There are plenty of things that doctors warn pregnant mothers against consuming once they discover they’re “with child”: raw sushi, soft cheese, deli meats, alcohol.
But when I was pregnant with my first child, there was one item on the prohibited list that surprised me.
Diet soft drinks.
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“They’re a total no-go,” my mother-earth friends warned me, “because they contain aspartame, which has been linked to birth defects.”
Birth defects! Hold the phone.
As it turns out, there are other risks of diet drinks too. Risks like “dying young”.
A new study has revealed that drinking two cans of any artificially sweetened drink each day will significantly increase the risk of stroke and heart disease.
In fact, your risk jumps up by almost a third, according to the American Heart Association and American Stroke Association, and the risk of early death is 16 per cent higher for those who consume diet drinks, compared to those who don’t.
It’s enough to make you give up the syrupy sweet concoction for good – something that Coca Cola and its compadres clearly want to avoid!
For what it’s worth, though, the news isn’t all bad.
Yes, consuming diet soft drinks every day could make you “die young”.
But aspartame hasn’t been proven (yet!) to be the ghastly death trap ingredient for pregnant women that its reputation proclaims it to be.
There was a study performed over 15 years ago that “showed that aspartame causes birth defects”, confirms obstetrician Dr David Elmer from Massachusetts.
“But if you really flesh out what that study did, it looked at a breed of rat that’s prone to birth defects, and the rats were fed a dose of aspartame that you would reach if you had 70 diet sodas per day. As long as you don’t drink 70 diet sodas – and you’re not a rat – you don’t have to really worry about aspartame.”
Meanwhile, the American Cancer Council says reputable studies “have not found a link” between aspartame and cancer.
So for diet soft drink fans, there’s a little respite sprinkled amongst the negative truth bombs. But the bottom line is: this stuff ain’t good for you. Treat it like a “sometimes treat” and you should be okay, but make it part of your daily life, and you’re punishing your insides on the daily.