I came across an article recently by a dietitian in MyFitnessPal regarding the pros and cons of regular vs diet soda. This is an especially important issue for baby boomers and older adults who are often trimming calories for weight loss and concerned about their health and avoiding artificial sweeteners.
Here is the gist of the article:
A 20-oz bottle of soda contains 17 – 22 tsp of sugar, about double the recommended amount (9.5 tsp per day). Not a surprise, as regular sodas are the biggest contributor to most Americans’ sugar intake. With no nutritional advantage other than calories (from sugar), I’ve always considered soda to be the poster child for empty calorie foods.
And studies are piling up regarding the health risks of high soda consumption (two or more per day): increased risk of developing and dying from hypertension, type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, and stroke. And research published this year in the British Medical Journal indicated that higher consumption of both soda and juice was associated with an increased overall risk of cancer and breast cancer.
It’s important to note that scientists aren’t sure of the exact mechanism involved with soda and these diseases. And also, these studies don’t prove that soda causes these health problems, just that it is correlated with an increased risk.
Diet sodas have been associated with a list of concerns, including changes to gut microbiota (which could affect everything from immunity and hormones to chronic diseases and depression), and an increase in cravings for sweets leading to higher calorie intake. Specifically, heart disease, diabetes, dementia, and stroke have been shown to increase with high diet soda consumption in some studies.
On the bright side, recent research indicates that artificial sweeteners do not cause cancer, as was earlier thought.
The author concludes, “In moderation, it’s OK to drink regular or diet soda — the biggest commonality in all of these research studies is that in order to experience potential negative health effects, large amounts of either beverage have to be consumed on a regular basis.”
Of course, I would always recommend water over soda of any kind. Discover how you like it best–cold, room temperature, with ice or not, bubbly or plain. Then add slices of fruit or veggies for an enticing flavor (sliced strawberries, oranges, and cucumbers are my favorite).
Disclaimer: I follow my own advice most of the time, and consume 1 – 2 diet drinks per week, and at least 72 oz. of water daily!