Diet Soda vs Real Soda: The Health Debate
Since its invention in the 1950s, people have been turning to diet soda as a ‘healthier’ alternative to regular soda for decades. More recently, people have begun to question how much better diet soda truly is for our bodies. So, should we continue choosing diet soda over regular soda, or is the entire idea surrounding diet soda a complete scam?
To begin, we must first understand the differences between regular and diet soda. Typically, regular soda is a concoction of carbonated water, sweeteners (such as high fructose corn syrup), “natural flavors,” and caffeine. On the other hand, diet sodas are predominately made with the same ingredients. The difference lies in the sugar used: In a diet soda, you will find different types of sugar substitutes such as aspartame, stevia, and even sucralose. These are known as artificial sweeteners. When it comes to consuming regular sugar vs. sugar substitutes, there are pros and cons to both. Overall, neither is truly considered to be healthy.
As a whole, soda in general has very little nutritional value, consisting of no essential nutrients or vitamins. When drinking diet soda specifically, many people think they are solving a short-term problem by cutting calories. Many believe this will cause them to lose weight while still enjoying their favorite carbonated beverages, but some research has revealed ideas that suggest diet sodas potentially cause our brains to react to artificial sweeteners in a similar manner to normal sodas. Even so, this discrepancy in calories may cause some to have a desire to ingest more calories in other areas. According to the Cleveland Clinic, some studies “found that people with overweight or obesity who switched to diet soda were likely to consume more calories in food than people with overweight or obesity who drank regular soda.” Furthermore, the people of this study showed a higher BMI than their counterparts who drank normal soda. Overall, diet soda is marketed as being a healthier option, but the artificial sweeteners that make it “healthy” still pose a multitude of differing problems.
So, does this mean regular soda is in fact healthier than diet soda? Well, in general, normal soda is packed with lots of sugar and empty calories. These added sugars, even though they are “real” in regular soda, are bad for our health. Plus, soda is not filling, so it is easy for people to consume many calories throughout the day by simply drinking multiple cans. A single can of soda can have around 188 calories in it. This can lead to obesity very easily and, unfortunately, many other health problems that can cause so much harm throughout an individual’s life. Not to mention, many people can even find soda becoming an addictive habit. This is because the high amounts of sugar in soda cause the brain to release dopamine. This stimulates the pleasure centers of the brain, thus causing people to want more. As a whole, drinking regular soda can pose many problems to those who enjoy it on a regular basis.
Generally speaking, neither regular soda nor diet soda is a good staple in anyone’s diet. The acidity of both can cause harm to your mouth by weakening and eroding enamel. These drinks also encourage bacteria to grow within one’s mouth. Bacteria and other germs can cause cavities, as well as other problems. In fact, one of the main leading causes of cavities is sugary drinks, such as Coke and Diet Coke. While Coca-Cola is one of the most popular soda brands by far, this is not the only place where it comes first: Coca-Cola, regular and diet, is also the most tooth-eroding soft drink you can drink, and this is proven by testing acidity rates. Furthermore, both diet soda and regular soda have been linked to obesity, high cholesterol, and even heart disease.
In more recent years, Americans have been drinking less soda overall. On average, 1 out of 5 people drink at least one soda each day. In order to continue decreasing this number, it is important we implement ways to stop desiring regular soda and diet soda. Healthier alternatives can be used in place of soda as people begin to stop drinking it. Some people drink soda because it provides caffeine. Some replacements that provide the same effect could be green tea or coffee. Other people drink soda because they like the fizzing sensation it provides. Differing alternatives that are still carbonated are seltzers or sparkling water. The best replacement for regular and diet soda is water. Water can be enhanced by adding flavoring drops if necessary. Overall, a soda is okay every now and then in moderation, but drinking soft drinks every day can cause numerous drawbacks to one’s health. There is no true answer when determining whether a regular soda or diet soda is better for your health. It is important to limit both and remember to stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water.