Many of my patients declare their soda consumption as safe by explaining how they “only drink diet soda, without any of that sugar,” while others state “I only drink regular soda, none of that diet stuff.” Everyone seems to have the belief that one type of carbonated drink is healthier than another. With so much information out there on the virtues of sweeteners, it is easy to justify your choice. So which is really better, regular or diet? Well, let’s compare and contrast the two.
Regular Soda Pros and Cons
Pros: Tastes good.
Cons: The sugar in regular soda causes your blood sugar levels to spike which can lead to insulin resistance, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, weight gain and premature aging. Over time, soda can also erode tooth enamel and weaken your bones increasing your risk of osteoporosis. It can also cause gastritis and acid reflux.
Hmm, that’s pretty heavily weighted on the negative side. Let’s look at diet soda.
Diet Soda Pros and Cons
Pros: Tastes good.
Cons: Ok, diet soda won’t cause your blood sugar levels to spike and crash, but it does contain a lot of harmful chemicals including aspartame. The use of aspartame has increased to replace high fructose corn syrup (HFCS). Like HFCS, aspartame can have many negative effects on all parts of your body. Neurologically, aspartame can lead to migraine headaches, memory loss, seizures and numbness and tingling in your arms and legs. Psychiatrically, aspartame may cause depression, anxiety, irritability and aggression. Your digestive tract will also suffer the consequences of aspartame by causing nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal pain. As if these reasons weren’t enough to turn you off of diet soda, it may also cause weight gain, blindness, tinnitus, PMS, thinning of hair and menstrual changes. And it, too, erodes tooth enamel and weakens your bones.
It looks like we have a tie and no winner. Both diet soda and regular soda are equally bad for us.
Is it ever good to drink soda?
Yes, if you are stranded in the desert with no other source of hydration, you should drink soda to stay alive. But, short of that or a similar scenario, it is a bad idea to pour all of that sugar and chemicals into your body, especially when there are numerous healthy choices available.
What can I drink that tastes good and will quench my thirst?
First and foremost, learn to love water! I am always amazed at the number of patients who tell me that they cannot stand the taste of water. If you fall into this category, try cutting up a piece of fresh produce like lemon, lime, strawberry, cucumber, or mint leaves and put it into a pitcher of ice water. This is a healthy way to add a mild flavor to the water and make it more palatable. If that’s not enough flavor enhancement for you, Capella and Yum Drops make naturally flavored drops for your water with the good sweetener Stevia. Give them a try, you might love water again.
What should I do with all of my leftover soda?
Apparently it actually can be used to remove corrosive acid off a car battery – diet or regular soda. Can you see what it does to your body now? Kick the soda habit, you’ll be happy you did!