Americans’ intake of sweetened drinks – chief among them, soda – has more than tripled in the last 40 years, and that consumption is taking its toll on our health.

Soda consumption can be correlated to various cancers and brain degenerative diseases, like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and Lou Gehrig’s (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis),  says Dr. Russell Blaylock, editor of the “The Blaylock Wellness Report.” Sodas offer fast-absorbing sweeteners that lead to an intense insulin response in the body. But after 20 to 30 minutes, blood-sugar levels drop, triggering the brain to produce the chemical compound glutamate and depleting magnesium, an essential mineral important for muscle function and the activity of certain enzymes. The process puts us at risk for diseases, he explains.

Sugar-free sodas are not a safer option because they contain artificial sweeteners, including aspartame and sucralose, which also cause harm, says Dr. Blaylock, a retired neurosurgeon and nutrition researcher. Aspartame is toxic to every cell, breaks down into formaldehyde, and “is strongly correlated” with brain cancer, leukemia, and lymphomas, he explains. Sucralose, also known as Splenda, has not been adequately tested, “but we know it has a negative impact” on the immune system and on the survival of babies in-utero, he says.

Diet drink consumption has increased 400% since 1960. They may or may not cause cancer, but the evidence is mounting that they lead to weight gain rather than weight reduction. Those who consume diet drinks regularly have a 200 percent increased risk of weight gain, a 36 percent increased risk of pre-diabetes or metabolic syndrome, and a 67 percent increased risk of diabetes. A study of over 400 people found that those who drank two diet sodas a day had five times the increase in waist circumference as those who did not drink soda.

Researchers at the University of Texas Health Center made some startling findings when testing the link between obesity and diet soda.

Obesity risk increased as followed:

26.5 percent for people drinking up to ½ can of diet soda per day, and 24 percent for regular soda drinkers consuming up to one can per day

54.5 percent for one to two cans of diet soda per day as opposed to 32.8 percent for those drinking the same amount of regular soda

57.1 percent for people drinking more than two cans of diet soda per day as opposed to 47.2 percent for people drinking the same amount of regular soda

In other words, diet soda consumption had a higher correlation with obesity rates than consumption of caloric soda containing sugar or high-fructose corn syrup.

Healthy Alternatives

The best alternative to diet soda is pure water; however, if you need bubbles, then try mineral water with a squeeze of citrus. Tea also provides a healthier alternative, and decaffeinated green tea even confers antioxidant health benefits.

The next time you plan to drink a diet soda, think about the health risks involved. While an occasional diet soda may not cause health issues, drinking one or more every day could lead to health problems.

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