Should you quit Diet Coke: the pros and cons of diet soft drinks


Diet Coke

DC

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If there is one nutrition topic that always generates much debate it about the role of diet soft drinks in the diet, and of particular interest is “Diet Coke” -(http://au.tv.yahoo.com/the-morning-show/video/-/watch/27008588/kicking-the-coke-habit/). Since “Diet Coke” was released almost 30 years ago, it has become the favourite carbonated beverage of many; a virtually calorie fee bubbly drink with a caffeine hit to boot – how could you go wrong?

It is safe to say that there has been question or at least suspicion about diet soft drink, not just Diet Coke for some time. We all see severely overweight individuals chugging away on litres of the stuff; there are the descriptions of “Diet Coke” addiction and the consumer concerns over cancer and neurological damage long term. So here are the pros and cons of diet soft drinks, based both on the science and from my own client observations over the past 10 years.

Any product sweetened using artificial sweetener, be it yoghurt, soft drink or tea and coffee, is being sweetened with a substance, artificial or natural that is up to 200x sweeter than sugar. While sweetener may not contain the calories of sugar, there is some evidence to show that such an intense sweet taste may “prime” the brain to seek out more and more sweet food. In real terms this means that if you consume a sweetened product to relieve a sweet craving, or hunger, once the body gets a taste, it wants more and more, driving you to eat and/ or drink more. For individuals wanting to lose weight and cut back on their calorie and food intake you can see the potential issue in terms of sugar cravings, poor hunger management and potential overeating.

Then we have the concern over safety. A few years ago there was research published which found an interaction between sweetener and the preservatives found in soft drink. When cells were injected with large quantities of these additives, the energy centre of the cells started to show signs of malfunction. Now while such research is in its very early stages, I am sure I am not telling you anything new when I suggest that the fewer preservatives we have in our diet the better and inform you that there is small but a growing body of evidence that have been questioning the safety of diet soft drinks long term.

So, while a one of can of diet soft drink is not going to harm you, and indeed it remains a better choice than the standard 8 teaspoons of sugar per can full strength variety, the best way I can think of to describe the role of artificially sweetened products in the diet, whether it be desserts, sugar replacements or diet soft drinks is, as is the case with so many things in life, if it seems too good to be true, it usually is. Drink water, tea, a little coffee (as well as the best quality champagne) and your health and weight will be in much better shape, ten or even fifty years from now.

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