I know that for me, I don't drink regular soda. I find it too sweet and there have been a lot of studies on how it's bad for your health. I stick to Diet Coke, as I've always thought it's been healthier.
However, even though you're consuming less sugar with diet soda, there are different reasons it could be affecting your health. After finding these out, I made the switch to water and tea.
1. Weight Gain
Even though you're not drinking all that sugar, there are some risks associated with artificial sweeteners. They have a more intense sugar flavor than actual sugar, so they can actually start to turn our bodies off foods with natural sugars, like fruit. According to Brooke Alpert, RD, artificial sweeteners have now been shown to have the same effect on your body as sugar.
"Artificial sweeteners trigger insulin, which sends your body into fat storage mode and leads to weight gain," Alpert says.
Other studies have shown that people who drink diet soda on a daily basis had a 500% increase in waist circumference vs those who did not.
2. Heart Issues
There have been multiple studies which show that drinking diet soda can lead to a higher risk of developing heart failure, thanks largely in part to the aforementioned artificial sweeteners.
A study in Sweden tracked 42,000 men over 12 years and found that men who drank two or more servings of Diet Coke in a day had a 23% higher chance of developing heart failure. 509 of those people died of the condition.
3. Kidney Problems
This study focused mainly on women, and showed that there is a significant risk of kidney problems to those who drink diet soda.
"While more study is needed, our research suggests that higher sodium and artificially sweetened soda intake are associated with greater rate of decline in kidney function," said Dr. Julie Lin, coauthor of the study.
4. Mood Swings
Though you may see drinking a diet soda as a way to relax, it may not actually be the case. According to the American Academy of Neurology, artificial sweeteners are connected to a higher risk of depression. In fact, those who regularly consume them have a 30% higher chance of developing depression.
"Our research suggests that cutting out or down on sweetened diet drinks or replacing them with unsweetened coffee may naturally help lower your depression risk," said study author Honglei Chen, MD. "More research is needed to confirm these findings, and people with depression should continue to take depression medications prescribed by their doctors."
5. Diabetes Risk
Again, most consumers are fooled by the lack of sugar in diet soda. But that doesn't mean diet soda is healthy. A study conducted through the University of Minnesota found that drinking just one diet soda a day gives you a 36% increased risk of metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes.
Though some people think it's the caffeine in your diet soda that causes headaches, but it's actually the aspartame. Through early studies and anecdotal evidence, artificial sweeteners have been linked to headaches in many patients.
"I have several clients who used to suffer from migraines and pinpointed their cause to diet soda," dietitian Cassie Bjork says.
7. No Nutrition
There's no nutritional value to any soda, really. A lot of people think that drinking diet soda is the same as water, since you're not taking in any calories. This is wrong, though. The aspartame causes issues all over your body, and it's not worth it at all. If you're thirsty and want something low-calorie, just drink water.
"Water is essential for many of our bodily processes, so replacing it with diet soda is a negative thing," Bjork says.
If it's the fizz you crave, there are a lot of sparkling waters you can try.
8. Bad Teeth
This may seem obvious, that drinking diet soda is bad for your teeth, but I don't think people realize just how bad the problem is. In the journal General Dentistry, a study was conducted to showcase the damage diet soda can cause. They compared the mouths of a cocaine user, methamphetamine user, and habitual diet soda drinker, and found that they all had the same level of tooth erosion. This one isn't from the artificial sweeteners, though. You can thank the citric acid for your bad teeth.
9. Alcohol Consequences
Drinking diet soda as a mixer with your alcohol may seem like a good idea at the time, but it can actually get you more drunk a lot quicker. According to research from Northern Kentucky University, the artificial sweeteners are absorbed into our bodies more quickly than sugar, which gives us a higher blood-alcohol concentration. Participants who drank cocktails made with diet drinks had a higher blood-alcohol level than those who had drinks made with sugared mixers.
If you really want to quench your thirst, always grab water first. In addition to keeping hydrated, you'll also be lowing your risk of a lot of issues.