Why soda is so addictive -- and some good alternative beverages
By Lisa Drayer, CNN
Updated 1005 GMT (1805 HKT) October 28, 2019
Photos:10 reasons to give up diet soda
10 reasons to give up diet soda – When taken at face value, diet soda seems like a health-conscious choice. It saves you the 140-plus calories you'd find in a sugary soft drink while still satisfying your urge for something sweet with artificial sweeteners like aspartame, saccharin, and sucralose. But there's more to this chemical cocktail than meets the eye.
It confuses your body – Artificial sweeteners have more intense flavor than real sugar, so over time products like diet soda dull our senses to naturally sweet foods like fruit, says Brooke Alpert, author of "The Sugar Detox." Even more troubling, these sugar stand-ins have been shown to have the same effect on your body as sugar. "Artificial sweeteners trigger insulin, which sends your body into fat storage mode and leads to weight gain," Alpert says.
It could lead to weight gain, not weight loss – Diet soda is calorie-free, but it won't necessarily help you lose weight. Researchers from the University of Texas found that over the course of about a decade, diet soda drinkers had a 70% greater increase in waist circumference compared with non-drinkers.
And get this: participants who slurped down two or more sodas a day experienced a 500% greater increase.
It may increase your risk of type 2 diabetes – Drinking one diet soda a day was associated with a 36% increased risk of metabolic syndrome and diabetes in a University of Minnesota study. Metabolic syndrome describes a cluster of conditions (including high blood pressure, elevated glucose levels, raised cholesterol, and large waist circumference) that put people at high risk for heart disease, stroke, and diabetes, Bjork explains.
It has no nutritional value – When you drink diet soda, you're not taking in any calories -- but you're also not swallowing anything that does your body any good, either. The best no-calorie beverage? Plain old water, says Bjork. "Water is essential for many of our bodily processes, so replacing it with diet soda is a negative thing," she says. If it's the fizziness you crave, try sparkling water.
Its sweetener is linked to headaches – Early studies on aspartame and anecdotal evidence suggests that this artificial sweetener may trigger headaches in some people. "I have several clients who used to suffer from migraines and pinpointed their cause to diet soda," Bjork says.