There used to be a time where I started every day with a cold, refreshing diet soda.
OK, fine. Sometimes three.
I thought nothing of it. The caffeine helped me get going in the morning, and I figured it wouldn’t stain my teeth like I feared coffee would. Most of all, it wasn’t regular soda. How bad could it be?
Turns out pretty bad. While drinking a diet soda is still better for you than drinking a calorie-dense regular soda, it’s still not great for your body. While I haven’t totally given up diet soda, here are six reasons why I only pop the top on one every now and then.
1. Diet Soda Can Disrupt Your Metabolism
Diet sodas are powered by artificial sweeteners. On the one hand, they’re great because they don’t contain calories. On the other hand, they’re chemicals. As such, they can be a catalyst for inflammation and put stress on your GI system, which may lead to metabolic syndrome, diabetes and other metabolism-related health problems.
2. It May Be Bad for Your Gut Bacteria, Too
We’ve all seen the commercials with Jamie Lee Curtis. You know your tummy needs good bacteria to reduce bloating and keep things moving. The thing is, maintaining a robust microbiome is essential to many more of your body’s networks, including your immune system and your brain. Recent studies have shown that the artificial sweeteners found in diet soda can change, or even kill, that good gut bacteria.
3. It’s Downright Addictive
From the caffeine content to the teeny-tiny bubbles, there are several reasons why diet soda can be habit-forming. The biggest factor, however, is the use of artificial sweeteners. In addition to tasting sweet, which is something most people enjoy (obviously!), they can cause your body to grow physically addicted to them.
Fake sugar is actually considerably sweeter than real sugar, so when you down a diet soda, your body gets a massive hit of sweetness — and it wants more. That may mean another diet soda, or it may mean that ice cream in the freezer.
The more sweetness you soak up, the more you need to satiate your sweet tooth. Eventually, an orange won’t cut it anymore; you need orange sherbet instead, and you’re back in the freezer again.
Artificial sweeteners may cause you to crave carbs, too. The fact that a diet soda tastes extremely sweet but doesn’t provide any calories throws your brain for a loop and may cause it to seek out calorie-dense foods to compensate.
If you’re sensing a heavy trend here, you’re not alone. Researchers have found that diet soda drinkers tend to weigh more than people who opt for another calorie-free beverage.
4. It’s Bad for Your Bone Density
As we age, fear of breaking a hip seems clichéd. If you regularly consume diet soda, however, it may actually cause a decrease in your hip bone density thanks to its phosphoric acid.
5. It’s Bad for Your Teeth
Remember how I thought diet soda was better for my teeth than coffee? I was wrong. Whether it’s regular or diet, consistent soda drinking will erode your enamel.
6. It Offers No Wellness Benefits
Sure, you could make the argument that you’re cutting calories because you’re imbibing diet soda instead of regular soda. Then again, you could also switch to water or tea, both of which will hydrate you better without chucking sodium, phosphoric acid, artificial coloring and artificial sweeteners into your system on a regular basis.
If you’re not ready to give up diet soda cold turkey, consider drinking fewer ounces each day. Since I began limiting my diet soda intake, I’ve felt like a leaner and cleaner version of myself. My water intake has skyrocketed, and both my digestive system and my skin have reaped the rewards of being well-hydrated. Now the only drink I crave is the tea I haven’t tried yet.