Soda Vs Diet Soda: Which is Better?

“Looks like you’re having a party!” says one woman to another as I pass them in front of a display of soda on sale at the grocery store. “No, it’s just for me,” says the other who has a cart full of cases of soda. “I love my sugar water but at least it’s not diet soda. That’s so bad for you.” The other woman nods in agreement. But really which is better? Regular soda or diet?

If you are asking which is better at making you sick, the answer is ….they both win! Regular soda is not better for you then diet soda and diet is not good for you either! Both options are toxic. The body can’t tell the difference between toxic and less toxic. The body only knows if something is healthy or if something is toxic. Don’t drink toxins.

If you need more let’s take a look at diet soda compared to regular soda.

Toxin Showdown: Regular Soda Vs. Diet Soda

Round 1: Caramel Color

Caramel coloring may do more than make your cola that nice brown color. It might include cancer causing byproducts; harmful, advanced glycation end products that can cause high blood pressure, insulin resistance, and inflammation; decrease immune function and/or could potentially include allergens. Basically, caramel coloring could mean a variety of ingredients including harmful toxins and allergens that aren’t indicated individually on the label.  (1,2,3)

Caramel coloring is used in both diet and regular soda, so you aren’t better off with either. Artificial colors in non-colas like Red #40, Yellow #5 and Blue #1 aren’t good for you either. That means there is no winner for this round.

               Round Loser: Diet and Regular Soda

Round 2: Sugar

A can of soda can have about 39 grams of sugar. That’s over 9 teaspoons! Drinking 1 can of soda a day can be 39 lbs of sugar a year. Think about what that means for the people who drink more soda than water! Sugar is terrible for you. It is linked to cancer, obesity, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and it’s a highly inflammatory food. Don’t see sugar on your can? It’s also goes by the names of High Fructose Corn Syrup, Corn Syrup, Sucrose. Added sugar has over 60 names it goes by to confuse the consumer. (4) One study found, over 180,000 deaths worldwide are linked to sugar-sweetened beverages. (5)

There is a clear winner in this round. Diet Soda doesn’t have any sugar while a can of soda has 39 grams which is much higher than the Average Recommended Daily Maximum of 25 grams of sugar for an adult. That’s more than your daily limit in 1 can! Want to learn more about the harmful effects of sugar check out our article. But Diet Soda shouldn’t get too cocky going into the next round.

               Round Loser: Regular Soda

Round 3: Artificial Sweeteners: Aspartame, Saccharin, Sucralose

Many might think if they drink diet at least they will lose weight, but the studies don’t support that. (6) There are numerous studies that actually link artificial sweeteners like aspartame to weight gain and belly fat. Artificial sweeteners mess with how your body regulates itself by affecting resting metabolic rate, your gut environment, and blood glucose. This can lead to a belly roll without the calories.

One study observed 475 adults for 10 years and found drinking diet soda resulted in a 70% increase in waist circumference compared to those who didn’t. Drinking two or more diet sodas per day led to a 500% bigger waist! (7) Aspartame has also been linked to diabetes, Alzheimer’s, multiple sclerosis, fibromyalgia and cancer. (8)

Diet Soda doesn’t have sugar, but that aspartame took it down for this round.

                 Round Loser: Diet Soda

Round 4: Hormonal Imbalance

Chemicals used in manufacturing cans and bottles are potential endocrine disrupters. When these nasty chemicals get into your body they mimic the body’s natural estrogen and other hormones. Bisphenol A (BPA) is commonly used to line the cans of food and soda cans. This estrogen-mimicking chemical has been linked to a bunch of health issues.

Along with BPA manufacturers often use its cousin, Bisphenol A diglycidyl ether (BADGE), and both are known to leech into foods.  BADGE has been reported to have Estrogenic and antiandrogenic effects along with being linked to proliferation of breast cancer cells, developmental toxicity during gestation and lactation of rats, and cell toxicity. (9) Polyethylene terephthalate (PET) is also used in plastic bottles and has been identified as leaching potential endocrine disruptors. (10)

These chemicals can be found in our fat, urine and breast milk so we need more studies to determine the danger they can cause. The chemicals are used regardless of whether you are drinking regular or diet soda. Your hormones lose this round.

 Round Loser: Diet and Regular

Round 5: Phosphoric Acid

The ingredients of most cans of soda include phosphoric acid. This is the nasty ingredient contributes to the acidic environment of a can of soda that contributed to Pepsi’s lawsuit argument that a man could not have possibly found a mouse in his can of soda. They said he couldn’t have found it because it would have been turned into a jelly-like substance after 30 days. Ok – gross… let’s keep moving along.

It’s been found to cause stomach problems and numerous health problems. Phosphoric acid has been linked to increased kidney stones and disease. One study found consumption of two or more soda beverages daily was associated with an increased risk of chronic kidney diseases. Phosphoric acid also decreases the absorption of calcium leading to osteoporosis and bone density loss. One study even found phosphoric acid was associated to accelerated aging!

Phosphoric acid is found in both the regular and diet versions of your favorite sodas.

                Round Loser: Diet and Regular Soda

Round 6: Brominated Vegetable Oil

Brominated Vegetable Oil is a popular food additive that Coca Cola and Pepsi had agreed to take out of their beverages, but you can still find it in the ingredient list for Mountain Dew and many store brand sodas. This additive contains bromine which is a chemical used in flame retardants. Using the additive was once classified as “generally recognized as safe” by the FDA but now the FDA has reversed that decision until further studies. (11)

Bromine can build up in the body and is a recognized endocrine disruptor. This nasty chemical has been linked to memory loss, nerve disorders, infertility, cancer, thyroid issues, skin problems, fatigue and more. (12)

Both regular and diet sodas contain Brominated Vegetable Oil. Are you going to check your cans? Who’s losing with Bromine?

                Round Loser: Diet and Regular

Round 7: Tooth Decay

The first punch in this round lands on sugar-laden regular soda. We all know it is bad for our teeth. 92% of adults in U.S. have experienced tooth decay compared to 2% of Nigerians who have low sugar diets. (13) Regular soda is full of teeth rotting sugars!

You shouldn’t assume the round is won by diet soda because it doesn’t have sugar. That phosphoric acid is found in both regular and diet sodas can soften the teeth and lower bone mineral density leading to periodontal disease and tooth loss. If there are no teeth there can’t be a winner.

               Round Loser: Diet and Regular Soda

Round 8: Sodium Benzoate

Sodium benzoate is added to soda to prevent the growth of yeast, bacteria and mold. Another ingredient added to or found naturally in soda and juice is Vitamin C. Vitamin C goes by the name ascorbic acid and citric acid. (14) When combined, these ingredients can form benzene which is a known carcinogen. They say not to worry because its just in small amounts. How much do you think you get if you drink the whole 2-liter of soda?

                Round Loser: Diet and Regular Soda

Round 9: Nutritional Value

Did you think there would be a winner for this one? There is absolutely no nutritional value in a can of soda whether it be regular or diet. Your body only knows, “is what I’m being given good for me – or is it toxic?!”

              Final Round and Match Loser: Diet and Regular Soda

Soda is a Losing Choice

There could be more rounds of battle of the sodas, but it is clear neither option is good for you plus they are addictive. Do we need to talk about how both are linked to asthma, hypertension, fatty liver disease and both contain GMO’s? (15, 16, 17) We don’t need to prove its addictive. Millions of Americans do that for us when we see all the harm soda causes but people are still drinking it. The definition of addiction is still doing something even though it causes you harm. Drinking soda causes you harm.

Swap out your soda for something that won’t be harmful. Try infused waters, kombucha, tea, coffee, or apple cider vinegar drinks. You can be on the winning side of health.

Kick the soda habit and don’t kick your habit by replacing one evil for another. Neither is better for you. Remember, your body doesn’t know the difference between toxic and less toxic. Don’t give your body toxic. Give it healthy!