As tasty and refreshing as a can of soda can be, it's not always worth the calories and sugar that comes with it. Because of this, many soda lovers are trying to reduce the amount of regular soda they drink, looking for alternatives that offer refreshment without the negative health effects. Diet soda is an obvious choice, since it can be made to taste so much like the real thing! The question is, is diet soda bad for you, or is it a healthy substitute for regular soda?
What is the Difference Between Diet and Regular Soda?
Diet soda is made to replicate the taste of classic soda, but with less or no sugar. To accomplish this, soda makers use artificial sweeteners like saccharin and aspartame. These sugar substitutes allow the soda to retain its delectably sweet taste without any actual sugar. Plus, diet soda contains either reduced calories or zero calories in comparison to its regular counterpart.
Since diet soda has fewer calories and sugar, it's touted as the healthy alternative to regular soda, ideal for weight loss and improving one's wellness. Some are even fortified with vitamins and minerals. However, certain studies have shown that this "healthy" alternative may not be the better choice after all.
What Are the Health Risks of Drinking Diet Soda?
Some evidence shows that diet soda consumption is correlated with an increased risk of certain health issues like obesity and type 2 diabetes. It's also shown to cause a higher risk of stroke and heart conditions like heart attack, heart disease and high blood pressure, along with liver problems and brain conditions like dementia.
Nutritionists aren't sure why diet soft drinks have these effects on health, but one theory is that drinking too much diet soda might damage blood vessels or cause inflammation. Along with this, it's possible that these beverages might cause the brain to crave more sweets. These cravings can lead diet soda drinkers to consume extra candy, baked goods or more soda, resulting in weight gain.
As concerning as these findings are, it's important to note that these studies haven't fully been able to separate the effect of drinking diet soda from the other factors in soda drinkers' lives. Some people in the studies already have chronic health issues, like being overweight. There's also the fact that those who drink soda often are more likely to eat certain types of foods that cause their own health risks.
Because of this, it's difficult to know exactly how much drinking diet soda negatively affects one's health. However, to stay on the safe side, it's best to stick to a moderate amount a day.
What Are the Health Benefits of Drinking Diet Soda?
Diet beverages like Diet Coke and Diet Pepsi don't have any nutritional value on their own. However, they provide a way to cut down on the consumption of sugary, high-calorie soft drinks. This is a health benefit in of itself, since consuming large amounts of sugar and calories can cause weight gain and other health issues.
The jury is out on how much diet soda truly affects your health, but with so many studies potentially pointing to negative side effects, it's better to be safe than sorry. If you're looking for healthy ways to cut down on soda, try substituting it with coffee or tea.
If the refreshing carbonation is what you're after, try getting into kombucha or seltzers. For those who love the taste of soda and want to continue drinking diet soda as a replacement, it's best to stick to one or two sodas a day.