It only takes one question to start a debate that can last for days, months, even years. In this case, the question is ‘is diet soda bad for you?’ There are countless myths surrounding diet sodas.
While diet sodas are far from perfect, are they in any way better than regular sodas? That’s what we are going to figure out by answering these four major questions.
What are Popular Diet Soda Myths?
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There are many diet soda myths, most of which put a more positive spin on the product. When asked the question, “is diet soda bad for you,” these myths generally make you believe they are so much better than regular soda.
Myth 1 – Diet Soda is better than regular soda
This is simply not true. Sugar-free doesn’t mean healthy. The artificial sweeteners used in diet sodas could cause negative side effects in your body.
Artificial sweeteners actually trick the brain. The sweetness from the diet soda signals the brain that calories are on their way. It triggers certain metabolic processes that could lead to weight gain. Gaining some weight isn’t the only concern here. Artificial sweeteners have also been linked to many health risks such as diabetes, stroke, and heart attack.
Artificial sweeteners have more intense flavors than real sugar. What this means is that over time, diet sodas could dull your sense to naturally sweet foods. What makes it worse is that the substitute sugars are shown to have similar effects on the body as sugar. For example, artificial sweeteners have been known to trigger insulin release, leading to fat storage in your body. This would ultimately lead to weight gain.
So, is diet soda bad for you? Just think about the effects of artificial sweeteners in your body and you’ll get your answer!
Myth 2 – Diet Soda helps you lose weight
This is a big no. Even though diet soda can be calorie-free, it doesn’t mean it could help in weight loss. Diet soda drinkers have a 70% chance of increasing their waist circumference compared with those who don’t drink diet soda.
Myth 3 – Diet Soda causes cancer
When scientists did a study on aspartame, one of the main sweeteners in many diet sodas, they linked its effects to brain cancer. The scientists performed the tests on rats. They offered aspartame at a specific rate and concentration that no human is likely to consume.
Although the result had it linked to brain cancer, it would be almost impossible for someone to consume enough aspartame to have the same results. Many people criticized the study because of this. Even large-scale human studies have found no results to confirm these claims.
Myth 4 – Caffeine content is the problem
Well, this is hardly the case. For example, a 12-ounce can of Diet Coke has 46 mg of caffeine while Diet Pepsi has 36 mg of caffeine. These levels are reasonable and considered safe.
Too much caffeine obviously has negative effects on the body and some medications do not respond well to excessive amounts. This just means that caffeine isn’t what makes diet soda so unhealthy.
What Happens After You Drink Diet Soda?
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When you learn what happens from the moment you finish a diet soda, you’ll find you can answer the question ‘is diet soda bad for you’ quite easily. Let’s look at these effects.
- First 10 Minutes – Diet soda tricks your taste buds and attacks your teeth. The phosphoric acid damage the enamel while the artificial sweeteners affect your blood sugar and insulin levels. The aspartame triggers the taste receptors, tricking your body into believing it has just processed sugar.
- 20 Minutes – Sodas in general trigger insulin and this causes your body to go into fat storage mode. The artificial sweeteners also put your body at risk of metabolic syndrome, which is related to diabetes and cardiovascular problems.
- 40 Minutes – The combination of caffeine and aspartame can create short additive highs similar to the effects of some drugs such as cocaine. Excitotoxins are released and make your brain exhausted as it overstimulates the neuro-receptors. This is even worse when consumed regularly.
- 60 Minutes & Beyond – Diet soda deplete nutrients. It also makes you hungrier and thirstier. Think of soda as a gateway to more soda or other unhealthy items you believe aren’t all that bad. You’re now stuck in a loop of unhealthy foods and beverages.
Zero calorie drinks have no nutritional value and will never quench your thirst as they dehydrate the body instead of hydrating it. Without water, you could suffer from poor concentration, irritation, and fatigue.
You’ll find that diet sodas cause you to become hungrier as it’s associated with a drop in leptin, an appetite-regulating hormone. This also leaves you less satisfied with normal amounts of food. Since calories in soda aren’t present in diet sodas, a cocktail of chemicals is used as an alternative. This causes your body to store more fat, which obviously makes you gain weight.
Still asking “is diet soda bad for you?”
Why is Diet Soda Bad for You?
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Here are more reasons to reconsider drinking diet soda and help you answer the burning question: ‘is diet soda bad for you?’
- Terrible Hangovers – It’s popular to mixing alcohol with diet sodas. The reality is, drinks or cocktails made with diet soda can cause you to get drunk faster. Sugar-free mixers allow the liquor to enter the bloodstream at a more accelerated rate compared with sugary drinks. This means a much bigger buzz and a horrible hangover.
- Headaches– Studies show that artificial sweeteners trigger headaches in many people. Since diet sodas are full of artificial sweeteners, it increases your risks of suffering from headaches and migraines.
- Rotting Teeth– With a pH of 3.2, diet soda is very acidic. Compare this with water which has a pH of 7 and battery acid with a pH of 1. Acid readily dissolves enamel and even if a soda is diet, it doesn’t mean it is any less acidic. Soda causes teeth to decay leading to cavities or ultimately tooth loss.
- Kidney Problems – A study has shown that diet sodas could have a negative effect on your kidneys. Once again, sweeteners may be responsible for the decline in kidney health as sugary drinks didn’t have the same effect.
- Metabolism Issues – Just one soda a day could mess with your metabolism and result in a higher risk of metabolic syndrome. Symptoms include belly fat, high cholesterol, and an increased risk of heart disease.
The long-term effects of diet soda are an even more serious issue:
- Obesity – Many people swear off sugary drinks when going on a diet or cutting down on their sugar intake. Some, however, think they don’t need to eliminate these products. They just need to use a version that contains no sugar and therefore turn to diet soda.
A common misconception is that diet soda helps you lose weight, but this couldn’t be further from the truth.
The more you consume, the higher the chance of you ultimately becoming overweight. This is because the artificial sweeteners throw off your body’s means of regulating calories.
- Reproductive Issues – Diet soda has been linked to reproductive issues as soft drinks are coated with endocrine disruptor bisphenol A (BPA). This has been linked to numerous health concerns.
- Cell Damage – Diet soda contains ingredients you can’t find in a regular soda –mold inhibitors. It also has sodium or potassium benzoates. These are some of the major differences between diet sodas and regular sodas which don’t contain these preservatives.
These chemicals could cause severe damage to your DNA in the mitochondria. They can damage it to the point where it shuts it down altogether. Studies show this preservative (benzoate) could cause hives, asthma, and other allergic conditions.
Efforts have been made to replace sodium with potassium benzoate, another preservative. Both, however, are classified as mild irritants to the skin, eyes, and mucous membranes.
Are sugar free drinks good for you? It really just depends on what sugar substitute is used. Artificial sweeteners are the most harmful option but other, supposedly safer substitutes, can be equally harmful.
How to Avoid Diet Soda Weight Gain?
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Some answers have been provided to anyone who still wonders, ‘is diet soda bad for you?’ Let’s talk about how to avoid diet soda weight gain. The reality is, there is no way to enjoy diet soda and lose or avoid weight simultaneously. To do this you need to cut it out altogether.
Here are some healthier alternatives:
- Water – Although there are flavored waters, these still contain artificial sweeteners –something you want to avoid. As an alternative, try natural flavoring options such as lemons, oranges, watermelon, cucumber, mint or lime. You can even be creative and cut up fruits and freeze them into ice blocks.
- Juice and Seltzer – Mix juice with seltzer for a tastier, healthier, and less expensive drink. A thick, tart juice, such as cranberry, pomegranate, or grape, makes a great jeltzer (juice and seltzer) base and provides many health benefits.
According to research, cranberry juice protects you against urinary tract infections and kidney stones. Pomegranates are rich in Vitamins C and B while grape juice has antioxidants that protect your brain and blood vessels.
- Green Tea – Green tea is incredibly beneficial for the body. It reduces the risk of several types of cancer, heart disease, kidney stones, cavities, and hypertension (if taken without sugar or milk).
Green teas are available in many varieties. You can enjoy it iced or hot. If you want it a little sweeter, enjoy it with some honey.
- Fake Lemon-Lime Soda – Enjoy your favorite citrus-flavored soda but just a little differently. Get some sparkling or seltzer water, add lemon, lime, and a dash of Stevia.
Stevia is a calorie-free and low-carb sweetener. Don’t overuse it.
- Red Wine – Like to drink? Well, red wine is the best choice for you –in moderation, of course. Is diet soda bad for you? Yes, but wine isn’t, so drink up!
Red wine lowers your risk of heart attacks, cancer, and Alzheimer’s disease. It’s recommended that woman enjoy a glass a day, and men take two glasses a day to reap the rewards.
When drinking wine, make sure to choose one that has no additives such as sulfites, which could cause headaches, and other allergic reactions.
- Veggie Drinks – You know what they say, drink your vegetables! It offers a quick, low-calorie way to enjoy all their benefits.
Vegetables contain less sugar than fruit juices. However, vegetable juice isn’t perfect, as it can be high in sodium. Attempt to make your own fresh juice and avoid products high in sodium.
- Soy – Soy beverages are naturally sweet and come in many flavors. It’s a great alternative to milk, especially for those who are lactose intolerant. Soy reduces risk of heart disease and osteoporosis.
Lookout for the low-fat, unsweetened versions to reduce calories and pick soy milk that’s been fortified with nutrients.
- Coffee – Coffee in moderation can have major health benefits. You are less likely to develop heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and certain cancers.
People who drink a cup or more a day have a 25% lower risk of strokes. It also helps with mental alertness and physical performance. Again, like with all things, it should be enjoyed in moderation. Too much can make you anxious and jittery.
So, is diet soda bad for you? Yes, it is. It could result in short- and long-term risks. It also doesn’t have any nutritional value.
Don’t be stuck with unhealthy drinks. There are many healthy alternatives to enjoy in place of diet soda.
Also read: Surprising uses of coke