Why Diet Sodas Don’t Belong on the Paleo Diet

Our ancient ancestors didn't pop into McDonald's for a daily Happy Meal, and they didn't guzzle down Diet Coke and other aspartame-sweetened sugar-free soft drinks every day, either. While you have probably already heard a great deal about the dangers of Nutra-Sweet and similar no- or low-calorie sweeteners, the often overlooked problem with diet drinks is the fact that they are stabilized with phosphoric acid.

Diet SodaPhosphoric acid is a wonderfully useful chemical. It is a superior rust remover. It's great for etching teeth to make crowns stick better when they are glued in place.

Phosphoric acid is essential for the manufacture of industrial acids such as hydrofluoric acid, the acid that is so strong it melts glass, and it's good for removing mortar off bricks and dissolving hard water stains. Added to diet sodas, it imparts a tangy taste that masks the metallic aftertaste of artificial sweeteners.

So what's not to love about phosphoric acid, other than that can be used to melt glass part? If you have insulin resistance (and if you are trying to lose weight, chances are that you do), or if you already have type 2 diabetes, phosphoric acid interferes with the ability of the parathyroid gland to generate the hormone needed to regulate flows of calcium. When there is high consumption of phosphoric acid, there is a high flow of calcium into the “cholesterol eating” white blood cells that line the arteries. Soft cholesterol hardens into plaques in the arteries, and at the same time, the bones don't get the cholesterol they need.

It's simply best not to drink any kind of soft drink, diet or otherwise, that is flavored with phosphoric acid. But that doesn't mean you can't have any kind of soft drink at all. You just need to make your own.

Combine selzter water–which is a great source of magnesium, which your body also needs for healthy bones–with Da Vinci syrups, preferably the sugar-free variety. Of course, if you have never tried seltzer water before, buy a bottle before you buy a case. For many people, it is an acquired taste.

About Andy Williams

Andy Williams has a Ph.D. in biology and a strong interest in health and nutrition. The Paleo Gut web site was created to explore the health benefits of the Paleo diet and see how it is changing lives. Also, get our free daily Paleo Gut newspaper delivered to your inbox. Please feel free to contact me and let me know about your Paleo experiences or favorite recipes.

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