On my journey to become more healthy, I decided that I just couldn’t give up my all-time favorite food, pasta, because I’m Italian and that would mean I’m not being true to my culture, right? Then I thought about my other all-time favorite: diet soda. To me, soda in diet form should really mean that it follows our everyday balanced diet. That it won’t make us pack on extra lbs. That it’s safe for our hearts. Wrong. I must say, though, that I haven’t been oblivious to diet soda’s harsh effects. I’ve always heard through the grapevine that it’s not good for us, which has led me to this post. So, what exactly makes it worse than regular soda?
The artificial sweeteners
Aspartame is just one artificial sweetener found in diet soda—one that I’ve heard is rather toxic. Some very credible sources say that it is, in fact, the most dangerous substance on the market, while others claim it’s safe. Prevention magazine mentions that “several animal studies have linked aspartame to cancer risk and a highly controversial study from the Harvard School of Public Health in 2012 explored a possible link in humans.” Even though this information is discouraging, every cloud has its silver lining. I’m talking about diet Pepsi—they’ve done a little revamping in response to consumer demand by removing any ounce of aspartame from its product!
The weight gain
A point that I find to be interesting is that diet soda can actually lead to weight gain. TIME.com features a study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, saying, “People who drank diet soda gained almost triple the abdominal fat over nine years as those who didn’t drink diet soda.” So, the ones who didn’t drink it only gained about 0.8 inches around their waists and the ones who did gained about 3.2 inches. Keep in mind that diet soda alone does not cause weight gain. It has more to do with the unhealthy habits of diet soda drinkers, along with the artificial sweeteners that mess with your body’s chemical processing, causing you to eat more and consequently gain weight.
The citric acid
Some diet sodas contain citric acid—that tart, sharp, and tangy taste we get with each gulp. And according to a 2007 report published in the General Dentistry journal, citric acid in sodas have been linked to enamel wear and decay over time. Moreover, Livestrong.com says that citric acid in soda can lead to a wide variety of symptoms, including gas pain, bloating, stomach cramps, and diarrhea. Basically all the feelings we don’t want.
The risk of heart diseases
Who would’ve thought that a beverage could lead to such affliction? Well, believe it. Researchers from the University of Miami and Columbia University studied 2,564 participants over 10 years. They were able to find that “those who drank diet soft drinks daily (vs. none) had an increased risk of vascular events, and this persisted after controlling further for the metabolic syndrome, peripheral vascular disease, diabetes, cardiac disease, hypertension, and hypercholesterolemia.”
Even though diet soda may seem like the better choice, especially paired with not-so-healthy food options, it definitely can cause more harm than good. So, if you’re looking for a good no-calorie beverage, we say plain ol’ water. If it’s the fizziness you crave, try sparkling water. And since the team at HealingRadius strives on living a holistic lifestyle, we’d love it if you could share your own healthy substitute to diet soda in the comment section below!
Allyson Miller is a bookworm, history nerd and outdoor enthusiast who loves writing creative and informational content for SBT in Rock Hill, SC. Depending on the day, you can find her with her nose in historical documents, shopping for trendy exercise outfits or trying new cooking recipes. Allyson dreams that one day, engineers will figure out a way to build roller coasters sans the incline, ridding her of coasterphobia.