Is Diet soda good for you?
Diet soda is sometimes said to be a healthy drink or good for you. This couldn't be farther from the truth, but the fact remains that it is a popular drink with thousands (if not more) addicted to it. Of course, delving into the situation could reveal a new feeling about it.
A Look At Ingredients
Diet soda contains a number of ingredients, many of which we are familiar in a number of other drinks including regular soda.
Carbonated Water- Well, it at least has the word water in it. Of course, once you add the other ingredients, the fact that the soda is made up of a lot of water, doesn't help its case much!
Caramel Color- Not all diet sodas contain caramel color, but many of them do, including some of the biggest contenders for the diet market including Diet Coke, Diet Pepsi, and Diet Dr. Pepper. Some studies suggest that caramel coloring is an immunosuppressive agent, causing problems with the immune system.
Aspartame- This is what gives diet soda a sweet taste and this artificial sweetener also sold under the brand names NutraSweet and Equal has to have its own section!
Phosphoric Acid- Phosphoric acid is a mineral acid that provides tang for soda. It is in about half of the sodas out there (the other half are flavored similarly with Citric Acid). Phosphoric acid may reduce bone density and is especially an issue for women.
Citric Acid- This natural ingredient is much better for you then phosphoric acid and doesn't have near the controversy surrounding its use in food and beverages. However, it is known for eroding the enamel of the teeth.
Potassium Benzoate- This is an ingredient used to protect flavor. In other words, it is a preservative. While most people consider it relatively safe, there are some studies that show that it could become benzene inside the body when potassium benzoate combines with vitamin C (something our bodies should be getting each day). Benzene is a known carcinogen.
Caffeine- Not all sodas contain caffeine, but those that do contain a fair amount of it. Many people get a huge daily dose of caffeine from their soda consumption.
Somewhere in there there are some flavors, natural and artificial (depending on the soda you are drinking). This chemical soup is something to be amazed at. Over the years we have come up with a drink that has no nutritional value and there are people out there calling it healthy.
Caffeine is an ingredient that is a huge part of a lot of people's diets. Many of us are actually addicted to this ingredient found in sodas, coffees, and teas. Side effects of caffeine use can include: restlessness, nervousness, excitement, insomnia, gastrointestinal disturbance, muscle twitching, irritability, irregular or rapid heart beat, headaches, and dizziness.
There is a lot of controversy on these effects and the big issue comes to how much you consume. Most 12 ounce cans of diet soda contain 45-55 mg of caffeine. This isn't much, but most studies suggest that 200 or more milligrams of caffeine in a day isn't good for you. That is only 48 ounces or so of diet soda. You can order that to go with your burger! Additionally, many drink more then that in a single day!
Aspartame Examined Closer
The real issue that most studies have with diet soda isn't all the other ingredients (which are also found in regular sodas), but in aspartame the artificial sweetener used in sodas. Studies have shown some very bad things about aspartame that should alert everyone who consumes it!
There are 92 different side effects associated with aspartame. The more serious ones will be listed here. Blindness, migraines, epileptic seizures, numbness of the limbs, severe tremors, severe depression, anxiety, insomnia, heart palpitations, increased blood pressure, diabetes, and hypoglycemia. But that is just the beginning. Aspartame can also cause birth defects, brain damage, aggressive behavior, suicidal tendencies, and even death.
This list is staggering and could end up being life altering, and certainly not in a good way. The FDA often replies that aspartame and other sweeteners have been proven safe "in moderation". If this is true the question comes down to what is moderation?
The Mentality of Many
In addition to the problems often associated with the various ingredients of soda and diet soda there is also a mentality that often goes with diet soda. Some of these may apply to you while others may have nothing to do with you, but really do effect others.
- A large fry (or other food that we know isn't good for us) is acceptable because we are "only" drinking diet soda.
- There is a lot of justification for other treats or foods that we wouldn't normally eat. After all, we are drinking diet soda!
- Many people reach for carbs after a diet soda. Some researchers say that this is because the body thinks there should be a lot of calories there and when there isn't, it sends out cravings for the real deal.
- Diet soda is a "free" food and can be consumed in large quantities with no down sides.
These mentalities lead us to eating more then we should, and often things that we shouldn't consume. We also are more likely to grab a sugary snack to meet the sugar craving. Worse, we see diet soda as a "free" food because it doesn't have calories. This can make it a cycle of consuming the beverage, craving sugars, and eating more foods then we should.
There is the saying that all things in moderation. The big problem with this saying is that no one has ever defined moderation. If you say I drink diet soda in moderation, that could mean that you only have four 20 ounce sodas a day. I might say that I drink soda in moderation, which could mean that I have one 12 ounce can a day. Someone else might say it and it could mean that they have one a week. There is no definition.
However, one eight year study in Texas showed that one can (12 ounces) a day raised the chances of metabolic syndrome and obesity by 34%. They aren't saying that diet soda causes obesity, but there is a correlation. Diet soda drinkers are often obese and can become obese. It would seem that one can a day is too much to be called "in moderation".
Diet is Still Better Then Regular, Right?
Most diet soda drinkers are diet soda drinkers because they have moved on from regular (and highly caloric) sodas to diet. The idea behind this is that diet soda as few or no calories and the real deal has hundreds. It is true that you are saving a lot of empty calories, but between the reaction of the body, the negative ingredients, and the dangers of aspartame it just doesn't seem likely that diet soda can be claimed as better then regular soda.
What About Diet Plus?
New products have arrived that are claiming to be healthy for you. Namely Diet Coke Plus has arrived on the scene. This is a diet soda that has added vitamins and minerals to it. Some really believe that it is a health drink, but the truth is it is diet soda (which we have determined is bad for you) and a few vitamins and minerals. If you eat a well balanced diet and take a multivitamin each day (which you should) then there is no need to drink beverages that have been fortified.
So, vitamin fortified beverages aren't really "health" drinks and should be considered with care. Make it a diet soda and it just isn't a good idea.
What Should I Drink Then?
One difficult thing for diet soda drinkers is that if you take it away, there goes a lot of there daily beverages. Knowing how to replace it isn't easy to do, but with a few good options you can find yourself feeling well and being healthier. There are a lot of alternatives:
- Sports Drinks
For more ideas and information about adding these beverages to your day instead of soda (or diet soda) check out this article: Healthy Drinks in Place of Soda.
There is no doubt about it, diet soda isn't good for you. You can drink it every now and again and probably won't see anything bad happen to you, but as a regular part of your life it is dangerous and could cause health issues. Additionally it isn't a good drink to drink if you want to be healthy or to loose weight! Choosing healthy drinks (that are really good for you) is a much better option!