What’s your favourite soft drink – Coke? Bet you opt for Coke Zero or Diet Coke because you think it’s better for you? Well, I hate to burst your bubble, but when it comes to diet foods, especially diet drinks, none of them are good for you.
There’s a wide selection of supposedly ‘healthy’ soft drinks now, most of them replacing sugar with artificial sweeteners or stevia – a plant-based sugar substitute. The message that is sent to consumers is that less or no sugar equals fewer calories and therefore it’s not too bad to have these drinks regularly.
But fewer calories don’t necessarily make a drink healthy. The problem with artificial sweeteners is that our body is tricked into believing that it is consuming sugar and therefore calories. However, when those calories never arrive, our body keeps ‘looking’ for them, which we know as cravings. This means that diet drinks can make you feel hungry and you are more likely to give into a craving.
There are more negative effects of sweeteners. As sweeteners have a much more intense flavour than sugar, our taste buds can become desensitised over time. This means that you may develop a liking for overly sweet foods, which can result in weight gain.
At the same time, the psychological effect that diet drinks have is just as dangerous. When you drink something that has no calories, you are more likely to allow yourself a bigger portion of something else because you saved on calories by opting for a diet drink. Often, the extra food you eat will be much higher in calories than you’d think.
To top it off, the diet drink ingredients besides artificial sweeteners are anything but good for you. Most drinks are loaded with caffeine, the acid they contain will erode your teeth, and the chemicals in food colours are said to increase the risk of cancer. Does’t sound very good, does it?
As with everything we eat and drink, moderation is key. There is nothing wrong with enjoying a cold soft drink every now and then, just don’t make diet drinks your substitute for water.
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