Aerated drinks have almost become a constant in most Indian households. It is a convenient refreshment when the urge for a thirst quencher strikes. But what most people fail to see that hidden under the sweet taste are oodles of artificial sweeteners that are immensely harmful for health. Doctors say that consumption of artificially sweetened sodas and aerated drinks are leading to infertility in humans because of the presence of an artificial sweetener, aspartame, which can disrupt the endocrine system leading to hormonal imbalance and infertility issues in women.
"Almost all of the soft drinks and sodas contain aspartame which is linked to many health problems including infertility, malformations and miscarriages," said Arvind Vaid, an IVF expert at city-based Indira IVF. "Excess consumption leads to hormonal imbalance and fluctuation that causes ovulatory disorders and even worsens PMS (Premenstrual symptoms)," he added.
The Dark Side of Aspartame
Aspartame contains two amino acids called phenylalanine and aspartic acids, which are considered to be harmless when eaten in combination with other amino acids. However, experts say when they are taken unaccompanied, it stimulates the generation of free radicals which leads to cell death.
"Sperm and ovum, being cells, have 90 per cent chances of dying when aspartame is consumed in excess. It is advised by many doctors and experts to avoid anything that helps in the formation of free radicals in the body for the significance of reproductive health," said Vaid.
Rachna Jaiswar, associated with Gynaecology Department of Safdarjung Hospital, said consumption of sugary aerated drinks restrains the immune system causing weight gain and hormonal imbalance, which strongly contributes to fertility issues. "Soda is a highly acidic beverage, which alters the pH level of the body with excess consumption," said Jaiswar.
Talking about the high consumption of aerated drinks and sodas by men, Jaishwar said due to lack of nutrients in a high pH atmosphere, sperm cells either get harmed leading to its abnormal shape and poor quality or eventually die.
"Moreover Bisphenol-A (BPA), a chemical that reduces the male semen quality, is found in the lining of plastic bottles and most canned goods. Men who consume soft drinks more often are at 4 times the risk of lowering their sperm count, motility and concentration," said Jaiswar.
Doctors also said most of the soft drinks are caffeinated and contain fructose, which are associated with a higher risk of ovulatory disorders and infertility among women.
"Caffeine is known to be a vasoconstrictor that reduces uterine blood flow thereby reducing menstrual bleeding and shortening the duration of menses. Combination of caffeine, aspartame and fructose affects the sex hormones and the hormone receptors, even leading to infertility," said Radhika Vajpayee, IVF expert based in Lucknow.
Inputs from IANS