Diet coke, and other diet sodas, contain cancer causing sweeteners, DNA altering preservatives, stimulants and colorants with no safety levels established.  They are seen as the “healthy” alternative to regular soda, even by nutritionists and doctors.  In reality though, they are anything but healthy.  Here’s more than enough evidence to convince you to never ever ever take another sip.

Here are the ingredients of USA manufactured Diet Coke

The biggest worries on this list are Aspartame and Potassium Benzoate.  Since its initial FDA rejection in the 1970s, and then subsequent approval in the 80s, there has been considerably scrutiny and concern regarding the safety of Aspartame.  Potassium Benzoate has received less attention, but is still a highly suspect food additive and getting more attention with recent study.  Lets look at the two in depth.

Aspartame

Aspartame (C14H18N2O5) is a compound of three things: Methanol, Aspartic Acid, and Phenylalanine.  Methanol is used to make paint strippers, formaldehyde, and gasoline additives.  Drinking just 10ml of methanol will cause blindness, 100ml causes death.  More details on Methanol’s toxicity are outlined in this NIH article.  Aspartic Acid is an excitotoxin, meaning it excites and can overstimulate the nerve cells in the body and brain.  Excitotixins are being linked to neurodegenerative disorders such as ALS and Parkinson’s, amongst other conditions such as ADHD. According to neuroscientist John Olney, aspartic acid causes holes in the brains of mice. Phenylalanine is a naturally occurring amino acid in our bodies and in the protein we digest, but only in its natural form L-Phenylalanine is it safe.  According to Wikipedia, Penylalanine uses the same active transport channel as tryptophan to cross the blood-brain barrier, and, in large quantities, interferes with the production of serotonin, meaning you can become depressed or have other neurotransmitter changes by consuming too much Phenylalanine.

How aspartame made it to market is a scary story of government corruption and corporate malfeasance, which is outlined in this history of Aspartame and in Robyn O’Brien’s book The Unhealthy Truth.  In short, GD Searle, the company that created aspartame, had applied for FDA approval in the 1970’s but was rejected due to concerns over the “research” that backed its safety.  An FDA task force had found GD Searle was removing tumors from their live test animals, to skew the sample size of affected animals, amongst other tactics such as changing study methodologies to cover up seizures had by monkeys fed aspartame .  The CEO at this time was Donald Rumsfeld (R), a former member of congress and Gerald Ford’s Chief of Staff. Yes, that Donald Rumsfeld.

It wasn’t until 1981, and literally 1 day into the new Regan (R) administration that GD Searle reapplied for approval.  Regan appointed a new FDA commissioner in April of 1981 and in July of that year, Aspartame was approved for use in dry foods, despite a law banning approval of food or drugs when scientific evidence is inconclusive, or an FDA expert panel investigation that still saw Aspartame as worrisome.  I’d encourage everyone to read the History of Aspartame link I posted above in full.  It is quite scary to think that this could happen, and if this can happen with a sugar substitute, what is else is getting approved without the necessary research?

The main concern of the FDA in the 1970s was that the test animals being fed aspartame were experiencing quite notable negative side effects.  According to FDA investigator Arthur Evangelista, 5 of the 7 monkeys tested had grand mal seizures, and 1 died, leaving only 1 unharmed by their aspartame exposure.  Hamsters and mice were growing tumors, having seizures, and dying at an unacceptably fast rate.  Renowned natural health guru Dr. Mercola details the studies and findings in this article.  A letter stating all of Arthur Evangelista’s concerns regarding Aspartame can be found here. Back 30 years ago, there was considerable evidence of issues with Aspartame, which unfortunately the FDA either dismissed or denies.

Its not as if Aspartame’s presence on the market has caused a huge spike in seizures though. We aren’t seeing the evidence in human consumption as researchers did with their test animals.    What is happening though, is a huge increase in obesity,depression and learning disorders like ADHD.  From the CDC’s own website, the graph below uses US Census data to plot obesity rates for the last 50 years.

The timing of the spike in obesity rates is undeniable, the mid 80’s saw an explosion of the obese population, just when aspartame and nutrasweet were coming to market.  I doubt this is a coincidence.  In 1988, 22% of the population was obese.  Since introducing aspartame into the food supply, that rate has jumped to 34%!  Also note, in the last decade, the population of overweight has gone down, while the population of obese has gone up.  Whether this is a function of getting even fatter as a country, or those more making healthy choices is indeterminable by this graph alone.

Dr. Hull’s website SweetPoison details the many side effects of aspartame.  Here are some of the major ones to be concerned with.

headaches, migraines and (some severe) severe drowsiness and sleepiness severe hyperactivity and restless legs
depression irritability aggression
anxiety personality changes insomnia
palpitations, tachycardia shortness of breath high blood pressure

Here is a submittal by HHS to the FDA regarding all symptoms of Aspartame consumption:

Based on the above, it is pretty clear that there is more than enough reason to be concerned about Aspartame, not just in diet sodas but also in the rest of our food supply.

Potassium Benzoate

Potassium Benzoate has been studied and scrutinized much less than Aspartame, but it has come to light recently as yet another issue in our food supply.  Consumption of Potassium Benzoate along with ascorbic acid can form benzene, an industrial solvent, gasoline additive and known carcinogen.  Ascorbic acid is a form of vitamin C, found in citrus fruits and added to many soda recipes.  So that diet coke with lemon is making a cancerous concoction in your tummy without your knowledge!  Health Canada issued this warning about benzoate compounds in soda in 2006.  Sodium Benzoate, a cousin of Potassium Benzoate has been linked with hyperactivity by UK researchers.  In 2007 the Food Commission stated that all the benzoate preservatives are irritants to mucousal membranes, such as those in the stomach and intestines.  According to this article in The Independent, E211, the chemical # for potassium benzoate, has the potential to switch off vital parts of DNA coding.  In the blog followup by the author, Coca Cola Co admits to not having done any research on the safety of E211.  The MSDS for Potassium Benzoate states that “[r]epeated or prolonged exposure to the substance can produce target organs damage.”

Not a Good Diet Alternative

Beyond the two hazardous ingredients of diet soda, the touted health benefits of being a diet drink have been disproved as of late.  This Washington Times article from 2009 cites a 2005 University of Texas study that showed “[t]here was a 41 percent increase in risk of being overweight for every can or bottle of diet soft drink a person consumes each day.”  WebMD details the study in full.  From JAMA, obesity researcher Dr. Ludwig of Boston’s Children’s Hospital finds that the consumption of artifical sweeteners breaks the link between hunger and satiety. A recent study from California as reported by the Natural News touts the same: diet soda and obesity are inextricably linked. The very famous Framingham Heart Study has these statistics on soda consumption:

• 31 per cent greater risk of becoming obese
• 30 per cent increased risk of adding on belly fat.
• 25 per cent higher risk of developing high blood sugar.
• 32 per cent higher risk of having low HDL (good cholesterol) levels.

Conclusion

This is pretty simple folks….diet soda is not good for you and could potentially kill you, one way or another.  It can actually make you fatter, keep you from loosing weight, and potentially cause cancer or brain lesions.  With healthy alternatives such a juice & club soda, or even a live bubbly drink like water kefir, why would you ever consider another sip?

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