Diet soda has been an option for years, but a new study has found that alcohol and diet soda can make alcoholic drinks more potent and potentially more dangerous for consumers.
Diet soda has been a dilemma for many drinkers of soft drinks for years, but another bad study may tip the boat for some.
Many people were thrilled when diet colas were introduced to the public years ago, in 1959, according to About.com. No doubt, many felt a sense of freedom, to drink as many diet sodas as they liked and not feel the ill effects of their sugar-filled counterparts. But, decades later, questions about diet soda, from, "Is it affecting my metabolism?" to "Is it increasing the effects of alcohol in my system?" are being raised, leading to the overall question: Should I be drinking diet soda?
According to a Harvard study on sodas, regular sodas are bad for our bodies for various reasons. Most people realize that the over-consumption of sodas has played a role in the "fattening of America." When it comes to sugar added to foods, sweetened soft drinks, the scientists indicate, make up almost half of the average American's daily intake. The total average daily intake of sugar added to food is almost 16 percent of the average overall sugar intake--a staggering amount, when you consider that, at one time, we got almost all of our calories from those created naturally in foods. Whether it is the calories of the added sugar that have caused a surge in weight gain, or other factors, such as a stimulation of the appetite, is not clear. But, there is little doubt that sugar--and the over-consumption of soft drinks--plays a role.
Additionally, the Harvard Study goes on to indicate, a diet consisting of an over-consumption of sodas can lead to type 2 diabetes, a potentially disabling disease on the rise in the U.S. The Harvard Study cites a Nurses' Health Study that followed more than 90,000 women for eight years, and indicated that the nurses who confirmed that they had one or more servings a day of a sugar-sweetened soft drink or fruit punch were twice as likely to have developed type 2 diabetes during the study than those who rarely had these beverages. Soft drinks can also be linked to heart disease, the Nurses' Health Study indicates, with women drinking more than two servings of sugary drinks a day having a 40 percent higher risk for heart disease than those who did not have sugary drinks regularly--not surprising, since obesity and diabetes are both strong risk factors for heart disease, as well.
But, are diet sodas the answer?
According to the Harvard Study, no. The artificial sweeteners used in diet sodas come with their own risks. While the decrease in calories may lead to weight loss in the short term, long-term problems may be created over time. One interesting argument is that the "sweetness" factor was once coupled with a burst of energy--a side effect not produced with artificial sweeteners. This, scientists have indicated, may confuse the body, and cause the body to be unable to gauge how many calories are being taken in by the person. This may confuse the signals that indicate the body needs or does not need calories, which could actually cause the person to want to eat more, ultimately resulting in weight gain, which can once again lead to the problems associated with obesity, such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
Diet Soda: Potentially Dangerous Drink Mixer?
Now, another strike against choosing diet sodas. In the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, scientists have found that diet sodas can increase the effects of alcohol on the body in both males and females. Results of the limited research found that blood alcohol levels were significantly higher when diet soft drinks were mixed with alcohol and consumed by study participants than when alcohol was mixed with a regular soda and consumed. "Individuals were unaware of these differences," scientists on the study wrote, "a factor that may increase safety risks associated with drinking alcohol."
While drinking a reasonable amount of diet drinks--one to two each day, suggests Mayo Clinic nutritionist Katherine Zeratsky, R.D., L.D.--may be okay, soda drinkers should consider the risks of both sugary and diet sodas before consuming. And, if you decide to go for something healthier, consider water, non-fat milk, or unsweetened tea as good options to quench your thirst.
What do you drink on a daily basis, Huliq readers? Any healthy suggestions?
Image: Wikimedia Commons
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