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You don’t have to be a health nut to know that soft drink isn’t good for you. But is it really all that bad?

Is it ok to just have it once in a while? And if you’re going to have it, is it better to have the regular ol’ sugar-filled version or the zero calorie “diet” kind?

Well, let’s weigh-in on the facts:

Regular soft drink – as bad as they say?

PROS:

  • It doesn’t contain artificial sweeteners (aspartame, sucralose, saccharin) that have gotten a really bad rap lately

CONS:

  • The sugar! A can of cola has about 8 teaspoons; almost the daily limit
  • Drinking 1-2 cans a day can increase your risk of type 2 diabetes by up to 26%

Diet soft drink – is it actually better for you?

PROS:

  • It feeds the craving for something sweet without adding extra calories or carbs, if you’re concerned about this
  • Since it’s sugar-free, diabetics can sip without worrying about the direct hit to their insulin and blood sugar levels

CONS:  

  • While diet soft drink may be considered ‘safe’ for diabetics, they are far from nutritious as the artificial sweeteners in diet soft drink actually cause you to crave more sugar. When we drink it, our body is expecting sugar. Then when it doesn’t get it, it responds with even more cravings – for sugar!
  • Diet soft drink drinkers tend to gain more weight particularly around their belly. One study said that frequent drinkers of diet soft drink gained up to three times more belly fat than their non-diet soft drink drinking counterparts.
  • Diet soft drink is now being linked with cancer, heart attacks, strokes and neurological disorders.

The verdict on soft drink

Neither regular or diet soft drink are going to improve your health. They are literally devoid of any health benefits. In fact, both are linked to significant health issues.

So what should you choose?

The best bet would be to steer clear of both, if you can. However, if you do decide to have a soft drink from time to time, the choice is ultimately up to you.

If you’re sensitive to sugar, then perhaps the diet soft drink may be your best bet. But, if artificial sweeteners wreak havoc on your digestive system, you may want to go with the regular soft drink instead.

What to drink instead

The healthiest drink you can give your body is plain old water. And while water may not seem as exciting as soft drink, you can shake it up by adding lemon, lime or berries – or even cucumber and mint for a bit of flavour.

Sparkling waters (sugar free and artificial sweetener free) can also be a great alternative for a soda replacement since they still contain some bubbles and fizz.

References

Wiley Online Library – Diet study & waist circumference study
CNN – Diet Soda May Do More Harm Than Good
Harvard School of Public Health – Soft Drinks & Disease
American Heart Association – Sugar 101
Healthline – Is Diet Soda Safe for Diabetes?

Recipe: For another delicious way to stay hydrated, try this refreshing coconut water based hydrator:

Lemon-Lime Refresher Recipe

Ingredients

  • 3 cups of water (filtered, sparkling or even better – coconut water!)
  • ¼ cup of fresh lemon juice
  • ¼ cup of fresh lime juice
  • 2-3 tbsp of maple syrup or honey (or stevia to taste for a sugar-free alternative)
  • ½ tsp sea salt or ¼ tsp Himalayan pink salt
  • Ice cubes

How to prepare

Combine all ingredients well. Then sip throughout the day and enjoy.