Published on November 18, 2014
Is Diet Soda Any Better For You?
The calories in your beverages tend to come from sugar – in order to cut calories without compromising the taste, soda makers typically substitute sugar with artificial sweeteners. The result is a low or no-calorie drink.
“Regular soda is loaded with sugar and high fructose corn syrup and diet soda contains artificial sweeteners and chemicals,” said Sandra Vasquez, a Crozer-Keystonenutritionist.
But even if diet soda has less or no calories, is it any better for you? The answer to this question isn’t so cut and dry.
Cutting calories is a proven way to lose weight. So if you have been drinking a lot of regular soda and switch to diet, you may lose weight simply because you’re consuming fewer calories. But Vasquezhas found that diet soda is not always associated with losing weight.
“I often find that those who drink diet soda and eat other artificial sweeteners tend to need sweetness more often, setting them up to gain weight. They have cravings for sugar and sweets,” she said.
Regardless of calorie-in versus calories-out, research is ongoing to determine what type of effect artificial sweeteners may have on your health.
“For diet soda, the long-term effects of artificial sweeteners are unknown. [We do know that] the phosphoric acid in both regular and diet sodas can cause calcium to be pulled from your bones and contribute to osteoporosis,” Vasquez said.
In 2013, researchers found that people who drink diet soda have the same health issues of excessive weight gain, type 2 diabetes and heart disease as regular soda drinkers. In addition, studies have shown that diet soda drinkers have an increased risk of type 2 diabetes compared to those who didn’t drink any soda.
Other studies have found that artificial sweeteners may negatively affect the bacteria in your gut. Specifically, one study discovered changes to participant’s gut bacteria after they consumed artificial sweeteners. These bacteria in your GI system are important – they play a crucial part in how your body processes the food you eat.
Both regular and diet soda are acidic and acid dissolves enamel. Because of that, drinking soda makes you prone to decay and cavities.
The very best thing you can drink is water. But if you’re craving a sweet drink and don’t want to crack open a can of soda, there are some healthy alternatives.
“Try adding orange or lemon wedges to your water. Add a splash of 100 percent fruit juice to seltzer water or try a low-sodium vegetable juice. Unsweetened ice tea with lemon is another good alternative,” Vasquez suggested.
If you just have to have a soda, one won’t kill you.
“A soda every once in a while as a treat is okay. But you should make sure you’re drinking enough water every day to satisfy your thirst and avoid extra calories and artificial sweeteners,” she explained.
Call 1-800-254-3258 to schedule an appointment with a dietitian or nutritionist.
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