Dr. Mehmet Oz said diet sodas can cause heart attacks, hamper weight loss, slow metabolism, and give you a thick waist on the Aug. 6 episode of the Dr. Oz Show.
Dr. Oz said the dangerous combination of caramel coloring and artificial sweeteners in diet sodas increase the risk of high blood pressure, high blood sugar, and excess belly fat — all of which contribute to heart attacks.
A recent study by the University of Iowa Women showed that women who drink two or more diet sodas a day are 30 percent more likely to suffer a heart attack than non-drinkers.
These findings come shortly after new research indicated that people who drink diet sodas actually gain weight over time and have bigger waists than non-drinkers. Ironically, many diet soda drinkers are actually trying to lose weight (or at least not gain any).
Diet Soda Drinkers Have Significantly Bigger Waists
According to a 10-year study conducted by the University of Texas, people who drank just one diet soda a day had a 70 percent greater increase in waist circumference compared with non-drinkers. And people who drank two or more diet sodas a day experienced a shocking 500 percent spike in waist size.
When you consume an artificially sweetened diet soda, taste receptors in your esophagus and stomach get stimulated, and your pancreas release insulin in anticipation of receiving something sweet. Insulin signals your body to store fat.
Meanwhile, your brain's satiety center waits for cues to determine whether you've received calories. But since diet sodas have no calories, your brain gets confused because it has been tricked by the artificial sweeteners. Dr. Oz said these confusing signals trigger sugar cravings, increase your appetite, destroy your metabolism, and cause weight gain.
"They trick your metabolism into thinking sugar is on its way," said obesity expert Dr. Mark Hyman, author of the 10-Day Detox Diet. "This causes your body to pump out insulin, the fat storage hormone, which lays down more belly fat. It also confuses and slows your metabolism down, so you burn fewer calories every day."
Diet Sodas Linked to Diabetes and Strokes
What's more, because the artificial sweeteners in diet sodas are over 100 times sweeter than real sugar, your taste buds gradually become desensitized, making you crave even more sugar.
Dr. Oz said the carbonation in diet soda magnifies the weight-gaining impact of diet sodas and disrupts your hunger signals. "The bubbles in diet soda confuse your brain and create an addictive response," he said.
Research has shown that diet sodas can also cause digestive issues such as bloating, cramps and diarrhea, and increase your risk of metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome describes a group of risk factors that occur together and increase the risk of heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes.
In addition to causing unsightly belly fat, diet sodas ruin your teeth. This is because the carbonated water and citric acid in diet sodas cause horrific tooth decay by eroding tooth enamel. And for years, artificial sweeteners have been linked to an increased risk of many different types of cancer.
Dr. Oz suggested eliminating or cutting back on diet sodas and opting for water (which is the healthiest drink) or drinking unsweetened green tea.