Sorry to Pop Your Soda Bubble

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Suzy-Cohen-1_2Dear Pharmacist,

My teenage daughter downs several diet sodas a day. She insists they’re a healthy, weight-loss alternative to regular sodas. Should I be concerned? –E.L., Phoenix, Arizona

Answer: In a word, YES. Several studies published this year suggest diet soda is not the healthiest beverage on the shelf. At the end of each of these individual studies researchers say something like, Hey, this research is not conclusive. This study doesn’t mean that everyone should stop drinking diet sodas… moderation is good… blah, blah, blah.  But when you put all these studies together, in my opinion, the fizzy stuff falls flat.

Put down your soda pop for a second and take a closer look at some of this research:

Back in February 2010, doctors at the International Stroke Conference in Los Angeles reported on research showing that people who drink diet soda every day have a 61 percent increase in the likelihood of having a “cardiovascular event.” That research hardly made the news.

Another study looked at 3,000 nurses and found that drinking just two diets sodas a day was associated with a decrease in kidney function. Let me remind you, kidneys are responsible for filtering your body of poisonous toxins. You really want your kidneys in tip top shape to keep yourself “clean” which is why I always harp on you to drink fresh, filtered water.

Drinking “diet” soda begs the question, will it help with weight loss? A study reported in an online issue of Diabetes Care in January 2009 found that people who drink at least one diet soda a day experienced a 36 percent increased risk for developing metabolic syndrome, a disorder that includes the triple threat of high blood pressure, high cholesterol and high glucose. Metabolic syndrome almost always includes the condition of obesity. So if you connect the dots, it doesn’t appear that weight loss is a benefit of drinking diet soda. The mechanism behind why people experienced a higher risk for metabolic syndrome wasn’t teased out, nor can we conclude a definitive cause and effect. I can tell you this though, if any natural herb or vitamin was linked to even an inkling of the stuff diet soda is associated with, it would be yanked off the shelves in hours!

If you love soda (diet or regular), make it a special treat, rather than your beverage of choice all day long. Or try one of my natural recipes for soda. You just combine some carbonated (seltzer) water with some grape juice (or root beer flavored stevia drops), and voila, you have a natural fizzy drink. You should also include healthy teas as part of your diet, like Tulsi, Rooibos and Green tea. Why not try juicing? Blend 3 carrots, 2 celery stalks, a slice of ginger, 2 apples and take a swig. It’s good and good for you!

Did You Know?

A new study finds luteolin (which is concentrated in celery) boosts brain power and memory.