8 Health Benefits of Giving Up Diet Soda

Doctor William C Lloyd Healthgrades Medical Reviewer
Medically Reviewed By William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Written By Ashley Festa on March 5, 2021
  • Soda pop
    The Risks of Diet Soda
    Many people believe that because diet soda has zero calories, it isn’t bad for you. But that’s not entirely true—diet soda risks include a higher chance of stroke, cardiovascular problems, and depression. Diet soda ingredients include a variety of artificial sweeteners, such as aspartame, saccharin and sucralose, and these often taste hundreds of times sweeter than actual sugar. That doesn’t mean you should go back to regular soda—the sugar in regular soda contributes to obesity and type 2 diabetes. (Switching to water is always a good idea.) Find out more about the health benefits of ditching your daily diet soda.
  • senior-woman-with-physical-therapist
    1. You may reduce your risk of stroke and dementia.
    One study found that people who drank one artificially sweetened drink daily increased their chance of having a stroke or developing dementia. Older women had a 23% higher risk of ischemic stroke if they drank two or more diet drinks daily, and those chances jumped even higher for obese women and black women. Scientists don’t know yet why diet soda and other artificially sweetened beverages may contribute to these conditions, and there’s no conclusive evidence for cause and effect. However, researchers note that these findings emphasize the need to study the mechanisms of how artificial sweeteners negatively affect the body and brain.
  • Group of friends laughing drinking wine outdoors
    2. Alcoholic drinks will absorb more slowly in your body without diet soda.
    People who mixed alcohol with diet soda had significantly higher breath alcohol test results and had a higher rate of alcohol absorption in their body than study participants who mixed their drink with regular soda. Additionally, the drinkers didn’t realize this increased impairment, which may raise the chance of risky behavior, such as driving while intoxicated.
  • Happy Young Woman with Proud Mother Looking On
    3. Your risk of depression drops.
    Diet soda and other artificially sweetened drinks have been associated with an increased risk of depression among older adults. In a study of more than 260,000 participants with a mean age of 61 years, people who drank diet soda or artificially sweetened coffee and tea were more likely to experience depression. While other variables may also have contributed to these findings, the researchers encouraged future studies since diet sodas are so widely consumed in the United States.
  • heart-disease-risk-woman-holding-apple-with-heart-etching
    4. You’ll lower your risk of cardiovascular problems.
    Older women who regularly consumed two or more diet drinks, including diet soda, per day increased their risk of developing heart disease by almost 30%. The same study also found that these women had a 16% higher chance of dying prematurely from any cause. In another study of more than 2,500 men and women, those who drank diet soda every day had a higher risk of cardiovascular events than those who did not drink diet soda.
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    5. Your teeth will be healthier.
    Yes, diet soda is bad for your teeth, just as much as regular soda. Even though it doesn’t have the sugar that damages your teeth, diet soda is still acidic, which erodes the enamel on your pearly whites. Instead, trade your diet soda for water or milk, which is much less acidic, and you’ll also score some calcium to strengthen your teeth.
  • young hispanic woman taking vegetables out of grocery bag
    6. You may reduce your risk of weight gain.
    Regular, sugar-laden soda has long been associated with weight gain. But diet soda and weight gain? They are also associated, according to a study of more than 5,000 participants in Texas. Compared with people who didn’t drink any artificially sweetened beverages, people who drank several diet drinks per day were significantly more likely to become overweight or obese compared with their baseline weight at the beginning of the study. While these findings may have other explanations, it doesn’t rule out the potential relationship between diet soda and weight gain.
  • pregnant woman eating
    7. You’re less likely to deliver a preterm baby.
    One study evaluated nearly 60,000 women and found an association between women who drank diet soda daily and an increased risk of preterm delivery. While the researchers note that more studies are needed, they concluded that there’s a chance that drinking diet soda may increase the chance of delivering your baby earlier than 37 weeks gestation.
  • kidney-disease-model-kidneys
    8. Your kidneys will be healthier.
    Drinking two or more diet sodas per day has been associated with reduced kidney function. In a study of more than 3,000 women, those who drank two or more diet sodas per day had 30% poorer kidney function after 20 years than women who didn’t drink diet soda. Drinking only one diet soda per day did not have an adverse effect on kidney function. The women in the study were predominantly white, so researchers aren’t sure how diet soda might affect women of other ethnicities or men.
  • woman-holding-up-water-and-soda
    The bottom line on diet soda vs. regular soda
    Researchers have noted that there are limitations to their findings on diet soda. For example, people struggling with their weight are more likely to drink diet soda rather than regular soda. And just because there’s an association between diet soda and a negative outcome, that doesn’t always mean diet soda is the cause—it means more study is needed and to be cautious until researchers discover more.

    In the meantime, if you simply can’t give up soda but you’re gaining weight, it's reasonable to switch to diet soda; studies have shown that people who choose diet soda over regular soda can curb weight gain. Better yet: Trade in your diet drink for water, milk or tea instead. For people on a low- or no-carb diet, such as the keto diet, diet soda may be technically acceptable, though it doesn’t support the overall health objectives keto diets are trying to achieve.
8 Health Benefits of Giving Up Diet Soda | Is Diet Soda Bad for You?

About The Author

Ashley Festa is a Greenville, S.C.-based freelance writer and editor who has been writing professionally for nearly two decades. In addition to Healthgrades, she also has written for Johns Hopkins School of Nursing, the University of Texas at Arlington School of Nursing and Health Innovation, and Fit Pregnancy magazine.
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Last Review Date: 2021 Feb 17
THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.