Are you a diet soda drinker? Do you ever wonder if it really is better than regular?
Many of us turn to diet soda to get our taste of “fizzy” without all of the nasty calories in regular soda. After taking a quick glimpse at the data, that seems to be the logical thing to do. There is no risk or at least a very low risk for nearly all forms of cancer (which was the original scare). And in short term studies it appears that replacing soda with diet soda results in weight loss and reduction in risk for obesity. So maybe diet soda is right the answer.
Long term studies are beginning to paint a different picture, however. Daily and weekly soda consumption is linked with a higher risk for cardiovascular disease. A trend that is stronger as the amount consumed increases, with no difference between soda and diet soda drinkers. Diet soda drinkers are twice as likely to be obese as non soda drinkers, and they are more likely to store their fat in the abdomen (the most dangerous place to store fat). In addition, they are nearly twice as likely to have diabetes and metabolic syndrome as non diet soda drinkers. It would be easy to assume that people drink diet soda because they are battling one of the above issues, but the researchers controlled for that. This means that only people that drank diet soda before they were obese, or had CVD, metabolic syndrome and diabetes were used for the data. In addition, studies demonstrate that diet soda drinkers consume more calories than non diet soda drinkers. The full reason for this is not understood, but it is likely that is caused by the way these chemicals interact with the body’s complex biochemistry. One example of this is diet soda’s effect on insulin and a hormone called GLP-1, which has complex effects on insulin sensitivity and secretion. Studies show that diet soda consumption within 10 minutes of sugar consumption causes a higher insulin response (as compared with carbonated water followed by sugar) and nearly double the GLP-1 response. What does that mean for long term effects? Probably that it doubles your risk for obesity, diabetes and metabolic syndrome while increasing your risk for risk for CVD by 60%.
There are quite a few theories available for why the diet drinks have these effects. But the frankly, the “why” isn’t as important as the long term results. So for better health, loose the soda all together and drink more water. So in reality, they are pretty much equally as bad for you. So if you need a little fizzy, then try a glass of plain old soda water, your body will thank you for in 20 years.