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Fizzy Drinks – Why Taking away the sugar isn’t enough.

The Sweet (or not so sweet) Truth

You love soft drink, but know that sugar intake is risky. Sweet treats contribute to weight gain, inflammation and increase risk of chronic illnesses such as Diabetes. So you switch to diet soft drink. Is this a safe change? You’ve heard rumours about fake sugars. Are they substantiated or fake press?

Unfortunately the rumours are true.

Artificial sugars that are from chemical sources demonstrate potential neurotoxic and hepatotoxic health risks and this stems from a long history of research. A 2017 study demonstrated the breadth of toxicity of sugar substitute aspartame and soft drink consumption on brain function; while a 2019 paper reported that even small doses of aspartame and high doses of sucralose (aka Splenda) could result in liver damage.

How did these conclusions come about? Research on artificial sugars and soft drink consumption showed activation of brain cell death, energy dysfunction, electrolyte disruption, deterioration of liver cells and altered thyroid hormones. The common denominator in all of the above: Oxidative stress. As well liver and brain complications, where oxidative stress is indicated, so is accelerated ageing. All the goji berries in the world can’t be guaranteed to counteract such targeted damage.

One of the most alarming conclusions.

High risk groups have a greater probability of being harmed by the “sugar to aspartame switch”. Due to the evident liver complications from these sweeteners, researchers in a 2019 study had this to say:

“It is recommended that the facts about

harmful effects of these artificial sweeteners should be

brought to the notice of medical personnel as well as

highlighted to the general population, specially the

diabetics and the obese.” (Haq, Tafweez et al, 2019, p. 850).


I read a lot of research articles where conclusions found in clinical trials are somewhat ambiguous. Contrary to this, the article quoted above had one of the most direct answers I have seen in the form of a health warning.

For the Fizz of it

I hate to burst bubbles (no pun intended!), but sugar (fake or otherwise) isn’t the only problem for persistent soft drink consumers. Phosphorus added to soft drinks for extra fizz could provide additional health risks.

Phosphorus is an essential mineral for bone health. It is found naturally in animal and plant sources, thus further supplementation is not usually required. Calcium and Vitamin D are also monumentally important, with their role in maintaining healthy bones being well known. When faced with the excess Phosphorus from fizzy drinks, these nutrients are under threat and their usual functions cannot be facilitated. If one’s diet is low in Calcium, it makes matters worse. Minerals like to play a tricky game of balancing wars when faced with opposing nutritional elements, creating periodic table chaos in the body. What does this mean for long term health? Bone density may be affected and risk of Osteoporosis goes through the roof.

To help you make a change

Sweeteners to avoid:

950, 951 – (Aspartame), 952, 954, 955 (Sucralose), 961, 962

Sweeteners from natural sources that are safe:

960 (Stevia), 967 (Xylitol), 968 (Erythritol)

Still need a fizzy drink? Try these: Naked Life

Where? Dan Murphys. Contains: Erythritol, Monk fruit extract & Stevia. No phosphoric acid.


Where? Coles and Woolies. Contains: Erythritol & Stevia

These are more expensive choices than your typical soft drink, but due to the health impacts I have discussed, they are a no-brainer.

Evidence used:

Abhilash, M., Sauganth, P., Varghese M. & Nair, R. H. (2013) Long term consumption of aspartame and brain antioxidant defence status. Drug Chem Toxicol 36:135–140. doi:10.3109/01480545.2012.658403

Calvo, M. S., Tucker, Katherine, L. (2013). Is phosphorus intake that exceeds dietary requirements a risk factor in bone health? N.Y. Acad. Sci. 1301, 29-35. doi: 10.1111/nyas.12300

Haq, N., Tafweez, R., Saqib, S., Bokhari, Z. H., Ali, Irfan & Syami, A. F. (2019). Aspartame and Sucralose-induced Fatty Changes in Rat Liver. Journal of the College of Physicians and Surgeons, 29(9), 848-851. doi: 10.29271/jcpsp.2019.09.848

Lebda, M. A., Sadek, K. M. & El-Sayed, Y. S. (2017). Aspartame and Soft Drink-Mediated Neurotoxicity in Rats: Implication of Oxidative Stress, Apoptotic Signalling Pathways, Electrolytes and Hormonal Levels. Metabolic Brain Disease, 32, 1639-1647. doi:10.1007/s11011-017-0052-y

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