I have seen many, many food trends come and go. Remember the fat-free craze? As long as foods were “fat-free,” they were considered by many to be healthy. I remember my roommate Emme sitting on the couch, munching on boxes of Snackwell cookies, only to complain to me that she had gained 10 pounds. Hmm, I wonder why that happened!? In the kindest tone I could muster, I would tell her it was probably because the fat-free cookies were not calorie free! Now, we know that not all fats are considered bad and that some are indeed very healthy for us.
Diet soda has been around for as long as I can remember – it started with Tab, which was sweetened with saccharin, and has continued to include every feasible type and flavor of soda and artificial sweetener.
Over the years, I would encourage my patients to drink diet soda in place of regular soda because it didn’t contain any calories and that would help them achieve their weight loss or blood sugar goals…or, so I assumed…
Fast forward to today. Recent epidemiological studies have been conducted on thousands of diet soda drinkers. These studies show a strong association between drinking diet soda and having an increased risk of disease.
So what does that mean? Well, one study suggests that if you drink diet soda daily, you have a 67% greater relative risk of getting type 2 diabetes than non-diet soda drinkers. You also may have a 36% greater relative risk of being diagnosed with metabolic syndrome, which can lead to other serious diseases. While the studies do not prove that diet soda directly causes these conditions, it sure does make one pause when making drink selections. Obviously, more research will need to be conducted.
The study of nutrition is always changing. And, as a professional, I am constantly working to keep updated. My approach is now one in which I encourage my patients to learn about the importance of eating whole foods and not chemically altered “Franken foods.” If your great- grandmother wouldn’t recognize the food that you are eating or drinking, it is probably not something that should be consumed. It seems nutrition, like all things in life, has come full-circle!
-Posted by Amy Johnson, RD, CDE