Diet Soda & Diabetes: Is Diet Soda Safe for Diabetes?

Diabetes is a serious medical condition caused due to increased level of blood sugar in the body. As a result, body is unable to either use or produce “insulin”, a hormone which moves sugar from the blood to the cells where it makes energy.

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Do Diet Sodas Cause Diabetes?

It is recommended to stay away from drinks which contain a lot of sugar as they can affect your heart health. Usually, soda is very high in sugar. People, especially diabetics, should aware about such beverages.

Before going further, let’s discuss the three common types of diabetes first –

Type 1 Diabetes

With Type 1 diabetes, body is unable to produce proper amount of insulin. Immune system attacks the pancreas cells which are responsible to produce insulin. There is nothing which can directly cause Type 1 Diabetes. But here are the factors responsible for type 1 diabetes –

• Lack of vitamin D
• Any family member with type 1 diabetes
• Exposure to viral diseases in childhood

Drinking cow’s milk in childhood may also higher the risk of type 1 diabetes.

Type 2 Diabetes

It is the most widespread type of diabetes. In this condition, body cannot use insulin properly or make the most of it to work with sugar consumption.

Type 2 diabetes is linked to –
• Inactivity
Genetic issues
• Age
• Family history
• High blood pressure

Gestational Diabetes

This condition generally affects pregnant women. If body is unable to produce enough insulin to move the sugar to the cells to be used or if your body resists insulin, you may be diagnosed with gestational diabetes.

According to a recent BMJ study, drinking sugary beverages increases the risk of type 2 diabetes. In another study published in Diabetes Care, people who drink 1 to 2 glasses of sweetened drinks every day have up to 26% higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes as compared to those who don’t.

What to Know about Sodas?

• Soda builds plaque – Soda contains sugar that helps bacteria to build up plaque on your teeth. Each drink loads the mouth with sugar and makes it an ideal breeding ground for plaque.

• Empty Calories – An average soda can adds up to 150 calories and it harms more than good.

• Soda is Acidic – A regular can of soda can wreck havoc on your oral health. It improves the risk of enamel decay, cavities, and gum diseases.

Diet Soda and Diabetes

Drinking a can of diet soda per day can increase up to 36% of risk of diabetes and metabolic syndrome, according to a study done by the University of Minnesota. Metabolic syndrome is a cluster of medical conditions, such as increased glucose levels, high blood pressure, large belly fat, raised cholesterol. It imposes high risk of stroke, heart disease, diabetes etc.

Diet Soda and Diabetes

Though diet soda doesn’t contain sugar, it can still be risky for diabetics. It may be the sugar-free alternative to sugary soda. But it doesn’t mean it can be a healthier choice. It is true that diet sodas have little or no calories and they are considered to be the better options for people with diabetes, it may not be healthy in some cases.

In the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, a recent study was conducted on 66,118 women for up to 14 years to keep an eye on beverages they drink. At the end, both artificially sweetened drinks and sugar-sweetened drinks found linked with Type 2 Diabetes.

Recent studies have also put emphasis on the strong connections of diet soda with factors relating to diabetes, such as metabolic syndrome and weight gain.

Is Drinking Soda a Health Risk?

Initially, diet soda sounds to be a health-conscious option as it saves up to 140 calories that are found in sweetened soft drinks, while fulfilling the urge for sweets, with artificial sweeteners, such as saccharin, aspartame, and sucralose. But this chemical cocktail has something more to it.

It Troubles Your System

Artificial sweeteners come with more intense taste than common sugar. Over time, it affects our senses to sweet products like fruits. These also have been known to cause the same effect to our body as sugar. It triggers insulin which makes your body to store fat and causes weight gain.

It Causes Weight Gain, Instead of Weight Loss

Diet soda is free of calories and it won’t be helpful in weight loss at all. According to the researchers from the University of Texas, diet soda users had 70% of hike in weight gain over the course of a decade, when compared to non-drinkers.

Participants who took more than 2 drinks faced over 500% increase in weight. The artificial sweeteners play a great role in confusing your body. When you feel that you are not having any sweetened liquid calories, you might justify having pizza with extra cheese or double cheeseburger.

No Nutritional Benefits

Sure, you are not getting any extra calories by drinking diet soda. But it is also not doing anything good to your body. Is it the best sugar-free drink? It is better to have plain water because it is essential for most processes in the body. So, replace it with sparkling water if you crave its fizziness.

Causes Headaches

According to early studies and anecdotal evidences, the diet soda contains artificial sweeteners which are linked to headaches in some people. Many users suffer migraines due to diet soda.

Bad for Oral Health

Excessive drinking of diet soda can ruin your smile with time, according to a case study in General Dentistry. In this research, the same level of tooth erosion is found in the mouths of a methamphetamine user, a cocaine user, and a diet-soda drinker. It is due to citric acid which damages and weakens the tooth enamel with time.

Affects Your Drinking Strength

If you use diet soda for low-calorie cocktail, it can cause more damage than good. You will get drunk faster than sugary drinks, according to a Northern Kentucky University research. In this study, participants who drank cocktailed with diet soda suffered higher alcohol concentration than the ones who drank alcohol with sugary drinks. It is because artificial sweetener is absorbed faster than sugar in our bloodstream.

Causes Depression

According to a recent study conducted by the American Academy of Neurology, people who drank up to 4 cans or cups of diet soda per day over the decade were at 30% higher risk of developing depression than those who didn’t.

It Can Affect Your Bone Health

Women above 60 are more likely to develop osteoporosis than men and this problem can be caused by drinking diet soda, according to the researchers at Tufts University. According to them, women had around 4% lower bone density in their hips than those who steer cleared of soda.

The research also covered the vitamin D and calcium intake of the participants. In addition, a study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found the major cause of low bone density is all kinds of cola intake in women.

Causes Heart Disease

Just one glass of soda per day can lead you to improved risk of having heart diseases, such as heart attack, stroke, or vascular death, according to the studies conducted at the Columbia University and the University of Miami.

According to their study, the diet soda drinkers are 43% more vulnerable to develop a vascular disease than the ones who didn’t. Regular soda users didn’t have a higher risk of vascular deaths. But researchers need more studies to be done before any definite conclusions are made on the effects of diet soda on health.

Diet Soda Alternatives for a Diabetic

If you can’t leave soda, you can try other tastier options before you try it. Here are some of the healthier and safer alternatives to diet soda –

Unsweetened Tea

If you drink soda for a quick caffeine boost, you must try unsweetened black tea which is the best alternative of soda. You can also get it iced. It gives the same refreshing boost to your body as cold soda. It contains small amounts of caffeine to help your body to process sugar and manage weight.

Carbonated Water with some Fruit Juice

People who consume soda for the soothing fizz can enjoy carbonated water which is flavored with some fruit juice splash like lemon, lime, or grapefruit. This combination is rich in minerals and vitamins, and hydrates your body. Grapefruit, lime and lemon juice also improves digestion.

Stevia Leaves

People who can’t leave the sweetness of soda can sweeten carbonated water or tea with whole stevia leaves. These leaves are calorie-free sweetener. They have less of craving-boosting effects as compared to various artificial sweeteners, with 30 to 40 times the sugar’s sweetness.

Read Also: 10 Best and Worst Drinks for Diabetics


It’s time to say “NO” to diet sodas. Sodas contain little nutrients and have a lot of side effects. If you have diabetes, diet soda has been linked metabolic syndrome and weight gain. Diet soda contains sweeteners that also cause insulin spikes and sugar response in the blood.

So, it is better to switch to carbonated water and unsweetened iced tea, which are the best alternatives. They can provide the same caffeine boost and refreshing benefits like diet soda.

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