The Possible Link Between Diet Soda and Rheumatoid Arthritis

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Healthy living entails making better diet and lifestyle choices, including reducing sugar intake. Besides saving your teeth from the dreaded tooth decay, consuming less sugar can help you lose weight and reduce your risk of heart disease and diabetes.

Some people switch to cracking a can of diet soda as an “alternative.” After all, you can’t go wrong with a bottle of diet soda, can you?

Diet soda is the regular soda’s artificially sweetened, zero-calorie version. It is a mixture of carbonated water, artificial or natural sweeteners, colors, flavors, and other food additives, such as aspartame.

Aspartame is a common artificial sweetener in carbonated beverages to minimize sugar intake while providing sweet satisfaction.

So if you drink diet soda, will it increase your risk of having joint pains and inflammation? This article will answer the possible link between aspartame and rheumatoid arthritis.


Aspartame and Rheumatoid Arthritis

The American Food and Drug Administration (FDA) first approved aspartame in 1983 for enhancing carbonated drinks. The University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) stated that the FDA’s set acceptable daily aspartame intake is 50 milligrams per kilogram of your weight. For instance, your daily intake limit must be 3,409 milligrams if you weigh 150 pounds. Referencing the UAB, a 12-ounce can of diet soda with aspartame contains approximately 200 mg.

Aspartame is a chemical compound composed of phenylalanine, aspartic acid, and methanol. One study was conducted on rats consuming aspartame to determine its effects on oxidative stress. Results showed that the methanol from aspartame breakdown could trigger oxidative stress.

Oxidative stress is an imbalance between the production of the cells’ and tissues’ antioxidative systems and free radicals. Excessive production can lead to cellular dysfunction, genetic mutations, and inflammation.

Idaho Falls-based dietician Adrienne Dowd says that several studies suggest that aspartame can provoke an oxidative reaction in the body, leading to inflammation such as rheumatoid arthritis.


Sensitivity to Aspartame

It’s unclear why some people have higher aspartame sensitivity than others. The Arthritis Foundation found studies of aspartame’s mixed effects. However, if your body is sensitive to aspartame and develops rheumatoid arthritis, it could be that your immune system is responding and attacking the substance as a foreign body.

On the other hand, a study compared 48 people who experienced aspartame sensitivity with 48 more people who didn’t feel aspartame sensitivity. Each participant randomly received a sugary and an aspartame-free snack bar at least seven days apart. The results reported that regardless of the participants’ sensitivity, they had no adverse effects from the sugary snack bar.


The Connection Between Sodas and Bone Health

Besides aspartame, experts also raised concerns about soda’s adverse effects on bone health. For one, its phosphorus content can negatively affect calcium metabolism. While the International Osteoporosis Foundation states that the evidence doesn’t uphold this hypothesis, the caffeine content may deplete your body’s stored calcium.

Another concern was if soda also affected hip fractures. A major study in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in September 2014 looked into this issue.

The study’s participants were nearly 74,000 postmenopausal women they tracked for up to 30 years. Researchers identified how much and what soda they regularly drank (regular, diet, caffeinated, or decaf). Results reported that their risk for hip fracture increased with their higher soda consumption.

While the exact reason why aspartame in soda affects bone density and increases the risk of rheumatoid arthritis is unknown, excessive soda consumption can reduce milk intake, leading to lower trace element consumption, such as calcium and magnesium.

The bottom line is you can reduce your risk of brittle bones and rheumatoid arthritis by lowering your aspartame intake. You must also cut off your sugar intake and see your doctor if you have adverse reactions.


Consult Arthritis Specialists Near You

Lowering aspartame intake can reduce your risk of chronic diseases and rheumatoid arthritis. While there are no apparent reasons it can directly affect bone health, it’s still best to cut your sugar intake as soon as possible, including diet soda.

At the Center for Arthritis & Osteoporosis, Dr. Adenwalla and her team of arthritis specialists in New Jersey adopt first-class treatment procedures and diagnostic modalities. We work hard to support our patients on their road to recovery. Contact us now to request an appointment.

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