Is Your Diet Soda Safe for Diabetes? Let’s Find Out
One might think a diet soda has no sweeteners and thus can't be harmful for diabetes. So, is it true? Let's find out.
People’s quest for beverages like soda, energy drinks, diet soda, sweetened or unsweetened fruit juice, and cold drinks increases during the summer season. Consequently, the search for healthy beverages and the pros and cons of having any favourite drink increases. Because of rising health concerns, diet soda is becoming a popular beverage among people. This drink has zero calories and suits several palates. That’s why some consider it a safe option for people with diabetes. In addition, unlike other beverages, it will not spike blood sugar immediately. But is it safe to drink for them, and does it help prevent diabetes?
We address these concerns, including diet soda’s benefits and possible risks. And recipes for some alternative healthy summer drinks.
Nutrition Value of Diet Soda
Nutrition Profile of Diet soda (Soft drink, fruit-flavoured, diet, caffeine-free) according to the USDA per 100g of the beverage:
- Water: 99.8g
- Protein: 0.1g
- Iron: 0.04mg
- Sodium: 6mg
- Potassium: 2mg
Is Diet Soda Safe for Diabetes?
Sugar needs to be kept low in people’s diets. Therefore, one may wonder if artificial sweeteners are a good alternative. Artificial sweeteners have negligible calories. Hence, people consider them good options. They are added extensively in soft drinks, and brands market them as a choice for health-conscious people.
Sadly, this is a marketing gimmick. Research claims that artificial sweeteners increase the risk of diabetes rather than controlling it. It further states possible side-effects of popular artificial sweeteners:
- Saccharin: Bladder Cancer
- Aspartame: Chronic Fatigue, Brain Tumour
- Acesulfame: Carcinogenic (it has the potential to cause Cancer)
- Neotame: Neurotoxic, Immunotoxic, Excitotoxic
- Sucralose: May impact insulin sensitivity and cause DNA damage
Although, stevia is the only artificial sweetener that the research does not link with a side effect.
Benefits of Diet Soda
Diet soda contains no nutrients, hence providing no health benefits. But it has some comparative advantages over regular soda. Here is the list of advantages:
- Unlike regular soda, it doesn’t contain any calories. So, people can drink diet soda in moderation.
- Secondly, as the quantity of sugar is zero too, so for individuals with insulin-dependent diabetes, it doesn’t require an additional affront dosage.
Once in a while, people with diabetes can enjoy refreshing diet soda with proper diet and exercise.
Diet Soda and Health Risks
The intake of artificially sweetened (diet) and sugar-sweetened (regular) soda can lead to a higher risk of diabetes.
Research suggests that daily diet soda consumption can lead to a 36% higher relative risk of metabolic syndrome and a 67% higher risk of type 2 diabetes than nonconsumption.
Another study claims that you cannot exclude diet soda as an independent diabetes risk factor. Therefore, switching to artificially sweetened diet beverages may not lessen your risk of diabetes. On the other hand, as per the study, sugar-sweetened drinks contribute to diabetes.
It’s advisable for people with diabetes to make their delicious Diabetes-friendly soda. As mentioned above, stevia has no recorded side effects. Therefore, people consider it a safe alternative to sugar used in soda. Furthermore, instead of using store-bought, processed stevia, people can opt for the dried leaves from the stevia plant itself.
Research shows that stevia extract significantly reduced fasting glucose levels, random glucose levels, and glycosylated haemoglobin. Furthermore, it improved the insulin and liver glycogen levels in rats. Hence, stevia does not only have side effects, but it betters diabetic conditions.
The water used to make soft drinks can also quickly be carbonated at home to create fizz.
The National Institute of Health (NIH) suggests that fruits such as melon, berries, grapes, oranges, apples, and bananas are safe to consume for people with diabetes. Hence, People can easily incorporate these fruits into beverages to make delicious and healthy smoothies.
Alternative Healthy Drinks for People with Diabetes
While it is best to avoid excess consumption of salt, carbohydrates, and sugar, moderation in these components can help people enjoy their favourite foods and beverages. Moderation does not imply that one needs to eliminate particular foods from their diet. Instead, people can occasionally consume these foods in small quantities. Try out these alternative healthy drink recipes mentioned below:
- Servings: 2
- Preparation Time: 15 mins
- Orange: ½
- Mint leaves: 1 sprig
- Cold Water: 440ml
- Soda Syphon
- Dried and crushed stevia leaves to taste
Method of Preparation
- Cut the orange into half and remove seeds from one half. Keep the other half aside for another serving.
- Squeeze the orange juice by hand into two glass tumblers such that some pulp also goes in.
- Wash and tear mint leaves to release juices; add them to the glass tumblers.
- Add stevia to taste.
- Twist the cap off the soda syphon, remove the central tube, and add cold water.
- Replace the central tube and the lid.
- Undo the decorative cap on the side.
- Place the CO2 charger in the holder and screw it where the decorative cap was.
- Shake several times and remove the CO2 charger.
- Replace the decorative lid.
- Press the lever to release carbonated water from the spout into the glass tumblers.
- Stir the mixture in the glass.
- Serve immediately.
Not only is this recipe real quick and easy to make, but it is easier to alter and adjust to one’s taste and mood.
Sour Mango Sharbat
- Servings: 2
- Preparation Time: 15 mins
- Semi-raw mango: ½ a semi-raw mango
- Mint leaves: 1 sprig
- Cold Water: 450ml
- Dried and crushed stevia leaves to taste
- Pink salt to taste
Method of Preparation
- Peel and cut one side of your mango.
- Blitz it in the grinder to a pulp.
- Add equal amounts of the pulp into two glass tumblers.
- Add a pinch of salt and stevia to taste.
- Wash and tear mint leaves to release juices and add them to the tumblers.
- Add cold water and mix.
- Serve fresh or make in a big batch to store for a week in the fridge.
Moderation prevents depression caused by the feeling of being restricted about necessities such as food. Moreover, discipline in the timing of each meal can help manage diabetes. Research says that having meals timely can help maintain blood glucose levels. Similarly, eating an early dinner boosts lipid metabolism and improves blood glucose levels.
Other Delicious Alternatives
People with diabetes should avoid artificial sweet drinks, and they can opt for smoothies or juices of fruits having higher fibre content. This way, the sugar to fibre ratio is much healthier. In addition, studies show that increased fibre intake is positively related to improvements in glycemic controls. Everyone must avoid adding extra sugar to these drinks. Also, one should avoid adding extra sugar to homemade beverages. When ordering these beverages outside, one can request to add no or less sugar. However, not using sugar in smoothies does not compromise the taste factor, as fruits provide a natural sweetness.
Traditional Indian cold drinks such as buttermilk (chaas) and sharbat are also deemed safe for consumption in diabetics. Therefore, one can opt for milk/yoghurt smoothies or a cold glass of buttermilk when they are craving something cold like a soft drink. However, one should remember that they ought not to add more salt than recommended salt intake because even that is harmful to people with diabetes.
Another option for a cold and refreshing drink is to make sharbat. Sharbat, just like homemade soda, uses water as a solvent. Instead of sugar, you can also use stevia leaves or fresh fruits as natural sweeteners.
Everyone knows that diabetes is a chronic condition that affects how food converts into energy in bodies. When the body breaks down food to glucose, insulin lets it into the body’s cells. However, in diabetes, the body is either producing low quantities of insulin or does not use insulin optimally. Hence, it is crucial to control the blood glucose levels in the body.
There are tremendous benefits from eating healthy and exercising. A healthy diet and regular movement help regulate blood glucose levels. Research says that dietary components tend to impact our blood glucose levels significantly. For example, the body derives sugar or glucose from carbohydrates present in food. That is why it is advisable to avoid excess consumption of carbohydrates when diagnosed with diabetes.
Both the choice of food and its quantities are relevant in this case. The amount of carbohydrates in foods and beverages is significant. In addition, one of the prevalent beverages among all age groups and equally damaging to health is carbonated beverages. Therefore, one should opt for healthier drink options like buttermilk, fruit juice, vegetable juice, smoothies, etc.
People can easily make refreshing drinks at home using a simple soda syphon and stevia ( for sweetness). With all these alternatives and healthy moderations, people with diabetes can indulge in their drinks of choice while also ensuring good health.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Q. Is diet soda okay to drink for Diabetics?
A. Diet sodas from different brands show similar amounts of sodium, carbohydrates, and sugar. For example, according to the USDA, the diet soda from Mountain Dew contains 11g of sodium per 100g serving. Likewise, Dr Pepper includes 15 mg of sodium per 100g serving (according to USDA.) Hence, they meet the low sodium criteria.
However, diet soda has added artificial sweeteners associated with numerous health risks. Hence, it is safe to avoid them. Also, these artificial sweeteners are associated with increasing people’s weight, which in turn worsens diabetes. Therefore, people should avoid these drinks.
Q. Does diet soda raise blood sugar?
A. Diet sodas may not raise blood sugar; however, they are linked to multiple health risks as they use artificial sweeteners that have many side effects. Some of these health risks increase the chances of bladder cancer, chronic fatigue, and brain tumour, to name a few.
Q. Does Diet Coke mess with diabetes?
A. Diabetes is said to worsen with weight gain. Research links the artificial sweeteners used in diet sodas, such as Diet Coke, with weight gain. Hence, people with diabetes should avoid it.
Q. What drinks should Diabetics avoid?
A. Any drinks high in carbohydrates, sugar, and sodium should be avoided by people with diabetes. Also, it is best to avoid drinks with artificial sweeteners for both diabetics and people without the condition.
Artificial sweeteners are associated with increasing people’s weight, which worsens diabetes. Hence, it would help if you avoided any drinks with these ingredients. In addition, several health risks, such as increased chances of contracting bladder cancer, chronic fatigue, and brain tumours, are linked with artificial sweeteners.
Q. Can diabetes drink Coke Zero?
A. The USDA website shows that Coke Zero has 17mg of sodium per 100g serving. Hence, it meets the criteria of low sodium content for people with diabetes. However, it has artificial sweeteners. Aspartame is associated with chronic fatigue and brain tumour. In addition, artificial sweeteners link with an increase in weight in people, which worsens diabetes. Hence, people should avoid it.
Q. Can diabetes be reversed?
A. Mostly, all types of diabetes are incurable. However, you can reverse it with a healthy diet and exercise. In addition, losing weight reduces the chance of the condition getting worse. Finally, physical activities help to have a healthy pancreas that produces insulin.
Q. Does aspartame spike insulin?
A. Aspartame has not been linked with spike insulin. On the other hand, stevia is known by research to raise insulin levels in the body.
Q. Can diabetes drink soda once in a while?
A. Moderation should always be applied to dietary restrictions. Hence, if a patient wants to drink soda, they can do so once in a while. It is only through continuous consumption that these side effects take place.
Q. Is Diet Pepsi good for people with diabetes?
A. According to the data provided by the USDA, Diet Pepsi has negligible amounts of carbohydrates, sugar, and salt. Hence, it meets the low consumption of carbohydrates, sugar, and salt for people with diabetes. However, the artificial sweetener Aspartame is associated with chronic fatigue and brain tumour. Artificial sweeteners are a catalyst for increasing weight in people and worsening diabetes. Hence, people should refrain from these drinks.
Q. What can diabetics drink besides water?
A. Diabetics have several options to choose to drink besides water. Some of these are smoothies, sharbat, buttermilk, and homemade soda. Smoothies contain higher amounts of fibre than juices which is helpful for diabetes as fibre improves this condition. Sharbat uses water as dissolvent and fruits to flavour them; hence they can be harmless yet refreshing. Finally, homemade sodas are free from added sugar yet provide a fresh taste.
Q. Is zero sugar soda good for people with diabetes?
A. No, zero sugar soda uses artificial sweeteners, which increases people’s weight. Increased weight, in turn, is linked to the worsening of diabetes. Hence, zero soda is not suitable for diabetes.