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Aspartame and SplendaPerhaps most importantly, diet soda contains a synthetic sweetener, most likely aspartame or Splenda.
One 12 ounce diet soda contains about 180 mg of aspartame, or 15 mg of aspartame per ounce, which equals approximately 4 and a half packets of NutraSweet.
In 1991 the National Institutes of Health listed 167 possible side-effect symptoms of aspartame. It is in soda pop, over the counter medicines, chewing gum, breath strips and many more edible products. The FDA receives more complaints about aspartame than any other food additive. But it has never been banned. The reasons for that lay in a tangled web of politics and money woven throughout the history of aspartame approval.
For those of us who live in hot climates like Arizona, diet sodas may present a special danger if they have been exposed to hot temperatures, such as sitting outside the back door of a convenience store in summer. There is some evidence that storing diet soda in elevated temperatures promotes rapid deterioration of aspartame into poisonous methyl alcohol (methanol) as well as formic acid and a brain tumor agent called diketopiperazine (DKP). Methanol is better known as wood alcohol, a deadly poison. According to the Aspartame Consumer Safety Network, when ingested, methanol breaks down into formaldehyde which is "known to cause cancer, accumulating slowly without detection in the body."
Methanol is a deadly poison that can cause serious tissue damage. Some of the symptoms of methanol poisoning are headaches; numbness of the arms, hands, legs, or feet; dizziness; depression; blurred vision; nausea; and stomach pain. The body lacks the specific enzymes necessary to detoxify it. A 12 ounce aspartame-sweetener soft drink is said to have about 10 mg of methanol.
Dr. H. J. Roberts, a physician and renowned aspartame researcher, explains that when the amino acids in aspartame are consumed in their natural state in foods, they are digested and released into the bloodstream slowly, buffered and balanced by other amino acids. However, especially when aspartame is consumed in beverages, the body is suddenly flooded with phenylalanine and aspartic acid, which can cross into the brain unimpeded and cause significant disturbances. Dr. Richard Wurtman, Professor of Neuroendocrinology at MIT, notes that an adult drinking four to five aspartame-sweetened soft drinks a day is getting enough phenylalanine into the brain to disrupt neurotransmitter function, which can produce can produce depression, anxiety, sleep difficulties, headaches, high blood pressure, increased appetite and possibly seizures.
Sandra Cabot, MD, author and international lecturer, explains it this way:
"When you ingest the toxic chemical aspartame, it is absorbed from the intestines and passes immediately to the liver where it is taken inside the liver via the liver filter. The liver then breaks down (metabolizes) aspartame to its toxic components-phenylalanine, aspartic acid and methanol. This process requires a lot of energy from the liver making less energy available for fat burning and metabolism, which will result in fat storing and elevated blood sugar levels. Excess fat may build up inside the liver cells causing 'fatty liver' and when this starts to occur it is extremely difficult to lose weight. In my vast experience any time that you overload the liver you will increase the tendency to gain weight easily. ... The Trocho Study in Barcelona (l998) showed that the formaldehyde converted from the free methyl alcohol accumulates in the cells and damages DNA with most toxicity in the liver but substantial toxicity in the adipose tissue (fat cells). ... So as far as product liability is concerned, you have companies selling an excitoneurotoxic carcinogenic drug to the population as a sugarfree diet product knowing full well this government-approved artificial sweetener is actually causing the obesity it's marketeers claim to be preventing. They also know that aspartame is addictive and that the methanol component is classified as a narcotic."
These studies were done on rats, but suggest a danger to unborn babies and especially to children, including the newly identified risk of breast cancer as the child ages. Dr. Philip Landrigan, Chairman of Community and Environmental Medicine at Mt. Sinai Medical Center, says, "Exposures occurred at relatively low doses. If a 20 kg child drinks two cans of diet soda a day the child is bringing into his body a 400 mg of aspartame. Just two cans of drink we're already exposing the child to a biologically significant dose. Parents of young children should think very, very carefully about giving drinks and other foods to their children that are sweetened with aspartame and for that matter other artificial sweeteners."
With little fanfare, Ajinomoto, the Japanese company that makes aspartame, announced in 2010 the sweetener would now be called "AminoSweet." The company said, "the name AminoSweet is appealing and memorable."
As public awareness grew that aspartame is dangerous, a new artifical sweetener, Splenda, began to replace aspartame as the "sugar-free" additive of choice in soda pop.
Dr. James Bowen, researcher and biochemist, has reported:
"Splenda/sucralose is simply chlorinated sugar; a chlorocarbon. Common chlorocarbons include carbon tetrachloride, trichlorethelene and methylene chloride, all deadly. Chlorine is nature's Doberman attack dog, a highly excitable, ferocious atomic element employed as a biocide in bleach, disinfectants, insecticide, WWI poison gas and hydrochloric acid. In test animals Splenda produced swollen livers, as do all chlorocarbon poisons, and also calcified the kidneys of test animals in toxicity studies. Chlorocarbon poisoning can cause cancer, birth defects, and immune system destruction."
Can Diet Soda Cause Heart Attacks?Research presented at the 2011 American Stroke Association's International Stroke Conference concluded there could negative consequences associated with consuming too many sugar substitutes.
"This study suggests that diet soda is not an optimal substitute for sugar-sweetened beverages, and may be associated with a greater risk of stroke, myocardial infarction, or vascular death than regular soda," the researchers said. This is the first time diet soda has been officially linked to vascular events.
Some critics argued that since the participants voluntarily reported how much diet soda they consumed, the results did not come from a rigorously controlled setting.
"There is no scientific evidence to support the idea that diet soda uniquely causes increased risk of vascular events or stroke," said Dr. Maureen Storey, senior vice president of science policy for the American Beverage Association. Storey pointed out that this information comes from a research paper abstract presented at a conference, and was not in a study reviewed for publication by experts in the field. Also, the study authors did not control for weight gain or for family history of stroke.
The study did not say what exactly about diet soda may be responsible for heart disease. Enough associations lead one to suspect a causative association, but cause and effect are definitely tricky to prove. Some experts point to aspartame as being the problem. Dr. H. J. Roberts has said that aspartame causes an irregular heart rhythm and interacts with all cardiac medications. He says it damages the cardiac conduction system and can cause sudden death. He says aspartame also can be responsible for "numerous misdiagnoses include arthritis, lupus, multiple sclerosis and Alzheimer's disease."[26,27]
A 2007 study in the American Heart Association journal Circulation looked at more than 6,000 healthy people, who showed no signs of metabolic syndrome, and then followed up. After four years, 53 percent of people who drank an average of one or more soft drinks per day developed metabolic syndrome. Those who drank one or more diet soft drinks a day were at a 44 percent higher risk. Metabolic syndrome is often a forerunner of heart disease.
The American Beverage Association disputed the study's results, saying that the study proves no link between soft drinks and increased risk of heart disease.
Benzene and PesticidesExposing soft drinks to heat can also raise levels of benzene. This chemical has been identified as a Class A carcinogenic by the Environmental Protection Agency causing both acute and chronic health effects. Its use as an additive in gasoline is now limited, but it is an important industrial solvent and precursor in the production of drugs, plastics, synthetic rubber, and dyes.
Many who served in the Gulf War drank diet sodas that had been exposed to hot temperatures in Kuwait and Iraq; questions have been raised whether soda pop played a role in the sickness called Gulf War Syndrome that plagued so many returning vets.
And in related news, there may be more chemicals in that aluminum can of soda than one would think. The sale of Coca-Cola and PepsiCo soft drinks have been banned in parts of India because the beverages contained pesticide residues more than 20 times the "acceptable" amounts.
Common sense tells you there is a problem with diet foods. Despite how much of them America has consumed in the last 15 years, obesity has become epidemic. Read the labels on so-called "health food" bars and you will find they too are loaded with sugar or artificial sweeteners. The belief that these bars and diet sodas are healthy for you demonstrates how clearly marketing hype dictates what people are willing to believe.
Teens Consume Twice as Much 'Liquid Candy' as MilkSodas represent a mixed bag of problems – the sugar, caffeine, acid, preservatives, food colors, empty calories. But let's look a little more broadly at how they can undermine health. Researchers often suggest that soda use is indicative of an overall pattern of poor food choices. And that can show up in many different ways. One child many be diagnosed with AD/HD when she is actually suffering from severe nutritional imbalances that demand nutrient dense food. Another child may break his femur on the soccer field.
Dr. Bess Dawson-Hughes, a bone-disease expert at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University in Boston, said, "I'm particularly concerned about teenage girls. Most girls have inadequate calcium intakes, which makes them candidates for osteoporosis when they're older and may increase their risk for broken bones today."
Truth is, soda is bad news, no matter how you look at it. Consumer beware.
So, where does that leave parents who want to break their kids of the soda habit? With an easy alternative! Use club soda; it is inexpensive, effervescent and does not have the sugar of tonic water. Then add some fruit juice for taste – this is like making a fruit-flavored sparkling water. A member of the Arizona Center for Advanced Medicine staff successfully switched her kids over years ago to club soda with freshly squeezed citrus – you can always find fresh citrus at the grocery store. When you use lemon or lime, if it tastes a bit too tart, add a few drops of stevia or xylitol to taste, to balance the tartness with a little sweetness. Stevia and xylitol are truly natural sweeteners that do not spike insulin levels like refined table sugar, and do not have the dangerous make-up of the synthetic sweeteners.
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The Southampton published study in its entirety can be found at
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