Why diet cola could be making you FATTER and WRINKLIER: Low-calorie drink could be to blame for spare tyre and withered skinDiet colas have long been regarded as the dieter's friend - but one-calorie fizzy drinks may actually be the reason you can't shift that stubborn spare tyre.
Some health experts now believe the chemicals in the drink could actually be causing your body to lay down fat deposits around your middle - dubbed 'diet cola belly' - reports Get The Gloss.
And that's not all: some experts also believe diet cola’s mix of carbonated water, colourings and sweeteners such as aspartame and acesulfame K could also speed up the ageing process, and have disastrous health consequences.
Hoards of nutritionists and scientists now claim diet cola’s image as a 'healthy' alternative to the nine-teaspoons-of sugar, regular variety of the fizzy drink is wholly misplaced.
The fructose, artificial sweeteners, and sugar alcohols (another type of low-calorie sweetener) present in diet colas can all interfere with natural gut bacteria, according to Amanda Payne of Switzerland’s Institute of Food, Nutrition and Health which published a paper in the journal Obesity Reviews.
This messes up your metabolism and disrupts the body’s way of signaling to you that you’re full and satisfied.
As a consequence, the body pumps out insulin, the hormone that controls sugar levels and fat storage, so that you lay down what Toribio-Mateas calls 'diet cola belly in the form of more fat around the midriff' - just where you wanted to shed fat.
In addition to this: 'The fake sugars in the drink are hundreds of times sweeter than sugar and trick your brain into thinking real sugar is on the way,' says Toribio-Mateas. 'When the calories don’t arrive, it triggers a cascading effect that interferes with hunger signals, blood sugar levels and satiety.'
Amanda Griggs, director of health and nutrition at the Balance Clinic in London, says: 'phosphoric acid, the ingredient that gives diet cola its appealing tangy taste and the tingle you get when it is swallowed, can cause a host of problems'.
According to one, study, published in a 2010 issue of the FASEB Journal, it can even accelerate the ageing process.
It found that the excessive phosphate levels found in sodas caused lab rats to die a full five weeks earlier than the rats whose diets had more normal phosphate levels.
Phosphoric acid has also been linked to lower bone density in some studies, including a discussion in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
In experiments at Harvard University, the mineral was found to make skin and muscles wither and to damage the heart and kidneys over time.
However, according to the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), a consumer watchdog group not affiliated with the food industry, only a small fraction of the phosphate in diets comes from additives in soft drinks. Most comes from meat and dairy products.
Sian Porter, spokesperson for the British Dietetic Association says diet colas may lack sugar, but the acidic nature of artificially sweetened fizzy varieties means they still attack tooth enamel.
'It’s not just the sugary drinks that are causing teeth problems,' says Porter. 'Sugar raises the risk of decay, but diet drinks are equally acidic and can cause erosion in the same way.'
It has also been shown to raise the risk of type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure by some researchers. To add to the dire news for diet cola fans, results of a ten-year study found a link with cardiovascular disease among those who drank it every day; cola drinkers were found to be 43 per cent more likely to suffer a stroke or heart attack during a ten-year period than those who abstained.
Other studies have shown that the phosphorus released from phosphoric acid in just two fizzy drinks a week can cause calcium to be leached from bones, raising the risk of osteoporosis.
Cola (both diet and regular varieties) seems particularly damaging to the skeleton. Typically, a can of diet cola contains 44-62mg of phosphoric acid - more than in many other soft drinks - and researchers at Tufts University in Boston showed that women who regularly drank three or more cans a day had four per cent lower bone mineral density in their hips compared to those who preferred other soft drinks.