Diet soda is no better for drinkers than regular soda, and may in fact pose more of a health risk, a new report found.
Purdue University researchers analyzed five years' worth of studies on the heath risks of diet soda and found that the artificial sweeteners in the soft drinks can actually have adverse effects on the body.
"Honestly, I thought that diet soda would be marginally better compared to regular soda in terms of health," Susan Swithers, the report's author and a behavioral neuroscientist and professor of psychological sciences, told CNN's The Chart.
"But in reality it has a counterintuitive effect."
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In a report published in the journal Trends in Endocrinology & Metabolism
, the authors explain that when a person consumes artificial sweeteners, it confuses the body. When a diet soda drinker then consumes real sugar, the body doesn't release the hormone that regulates blood sugar and blood pressure.
"You've messed up the whole system, so when you consume real sugar, your body doesn't know if it should try to process it because it's been tricked by the fake sugar so many times," Swithers said.
Drinking diet soda can also lead to increased weight gain.
"The taste of sweet does cause the release of insulin, which lowers blood sugar, and if carbohydrates are not consumed, it causes a drop in blood sugar, which triggers hunger and cravings for sugar," CNN diet and fitness expert Dr. Melina Jampolis told The Chart.
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Diet soda drinkers have an increased risk of diabetes, heat disease, and stroke, the report said.
"We've gotten to a place where it is normal to drink diet soda because people have the false impression that it is healthier than indulging in a regular soda," Swithers said. "No one is saying cut it out completely. But diet soda should be a treat or indulgence just like your favorite candy, not an everyday thing."
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