Artificial sweeteners have gotten a lot of bad press, particularly aspartame, and the demand for diet soft drinks seems to be plummeting. Coke reported a profit decline of 55% from the previous year in the fourth quarter of 2014, and in February of 2015 Pepsi reported a 24% drop in year-over-year earnings for the same period. So, PepsiCo. has decided to listen to the people, and Pepsi is getting rid of aspartame from its diet sodas.
Is this cause for celebration? Has the war against artificial sweeteners really been won? Not so fast…Pepsi is really just trading one unhealthy artificial sweetener for another, as Splenda (aka sucralose) steps in to take aspartame’s place.
The Truth About Splenda
Splenda, or sucralose, is associated with many of the same negative side effects as aspartame—seizures, headaches, weight gain, respiratory problems, and heart palpitations. Artificial sweeteners such as saccharin, Splenda, and aspartame, have been shown to interfere with intestinal microflora and contribute to obesity and diabetes. Studies have shown that these low-to-no calorie sweeteners can wipe out beneficial gut bacteria by up to 50%!
The intestinal microflora (bacteria) in your gut is an integral part of your immune system and absolutely crucial to your physical and mental health.
According to a 2014 study published in the journal Nature, the artificial sweeteners saccharin, aspartame, and sucralose reduced function in pathways responsible for transporting glucose (sugar) in your body. These sweeteners triggered gut dysbiosis, which is a microbial imbalance in the gut where bad bacteria far outnumber good bacteria. Gut dysbiosis has been implicated in health problems such as inflammatory bowel disease, chronic fatigue syndrome, obesity, cancer, and colitis. The study also revealed that these artificial sweeteners caused glucose intolerance in otherwise healthy individuals. Glucose intolerance is the primary precursor to type 2 diabetes and is a driving factor in weight gain and obesity. If your body is unable to process insulin and sugar effectively, then excess sugar becomes trapped in your fat cells…quite the opposite effect as that touted by the marketing message of diet sodas, don’t you think?
Pepsi’s Artificial Sweetener #2
In addition to sucralose, the “new and improved” Diet Pepsi will still contain acesulfame potassium (ace-K), which is associated with kidney problems. Ace-K contains methylene chloride, a known carcinogen. Side effects include nausea, and kidney, liver, and vision problems. Of all the artificial sweeteners, it’s the least studied.
Healthy alternatives to diet soda include carbonated water that has been sweetened with organic strawberries or lemon slices…iced green tea…fresh squeezed vegetable and fruit juices—even iced coffee when consumed in moderation is a better alternative to diet sodas laden with artificial sweeteners! The verdict? Pass on the Pepsi!