Are you addicted to diet soda? - AmericaNowNews.com

Are you addicted to diet soda?

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Elton John, Victoria Beckham and even Former President Bill Clinton have admitted they are addicted to diet soda.

Millions of gallons of soda are sold every year -- proof Americans have a constant craving for a fizzy drink fix.

Physicians, however, warn there could be serious long-term health effects from drinking one-too-many cans.

True, your can of diet soda doesn't have quite the addictive reputation of say a heavy-duty drug or alcohol, but what's in your beverage, and how much of it you drink each day, can create a mind and body craving that comes with consequence.

Brad Arrington drinks about 16 cans per day.

"I think it's the taste," Arrington said. "There's something about it, I just have to have more."

It's difficult to say whether it's the artificial sweeteners, the caffeine, or any other ingredient that creates the feeling of dependency on diet soda.

Dr. Mark Collins of the Cotswold Medical Clinic Arboretum in Charlotte, NC, says for most people it's the caffeine buzz that keeps them coming back.

"That can definitely have addictive potential," Collins said. "When you stop drinking, you can have headaches, withdrawal symptoms."

Without at least a 12-pack a day, Arrington can't get through his day.

"I just get cranky and grouchy without it," Arrington admitted.

Some hard-core diet soda drinkers prefer drinking caffeine-free sodas.

In those case, the addiction is likely psychological because drinking it is associated with a regular part of their daily routine similar to driving to work or sitting at their desk.

In other cases, psychological addition occurs when one compulsive behavior is traded for another which is known as addiction swapping.

Instead of taking a puff on a cigarette, that person goes for a pour and a new habit is formed.

Caffeine and mind games aside, there could be yet another force behind the fizzy drink dependency and that's artificial sweeteners.

Research studies point to, but have not proven yet, that because artificial sweeteners put a sugary taste on the tongue, the brain and body are readied for a real sugar rush.

When it doesn't come, you crave more diet cola in hopes of satisfying the craving.

Wherever the addiction lies, Collins says drinking more than three or four cans per day could indicate someone has a problem.

Long-term diet soda drinking has been linked to low bone mineral density in women, Type 2 diabetes, and even a higher risk of heart problems.

The good news is, you don't have to go 'cold-turkey' to get a grip on your soda addiction.

Doctors recommend cutting back by a can or two a day to allow your body adjust to less caffeine, less artificial sweeter, and, hopefully, increase your intake of water.

This should help you kick the diet drink craving.

Additional Information: 

  • Trading one addiction or compulsive behavior for another -- a phenomenon known as addiction swapping -- is a well-known concept in addiction medicine. Many people who drink diet soda are trying to lose (or keep off) weight by eating healthier, and they may turn to the sweetness of diet soda for comfort as they scale back on sugar, carbohydrates, and other satisfying foods -- much like a heroin addict who steps down to Oxycontin. (http://www.cnn.com/2011/HEALTH/03/01/diet.soda.health/index.html)
  • In a 2008 study, for instance, women who drank water that was alternately sweetened with sugar and Splenda couldn't tell the difference -- but their brains could. Functional MRI (fMRI) brain scans revealed that even though both drinks lit up the brain's reward system, the sugar did so more completely. The body begins to crave it. (http://www.cnn.com/2011/HEALTH/03/01/diet.soda.health/index.html)
  • Although it's difficult to pinpoint (http://www.cnn.com/2011/HEALTH/03/01/diet.soda.health/index.html)
  • Drinking too much diet soda might be risky in the long run. In recent years, habitual diet-soda consumption has been linked to an increased risk of low bone mineral density in women, type 2 diabetes, and stroke. What's more, a growing body of research suggests that excessive diet soda intake may actually encourage weight gain. (http://www.cnn.com/2011/HEALTH/03/01/diet.soda.health/index.html)
  • A study in the Journal of General Internal Medicine shows that drinking diet soda every day is linked with a higher risk of stroke and heart attack. (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/02/01/diet-soda-stroke-heart-attack_n_1247195.html)
  • Researchers from the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine and the Columbia University Medical Center examined the soda-drinking habits of 2,564 people who participated in the Northern Manhattan Study over a 10-year period. The researchers found that people who reported drinking diet soda on a daily basis had a 43 percent higher risk of having a vascular event than people who didn't drink any soda, even when accounting for conditions like high blood pressure and diabetes. However, researchers did find that people who tended to drink diet soda more occasionally -- between six a week and once a month -- and people who drank regular soda didn't have the increased risk of a vascular event. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/02/01/diet-soda-stroke-heart-attack_n_1247195.html

Copyright 2012 America Now. All rights reserved.

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