You might have thought you were making the responsible choice when you chose a diet coke over a regular soda. However, increasing evidence suggests that these supposedly "healthy" beverages and other artificially sweetened products may be just as bad, if not even worse, than their more overtly unhealthy counterparts, which is why the 123 Diet prohibits them.

Many studies have been done on the health effects of these unnatural concoctions, and their results have ranged from mixed to flat-out worrisome.

First of all, diet soda has absolutely no nutritional value. The drink is totally devoid of vitamins and minerals unless it's a variety that has been infused with them to appeal to the health conscious, but you can these nutrients much more wholesomely from the actual food you consume.

There are also plenty of reasons to be dubious about aspartame, the sweetener most major manufacturers use in their diet soda. It works by bonding to the receptors on your tongue that usually respond to sugar, creating a sweet taste, but it is also too different from sugar to be broken down by the body into calories.

But could consuming aspartame instead of sugar actually help you lose weight? Some scientists don't think so. They theorize that because the sweet taste of aspartame primes your brain to expect the calorie reward that usually comes with sugar, it can ultimately cause you to crave sugar even more, playing havoc with your body's natural hunger signals.

However, the actual evidence is somewhat conflicting. While it is clear that people who drink a lot of diet soda have a higher risk of obesity, metabolic syndrome, diabetes, high blood pressure, stroke, and heart disease, it isn't exactly clear whether this is because diet soda actually makes people sick or because people who are at risk for these conditions are the ones most likely to seek out alternatives to sugared soda. Though a few small studies have indeed found that replacing sugar-sweetened soda with diet soda does sometimes lead to weight loss, just cutting out the sugar calories altogether would probably have the same effect.

Associations have also been found between high consumption of diet soda and an increase in kidney disease and kidney stones. This is thought to be caused by its high phosphorous content, which increases the acidic load on kidneys.

This high phosphorous content, combined with diet soda's high caffeine content, may also be behind an observed increased risk of osteoporosis in female diet soda drinkers, since both can interfere with calcium absorption.

The lower internal pH caused by excessive soda drinking can also contribute to acne and alter your gut flora, creating disturbances that could up your risk for conditions like diabetes. Your teeth will also thank you if you say no to diet soda- its acidic content promotes dental erosion.

Aspartame has also been known to trigger headaches, and though it is still technically recognized as safe by the FDA, the Center for Interest in Public Science suggests that this risk should be reconsidered since studies have tentatively found an increase between aspartame consumption and cancer in rats. The substance also contains 3 documented neurotoxins.

"Even if that still doesn't convince you to cut it out for good, you definitely shouldn't drink diet soda during pregnancy. Two large recent studies have shown that the risk of preterm delivery may increase up to 11% for soda and diet-soda drinking mothers. Studies have also found an increased risk of childhood obesity in the children of soda and diet-soda drinking moms.

So a spoonful of sugar, real or artificial, definitely does not always make the medicine go down; sometimes the best medicine is staying away! If you're still thirsty, there are plenty of genuinely diet-friendly alternatives.

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