If you are wondering how bad diet coke is for your body or how much diet soda is too much, you may already know the answer.
Diet soda not only poses a number of health risks for the body, it can become overbearingly addictive and can lead you to put on extra weight.
In order to understand how bad diet coke is for your body, we need to take a look at the history of the addictive chemicals, additives, and sugars that have been produced in the last 100 years.
First came cyclamate, discovered in 1937 and later removed due to cancer concerns. Then came aspartame in 1965, about 200 times sweeter than sucrose, shown to cause cancer in animals, and nonetheless approved for use in 1981. Last came acesulfame potassium (ace k) and the current top dog often used in the soft drink industry, sucralose.
Since sucralose is consistently used throughout the food industry, it’s best you know what sucralose is and what it does to the body.
What is sucralose?
Sucralose is an artificial sweetener, most commonly known for its presence in Splenda. One study claims this calorie-free sweetener is 400-700 times sweeter than sugar, without the bitter aftertaste of other sweeteners.
Now that we understand the history and the addictive sweetener in a diet coke, let’s look at some of diet soda’s health risks.
Diet Soda Health Risks
The consumption of diet soda can bring about a number of health risks. Matthew Pase and colleagues examined 10 years stroke and dementia evidence among 3,000 adults. They found that those who drank diet soda nearly tripled their risk of having a stroke or developing dementia.
Not only that, people who drink diet soda:
1. Eat 90 to 200 more calories of food per day from a stimulated appetite, leading to obesity
2. Have an increased risk of type-2 Diabetes
3. Have higher blood sugar levels
4. Are at a higher risk of glucose intolerance
5. Are at a higher risk of heart attack
6. Have an increased risk of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease
7. Are 3 times more likely to develop Alzheimer’s
Is Diet Coke Fattening?
Evidence from controlled studies actually suggest that artificial sweeteners don’t cause weight gain and may even be mildly effective for weight loss.
One study of 641 children revealed that those who were drinking 8.5 ounces (250 ml) of an artificially sweetened drink gained significantly less weight and fat than children who consumed a sugary drink.
How can this be? Aren’t artificial sweeteners worse for your body than regular sugary drinks?
Let’s look at the facts.
Sugar-sweetened foods trigger the release of brain chemicals and hormones in part of what is known as the “food reward pathway”. Basically, once you drink a regular sugary drink, your body recognizes the caloric intake and your brain becomes satisfied. With zero-calorie, artificial sweeteners, your brain does not recognize that you have consumed any calories, and the brain fails to release the chemicals and hormones responsible for the “food reward pathway”. Your brain thinks that you have not consumed anything. The result is an increase in appetite and a craving for sugary foods and sweets than what you would normally have.
This means it’s not the artificial sweeteners that make you fat, it’s the intense craving for other sugary foods that leads you to make unhealthy eating choices, thus making you fat.
So what if I just control my cravings?
If you are magically able to fend off the craving effects of artificial sweeteners, you still may have to deal with the added health risks that come along with it. Though observational studies cannot prove cause and effect, the results of these studies can be quite staggering. One study showed a high intake of diet soft drinks was linked to a 121% greater risk of type 2 diabetes. Another study showed these beverages were associated with 34% greater risk of metabolic syndrome.
So not only do you increase your craving for food, you have to deal with the added health risks that come along with it.
How Much Diet Soda is Too Much?
Even the smallest amount of sugar laced soda is going to be detrimental for your brain and body. Like any addiction, anytime you reintroduce an addictive substance into your life, you could re-trigger the very thing you’ve been trying to fend off.
I was addicted to ice cream for many years. I would eat almost a half a quart of ice cream every night before bed. The only way was able to remove the addiction was to quit cold turkey, and I haven’t looked back.
I’m not saying you need to quit Diet Coke or any other diet soda cold turkey. I’m saying you need to find the best way that works for you to get this harmful chemical out of your life for good.
How to Stop Drinking Diet Coke
If you want to stop drinking diet coke all together, there are several options you can try. First, like I did, you can quit cold turkey. The way I did this was I stopped going to the ice cream aisle at the grocery store. You just need to avoid the soda aisle.
2nd, you can try tapering. Drink a little bit less every day until you are off it completely.
Third, find an alternative beverage choice. I talk about 4 alternative drink options at the bottom of this article.
Last, whenever that “cue” to drink soda hits, have something ready at hand to replace that craving with, which could be a healthy food or drink.
Quitting Diet Coke Side Effects
Quitting diet soda is going to come with a bunch of unwanted side effects and could be one of the hardest things you’ve ever done in your life. If you can muster up the brain power to do it, just know you are going get some of these side effects:
- Intense cravings
- Headaches or migraines
- Brain fog
- Mood Swings
It’s probably going to take 2-4 weeks before some of these side effects go away so buckle up and trudge through it. By then, many of your body chemicals will finally go back to their normal healthy state. It will be worth it in the end.
Is Diet Coke Bad for Your Teeth?
Diet coke contains acid that can damage tooth enamel and cause dental cavities. Children are most susceptible to tooth decay because their teeth are not yet fully developed.
If you must drink soda, use a straw to avoid the diet soda coming in contact with your teeth.
Now knowing how bad diet coke is for your body, here are 4 healthy drink options that can replace your diet coke:
#1 YUMMY BLUEBERRY SMOOTHIE
Blueberries are packed with anti-oxidants and are one of the healthiest super-foods for your body. Pair that with the anti-inflammatory properties of cinnamon and the soothing and anti-bacterial properties of honey and you have a great mix of healthy ingredients for any drink.
TIP: Try this recipe in place of your daily diet soft drink:
- 1/2 cup nonfat or 1 percent lowfat milk
- 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
- 1 cup frozen blueberries (unsweetened)
- One teaspoon honey
- One teaspoon of cinnamon
- ½ small banana
Keynote: Diet coke is bad for you, blueberry smoothies are good for you 🙂
Tea, which began as a medicine, has zero calories, has many awesome health benefits, and is packed with flavonoids (plant-based phytonutrients) and antioxidants. Regular tea drinkers may experience excellent hydration, improved concentration and focus, reduced stress levels, and excellent cardiovascular health and blood pressure. One study connected green tea to better working memory, the type of memory we use on a day-to-day basis.
Which type of tea is best?
As far as antioxidants are concerned, white tea, the “healthiest of all teas”, is trailed by jasmine tea, green tea, then black tea. If you are trying to find a good replacement for your diet coke habit, tea might be one of your best bets.
#3 GREEN SUPERFOOD DRINK
I’ve been making green drinks as far back as I can remember. The benefits to juicing are endless and can dramatically change your life, if done consistently. I’ve tried anything and everything with regards to combinations of vegetables and fruits to get the healthiest and best tasting green drink recipes I can put together.
Some of the super foods I like to use include:
- Dark Leafy Greens
- Green Apples
Pick your favorites and put them together for an afternoon treat. The key is to balance the veggies with the fruit to get something that tastes pretty good.
TIP: Try this healthy green drink recipe:
- 1 cup frozen mango chunks
- 1/2 cup frozen peach slices
- a handful of kale (stems removed, unless you can handle the taste of the nutrient rich stems)
- 1-2 cups almond milk
- 1/2 inch slice of fresh ginger
- sprinkle of cinnamon
- honey to taste
The better quality the machine, the smoother your juices and smoothies will be. Many of the basic, cheap versions miss out on a lot of nutrients, and if you are going to spend the money on weekly vegetables, you need to get the most nutrition you can out of them. There are added benefits to using complete vegetables for your smoothies, but if you just can’t find the time to make your own drinks, there are several powder options that give a lot of the same benefits. I personally do both to try and get the most of both worlds.
TIP: Use a heavy-duty juicer or blender to make juices and smoothies to get the most nutritional benefit out of your fruit and vegetables. Not only that, they will last a lot longer than the cheaper versions. With juicers especially, you get what you pay for.
#4 WATER (WITH LEMON, CUCUMBER OR GINGER)
Everyone knows hydration is important and water with lemon might give you that little bit of sweetness that could help you curb taste for diet coke. One study at the University of East London found that children who were in a state of mild dehydration were cognitively better after given a glass of water. They were better in nearly every measure including happiness, visual attention, and visual search.
Here are some of the benefits of my favorite water additives:
TIP: If you want some additional health benefits or a little bit of sweetness, try adding lemon, cucumber or ginger to the water.
Lemon acts as a digestive and detoxifying agent helping the body to maintain a good pH balance. They are a rich source of vitamin C, helping the body to protect itself from immune deficiencies. The anti-inflammatory lemon helps maintain good digestive health, can reduce the appearance of skin problems such as acne, promotes weight loss, and helps reduce joint and muscle pain.
Cucumbers are 95% water so you might as well add them back in their natural watery environment. They are filled with anti-oxidants, promote brain health and memory, decrease swelling and inflammation, and play a roll in the prevention of certain cancers. Cucumbers are filled with lignans and cucurbitacins. In one study, scientists found that cucurbitacins can help block the signaling pathways that are important for cancer cell proliferation and survival.
One of my favorite additives to any drink is ginger. Ginger is one of the healthiest spices on the planet. Most notably, it contains gingerol, a substance with powerful medicinal properties. Ginger is mainly known for its treatment of nausea and morning sickness. Not only that, ginger reduces muscle pain and soreness, has anti-inflammatory effects, helps with osteoarthritis, can drastically lower blood sugar, may protect the brain against Alzheimer’s, and has cancer preventing properties. The benefits are endless, but be careful, a small amount of ginger can provide a big kick!
Add lemon, cucumber and ginger to make your water a more nutrient dense option.
Summary: How Bad is Diet Coke for your Body? (Diet Soda Health Risks)
I hope you now understand how bad diet coke is for your body. Diet cokes are only diet in their calorie content. But what they lack in calories, they gain in an increase in cravings and diet soda health risks. Switching from diet to non-diet coke is not the solution. Understand that diet cokes are bad for you and switch to a vitamin and nutrient rich drink. Remove your bad habit and replace it with a healthy habit. Your mind and your body deserve something better than what you’ve been putting into it.
Are you drinking unhealthy drinks? What’s holding you back from switching to something better? Comment below!