You may think that swapping a sugary fizzy drink for a diet alternative is a healthy way to enjoy a tasty beverage. They’re calorie free, so they can’t have any negative effects can they? Wrong!

1. Cell damage

Almost all diet sodas contain the mould inhibitors sodium benzoate or potassium benzoate, which are not present in regular sodas such as Pepsi and Coca Cola. Scientists at the University of Sheffield found that these preservatives can cause severe damage to DNA in the mitochondria to the point where the cells are rendered completely useless. These preservatives have also been strongly associated with hives, asthma and other allergic conditions.

2. Increased disease risk

Studies have been conducted on diet sodas and the effects of their consumption on health. Many studies have shown that there is an increased risk of disease, including type II diabetes, despite containing zero sugar. This is even more relevant when some studies  ensured that the people were not overweight to begin with, but ended up with the same conclusions.

3. Not shown to aid weight loss

Despite containing zero calories, numerous studies have been conducted on diet sodas and the effects of their consumption on weight. Some studies have associated diet soda consumption with up to double the risk of becoming overweight or obese. It is thought that this is because the artificial sweeteners trick your body into thinking it has consumed sugar, and as a result they increase cravings for unhealthy sugary foods.

4. Metabolism meltdown

A large-scale study at the University of Minnesota found that drinking just one diet soda a day leads to a 34% increased risk of metabolic syndrome, with symptoms of belly fat and high cholesterol which increases the likelihood of heart disease. However, it wasn’t clear whether this was as a result of the drinker’s diets in general.

5. Dental health

Just like regular soda, diet soda is in fact still very acidic with a pH of 3.2. The acid dissolves the enamel coating on your teeth, which can lead to decay, fillings and in extreme cases, missing teeth.

So what should I drink instead?

This may not be what you want to hear, but the best alternatives are non-sugary and non-carbonated drinks, such as water, green tea or coffee (in moderation). Iced water is a great alternative, with a slice of lemon for flavour – it is refreshing and helps with fat loss as your body must bring it up to your body temperature to process it.