Sodium and artificial sweeteners linked to decline in kidney function


Studies have built data on the links between diet and kidney disease. The researchers used data from the Nurses’ Health Study to correlate intake of sodium and sweetened beverages with kidney function in 3,000 women over an 11-year period.

In the first study, the authors found that higher dietary sodium intake was associated with a greater decline in kidney function over that 11-year time frame.  Excessive sodium intake is already well-known to promote hypertension and consequently heart disease, and now we have one more reason to avoid it.

In a second study, women who drank two or more servings per day of artificially sweetened soda doubled their odds of kidney function decline.

Sure, we save a few calories drinking a diet soda, but does that really help us? Scientific studies have linked artificial sweeteners and/or diet soda to weight gain, diabetes, cancer, and heart disease.

As a society, we disregard these possible dangers to the detriment of our health. We have grown accustomed to the intense saltiness of restaurant meals and processed foods, and the intense artificial sweetness of aspartame, acesulfame K, and sucralose. By cutting these harmful substances out of our diets, we can begin to enjoy the more subtle flavors of natural whole foods, and benefit our kidneys in the process.



American Society of Nephrology (2009, November 2). Diets High In Sodium And Artificially Sweetened Soda Linked To Kidney Function Decline. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 17, 2009, from


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Comments (14) Read through and enter the discussion with the form at the end
Matt Stone - November 18, 2009 12:39 PM

I think it's more likely that salt was framed by this study.

There is an epidemic of high blood glucose levels that leads to kidney problems, obesity, heart disease, yada yada.

It's more likely that high blood glucose levels impairs the kidneys of nearly all the women in the Nurse's Health Study, which damages salt metabolism, and causes salt to further burden the kidneys.

A healthy kidney manages salt with ease. An unhealthy one cannot, but salt is not causal of kidney problems.

You betcha that artificial sweeteners cause higher blood sugars though.

Isothiocyanate - November 18, 2009 1:42 PM

Title:Sodium and artificial sweeteners linked to decline in kidney function

Quote: "In the second study, women who drank two or more servings per day of artificially sweetened soda doubled their odds of kidney function decline."

Comments: I am no proponent of artificial sweeteners and personally avoid them. The info on excess sodium is spot on. However I believe it is wrong to attribute the decline in kidney function to the artificial sweeteners themselves. The likely culprit is the high levels of phosphoric acid and caffeine present in the diet soft drinks, and not the artificial sweeteners.

Artificial sweeteners have their own negative effects that we should avoid for many reasons, but the decline in kidney function seen with high soft drink consumption is primarily a result of excess phosphoric acid & caffeine, and not the sweeteners. Aside from this discrepancy, excellent post Joel.

Deana Ferreri - November 18, 2009 2:34 PM

If the authors had found a direct correlation between high blood glucose and high sodium intake then we could say that glucose was the culprit, but these were two separate studies.

Regardless of how well the healthy kidney handles salt, increased sodium intake promotes hypertension, and according to the American Society for Nephrology, hypertension is a major risk factor for kidney disease.

Deana Ferreri - November 18, 2009 2:37 PM

Artificial sweeteners vs. caffeine and phosphoric acid:

In this study, it is more likely that the artificial sweeteners were to blame, since the authors found no correlation between sugar-sweetened soda and decline in kidney function.

john polifronio - November 18, 2009 4:19 PM

Insofar as this examination of the effects of high dietary sodium (and artificial sweetener and soda use) is concerned, is there any chance, that we could get some fair approximation of what "high" levels of sodium intake are? It's extremely frustrating to hear, over and over, that too much sodium in the diet, is harmful, when there is almost never any agreement concerning what high levels are. To make matters worse, I read of a recent study where researchers had determined that notions of "high" sodium intake, may be exaggerated and unreliable.

Isothiocyanate - November 18, 2009 7:24 PM

My initial comments still hold; that is, the primary "kidney poison" is the phosphoric acid, not the artificial sweeteners. The study this blog post refers to is only one. There are many others. Here's one, read on:

Carbonated beverages and chronic kidney disease.

BACKGROUND: Carbonated beverage consumption has been linked with diabetes, hypertension, and kidney stones, all risk factors for chronic kidney disease. Cola beverages, in particular, contain phosphoric acid and have been associated with urinary changes that promote kidney stones. METHODS: We examined the relationship between carbonated beverages (including cola) and chronic kidney disease, using data from 465 patients with newly diagnosed chronic kidney disease and 467 community controls recruited in North Carolina between 1980 and 1982. RESULTS: Drinking 2 or more colas per day was associated with increased risk of chronic kidney disease (adjusted odds ratio = 2.3; 95% confidence interval = 1.4-3.7). Results were the same for regular colas (2.1; 1.3-3.4) and artificially sweetened colas (2.1; 0.7-2.5). Noncola carbonated beverages were not associated with chronic kidney disease (0.94; 0.4-2.2). CONCLUSIONS: These preliminary results suggest that cola consumption may increase the risk of chronic kidney disease.

PMID: 17525693

Deana Ferreri - November 19, 2009 9:10 AM

The average sodium intake for Americans is approximately 4000mg per day. The AHA recommends no more than 2300mg per day, or 1500mg day for people who have hypertension. According to Dr. Fuhrman, getting all of your sodium from whole plant foods will give you less than 1000mg per day.

According to the Center for Science in the Public Interest, there are plenty of restaurant meals that have more than 4000mg of sodium in and of themselves. So yes, it is difficult to pin down exactly what 'high' is, but it is certainly clear that less (or no) added salt is better.

Cindy - November 19, 2009 8:26 PM

The differentiation between sodium and/or chemicals in the diet soda as causative agent doesn't matter to me. I have been "addicted" to diet soda for many, many years . . . now "set free" by ETL! Though I wish it could have been sooner, I'm tremendously thankful!

teri - November 21, 2009 11:34 AM

This has been hardest for me and my family. We kicked the salt habit fairly quickly, but after a typical American lifestyle for 47 years, the diet soda was the hardest to kick. I am down to one a day, sometimes none. I am now using the stevia in my teas and am coffee free for a week now. It is hard, but I am confident that this last outpost of the SAD diet is going down in flames totally very soon!!! Dec 19 will be 1 year on E2L.... 84 # lost.... my goal is 120! Yea Dr. F!!!

Julia - December 8, 2009 3:48 PM

I have stage 2 ckd (kidney)disease and am trying to find out if Stevia is o.k. for my condition. My diabetic doctor flatly stated "I don't know. More research needs to be done." Any comments?

Nancy Sherer - February 18, 2010 12:51 PM

When making claims that 'studies have found' would you please include information about the name and date of study so that I can look at the source? Without published data, I hesitate to believe wide, sweeping statements.

Deana Ferreri - February 18, 2010 1:48 PM

Nancy, the reference is listed at the bottom of the post.

Patricia Hider - March 10, 2010 10:56 AM

Julia (December 8, 2009) stated she had Stage 2 ckd, I have stage 3; my nephrologist did not indicate that I should stop using artificial sweeteners (in my coffee). I have used 4 tablets of 1/2 grain saccharin daily, for years. Is there credible information regarding this subject.

Jayson Harris - February 1, 2011 11:18 PM

Hi .. Thank you for sharing this .. It is informative .. and Interesting ..

More Power !!
and GodBless us ..

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