By late this summer, aspartame will officially be removed from two of the brand’s most popular products: Diet Pepsi and Wild Cherry Diet Pepsi. PepsiCo’s decision to drop the chemical from their recipes is in response to ongoing customer worries about the safety of the sweetener.
And the concerns are completely warranted. Recent studies have found that when aspartame breaks down, it forms formaldehyde, a known cancer-causing chemical, while other pools of research have shown that drinking just two diet sodas a day can lead to a 500 percent increase in waist circumference and an increased risk of diabetes. Aspartame has also been linked to headaches, nausea and abdominal pain.
In lieu of aspartame, the new Pepsi products will be sweetened with a mix of sucralose (Splenda) and acesulfame potassium (acesulfame K), which begs the question: Are these artificial sweeteners really any safer? Maybe slightly, but not enough to reclassify the drink out of the “junk food” category. New animal studies show that when sucralose is metabolized it can reduce good gut bacteria, which can lead to weight gain and obesity. The sugar substitute also limits the absorption of cancer and heart disease drugs, making them less effective. Not to mention, all artificial sweeteners are much sweeter than table sugar, which can dull the taste buds, upping the odds diet soda drinkers will seek out sweeter, unhealthy foods, which can lead to weight gain. The caramel coloring found in these beverages—no matter what they are sweetened with—has also been proven to cause cancer in animals and is a possible carcinogen for humans, too.
So while Pepsi’s intentions may have been pure, their new sodas are still questionable for overall health or weight loss. If you’re bored with plain ol’ H20, try whipping up one of these Eat This, Not That!-approved healthy homemade sodas instead. None of them have any scary chemicals, and they can help you slowly but surely ease off of your soda habit for good!