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Are Diet Sodas Making Us Fat?

By Dr. Mercola

Diet soda is easily one of the biggest health scams preying on well-meaning dieters looking for a sweet calorie-free beverage. Nearly 927 million cases of Diet Cola, and another 892 million cases of other diet beverages were sold in 2010. If you bought one or more of those millions, please realize you could seriously be harming your health.

Diet Soda Drinkers Get a Whopping 70-500 Percent Greater Increase in Waist Size

Growing research is proving diet soda is not a "guilt-free" treat at all. One study followed 474 diet soda drinkers for nearly 10 years, they found that their waists grew 70 percent more than the waists of non-diet soda drinkers. Further, those who drank two or more diet sodas a day had a 500 percent greater increase in waist size!

As you may know, your waist size is not only a matter of aesthetics, but also a powerful indicator of a build-up of visceral fat, a dangerous type of fat around your internal organs that is strongly linked with type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Your waist size is a far more accurate predictor of your heart risks than even your body mass index (BMI), so any habit that has the potential to increase your waist size by 500 percent more than someone who does not have that habit is one worth breaking.

You May be Fooled by Diet Soda … but Your Brain Isn't

Clearly, if you are still opting for diet soda because you believe it is healthier than regular soda, you are doing yourself a great disservice. Regular soda is by no means a healthy choice either … but please don't fall into the trap of believing that diet soda is "healthy" just because it's calorie-free. They may be free of calories but not of consequences.

So what is going on?

Substances like Splenda and aspartame may have zero calories, but your body isn't fooled. When it gets a "sweet" taste, it expects calories to follow, and when this doesn't occur it leads to distortions in your biochemistry that may actually lead to weight gain.

As far as "sweetness satisfaction" in your brain is concerned, it can tell the difference between a real sugar and an artificial one, even if your conscious mind cannot. Artificial sweeteners tend to trigger more communication in the brain's pleasure center, yet at the same time provide less actual satisfaction. So when you consume artificial sweeteners, your body craves more, as well as real sugar, because your brain is not satisfied at a cellular level by the sugar imposter. There is even research suggesting that artificial sweetener use may ruin your body's ability to control calories, thus boosting your inclination to overindulge.

Diet Soda is NOT a "Healthier" Alternative

Despite the superficial logic that consuming fewer calories will produce weight loss, the evidence is very clear that using artificial sweeteners will cause a paradoxical effect and actually cause you to gain weight.

In fact, nearly a decade ago, studies were already revealing that artificial sweeteners can:

  • Stimulate your appetite
  • Increase carbohydrate cravings
  • Stimulate fat storage and weight gain
These chemical cocktails may be a powerful contributing factor in the obesity epidemic many industrialized nations are now experiencing. But, the damage artificially sweetened beverages and other foods can cause does not stop there.

Artificial sweeteners like aspartame and sucralose can contribute to a host of additional side effects.

Sucralose, the sweetening agent in Splenda, is in fact made from sugar (sucrose). However, what the ads don't go on to say is that chemists then add three chlorine molecules to these sugar molecules to create the final product.

Studies have revealed that sucralose can cause:

  • Shrinking of the thymus glands
  • Enlarged liver and kidneys
  • Atrophy of lymph follicles in the spleen and thymus
  • Reduced growth rate
  • Decreased red blood cell count
  • Diarrhoea

If these findings concern you, read on, because aspartame may be even worse. Results of multiple studies, complaints and testimonies have revealed that aspartame plays a role in some of todays major health problems.

Aspartame can trigger or worsen the following diseases:

  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Epilepsy
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Mental retardation
  • Lymphoma
  • Birth defects
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Diabetes

The bottom line is that both of these substances can poison your body. Deciding to start or continue drinking either one of them would simply be a major movement toward the development of chronic disease.

Are You Addicted to Diet Soda?

It's very possible to become addicted to diet soda, and this likely has to do with the blurring of your brain's ability to respond to both real and artificial sugars.

If you're finding it difficult to ditch diet soda, your emotional connection to cravings might be an important factor for you. One of the most profound methods I know of for diminishing the effects of food cravings is the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), and particularly Turbo Tapping, which is a refinement of EFT that allows you to resolve emotional aspects of an addictive problem in a short period of time. I strongly recommend giving this technique a try if you can't kick your diet soda habit (find out more about tapping or EFT in 'The Tapping Solution' film here:

Featured Teacher: Joseph Mercola

Joseph Mercola, an osteopathic physician board certified in family medicine, has personally treated thousands of patients for over 20 years. He is the author of two New York Times bestsellers, The Great Bird Flu Hoax and The No-Grain Diet. He was voted the 2009 Ultimate Wellness Game Changer by the Huffington Post in 2009, an honor that celebrates “100 innovators, visionaries, and leaders in 10 categories who are harnessing the power of new media to reshape their fields and change the world.”

He is an advisory board member of several Professional Organizations, including the American Nutrition Association, the Price-Pottinger Nutrition Foundation and the Weston A. Price Foundation and regularly writes for industry publications.

His passion is to transform the disease-centered conventional medical paradigm in the United States and to inspire people to take control of their health. In the mid 90s he founded the natural health website, to spread the word about practical solutions to achieve optimal health solely through natural means. Dr. Mercola’s philosophy centers on using food, exercise, stress management, and lifestyle approaches to tap into the body’s inherent ability to heal.

Dr. Mercola continues to share his health knowledge with the world through his web site and his new clinic, The Natural Health Center, based in Illinois.

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