The best thing you can do for your health and your weight may be giving up soda, but don’t rely on switching to artificially sweetened drinks. Sugar alternatives such as aspartame, saccharin, sucralose deliver sugar’s sweetness without calories, but they drag along problems as well. A recent study found that sugar stand-ins can contribute to higher blood glucose levels. The research also showed that fake sweeteners aren’t digested and go directly to the intestines, where they make an impact on the millions of invisible bacteria that live in our gut.

Life-changing things can happen when you cut out sodas and artificially–sweetened drinks. Here are six:


You’ll look younger longer.

Do you care about the length of your telomeres? You should. Sugar-sweetened sodas can age your cells as much as smoking. A recent study says drinking one 12-ounce can each day is associated with shortening telomere buffers at the end of your chromosomes. Those little darlings protect your genes, and shortening them is related to aging.

You’ll get sick less often

Your risk of diabetes goes up 18 percent for every 5 percent of calories you consume from sweeteners. Drink sodas containing corn-based sweeteners, such as Coke, and after only two weeks you risk increasing “bad” LDL cholesterol and heart disease. Researchers say artificial sweeteners may affect our healthy gut bacteria. Those babies impact how our immune system fights infection.

You’ll lose more weight

Diet drinks make your gut release insulin, which is the major fat-storage hormone that tells your body to hold on to extra fat. Nutritionists say that people who drink two or more diet sodas a day over a decade will see increases in waist size that are four times more than abstainers.

You won’t be as hungry

Artificial sweeteners give some people a sense of craving more food, not less, by creating a lack of satisfaction. Artificial sweeteners range from 400 to 8,000 times sweeter than sugar, and they trick the body’s expectations. Consuming food or drink that is exceedingly sweet tells the body that a large load of calories is on the way.

You’ll won’t feel as tired

The caffeine in soda causes very big highs and lows, and fatigue and exhaustion follow drinking too much of the stuff. Caffeine can cause dehydration as well as overstimulate your nervous system.

You’ll protect your bones

The delicious caramel color in soda harbors artificially created phosphorus. Natural phosphorus found in beans and grains is fine; fake phosphorus is hyper-absorbable and won’t leave your body. It can cause calcium to leach out of bones because your body doesn’t have a choice about excreting it or absorbing it.