Diet Pepsi sales have been slumping for quite some time, and with the ongoing health awareness movement causing major pain for other purveyors of unhealthy foods and drinks, Pepsi finally got the memo and has made a long-awaited change.
The multi-billion dollar soda company announced last year that they’re ditching aspartame, the oft-used but increasingly unpopular sweetener that’s been linked to serious health problems.
After the change, Diet Pepsi products say “Now Aspartame Free” on the can, and the product has had its ingredients altered significantly.
Consumers have turned their back on diet soda in large part because of health concerns, so how they should feel about the new product?
Unfortunately, Pepsi’s chosen replacements for the much-maligned sweetener don’t appear to be much better at all: the new ingredients replacing aspartame have also been linked to cancer and other health problems, although no one seems to realize it.
New Aspartame Replacement — Cuddly Name, Harmful to Your Health
What if aspartame had a less ominous-sounding name, something dreamed up by marketing wizards that was designed to sound safe and harmless?
That’s exactly what the popular artificial sweetener Splenda has going for it, but many people still don’t know the harmful side effects it’s been linked to. Splenda is now being added to Diet Pepsi (along with a second harmful chemical we’ll get to later), but it may not be much better for your health than aspartame after all.
While it was once marketed as a natural form of sugar with no calories, Splenda is actually the result of a five-part laboratory process that takes an original sugar molecule and adds three molecules of chlorine to the mix, turning it into something unnatural and foreign to the body, meaning your body has no way of properly metabolizing it.
Splenda also has a habit of staying inside your body, as at least 15% of it is not excreted in a timely manner according to this article from Dr. Joseph Mercola.
So, what exactly could Splenda be doing to your body once it’s inside of it (and once it stays inside of it)? Several red flags have been raised, and calls for more long term studies have been consistent.
In 2013, the Center for Science in the Public Interest, a consumer food safety watchdog group, downgraded Splenda from “safe” to “caution” after an independent (albeit unpublished) study out of Italy found that Splenda caused leukemia in mice.
Side effects reported by people consuming Splenda include gastrointestinal problems, blurred vision, dizziness, weight gain and even seizures.
And another study in 2008 published in the Journal for Toxicology and Environmental Health had several shock findings including that Splenda reduces the amount of beneficial bacteria by as much as 50 percent (hello, weight gain) and can affect a glycoprotein in your body that can have serious health consequences for people taking certain medications for recurring health problems.
One More Harmful Sweetener for Good Measure
Splenda, aka Sucralose, may sound harmless enough in name alone (certainly more pleasant than “aspartame”) but another sweetener being added to Diet Pepsi, Acesulfame potassium, aka Ace-K, does not.
If it sounds like another chemical concoction you probably shouldn’t be putting into your body to you, you’d be 100% correct: Ace-K is actually listed in the “avoid” category by the Center for Science in the Public Interest due to health concerns, the same category as aspartame itself.
“It is poorly tested, but the tests done by the manufacturer in the 1970s suggest that Ace-K, too, might pose a cancer risk,” said Michael Jacobson, the director of the center, to USA Today.
Doesn’t sound like much of an improvement for Diet Pepsi fans after all, does it? Many Diet Pepsi fans have been busy voicing their opinions about how the new product doesn’t quite taste the same, but let’s hope that more attention is paid to the impact it’s having on their health in the near future as well.