People’s demand for drinks like sodas, energy drinks, diet sodas, sweetened or unsweetened fruit juices and cold drinks increases during the summer season. Consequently, the search for healthy drinks and the advantages and disadvantages of having a favorite drink increase. Due to increasing health issues, diet sodas are becoming a popular drink among people.
This drink is calorie-free and suitable for many palates. This is why some consider it a safe option for people with diabetes. Also, unlike other drinks, it will not immediately raise blood sugar. But is it safe to drink for them and does it help prevent diabetes?
We address these concerns, including the benefits and possible risks of diet sodas. And alternative, healthy summer drink recipes.
Nutritional Value of Diet Sodas
Nutritional profile of diet soda (carbonated drink, fruit flavored, diet, without caffeine) according to USDA for 100g of drink:
- Water: 99.8g
- Protein: 0.1g
- Iron: 0.04mg
- Sodium: 6mg
- Potassium: 2mg
Is diet soda safe for diabetes?
Sugar should 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 as good options. They are widely added in soft drinks and brands market them as a choice for health conscious people.
Unfortunately, this is a marketing gimmick. Research claims that artificial sweeteners increase the risk of diabetes rather than controlling it. It further states the possible side effects of popular artificial sweeteners:
- Saccharin: bladder cancer
- Aspartame: chronic fatigue, brain tumor
- 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 research is not related to a side effect.
Benefits of diet soda
Diet sodas contain no nutrients and therefore offer no health benefits. But it has some comparative advantages over regular soda. Here is the list of benefits:
- Unlike regular soda, it contains zero calories. Thus, people can drink diet sodas in moderation.
- Second, as the amount of sugar is also zero, so for people with insulin-dependent diabetes, it does not require additional dosage.
Once in a while, people with diabetes can enjoy a refreshing diet soda along with proper diet and exercise.
Diet soda and health risks
Consuming artificially sweetened (diet) and sugary (regular) sodas may lead to a higher risk of diabetes.
Research suggests that daily diet soda consumption may lead to a 36% higher relative risk of metabolic syndrome and a 67% higher risk of type 2 diabetes than not drinking.
Another one to study says you can’t rule out diet sodas as an independent risk factor for diabetes. Therefore, switching to artificially sweetened diet drinks may not reduce your risk of diabetes. On the other hand, according to the study, sugary drinks contribute to diabetes.
People with diabetes are advised to prepare their delicious diabetes-friendly soda. As mentioned above, stevia has no recorded side effects. Therefore, people consider it a safe alternative to the sugar used in sodas. Also, instead of using store-bought processed stevia, people can opt for the dried leaves of the stevia plant itself.
Research shows that stevia extract significantly reduces fasting glucose levels, random glucose levels, and glycosylated hemoglobin. Additionally, it improved insulin and hepatic glycogen levels in rats. Therefore, stevia not only has side effects, but it improves diabetic conditions.
Water used to make carbonated drinks can also be quickly 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 eat for people with diabetes. Therefore, people can easily incorporate these fruits into drinks to make delicious and healthy smoothies.
Alternative healthy drinks for people with diabetes
While it’s best to avoid excessive salt, carbs, and sugar intake, moderating these components can help people enjoy their favorite foods and drinks. Moderation does not mean eliminating certain foods from your diet. Instead, people may occasionally consume these foods in small amounts. Try these alternative healthy drink recipes mentioned below:
- Servings: 2
- Preparation time: 15 mins
- Orange: ½
- Mint leaves: 1 sprig
- Cold water: 440ml
- soda siphon
- Dried and crushed stevia leaves to taste
- Cut the orange in half and remove the seeds from one half. Save the other half for another serving.
- Squeeze the orange juice by hand into two glass beakers so that a little pulp also gets into them.
- Wash and tear the mint leaves to release the juice; add them to the glass goblets.
- Add stevia to taste.
- Unscrew the cap from the soda siphon, remove the central tube and add cold water.
- Replace the center tube and cover.
- 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 cover.
- Press the lever to release the sparkling water from the spout into the glass goblets.
- Stir the mixture into the glass.
- Serve immediately.
Not only is this recipe really quick and easy to make, but it’s easier to modify and adapt to your tastes and mood.
Mango Sour Sharbat
- Servings: 2
- Preparation time: 15 mins
- Semi-raw mango: ½ semi-raw mango
- Mint leaves: 1 sprig
- Cold water: 450ml
- Dried and crushed stevia leaves to taste
- Pink salt to taste
- Peel and cut off one side of your mango.
- Pass it through a grinder to make a paste.
- Add equal amounts of pulp to two glass beakers.
- Add a pinch of salt and stevia to taste.
- Wash and tear the mint leaves to release the juice and add them to the cups.
- Add cold water and mix.
- Serve chilled or prepare in large quantities to keep for a week in the refrigerator.
Moderation prevents depression caused by feeling restricted on necessities such as food. Additionally, discipline in timing each meal can help manage diabetes. Research says eating meals in a timely manner can help maintain blood sugar levels. Likewise, eating an early dinner boosts lipid metabolism and improves blood sugar.
Other delicious alternatives
People with diabetes should avoid artificially sweetened beverages and may opt for high-fiber smoothies or fruit juices. This way the sugar to fiber ratio is much healthier. Moreover, studies show that increased fiber intake is positively related to improved glycemic control. Everyone should avoid adding extra sugar to these drinks. Also, avoid adding extra sugar to homemade drinks. When ordering these drinks externally, one can ask to add no or less sugar. However, not using sugar in smoothies does not compromise the taste factor, as the fruits provide natural sweetness.
Traditional Indian cold drinks such as buttermilk (chaas) and sharbat are also considered safe for consumption by diabetics. Therefore, one can opt for milk/yogurt smoothies or a glass of cold buttermilk when craving something cold like a soft drink. However, it should be remembered that they should not add more salt than the recommended salt intake, as even this is harmful for people with diabetes.
Another option for a cool and refreshing drink is to make sharbat. Sharbat, like homemade soda, uses water as a solvent. Instead of sugar, you can also use stevia leaves or fresh fruit as natural sweeteners.
Everyone knows that diabetes is a chronic disease that affects the way food turns into energy in the body. When the body breaks down food into glucose, insulin lets it into the cells of the body. However, in diabetes, the body produces low amounts of insulin or does not use insulin optimally. Therefore, it is crucial to control blood glucose levels in the body.
There are huge benefits to eating healthy and exercising. A healthy diet and regular movement help regulate blood sugar. Research indicates that food components tend to have a significant impact on our blood sugar levels. For example, the body gets sugar or glucose from carbohydrates in food. This is why it is advisable to avoid excessive consumption of carbohydrates when diagnosed with diabetes.
The choice of food and its quantities are relevant in this case. The amount of carbohydrates in foods and drinks is important. In addition, carbonated drinks are one of the most common drinks in all age groups and equally harmful to health. Hence, one should opt for healthier beverages like buttermilk, fruit juices, vegetable juices, smoothies, etc.
People can easily make refreshing drinks at home using a simple soda siphon and some stevia (for sweetness). With all of these healthy alternatives and moderations, people with diabetes can indulge in their beverages of choice while maintaining good health.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q. Are diet sodas acceptable for diabetics?
A. Diet sodas from different brands have similar amounts of sodium, carbohydrates and sugar. For example, according to the USDA, Mountain Dew diet soda contains 11g of sodium per 100g serving. Similarly, Dr Pepper contains 15 mg of sodium per 100 g serving (according to USDA.) Therefore, they meet the low sodium criteria.
However, diet sodas have added artificial sweeteners associated with numerous health risks. Therefore, it is prudent to avoid them. In addition, these artificial sweeteners are associated with an increase in weight in people, which worsens diabetes. Therefore, people should avoid these drinks.
Q. Do diet sodas raise blood sugar?
A. Diet sodas may not raise blood sugar; however, they are linked to multiple health risks as they use artificial sweeteners which have many side effects. Some of these health risks increase the risk of bladder cancer, chronic fatigue, and brain tumors, to name a few.
Q. Does Diet Coke interfere with diabetes?
A. Diabetes is said to get worse with weight gain. Research links the artificial sweeteners used in diet sodas, such as Diet Coke, to weight gain. Therefore, people with diabetes should avoid it.
Q. What drinks should diabetics avoid?
A. Any drink high in carbohydrates, sugar and sodium should be avoided by people with diabetes. Also, it is best to avoid drinks containing artificial sweeteners for diabetics and people without the condition.
Artificial sweeteners are associated with an increase in weight in people, which worsens diabetes. Therefore, it would be helpful to avoid drinks containing these ingredients. Additionally, several health risks, such as increased risk of bladder cancer, chronic fatigue, and brain tumors, are linked to artificial sweeteners.
Q. Can diabetes drink Coke Zero?
A. The USDA website shows that Coke Zero contains 17mg of sodium per 100g serving. Therefore, it meets the low sodium criteria for people with diabetes. However, it contains artificial sweeteners. Aspartame is associated with chronic fatigue and brain tumors. Additionally, artificial sweeteners are linked to increased weight in people, which worsens diabetes. Therefore, people should avoid it.
Q. Can diabetes be reversed?
A. Most of the time, all types of diabetes are incurable. However, you can reverse it with a healthy diet and exercise. Additionally, losing weight reduces the risk of the condition worsening. Finally, physical activities help to have a healthy pancreas which produces insulin.
Q. Does aspartame increase insulin?
A. Aspartame was not linked to peak insulin. On the other hand, stevia is known by research to increase insulin levels in the body.
Q. Can diabetes drink soda once in a while?
A. Moderation should always be applied to dietary restrictions. Therefore, if a patient wants to drink soda, he can do so from time to time. It is only through continued consumption that these side effects occur.
Q. Is Diet Pepsi good for people with diabetes?
A. According to data provided by the USDA, Diet Pepsi contains negligible amounts of carbohydrates, sugar, and salt. Therefore, it responds to the low intake of carbohydrates, sugar and salt of people with diabetes. However, the artificial sweetener Aspartame is associated with chronic fatigue and brain tumors. Artificial sweeteners are a catalyst for people gaining weight and worsening diabetes. Therefore, people should abstain from these drinks.
Q. What can diabetics drink besides water?
A. Diabetics have several options to choose from to drink in addition to water. Some of them are homemade smoothies, sharbat, buttermilk and sodas. Smoothies contain higher amounts of fiber than juices, which is helpful for diabetes because fiber improves this condition. Sharbat uses water as a solvent and fruits to flavor them; therefore, they can be harmless but refreshing. Finally, homemade sodas are without added sugar while offering a fresh taste.
Q. Is sugar-free soda good for people with diabetes?
A. No, sugar-free soda uses artificial sweeteners, which increases people’s weight. Increased weight, in turn, is linked to worsening diabetes. Therefore, zero soda is not suitable for diabetes.