Traditional diet soda is made with the artificial sweetener aspartame, which replaces the dense caloric nature of sugar used in regular soda beverages. The safety of the artificial sweetener has caused significant controversy throughout the past decades, beginning with its widespread usage in the American food supply in 1981. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration reports that an intake of 50 mg of the chemical per 2.2 lbs. of body weight is safe for general health, a statistic that allows for average Americans to consume modest amounts of diet soda without fear of complications. However, the chemical composition and metabolic action of aspartame is diverse and not well-understood. This fact, coupled with numerous complaints of joint pain associated with its use, has led many consumers and medical practitioners to be wary of its use.
Conversion to Formaldehyde
Aspartame is converted to the toxic substance formaldehyde, especially at higher temperatures. Drinking large amounts of diet soda sweetened with aspartame can cause levels of the chemical to rise within the human body. The University of California at San Diego reports that an increased level of formaldehyde has the potential to cause serious side effects, including joint pain, among others. While it takes a considerable daily intake of diet soda to affect serious side effects in the human system, the accumulation of formaldehyde in susceptible individuals is of concern.
Food Additives and Chronic Disease
Chronic joint pain is one of many debilitating conditions, such as migraines and fibromyalgia, which may be caused or at least irritated by food additives such as aspartame. While the FDA and other regulatory agencies have not officially provided a statement dealing with the widespread suspicion, there is growing sentiment among medical professionals, both orthodox and holistic, that the additives have a large role to play in the etiology and severity of such disorders.
Acidity and Joint Pain
Acidic pH in the human body system appears to be a risk factor for arthritis-induced joint pain. Regular soda prepared with ordinary sugar is already highly acidic. When diet soda prepared with aspartame is ingested, the acidity range is even higher. Signs of high acidity include symptoms such as shortness of breath, fatigue and joint pain.
Licensed holistic practitioners, such as Dr. H.J. Roberts, recommend that persons complaining of debilitating joint pain and soft tissue pain abstain from eating or drinking substances that are made with aspartame. In many cases, this act can mitigate the intensity of pain and duration of flare-ups.
- Mission Possible World Health International; Professional Opinion Concerning the Role of Products Containing Aspartame in Arthritis and Fibromyalgia; H J. Roberts; 2008
- University of California, San Diego: Acid and Alkaline Foods
- American College of Healthcare Sciences; News and Events – Food Additives; Pamela Heyen