When we learned how bad butter was, the food industry responded by giving us margarine, which turned out to be even worse. When dietary guidelines told us to lower our fat intake in hopes that we'd pick up an apple, the food industry gave us fudge drizzled Snackwell cookies. Similar reasoning led to the billion-dollar diet soda industry.
A recent study profiled in my 2-min.video Diet Soda and Preterm Birth entitled "Intake of Artificially Sweetened Soft Drinks and Risk of Preterm Delivery: A Prospective Cohort Study in 59,334 Pregnant Danes" concluded that the daily intake of diet soda may increase the risk of preterm delivery. It probably wasn't the caffeine or preservatives, since sweetened versions of the same sodas didn't result in the same problem. So what is it?
They think it's the toxic aspartame (Nutrasweet) breakdown products either affecting the mother's uterus or directly affecting the baby's developing nervous system. These are the same toxins (wood alcohol and formaldehyde) blamed for headaches associated with aspartame. If you watch my 2-min. video Aspartame-Induced Fibromyalgia, I profile case reports of fibromyalgia chronic pain sufferers cured by removing the artificial sweetener from their diets.
As far as I'm concerned, nontoxic treatments should always get precedence, and you can't get much more nontoxic than removing processed foods from your diet! Alternately, many folks suffering with fibromyalgia symptoms may have been misdiagnosed and are actually suffering from an easily treated vitamin D deficiency. What's the best way to treat that? See Vitamin D Pills vs. Tanning Beds, one of my dozen videos on vitamin D. I've got a bunch of previous videos on sweeteners including Is Nutrasweet Bad For You?
Erythritol is probably A Harmless Artificial Sweetener.
Of course regular soda isn't good for us either. High fructose corn syrup may contain mercury and have adverse effect on our children (Diet & Hyperactivity). See Food Industry Funding Effect for a discussion of how studies funded by soft drink (and dairy) corporations may be biased.
-Michael Greger, M.D.
Image credit: Steve Snodgrass / Flickr