apple and a piece of cheese. And when they try diet soda again, they find it intolerably sweet.”
The Scale Finally Goes the Right Way
“While you may have started drinking diet soda to facilitate weight loss, quitting it may actually do the trick. A recent nine-year study found older adults who drank diet soda continued to pack on belly fat. The study piggybacks on research that found each daily diet soda increases your chance of becoming obese in the next decade by 65 percent, and a study published in Diabetes Care that found drinking diet soft drinks daily was associated with an increase in metabolic syndrome—obesity, high blood pressure, high triglycerides—which leads to heart disease and diabetes.”
“Putting down the soda may be the best way to improve your bone strength and reduce your risk of fractures. One 2014 study found that each daily soda increased the chance of hip fracture by 14 percent for postmenopausal women. And another found that older women who drank cola had lower bone mineral density in their hips. The jury is still out on why soda has this effect, but the science pretty clearly suggests that a soda habit weakens your bones.”
Your Attitude Toward Food Changes
“Since diet sodas have no calories, people drinking them often feel it’s okay to indulge elsewhere, finds Bainbridge. Often, she sees her diet soda-drinking patients make poor food choices, like a burger and fries, a piece of cake, or potato chips because they think they can afford those extra calories. Plus, soda often accompanies unhealthy foods. “Sometimes, those poor choices are built-up habits,” she says. “You’re conditioned to have soda with chips, fries, or something sweet. When you eliminate the soft drink, you also break the junk food habit.”