With soda companies advertising their products as cool and refreshing beverages, sometimes it may be difficult to ignore a craving for cola. Due to the high amounts of sugar in cola, some people need to be wary of the effects of it on their blood sugar level. People with diabetes, for example, have high blood sugar levels because their body cannot properly use insulin to lower it. Others may drink diet sodas to prevent weight gain. As an alternative, people can select diet coke as it contains artificial sweeteners.
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Diet Coke Ingredients
A common sized can of soda is 12 fl. oz., or 335 mL. Diet Coke has one calorie in a 330 mL can compared to 139 calories in the original drink. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, FDA, permits five artificial sweeteners--aspartame, acesulfame--K, saccharin, sucralose and neotame. Diet Coke contains no sugar but uses aspartame and acesulfame-K.
Limits on Artificial Sweeteners
Besides approving the artificial sweeteners for use in foods, the FDA also has guidelines about the acceptable daily intake per kilogram of body weight. The Mayo Clinic illustrates that 50 mg per 1 kg of aspartame is acceptable, approximately equal to 18 or 19 cans of diet cola in a 68 kg, or 150 lb. person. The other ingredient in Diet Coke, acesulfame-K, is limited to 15 mg per kilogram, or roughly 30 to 32 cans of lemon-lime diet cola.
Effects on Blood Sugar Levels
Artificial sweeteners taste sweeter than sugar, so less is needed to flavor a food. Therefore, foods are usually lower in calorie if they contain these natural or chemical compounds. Both the Mayo Clinic and Harvard School of Public Health state that artificial sweeteners do not directly influence the blood sugar levels because they don't contain carbohydrates, fats or protein. However, foods with these sweeteners usually contain other ingredients that can increase blood sugar levels.
Some theories suggest that diet sodas are to blame for causing health problems such as metabolic syndrome. A follow-up study to the Framingham Heart Study suggested that drinking sweets such as soda triggers a person to crave other sweets. On the other hand, the American Heart Association stated that the study could not illustrate the link between heart disease factors and soft drinks. In 2009, the Diabetes Care Journal published the results of a study that found that daily consumption of a diet soda was linked to a higher risk for type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome disorder.
Science does not prove that diet colas affect blood sugar levels. In theory, artificial sweeteners used in these products should not have any effect. Physicians on the DukeHealth.org website debate on whether diet soda is harmful or not. Though each doctor has her own opinion regarding the topic, doctors cannot make conclusions due to the lack of substantial findings in research. Overall, the Harvard School of Public Health recommends that people consume fewer sugary drinks and limit diet soda consumption.