Lupus & Diet Soda

The Connection Between Lupus and Diet Soda

As you may know, diet soda contains no sugar. It does, however, contain artificial sweeteners. This gives it that ‘sweet kick’ that people demand from their soda. While several different sweeteners are found in diet sodas, the most common is aspartame. You may also find it referred to as NutraSweet. This is its brand name. If you live in Europe, it will be given the name E951 on the product label.

It is believed that there is a connection between the onset of Lupus, at least as a flare-up, and the consumption of aspartame. In fact, this additive has been linked to several different conditions including multiple sclerosis and some forms of cancer.

The first time we ever really knew that there may be a connection between Lupus and aspartame was back in 1995. This was when the Food and Drug Administration in America was forced to release a list of reported symptoms from the consumption of aspartame. Obviously, not all the symptoms could be linked directly to the consumption of diet soft drinks, however most were. Many of these people reported that their symptoms ceased as soon as they stopped drinking diet soft drinks. This list had over 10,000 complaints on it. There were 92 reported symptoms including those associated with Lupus.

What is Aspartame?

This artificial sweetener was discovered over 50 years now. It is FDA approved and you can find it in many different food products. It is most commonly found in ‘diet’ food products. This is because it is believed to be 200 times sweeter than sugar. Despite this, it contains less than 4 calories.

One component found in the sweetener is Aspartic Acid. This forms 30% of it. Several clinical trials have found that Aspartic Acid is bad for your health, although it is a product which continues to be used. While there are no known ‘Lupus-like’ symptoms from the consumption of Aspartic Acid, it is known that this chemical can result in the death of brain cells.

The second component, one which forms over 50% of the sweetener, is Phenylalanine. This is a compound which is found in your body anyway. While your body needs it, you get It from various dairy products and nuts. However, the consumption of too much Phenylalanine is said to be bad.

Finally, methanol, which is an alcohol, forms 10% of the sweetener (the final 10% is formed of a variety of different compounds).

Combined, these ingredients are believed to be linked to Lupus flare-ups in some individuals. As mentioned previously, there is also some indication that they can cause other conditions in addition to causing flare-ups. This includes:

  • Fibromyalgia
  • Numbness in legs
  • Depression
  • Severe anxiety
  • Slurred speech
  • Blurred vision
  • Memory loss
  • Headaches
  • Cancer

In fact, the FDA does not refute the claim that aspartame can cause some of the symptoms highlighted above. However, they do state that aspartame should be consumed in smaller doses to avoid these symptoms. However, if we are consuming the compound daily and multiple times, it would be going well over the recommended daily limit for the compound.

Research into the link between Lupus and Diet Soda

It is worth noting that while several studies have been carried out on the link between Aspartame and Lupus, none of them have been conclusive in what they have found. However, there is some indication that certain individuals may suffer from Lupus symptoms because of the consumption of aspartame.

As you likely know, Lupus is an autoimmune condition. It is caused by a overactive immune system which may cause the immune system to start attacking healthy tissue. This is what causes Lupus flare-ups, some of which can be fatal if not treated quickly. Aspartame is not a natural product. It contains compounds which do not belong in the human body. Because of this, your immune system will see those compounds as a threat to your wellbeing. This causes the immune system to ‘flare up’. When your immune system has been activated like this, it is more likely to cause Lupus flare-ups in your body.

One of the main reasons as to why studies have been inconclusive on the impact of aspartame on Lupus sufferers is down to the fact that the flare-ups do not occur in everybody. Some Lupus sufferers can handle the aspartame a bit easier, which means they never even link their symptoms to the consumption of the sweetener. Other people suffer flare-ups every single time that they consume it making it necessary to completely cut it out of their life.

Should you avoid diet soda?

Based on the information provided, diet soda seems to cause more harm than good and it certainly not beneficial. While there are few studies which show the connection between diet soda and Lupus conclusively, there have been studies, many of which have been carried out by the FDA, which show that it is not a healthy compound to consume. It isn’t really a diet product. In fact, you would probably be best consuming sugar as at least that is a natural product (although, it should be taken in moderation)

If you consume diet soda regularly, or any product which contains aspartame, and you suffer from Lupus symptoms, then you may want to cut down on the consumption of diet soda or cut it out completely. You may be one of the thousands of people around America who discovered that cutting out the compound eliminated most of their Lupus flare-ups. Obviously, it is not going to completely cure your Lupus. However, it may be able to ‘hold it back’ to the point where it has little to no impact on your daily life.

Remember, you should always be looking for food and drink products which cause flare-ups in your body. They will be different for all Lupus sufferers.