Is Diet Soda a Healthy Choice?
When it comes to obesity, diabetes or weight loss, the first culprit that comes to our minds is soda drinks. This makes us go for a similar but healthier choice, diet sodas. But the big question is, “Is diet soda a healthy choice?”
Well, if diet soda is truly a healthy choice then it should help in weight loss and it should prevent occurrence of diabetes. But how many individuals have lost weight after drinking diet soda? The answer is ‘none’. It’s a healthy lifestyle that is effective, not switching over to diet soda.
To know if diet soda is good or not, let’s understand its composition.
What is diet soda made of?
Diet soda is a carbonated beverage, containing phosphoric acid and caffeine (like regular sodas), but with no sugar. Instead it is loaded with artificial sweeteners, like aspartame, cyclamate, saccharin, acesulfame-k or sucralose and many other chemicals, like potassium benzoate.
Ideally, it should be helping in weight loss and thereby keeping many sugar related disorders at bay. But the real picture is different.
The true picture of diet soda
• Diet soda may result in weight gain
Diet sodas have 140 calories less than a regular sodas but studies revealed that diet soda drinkers had a 70% greater increase in waist circumference compared with non-drinkers.
As diet sodas give extreme levels of sweetness to the taste buds, they make the body crave more food, and increase hunger. A person drinking diet soda ends up eating more junk food along with it. U.S – based Dr. Barry Sears explains this in simple terms, “the more sugar-free soft drinks you drink, the fatter you become.”
• Diet soda alters your metabolism, increasing the risk of metabolic syndrome including Type 2 Diabetes.
An individual is said to have metabolic syndrome if he/she has three or more of the following conditions:
• Abdominal obesity (belly fat)
• High fasting glucose
• High triglycerides
• Low HDL cholesterol
• Elevated blood pressure
Loads of chemicals present in a can of diet soda do not sit calmly in your body; instead they play havoc with your metabolism. Artificial sweeteners present in diet sodas increase the release of the hormone insulin which then encourages fat storage. This not only results in weight gain, but at the same time, alters the entire metabolism and thereby increases the risk of metabolic syndrome, including Type 2 Diabetes, heart disease & stroke.
• Sweeteners in diet soda can result in headache or depression
Studies have indicated a very high association of diet soda consumption with headache, migraine attack and even depression. Also many studies are now linking it to preterm deliveries and hence pregnant women are advised to stay away from it.
• Diet soda is bad for your bones
Individuals having a high intake of either regular or diet soda have poor bone density or lower mineralization of bones. This is more often seen in women who are always at risk of osteoporosis. Weaker bones mean high risk of fractures and reduced mobility.
• Diet soda takes away your sweet smile, causing tooth erosion
Individuals who are addicted to diet soda have discolored and eroded teeth. The culprit here is the citric acid that weakens and damages the tooth enamel giving it a discolored look.
• Diet soda has no nutritional value
Diet sodas have no calories but at the same time have no nutritional value either. Instead, they are loaded with many harmful chemicals.
Having said all this, now the answer to the question ‘Is Diet Soda a Healthy Choice’ is very clear. Next time you think of drinking a can of diet soda, imagine that you are drinking a can full of harmful chemicals. If it’s the fizz that makes you crave it, then go for sparkling water with a slice of lemon added instead.
Remember, good old water was and will always be the best choice.
Vandana Chawla is a nutrition educator and consultant with over 20 years of work experience in the field of nutrition. She is a certified LEAN coach (USA) & registered nutrionist (UK).