The Dangers of Diet Soda

The Dangers of Diet Soda

Just how bad is diet soda for you? Find out below.

Ok, there are very few things I have zero tolerance for. I am a pretty understanding girl, if I do say so myself. But my number one pet peeve? Regular soda. Call it pop, call it soda pop, call it a diet drink, call it cola, but it doesn't matter. Seriously, check this out, it’s bananas:

Yeah, regular soda and energy drinks infuriate me, but before you go stocking up on the diet stuff, beware!! There are some seriously freaky chemicals making up your fave drink.

So what is in diet soda (or diet pop)? Here are the ingredients in a diet coke:

  • Carbonated water
  • Caramel color
  • Aspartame: an artificial sweetener. A study on rats found a significant increase in cancer on those fed aspartame for a lifetime. This hasn't been repeated in humans [yet], but I wouldn't recommend testing your luck all that much. 
  • Phosphoric acid: lowers bone density and may cause kidney stones/chronic kidney disease.
  • Potassium benzoate: This is a preservative that, when in touch with light, heat, or vitamin C, can create carcinogens! -- Carcinogens are the cancer exacerbaters found in cigarettes. Dudes, in soda!? I am even in shock.
  • Natural flavors: according to Fast Food Nation, "natural flavors" are produced in laboratories to give flavor to processed foods. Always nice.
  • Citric Acid
  • Caffeine

    Ok, hopefully we are all on the same page here. While 1 or 2 diet sodas a day are hopefully not going to be too harmful, any more than that ( > 3) is a little excessive. Especially if you are one of those people adding Equal or Nutrasweet (another form of aspartame) to coffee or other foods/drinks through out the day.

  

Are all diet sodas created equal? Actually, no! Colas, aka the dark drinks like Diet Coke, Diet Pepsi, and Dr. Pepper are considered more potentially damaging because of the phosphoric acid (which, we just learned, decreases bone density and greatly increases your risk of kidney disease) – so your clear sodas like Diet Sprite, Diet 7-Up, Diet Mountain Dew, etc. are slightly better options. But they still have artificial stuff, so don’t go nuts.

Any-old-way, if you are drinking diet soda to avoid extra calories, studies show it can actually have the opposite effect.

So, bottom line, ladies and gents?? Knix the clearly bad for you regular sodas, limit the still not good for you diet sodas, and up the ante on the water!

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About the Author

Carolyn is a Nutritionist/Registered Dietitian and has her masters in Clinical Nutrition from NYU. She went to Tulane in New Orleans for undergrad, spent 3 months traveling around the world on Semester at Sea and then swung through Boulder, CO before landing in her current home of NYC. Carolyn has a blog called One Smart Brownie (www.onesmartbrownie.com) to simplify healthy eating for those who don’t spend their lives studying nutrition. Her favorite hobbies include getting new stamps on her passport and telling yo mama jokes, and she says that if she were to have a crush on a food it would be chocolate biscotti, no questions asked.