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Ask Dr. Nandi: Is diet soda bad for you? Know the health risks

Posted at 5:34 PM, Aug 07, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-07 22:20:06-04

(WXYZ) — Do you turn to diet sodas to quench your thirst? Despite negative headlines, diet pops are still popular, especially among those looking to cut calories. But how healthy are these low-calorie drinks?

It may feel refreshing to drink a cold, bubbly diet soda on a hot summer day, but is this drink actually good for your body?

Soda manufacturers would like you to believe that this is true, often touting these drinks as a healthier choice especially when it comes to calories. And in that sense, they’re not wrong as diet sodas do contain fewer calories.

But mounting evidence suggests that these drinks can increase your risk of negative health issues like diabetes, obesity, heart attack, high blood pressure, fatty liver, dementia and stroke.

Now we don’t know exactly why diet pop could raise the risk of these medical conditions. And just like that old saying of which came first, the chicken or the egg, it’s the same when it comes to diet drinks. Are people who are already unhealthy looking to cut calories and therefore drinking diet pop? Or does the diet drink itself lead to adverse health outcomes?

So let’s look at some research. The star ingredients in diet drinks are artificial sweeteners like aspartame, saccharin, or sucralose. Now research has found the sweetness in diet soda can trigger dopamine responses in your brain. And this can lead you reaching for more cans of diet pop, and unfortunately, sweet treats overall. And that’s definitely not good for your health.

So if you’d like to cut back on these beverages, I have some prescriptions for you:

  1. Start off slowly, by cutting back on how many diet drinks you consume a day.
  2. Replace the diet drinks with more healthy drinks. Choose from unsweetened sparkling water, spring water, kombucha, coffee or tea.
  3. If you’re looking for something sweet, try fruit instead. Better yet, add fruit to water for a healthy thirst-quenching drink.

Remember, there’s no nutritional value to diet sodas. Yes they may contain less calories, but looking at the research and the potential health risks, in my opinion, diet sodas are not that much better than regular sugary drinks.