I've never been a fan of Diet Coke. It seems too dishonest. At least when you have a regular can of Coke you know it's full of sugar, it's bad for your teeth and is unhealthy. Now with Diet Coke you have no sugar and no calories. So you have to ask, what's left? I did some research and here's what I found.
1. Diet Coke is bad for your teeth.
Everyone knows the old experiment of putting a tooth in a glass of Coke and it dissolves. It's high in sugar and sugar is bad for your teeth, everyone learns that early in life so surely Diet Coke is fine for your teeth?
Diet Coke is still full of citric acid and this acid erodes tooth enamel, which can cause sensitive teeth, pain in your teeth and tooth decay.
2. Diet Coke can make you gain weight.
Now that seems the opposite of what you might expect. How can less calories translate into weight gain?
There was a study done by the university of Texas which examined the long term effects of artificially sweetened beverages and non artificially sweetened beverages. In other words diet versus non diet. This study has been discussed a lot when talking about the dangers of diet drinks but I noticed no one sourced the original paper!
So I dug through Google and found it. It says that after the 10 years the people who drank diet sodas had a 50% bigger increase in BMI compared to those that didn't drink them.
So both groups gained weight but the people drinking soda gained significantly more. Any one who wants to read the paper can do so here.
This is possibly a psychological effect. When your body tastes the sweeteners it gets ready for the boost of energy that sugar normally provides. So when it doesn't get energy, because there are zero calories, your body gets cravings for food. So this means you are likely to end up snacking or over eating and because your body craves that insta-sugar boost you are likely to snack on something unhealthy like a chocolate bar. And people tend to justify the chocolate bar in thinking "Well I had Diet Coke so I'm allowed chocolate!"
3. Artificial sweeteners are not better than sugar.
Aspartame is an artificial sweetener used in diet soft drinks. This is quite a controversial ingredient as there are a lot of people in both camps as to how bad it is for you (as is often the case with nutrition).
I found a really awesome video going into the details about the dangers of aspartame which I highly reccommend you check out. It's on youtube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TB6L9S_jc5E And there is an accompanying article at http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2011/11/06/aspartame-most-dangerous-substance-added-to-food.aspx.
To sum the article up it talks about how aspartame causes 75% of the worst reactions to food as reported to the FDA. IT has been linked to causing illness ranging from headaches and muscle fatigue to cancer, alzheimer's and fibromyalgia. They also talk about how it first got allowed through the FDA. Basically studies were done into the effects of it and it got denied multiple times by the FDA. Then there were some political changes and the owner of the company trying to get aspartame allowed as a beverage sweetener elected the new commissioner of the FDA who then brought in his own people who declared aspartame safe. The following year Diet Coke went on the shelves.
So regardless of how bad aspartame is for you, it is definitely agreed it is not good for you so best to avoid it.
4. Artificial sweeteners can also change the way we taste.
According to Harvard medical school. Artificial sweeteners have a much more intense flavour compared to regular sugar. This means that if you eat a lot of foods containing artificial sweeteners you can dull your taste buds so you become unable to taste more complex flavours. This means that fruit no longer tastes sweet and delicious, and vegetables become incredible bland. I imagine the same is also true if you eat a lot of sugary foods. The same dulling effect will occur but it is faster with artificial sweeteners.
5. Diet coke has no nutritional value at all.
None. None of the ingredients provide any nutrients that can be used by the body. The only part of it that is any good is that it is water. So instead of forcing your body to siphon out all the bad stuff to get to the water why don't you cut out the middle man and just drink water!
I've already talked about the great benefits of water here, so I wont go into the details again.
Overall, Diet Coke is not as it seems. For instance, the drink it self will not make you gain weight as they have zero calories but they will almost definitely set off a chain reaction leading to weight gain. More importantly though are how bad all the ingredients are. Maybe the studies have been misinterpreted and Diet Coke will not not give you headaches (Or worse) but it is certainly a long way from healthy.
What about other diet sodas?
I had a look into other diet sodas and they all seem to contain roughly the same ingredients. Packed full of artificial sweeteners such as aspartame and various types of acid.
So try and cut out diet sodas completely and replace it with water. If you drink a lot of soda it may take some time for your taste buds to adjust back to normal and for water to taste reasonable but it is worth it. Also having a can a day is a lot. I really cant recommend drinking any of it but nobody is perfect and even I like a can of coke now and again but it probably isn't more than once a month. So just be aware of the dangers.
Please leave a comment to let me know what you think!