There are a lot of misconceptions out there about diet soda, and it is often demonized as being worse for our health than regular soda. Some people think it’s worse for your health than regular soda, but that’s not necessarily true. Diet soda can actually be a healthy choice for people looking to cut down on sugar and calories. Here are some common myths about diet soda and its truth.
- Myth: Aspartame in diet soda causes headaches and other health problems
Truth: This is one of the most widespread myths about aspartame. The truth is that aspartame doesn’t cause headaches or any of the other health issues people associate with it. It has been proven safe over and over again. A small percentage of people are allergic to aspartame, but that constitutes less than 1% of the population.
- Myth: Diet soda causes osteoporosis
Truth: This is another myth that just isn’t true. Numerous studies have shown that drinking diet soda does not increase your risk for osteoporosis. In fact, one study showed that women who drank diet soda actually had a lower risk for osteoporosis than those who didn’t drink soda or drank regular soda. That being said, excessive consumption of any food or beverage can lead to depleted nutrients and could impact your health. Therefore, it’s important to practice moderation with all foods, whether they’re regular or sugar-free.
- Myth: Aspartame is just poison added to make diet sodas taste good
Truth: That might be what it tastes like to some people, but that’s far from true. Aspartame is an artificial sweetener made from amino acids, the building blocks of protein. It’s created by breaking down the amino acid phenylalanine into its components — a three-carbon molecule called methanol and lactic acid compound. Methanol is what some people claim causes health issues. Still, it’s present in trace amounts that the human body can handle easily. In fact, there’s far more methanol in a fruit smoothie than in any aspartame-sweetened beverage.
Over the past 50 years, more than 200 million people have been exposed to aspartame without any evidence of harm. This equates to over 500 million servings, demonstrating the safety of this artificial sweetener.
- Myth: Diet soda causes headaches
Truth: For some people, this may be true. Some individuals may react to the flavouring agents which can cause headaches or migraine-type symptoms. If you consistently drink a flavour that causes problems for you, it’s best to try a different flavour or brand until you find one that works for your body.
That being said, some individuals may have migraines caused by aspartame because they are genetically programmed to break it down into phenylalanine and methanol. However, the American Headache Society states that there isn’t enough evidence to link aspartame to migraine headache triggers.
- Myth: Drinking diet soda increases your lifespan
Truth: Yes, it does — but only slightly. A study examined more than 6 million Americans from 1982 to 2012 and followed them until 2014. Regardless of whether it was regular or diet, those who never drank soda had the longest life expectancy (about 8 years). However, those who consumed 2-3 glasses of soda per day had a 6-month decrease in lifespan, and those who drank 4+ glasses per day had a 12-month decline. This means that if you drink diet soda, it may likely cause you to live longer – but only by a month or two at most.