NEW ORLEANS -- With the hot and humid weather on it's way, many people turn to their favorite diet soft drink.
But for some people that could mean weight gain and health problems.
You find it in a variety of soft drinks and yogurt. Aspartame is also the artificial sweetener in the blue packets, Equal. And during hot summer months you'll most likely drink more. But dietitians say it's not always the best choice.
"There's certain proteins that certain people have sensitivities to and we believe that sensitivity to these products can cause adverse effects," said Leigh Anne Burns, an LSU Health Sciences Center registered dietitian who specializes in nutrition for cancer and AIDS patients.
In people with sensitivities, there can be adverse effects such as headaches, insomnia, and seizures activity in those with a history. It can also cause some to have high blood pressure and because it can interfere with brain signals to the body, heart arrhythmia.
In one local case, a college age woman started having severe headaches. Her doctors thought she had multiple sclerosis. In another local case a middle aged man started having his heart beat out of rhythm. In both cases, it happened when they were drinking more diet soft drinks. Their doctors are not 100 percent sure, but they say it could have been related to an increase in aspartame.
And your brain is not fooled by the sweetness of aspartame. Diet soft drinks may cause you to gain weight, especially the dangerous kind, around the belly.
"I think that if people have concerns, there's so many other alternatives for us to use that verses to keep challenging the use of something that may be controversial, or maybe your physician may not recommend," said Burns.
So the best health choice when you're thirsty is good old fashioned water.
Doctors say for the best health and weight, natural and artificial sweeteners should be kept to a minimum.