• Race to a Cure Authors

All About Diet Sodas


Image is courtesy of Unsplash.


Being introduced in the 1950s, the topic of diet soda has been hugely controversial, even to this day. Their original purpose was for those struggling with diabetes, as it contains nearly no sugar and calories. However, diet soda has been advertised recently mainly for weight loss, which brings upon concerns regarding health effects. Most people seek diet sodas, thinking they would receive a double benefit of remaining their weight while enjoying a nice can of carbonated drink. Now, is that really the case?



Diet Versus Regular Soda


Firstly, let’s identify the difference between regular and diet sodas. Assuming you all know the taste of regular soda, diet soda basically mimics that exact taste but with nearly zero calories. As regular soda drinks use ordinary natural sugar like corn syrup, diet drinks contain artificial sweeteners such as aspartame, cyclamates, saccharin, acesulfame-k, and sucralose instead, so the amount of sugar in the soda can be cut to zero.


Common Ingredients in Diet Sodas, as outlined by Healthline:

  • Carbonated water (created by infusing water with carbon dioxide under pressure)

  • Artificial sweeteners (examples: aspartame, saccharin, sucralose, stevia, etc.)

  • Acids (ingredients like citric, malic, and phosphoric acid are used to add tartness)

  • Colors (examples: carotenoids, anthocyanins, caramels, etc.)

  • Flavors (many diet sodas use natural juices and/or artificial flavors)

  • Preservatives (ingredients like potassium benzoate are used to make the soda last longer)

  • Vitamins and minerals (put in for advertising healthy no-calorie alternatives)

  • Caffeine (a diet coke contains around 46 mg of caffeine)


The zero-calorie concept creates an illusion for consumers, causing them to think that diet sodas are perfectly healthy to drink, as they believe they’re drinking no calories, and therefore, being healthy. Consequently, this illusion brought diet sodas to many more consumers, while at the same time, people began drinking more and more, thinking nothing was consumed. As a result, studies show that diet soda drinkers are said to be 54% more susceptible to obesity than regular soda drinkers.


Health Effects


Many studies have been completed on the health effects of diet sodas, however, the results are still very controversial. Some reasonings are listed as follows:

  1. Diet sodas lead to weight gain as the additives and artificial ingredients consist of unnatural chemicals that increase one’s appetite, causing your body to crave more high-calorie foods. Artificial sweeteners are also found to slow down our metabolisms, making it more difficult to burn off calories.

  2. Research shows that drinking diet sodas can increase the risk of developing heart problems and type-2 diabetes. The elements of weight gain and lower metabolism rate can increase the risk of getting diabetic conditions by 8-13%.

  3. It has also been said that diet drinks increase the risk of strokes by nearly 48%. The risk is caused by an overconsumption of sodium, increasing heart rate and blood pressure, then finally influencing blood clots in the brain.

  4. Many many more health issues have been brought up, however, studies have shown various results. If you would like to learn more about the possible risks, consider doing a quick search on the internet.


Alternatives


Even though the effects of diet sodas are not 100% certain, one important thing to note is that it does not add any nutritional value to your diet. The best solution to this uncertainty is to reduce soda take-ins, as that will cause no harm whatsoever. Think about cutting down your intake of sodas in general, and maybe consider the following alternatives.



  • Old-fashioned water

  • Unsweetened sparkling water

  • Fruit-infused water

  • Plain teas

  • Plain coffees

  • Natural juices and smoothies

  • Milk



Final Thoughts


With all the uncertainties of diet sodas, the best solution would be to reduce the intake in general. The drink might not be as harmful as it seems, however, in the long run, it will definitely bring about health issues, depending on the amount consumed. All the artificial and unhealthy ingredients diet sodas build up on health issues, which shows a clear conclusion that diet sodas should not be seen as an alternative to other sugary drinks.



Article Author: Kacy Zhao

Article Editors: Victoria Huang, Sherilyn Wen