We all know that the one of the worst things about drinking regular soft drinks such as Coke is the high sugar content, so surely sugar-free diet soft drinks seems like a logical alternative right?
Maybe not. Over the past few years there have been quite a few studies that imply that diet soft drinks are actually bad for us over the long run, despite not containing the very high levels of sugar.
There have been a variety of claims over the years as to why diet soft drinks are so bad for us, but let’s take a look at a few so that you can decide for yourself whether or not you want to pick up that can of Diet Coke – or find something else to drink!
Increased Weight Gain
No, that’s not a typo! Diet soft drinks can actually make you gain weight if you drink them for a long period of time. According to a study performed by the University of Texas Health Science Center, drinking diet soft drinks more frequently has been correlated to a larger waist line. That study also determined that the sweetener aspartame, increased blood sugar (glucose) levels in mice, implying that the same could be possible in humans.
There has been some opposition to these findings, citing the small sample sizes used and the fact that parts of the test were done with mice and not humans – but there have been similar studies done in the past that show similar results – so at the very least it’s worth taking into consideration if you’re dieting. You should certainly consider the fact that even diet soft drinks might be bad for you if you are on a diet or trying to lose weight, as there is evidence to suggest that this might well be the case.
Increased Risk of Heart Attack
According to an American Stroke Association study of people who drank diet soft drinks at least once a day – they had an increased risk of heart attack, stroke and other “vascular diseases”. The study followed around 2,500 New Yorkers for close to a decade, and found that over 60% of them had a higher risk of vascular events.
Increased Risk of PreTerm Birth
There was also a study of Danish doctors published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, that saw an increase in preterm birth rates for those women who drank diet soft drinks, but there was no increase in those that drank regular, sugared soft drinks. Despite the study, Dr. Thorhallur I. Halldorsson, who led the study said that “one observational study is not enough to justify strong statements” and there is a need for additional studies in this area. But again, this is certainly worth considering if you tend to drink a lot of diet soft drinks presuming they are somewhat safe and good for you – according to research it is possible that this may not be the case!
Aspartame Side Effects
One of the most controversial ingredients in diet soft drinks is the sweetener aspartame, which was originally approved by the FDA in 1974. There have been literally hundreds of suspected side effects from aspartame since then, ranging anywhere from migraine headaches to brain cancer!
Despite the large number of claims about aspartame, the majority of claims have been disallowed by the FDA due to flaws in the testing of the sweetener. Despite the FDA rulings however, many countries throughout the world have now proposed bills to eliminate the use of aspartame, and some stores in the UK have stopped using it all together. Many soft drinks manufacturers have now also switched to alternative sweeteners like Splenda, which have a less controversial track record
So Is Diet Soda Bad For You?
The conclusion here is that although to date there is no real concrete evidence that conclusively proves that diet soft drinks are actually bad for you, there is certainly a lot of controversy about it and lots of research that suggests that at least for most people, we might be better off avoiding them and stick to drinking alternatives instead. The advice would be to avoid them if you can, as in our opinion it is simply not worth the risk when compared to simply sticking to drinking other alternatives such as water, natural fruit juice etc.