“Diet” Soda – Bad Diet

Some surprising things about “Diet Soda”. Seems it can promote weight gain, contributes to Diabetes, and increases cardiovascular risks.


Is there a link between diet soda and heart disease?
Posted February 21, 2012, 12:36 pm , Updated February 23, 2012, 9:42 am

Nancy Ferrari
Senior editor, Harvard Health
University of Miami and Columbia University researchers followed roughly 2,500 New Yorkers for 10 years. All of the study volunteers were over age 40 and had never had a stroke. At the start of the study, each participant indicated her or his diet soda intake as “none” (less than 1 per month), “light” (1 diet soda a month to 6 diet sodas a week), or “daily” (1 or more a day). Each year, researchers contacted participants by phone to ask them about changes in risk factors and medications, as well as any health problems and hospitalizations that may have occurred.

At the end of 10 years, the daily diet soda drinkers were more likely to have had a stroke or heart attack, or to have died from vascular disease. The increased risk remained even after study investigators accounted for smoking, exercise, weight, sodium intake, high cholesterol, and other factors that could have contributed to the difference. The results were published online in the Journal of General Internal Medicine.

Both regular and diet soft drinks were linked with certain, but separate, cardiovascular disease risk factors.
In this study, frequent diet soda drinkers were more likely to be former smokers and have higher blood sugar, high blood pressure, and, ironically, larger waistlines. They were also more likely to have metabolic syndrome. That’s the name for a cluster of risk factors—high blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat around the waist, and abnormal cholesterol levels—that occur together and increase the risk for heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes. Folks who drank regular soda were more likely to smoke and eat more carbohydrates, but were less likely to have diabetes or high cholesterol.

A study such as this one can only hint at an association between diet soda and cardiovascular risk. It can’t pinpoint a cause and effect. But it’s not the first to implicate diet soda as a cardiovascular risk factor. A report from the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis, published in the journal Diabetes Care, found that people who drank diet soda every day had a 36% greater risk of developing metabolic syndrome and a 67% greater risk of developing diabetes. Both of these conditions greatly raise the odds of having a stroke or heart attack. It’s a little surprising that diet soda drinkers were more like to develop two particular components of metabolic syndrome: larger waistlines and higher fasting glucose levels (results consistent with the New York study results).
My husband gently (but persistently) tells me there is nothing good about drinking diet soda, not even the taste I claim to enjoy so much. The evidence seems to back him up. For me, I have realized (time and again) that I just feel better when I don’t drink diet soda. When I make the effort, I’m reminded how much I enjoy other beverages such as carbonated water or iced tea.


3 Not-So-Sweet Insulin Effects of Artificial Sweeteners
By Ben BikmanNovember 11, 2016

The overall conclusion that artificial sweeteners increase the risk of insulin resistance is supported; people who drink an artificially sweetened (diet) soda daily have a 36% greater chance of developing the metabolic syndrome (remember that it used to be called “insulin resistance syndrome”) and a whopping 67% increased risk of type 2 diabetes
. How can this be when diet soda has no calories? Well, there’s no clear answer; just a few theories.


Artificial Sweeteners May Be Worse than Sugar for Diabetics

August 09, 2012

Story at-a-glance

Diet foods and drinks are widely promoted to help you lose weight but mounting evidence shows aspartame actually makes you fatter, increases dangerous visceral fat deposits, and adversely affects your blood glucose levels and worsens insulin sensitivity
The classic study conducted by the American Cancer Society 25 years ago of 80,000 women, which showed those who consumed diet sodas gained more weight than those that consumed regular sodas, is routinely ignored. Newer studies have also supported this early finding.
Recent animal research also shows exposure to aspartame in utero has a detrimental effect on learning and memory. Excitotoxins like aspartate and MSG have also been implicated in worsening fibromyalgia and irritable bowel symptoms
If you suspect an artificial sweetener might be to blame for a symptom you’re having, a good way to help you weed out the culprit is to do an elimination challenge. Guidelines are included.

By Dr. Mercola
Study Finds Aspartame Worsens Insulin Sensitivity

A recent study published in PLoS One3 found that chronic lifetime exposure to aspartame, commencing in utero, produces changes in blood glucose parameters and adversely impacts spatial learning and memory in mice.

The study, which was published in April, is a blow against claims that aspartame is an ideal sugar substitute for diabetics. The researchers used a dosage of aspartame that approximates the ADI for aspartame in the US (approx. 50 mg/kg body weight), and not only was aspartame found to decrease insulin sensitivity compared to controls, it also wrought havoc on brain function.

As I’ve mentioned on countless occasions, optimizing your insulin sensitivity is key for optimal health, as insulin resistance is a hallmark of virtually every chronic disease you can think of, but especially type 2 diabetes. Now, contrary to popular belief, aspartame is being revealed as a substance that actually decreases or worsens insulin sensitivity, which is the complete opposite of what you want—especially if you’re already pre-diabetic or diabetic!

According to the authors:

“At 17 weeks of age, male aspartame-fed mice exhibited weight gain, elevated fasting glucose levels and decreased insulin sensitivity compared to controls.
Females were less affected, but had significantly raised fasting glucose levels.

During spatial learning trials in the MWM (acquisition training), the escape latencies of male aspartame-fed mice were consistently higher than controls, indicative of learning impairment… Interestingly, the extent of visceral fat deposition correlated positively with non-spatial search strategies such as floating and thigmotaxis, and negatively with time spent in the target quadrant and swimming across the location of the escape platform.

These data suggest that lifetime exposure to aspartame, commencing in utero, may affect spatial cognition and glucose homeostasis in C57BL/6J mice, particularly in males.”

Male mice fed aspartame experienced significantly higher weight gain compared to the control group,
whereas female weight gain was unaffected by the aspartame diet compared to controls. Still, deposits of visceral fat—those dangerous fat deposits around internal organs, which are associated with an increased risk of heart disease in humans—increased in aspartame-fed mice of both sexes.
According to the authors:

“A random-fed insulin tolerance test administered at 19 weeks of age showed that glucose levels in male aspartame-fed mice were 120.2 percent higher than control mice following insulin challenge and remained significantly elevated above controls for up to 30 minutes, suggesting impairment of glucose and insulin regulation. The mean Area Under the Curve (AUC) in male aspartame-fed mice was significantly higher than control, suggesting deregulation of glucose homeostasis.


Also goes into the chemistry where Aspartame is metabolized to formaldehyde and methanol (both very not good).

The first video above — which contains highlights of Cori Brackett’s documentary film Sweet Misery — is an excellent summary of the problems with aspartame. You can also obtain the entire DVD if you’re intrigued by these clips. I believe Sweet Misery is one of the best documentaries out there on this topic.

In this follow-up article, I will discuss recent findings that link aspartame to increased risk of premature birth; it’s potential carcinogenic effects; and the ironic ‘side effect’ of it promoting rather than combating weight gain – which of course is one of its primary objectives as a sugar substitute.
One reason for aspartame’s potential to cause weight gain is because phenylalanine and aspartic acid – the two amino acids that make up 90 percent of aspartame — are known to rapidly stimulate the release of insulin and leptin; two hormones that are intricately involved with satiety and fat storage. Insulin and leptin are also the primary hormones that regulate your metabolism.

So although you’re not ingesting calories in the form of sugar, aspartame can still raise your insulin and leptin levels.

Elevated insulin and leptin levels, in turn, are two of the driving forces behind obesity, diabetes, and a number of our current chronic disease epidemics.

Over time, if your body is exposed to too much leptin, it will become resistant to it, just as your body can become resistant to insulin, and once that happens, your body can no longer “hear” the hormonal messages instructing your body to stop eating, burn fat, and maintain good sensitivity to sweet tastes in your taste buds.

If I drink aspartame sodas IMMEDIATELY my sense of sweet is dulled and anything else I’m eating no longer tastes right. Only the aspartame then tastes really sweet.

A list of references:


A bit techno geeky, but interesting:


Modified High-Density Lipoproteins by Artificial Sweetener, Aspartame, and Saccharin, Showed Loss of Anti-atherosclerotic Activity and Toxicity in Zebrafish

irst Online: 21 August 2014


Safety concerns have been raised regarding the association of chronic consumption of artificial sweeteners (ASs) with metabolic disorders, especially in the heart and brain. There has been no information on the in vivo physiological effects of AS consumption in lipoprotein metabolism. High-dosage treatment (final 25, 50, and 100 mM) with AS (aspartame, acesulfame K, and saccharin) to human high-density lipoprotein (HDL) induced loss of antioxidant ability along with elevated atherogenic effects. Aspartame-treated HDL3 (final 100 mM) almost all disappeared due to putative proteolytic degradation. Aspartame- and saccharin-treated HDL3 showed more enhanced cholesteryl ester transfer activity, while their antioxidant ability was disappeared. Microinjection of the modified HDL3 exacerbated the inflammatory death in zebrafish embryos in the presence of oxLDL. These results show that AS treatment impaired the beneficial functions of HDL, resulting in loss of antioxidant and anti-atherogenic activities. These results suggest that aspartame and saccharin could be toxic to the human circulation system as well as embryonic development via impairment of lipoprotein function.


Artificial sweetener High-density lipoprotein Atherosclerosis Zebrafish

Jae-Yong Kim and Ki-Hoon Park are co-first authors.

Other than that, no problem…

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About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
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14 Responses to “Diet” Soda – Bad Diet

  1. co2fan says:

    I have always noticed that fat people drink diet soda. Hard to say which is cause or effect.

  2. philjourdan says:

    This study has more snarky comments than a passel of Democrat talking points! I know it is serious, but I found myself laughing at the few of the findings.

    But the length of time most of these sweeteners have been on the market means that we are still learning about the side effects. I am not surprised that the overweight drink more. They have been sold the idea of no calories. But the insulin and leptin changes are problematic. I am not sure about the “antioxidents” as that seems like another fad. (how did the poor schlobs in outer Mongolia get blueberries?)

    I have few vices left (age does that to you). One is regular soda. My taste buds do not discern a difference between “real sugar” (periodically put into my soda of choice) and Corn Syrup. So I do not gravitate to one or the other. Just sugar from nature. I will probably die drinking a Pepsi – as my family and neighbors shun me for not drinking the southern drink – Coke.

  3. philjourdan says:

    Correction: This study has the potential for more snarky comments than a passel of Democrat talking points!

  4. ossqss says:

    I recall reading a study linking diet soda (diet anything) to increased consumption patterns simply because it was labeled diet and perceived to be ok to drink more of it. Direct corralation to weight gain. Pehaps related to co2fan’s comment?

  5. ray warkentin says:

    Another possibility is that if a person’s body is craving its sugar fix it doesn’t get it when drinking a diet soda and is left craving and hungry and so just ends up eating more other sweet stuff or carb heavy stuff in the end anyway?

  6. E.M.Smith says:

    These studies were supposedly “controlled” for confounders. The rat study is fairly conclusive. They didn’t self select for the diet….

    Oh, and in a couple of the articles they speculate on “why” it happens (from just sweet taste triggering something to biochem effects) but say that they don’t know why…

  7. Larry Ledwick says:

    I have noticed that effect with drinking water. You drink lots of water and stay thirsty, it is because your body wants salt not water. Add just a pinch of salt to a glass of water and it is satisfying and you are no longer craving something to drink.

  8. H.R. says:

    @Larry: What about just drinking lots of beer and the heck with thirst issues?

    Oh wait… the boss may take a dim view of that, particularly if you work on a rock blasting crew.

  9. ray warkentin says:

    I often check my blood sugar, not because I am diabetic but because I want to see the effects of certain foods or activity patterns or the timing thereof. This way I can fine tune things to my benefit.
    I have been aware of these kind of studies for some time. Back when I was in weight-loss mode I drank diet soda notwithstanding.
    When I checked my blood sugar one and two hours after a diet soda there was no change up or down from the low-normal prior reading. I also don’t think I had an insulin response because that would have lowered my already low blood sugar into the hypoglycemia range and that didn’t happen. Even without testing I know what hypoglycemia feels like.
    I am only one person with an eating and activity level very different from the norm and am keto-adapted so I know my experience would not have broader relevance.

  10. E.M.Smith says:


    They do state individual metabolism vary and some folks seem not to respond. Seems we vary in the level of a key enzyme the detoxifies formaldehyde. Also, since you are in the keto range, changes in carb handling enzymes ought not show much effect.

  11. corsair red says:

    No high level, frequent consumption of anything is good for anyone. That doesn’t take studies to understand, does it?

    Joseph Mercola’s conclusions about anything may be suspect when one of his references, from the aspartame studies link, makes this conclusion:
    Reported that it is possible that there are some children who respond adversely to sugar or aspartame.
    ( how do you do the bold and italics? )

    Out of the references listed down to Health Problem: Increase in hunger, body weight, BMI, most conclusions are built around the words “may,” ” can,” “some reported, ” ” implicates,” ” it is possible.” I guess I missed the day when Mr. Richardson taught that those were immoveable, foundational, concrete words.

    Other people investigating aspartame have come to different conclusions about its dangers.



  12. E.M.Smith says:

    @Corsair Red:

    supposedly the symptoms are strong at one coke a day, not high levels.

    How to do bold and italics, see:

    It is very common to nearly essential to use words like may and might in anything dealing with metabolism. We are all genetically unique with different enzyme systems in the details. The worst show as specific diseases (type 1 diabetes or phenylketoneuria (sp?) who get deathly sick on aspartame – thus the lable warning for them). More minor differences show up as discomforts or rare syndromes (lactose intolerance, Reyes syndrom for aspirn).

    It is absolutely to be expected some folks get sick and some don’t on any agent with issues. This is even codified in how toxicity is measured. LD50. That dose where 1/2 die, but 1/2 don’t. Some may die, and some may not. By definition.

    Per negative studies: While useful in mass, absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.

  13. Sandy MCCLINTOCK says:

    I used to work as a geneticist in the dairy industry. I would see the chart showing the link between higher milk drinking and lower CHD, T2 diabetes, etc etc. Such a clear link is not necessarily causal. I used to wonder if low-milk drinkers drank more sugary drinks (rather than water etc). I, like Ray, find no link between Aspartame use and and my blood glucose level. Certainly if I were to put the same sugar equivalent into coffee and tea, I would see a substantial hike in blood glucose level.
    Perhaps I should stop using Aspartame and switch back to sugar, and see if my weight goes up or down. My “Percent Fat” as measured by the bathroom scales (!) is currently around 20. Before switching to Aspartame I used to be around 22 lbs heavier.

  14. tom0mason says:

    So maybe there is more for those who believe that Aspartame/NutaSweet approval was flawed because of political/business involvement — see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Talk:NutraSweet — where Donald Rumsfeld is in the center of it all.
    Also there is the wiki on Aspartame controversy at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aspartame_controversy
    Was it, is it science or politics that ensure Aspartame stays on the shelf and in the food manufacturers cupboard?

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