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Regular Vs Diet Soda - Which Is Worse?

It's well documented that both soda and diet soda are bad for the health, yet many of us can't resist them altogether and prefer to choose the 'lesser evil'. However, the question of which of the two is the 'lesser' evil is debatable, and indeed diet varieties can be equally as damaging as regular soda, just in different ways. Here’s a breakdown of the difference between regular and diet soda that will help you make an informed decision next time you pick up that soft drink.

Soda Vs. Diet
 

Diabetes

Regular Soda

An average can of a soda such as Coke contains nearly 10(!) teaspoons of sugar. If you consume 1-2 daily, you increase your risk of becoming diabetic by 26%.

Diet Soda

While diet varieties are preferable for diabetics, studies have shown that consuming artificial sweeteners can exacerbate a diabetic state by increasing the body's glucose intolerance.

Soda Vs. Diet
 

Weight

Regular Soda

A single can of soda contains almost twice the daily recommended intake of sugar. By drinking one can per day, you’ll gain an extra 2-7kg (4.5-15.5lbs) a year. In addition to this, you are consuming 'empty' calories which do nothing to satisfy your hunger so you will still want to eat afterwards.

Diet Soda

Studies have shown that even so-called diet sodas can lead to weight gain when consumed without a diet plan or regular physical exercise. The artificial sweeteners cause our brain to want more sugar, making it search for the 'real thing'.

Soda Vs. Diet
 

Heart Diseases

Regular Soda

A 2012 study found that drinking one can of soda every day can increase your risk of a heart attack by 20% when compared to people who don't drink it at all. Additionally, the study found that the more sodas you drink, the more you put yourself at risk of developing obstructive lung disease associated with asthma and smoking.

Diet Soda

In several studies comparing people who drank diet soda daily, against people who didn’t drink soda at all, it was discovered that diet soda drinkers are 50% more likely to develop cardiovascular problems, leaving them more prone to heart conditions and strokes. A separate study also concluded that daily consumption of diet soda raises your risk of developing cardiovascular diseases by 48%.

Soda Vs. Diet

Oral Health

Regular Soda

Ordinary sodas contain acids that dissolve the enamel of your teeth and lead to tooth decay, plus the bacteria in our mouth thrive on the sugar. This is why drinking soda is double-trouble for your teeth.

Diet Soda

Many of you may think that diet sodas aren't harmful to your teeth because they don’t contain sugar. However, they do contain phosphoric acid, which damages protective enamel, leaving your teeth more prone to attack from harmful bacteria.

Soda Vs. Diet
 

Neurological Effects

Regular Soda

In 2002, researchers from the University of California found that the consumption of high levels of processed sugar - the same kind found in soda - can decrease the production of the protein responsible for neural development, causing 'Brain-derived Neurotrophic Factor', which affects memory creation and learning processes.

Diet Soda

Studies conducted as early as 1987 found that artificial sweeteners, such as Aspartame (which is used in Diet Coke), are harmful to the neural nervous system, as well as the spinal cord. These sweeteners have been associated with mood swings and headaches.

Soda Vs. Diet

Conclusions

It’s hard to reach a definitive conclusion regarding which soda is the 'lesser evil', as both present their own health problems and it is difficult to find any benefits of either. If you only take one thing away from this comparison, it's this: You shouldn’t be drinking either of them.

That said, if you are diabetic, diet soda is the preferred drink of the two, as long as you limit yourself to no more than a few cups each month and avoid other sugary foods. If you’re not worried about your weight and prefer to avoid the damages artificial sweeteners cause, stick to regular soda, but don't consume it in large quantities.

If you truly want to stay healthy, abandon sodas altogether and substitute them with natural juices, plain soda water, or a healthy, fruit-infused drink.

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