Diet Soda: Health Concerns & Consumption Myths!

Are you on a diet soda? Are you fascinated by its low calorie tag? You like carbonated beverages but do not want to add calories in your intake. You are contemplating to try diet soda. Then be aware of the risks associated with the consumption of diet soda. The latest research reports link diet soda with depression. Some reports widely relate diet soda with weight gain instead of weight loss. Certainly the conflicting reports and opinions would confuse you. If you are looking forward to an impartial status report on diet soda then read on. I will try to place before the facts about diet soda to aid you in your judgment.

Diet Soda

Diet Soda (Image credit: gnaugname /

What is diet soda?

Diet soda is a carbonated beverage made out of low calorie sweeteners instead of sugar. Originally diet sodas were based on cyclamates and later saccharine. When US FDA banned these artificial sweeteners for their carcinogenic nature, then beverage manufacturers turned to aspartame. More recently, the formulations based on sucralose (marketed as “Splenda”) and acesulfame potassium (marketed as either “Sunnet” or “Ace K”) have hit the diet soda market.


Primary health concerns with diet sodas

The two most common health concerns in respect of consumption of carbonated beverages including diet sodas are:


Damages to tooth enamel

Both the sugar and the acidic nature of carbonated beverages are detrimental to tooth enamel.

using straw

Using straw (Image credit: atirme /

While you avoid the sugar with diet sodas, but the acidic nature of these carbonated beverages damage your tooth enamel. The acidic nature of the sodas comes from the use phosphoric acid and citric acid which are used for the purposes of carbonation and preservation respectively.


If you still like to drink the diet soda or other carbonated drinks then you may circumvent damage to the tooth enamel by using straw and avoiding direct contact of soda with the teeth.


Calcium loss or popularly known as “bone loss”

The phosphoric acid present in the diet sodas and other sodas seems to cause early secretion of calcium from the blood stream into the urine than can naturally happen, leading to the quicker loss of calcium. This would in turn trigger bones to give away some calcium to the blood stream leading to “bone loss”.


The secondary concerns
Damages to kidney

A study in 2009 found loss in functionality of kidneys in terms of the ability to purify blood by about 30% in those who drank two servings of diet soda in comparison to others who drank normal sodas. One school of thought assumes that diet soda would cause scar on the kidney tissue. However, the observation needs verification.


Possibility of weight gain

This might surprise you that diet soda being a low calorie drink. However, the observation needs scientific evidence, further studies and verification. On the other hand, it may turn out to be true as an indirect cause at least. The low calories of diet soda might encourage you to feast on other foods leading to weight gain indirectly.


Random metabolic activity

Whether it is the drinking of diet soda or the habits of the persons who drink it regularly, one of the studies on diet soda observed metabolic syndrome in the people who drank diet soda at least one serving a day. It included fat accumulation around belly and rising of cholesterol levels which put one under risk for heart attack.


A very bad hangover effect when mixed and consumed with alcoholic drinks

HangoverYou should never mix diet soda with alcoholic drinks such as vodka or other cocktails. A study in Australia revealed descending of serious hangover effect more quickly when you consume alcoholic cocktails with diet soda. It is believed that the sugar free sweetener would allow alcoholic beverage to enter blood stream faster than normal sugar soda mixed cocktails.


Possibility of damage to cell DNA

Diet sodas often contain preservatives such as sodium or potassium benzoate. One particular study revealed evidence of diet sodas causing serious damage to cell DNA to the extent of complete inactivation that leads to serious instability in you.


Other side effects of these preservatives are causing of asthmatic conditions and allergic reactions.


The risks with caramel colour of diet soda

A constituent contaminant of caramel caused serious risk of lung cancer during animal trials. Another research confirmed the carcinogenic nature of the caramel colour in humans.


The case of natural flavourings used in your diet soda

All the natural flavours need not be just as healthy as they thought to be. They may be an agglomeration of several chemical mimicking the flavor and need not be safe. So do not get carried away by the tag of naturally flavoured.


Harmful effect of diet soda or other soda cans

It appears that the cans containing diet soda and other soda drinks are as harmful as the ingredients of the soda itself. Problems starting from that of heart to reproduction can occur over a long regular usage.


Another emerging disturbing concern

It seems that regular consumption of diet soda can lead to depression syndrome according to latest research findings. Up to 30% of the cases in a sample population of over two hundred thousand persons reported depression symptoms, the study revealed. While the study might need reconfirmation of this serious issue, a great restrain in consumption of diet soda is recommended.


More or less all the ingredients used in the making of diet sodas have shown serious health risks starting from low calorie sweetening agent to natural flavours. As a bottom line, it can be concluded that diet soda need not be an evil per se, majority of the research findings need scientific evidence to prove the point and further field verification. At the same time the zero calories tag does not make it a case for its consumption every day. A restraint from every day indulgence is the safe bet while enjoying the drink once in a while.