I am pretty legendary ’round these parts for my affection for Diet Coke, so about once a month (or more) someone tries to scare me off the stuff by sending me an anti Diet Coke article or blog post. I’ve read each and every one of them, and you know what? They’re all a bunch of unfounded, baseless crap. This may be a somewhat unpopular opinion, but I’ll say it loud and proud… THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH DRINKING DIET COKE!
Since 1870, America has had a Surgeon General who, according to www.surgeongeneral.gov, “serves as America’s Doctor by providing Americans the best scientific information available on how to improve their health and reduce the risk of illness and injury.” To do this the Surgeon General will, from time-to-time, issue a health warning.
Since 1966, for example, the Surgeon General has insisted that tobacco products have warnings placed on their packaging, the current verbiage for which read: “Quitting Smoking Now Greatly Reduces Serious Risks to Your Health” and “Smoking By Pregnant Women May Result in Fetal Injury, Premature Birth, And Low Birth Weight.” Tobacco companies have spent hundreds of millions of dollars over the last forty-five years trying to get rid of these warnings, but to no avail. The scientific evidence of tobacco’s risks to our health is too great.
Similarly, the Surgeon General also insists that warnings are placed on alcohol products. Check out these cheery statements:
WARNING: The Surgeon General has determined that the consumption of this product, which contains alcohol, during pregnancy can cause mental retardation and other birth defects.
WARNING: The consumption of this product, which contains alcohol, can increase the risk of developing hypertension, liver disease, and cancer.
Booze is big business in America, and its purveyors have done their damnedest to try and get rid of these warnings. Despite this, the Surgeon General has refused to change its stance as the scientific evidence citing alcohol’s danger is clear.
The Surgeon General doesn’t just pick on Big Tobacco and Booze. In the late Seventies the Coca-Cola Company sweetened its diet soda product, Tab, with saccharin, and the Surgeon General insisted that it be sold with the following warning: “Use of this product may be hazardous to your health. This product contains saccharin, which has been determined to cause cancer in laboratory animals.”
So what does this all have to do with Diet Coke? Well, since its introduction nearly thirty years ago, Diet Coke has repeatedly been deemed safe by the Surgeon General. In fact, Aspartame (the sweetener used in Diet Coke) has been one of the most thoroughly tested and studied food additives the Food and Drug Administration has ever approved. The agency says the more than 100 toxicological and clinical studies it has reviewed confirm that aspartame is safe for the general population.
You may find this hard to believe – especially since the anti-diet soda studies that pop up from time to time receive a lot of press – but the reality is the Surgeon General has given these studies little credence because they are all sizzle and no steak.
A good example of this can be found in msnbc.com’s article, “Daily Diet Soda Tied To Higher Heart Attack Risk.” Despite the sensationalist title, the writer was hardly convinced of the study’s anti diet soda stance, and finished with these quotes:
“Still, the researchers aren’t ready to tell consumers to skip diet sodas. ‘More studies need to be done before that happens,’ said the report’s lead author Hannah Gardener, an epidemiologist at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine.”
“Soda may not be the villain,” says Dr. Nehal N. Mehta, director of inflammatory risk cardiology at the University of Pennsylvania. “It may be the other things people consume in association with diet soda. After all, what goes better with pizza or fries than a soda?”
Don’t get me wrong… I realize water is the healthiest liquid we can drink, and that all other liquids (including Diet Coke) should be consumed in moderation. But I thought it was time someone someone stood up and shouted over the criticism, “Viva Las Diet Coke!”
(FYI…I am not being paid by Diet Coke to say this but if they want to send me a case or two I wouldn’t complain!)
Amen and pass the juice!
I drink coke everyday. Not diet. Plain old ordinary coke. And I have for years. And I don’t intend on stopping. No matter how many people tell me it rusts a nail overnight and what must it be doing to my stomach.
Me too. I could give up ANYTHING, but the Coke.
Ms. A says:
My oldest son and I don’t suffer from PKU disease, but aspartame/phenylalanine, makes us violently ill. I won’t be drinking diet coke, so that will leave more for you.
Sarah Graham says:
I’m a Coke Zero fan!
J from Ireland says:
Yay, I may have to print this off a few times to pass around to all the people in my life who go on and on about how bad diet coke is for me. Very well said. Diet coke is my preferred choice of drink and I’m Irish!!!
I’m still stuck on the fact that people send you news articles about Diet Coke.
It’s not diet coke per se that is a problem itvte caffeine. My dad was like you a diet coke addict. Then he got terrible kidney stones and it was due to all the caffeine and not enough water.
I’m with Abby – you should check out the literature on over-caffeinating. I’m an epidemiologist myself, and drinking loads of diet coke is definitely a bad habit, but you’re right – it’s not the worst! Overall, consuming too much of ANYTHING is not good for your health.
Heather P says:
THANK YOU!!! I have recently been having discussions with friends about aspartame. I had “quit” the stuff over three years ago before getting pregnant, fearing that it was indeed bad for me and my soon to be baby. Then about a year ago, I decided to more research (because I missed my sweet friend), and found that they had done even MORE research on it, and STILL deemed it safe. As you mentioned, this is the most scrutinized food product on the market, and has repeatedly passed all testing (over 200 scientific experiments). I think that people want to be able to place blame on things for illness, so they take it out on easy targets, regardless of what they are told by researchers. I will continue to keep up with research on it, in case they discover something new, but as of right now, I drink diet soda, and I LOVE IT! Thanks Mike, someone had to say it
Heather P says:
One more thing, I do acknowledge that some people will have an “intolerance” to aspartame. That is the same as having an intolerance or allergy to any other food product. I myself am allergic to penicillin, but I would NEVER deem it unsafe for the rest of the population. People should keep in mind, we are all build differently, and all react differently to things.
I respectfully and wholeheartedly completely disagree but it is America and you can drink what you want.
By the way, at least check the expiration date. Expired diet coke is not good.
I couldn’t find any studies on the harmful effects of expired Diet Coke so I’m assuming you are referring to the taste? I would imagine that depends on how long it’s been expired.
Dee Dee says:
I agree with Bampa, the only thing I have heard about “expired” diet coke is that the Coke company says it will taste better if consumed by the exp date, hence it you let your coke expire you will buy more diet coke…get the picture!
Go Diet Coke Go! I love it!
Thank you Mike, I have patients who at least once a month give me some long story about why and how bad diet Coke can be for you!
I can verify that expired Diet Coke doesn’t taste the same. It starts to taste sour and just not as good. That said, expired Diet Coke is still way better than NO Diet Coke! I’m not giving mine up. Thank you for making me feel less guilty!
i totally agree! i can taste when it’s expired within a week of it’s expiration. however, if that’s all there is, i wont say no!
Lindsey Cote says:
YAY!! Diet Coke! I grew up in a house with a diabetic brother. 25 years ago, diabetics were told to avoid sugar (today they are told to avoid sugar, yes, but mostly focus on their carb intake). Because of that, my parents never had “Real” Coke in the house. So I have always been a diet soda drinker.
I have SO many friends who tell me not to drink my ONE diet coke a day, while they throw back TONS of sugar filled soda which rots their teeth and expands their waist line. My OBGYN even said it was fine for me to have my one diet coke a day while I was pregnant with my son. Everything in moderation.
Yeah! You tell ’em! I may have to print that study for my dad who (while drinking Crystal Light- also sweetened with Aspartame) tells me how bad Diet Coke because of the sweetener. I don’t drink coffee, I seldom drink alcohol and I want my Diet Coke. Thanks for standing up for those of us who want our caffeine in a non coffee source, Mike!
Amen! I get sick of people self righteously telling me to stop drinking my Coke. I had a roommate in college who would constantly harp on my tv watching and soda drinking until I wanted to strangle her.
Disagree, but I am an avid soda drinker myself. But my biggest nitpick is if you’re going to go on a big quasi-scientific explanation…have your facts straight. FDA=Food and Drug Administration. Not “federal drug agency”
Good catch… Not sure how I made that mistake. Must have been all the Diet Coke!
Dee Dee says:
Poor Mike! Man people are soooo rough on you! And you take it like a trooper! Just a little minor typo in my opinion!
Yeah! Another diet coke fan…don’t know where I would be without it! And those alternative diet cola drinks…why bother…I even bring my own with me when we go somewhere I know serves pepsi or even worse rc cola!
My drug of choice is Diet Pepsi. Yes, I should be drinking water, but I rationalize my consumption by keeping in mind that I don’t use drugs, smoke or drink.
I love the stuff too but can’t drink it anymore–the acid gave me stomach problems. Now I drink too many iced lattes!
I would also like to add something about those people who like to use “science” to dissuade you from drinking Coke or Diet Coke. They love to tell you that if you put a tooth in a glass of coke, it will dissolve. Guess what, if you took your stomach acids out and put a tooth in it, it would also dissolve, so what? My point being that the stomach acids we all have in our stomachs (and are living just fine with), are much stronger than coke, so what’s all the hollering about? Enjoy your Diet Coke (I do like Diet Pepsi more because it reminds me of my grandparents….) !
Even though I am Diet soda FIEND . .just have to add ..
. . .in College I worked at Disneylands Coke Corner. They have to replace the MARBLE counter top behind the machines every so often because the soda EATS IT AWAY after time . .
Just sayin ..
however, I LOVE your rationalization that the stomach acids are stronger!!! lololol
The difference is we don’t swallow our stomach acids. There is a reason that people with bulimia or acid reflux have problems with their teeth and espophagi.
Diet Coke FTW
Elizabeth@Table for Five says:
Diet Coke is the ELIXIR OF LIFE.
This made me literally LOL. Hilarious Elizabeth!
yes it is
WOO! I’m sending you a fist-bump, Mike, because I clicked open this post as fast as you can say, “Grab me another cold one, please!”
I’m a Diet Coke (or Diet Pepsi — I don’t discriminate) addict who can’t function until she’s had her first few sips. My obsession is also legendary at work, where my coworkers crack that they don’t know I’m in the building until they hear the pop of my can opening.
Others have tried to dissuade me from continuing my love affair, but they’re doing so in vain . . . I’ll never stop drinking my Diet Coke. Not even when my boyfriend’s mom forwards me scary emails about the beverage. NEVER.
YES! Diet Coke drinkers unite!!!!
But, I’m sure that drinking Diet Pepsi is super hazardous to your health, right? Man that stuff is disgusting.
I’m so jealous. I LOVE soda, (I’m a pepsi fan, but I won’t start a coke-pepsi debate, lol) but I’m only 30 and produce kidney stones like nobody’s business so I’m not able to drink it. So, as I sit here two weeks post op from major surgery to fix complications from said kidney stones, I’m tempted to sneak one of my husband’s sodas from the fridge. Sigh. Drink one for me, buddy!
AMEN! Cheers! I am enjoying my second Diet Coke Lime (or DCL, as I lovingly call them!) as I read your very intelligent post.
DCL=Nectar of the gods!!!!!!!
Way to go Mike! I’m like Tori, the first commenter. I drink regular Coke every day. I even allowed myself one small Coke a day when I was pregnant. I’m not sure I’ve gone a day without a Coke since 1982 LOL. I don’t smoke, I don’t drink coffee, and I rarely even drink alcohol. Coke is my one vice, and I’m keeping it, damn it. VIVA LAS COCA-COLA! (Dear Coke, I would be happy to blog about my love of Coke all day long, especially the Magical Coke Machine at my local movie theater. Could you send me one of those to my house?! Love, Me)
I LOVE DIET COKE!!!! And will continue to drink it several times a day until I die NO MATTER WHAT!
Amen Brother! If Diet Coke (or Diet Pepsi) kills me, at least I will die happy. It’s my favorite drink of choice with breakfast
I’m no longer a pop drinker, but I will indulge in a Diet Coke a couple of times a year. (It used to be my poison of choice in university.) Now, I love a glass of wine a couple of times per week!
The most interesting thing I heard about all diet sodas is that if someone drinks them for “dieting” reasons, it doesn’t work. The brain, for some reason, treats it like sugar soda and your body acts accordingly. I wish I could find that study again. Anyway, carry on as you were.
I haven’t heard this BUT I did hear that drinking diet soda does make you crazy sweets more than usual – thus making the ‘diet’ part less effective!
AMEN brother! (Sorry from the south and everyone is brother down here)
I love diet coke so much that my daughter threatens to put on my tombstone:
Daughter, Mom, and Lover Of Diet Coke
And you know what? She probably will!
ohmygosh this could totally be me!
I’m a Coke Zero girl all the way! (but I do agree with you!)
Your my hero! Love this!!
IF you believe aspartame is safe, you probably also believe that doctors truly care for your health and well being, they aren’t getting richer from the pharmaceutical companies by prescribing meds unnecessarily, and that the FDA will never ban it for the same reason there will never be a cure for any cancer…it’s a money game, and it would throw the economy into bankruptcy if people got healthy!!!
But everyone makes their own choices in life, so drink up and enjoy!
Another Mama says:
Santa’s not real and no gold at the end of the rainbow. Stop fundraising for any cures- such waste! Julie, could you just tell me I’ll never amount to anything so I can just get on with my life? : )
LOL…sorry Mama. Not trying to start problems, just voicing my 2 cents worth….
Jayme (RandomBlogette) says:
Thank you, thank you, thank you! I get sick and tired of people harping me about drinking my 1-2 cans of Diet Coke every day when they are sucking down pots of coffee. Diet Coke is my coffee. If I want to have a Diet Coke every once in a while it is my choice.
Alcohol is bad, cigarettes are bad, soda is bad. Everything is bad for you. We should just enjoy life we are still on this Earth!
I’ve had to cut back cause man, that stuff is spendy. However, I am convinced it is pretty much fine for you, and FAR better for you than drinking sugar. The case against sugar or HFCS is quite strong. The case against artificial sweeteners? Well, Gary Taubes just did a little piece for the NYT Magazine about how all the anti-artificial-sweetener studies were basically bunk but were funded like crazy by the sugar lobby.
Expat Mom says:
I was a major Diet Coke fiend until I got pregnant and it suddenly made me puke. So sad. But on the plus side, I save money by not buying a 12 pack twice a week. Also, the baby isn’t just against Coke, it also hates chocolate. I’m convinced this is not my child.
AMEN! And it must be Diet Coke NOT Diet Pepsi. I am one who literally drinks it “For the taste of it” I don’t like sugary or sweet tasing anything really and Diet Pepsi tastes too sweet, same reason I don’t like Coke Zero it taste too much like the “Real Thing”.
People used to scoff at me when I would walk in to work in the morning with a Diet Coke in my hand but thought nothing of those drinking coffee, it’s all about the caffeine intake people. Discrimination I tell you!
But for me it’s Diet Dr. Pepper.
I had a CHILD at school tell me Diet Coke is not good for me…whateves little person! I love it, can’t help, don’t want to stop.
FYI-Diet Coke with Lime AND Cherry from Sonic…LIFE CHANGING!!!!!
As a type 1 diabetic since the age of seven, I grew up drinking a LOT of diet soda. I started getting chest pains at 14 and no cause could be found. Now I know that I can not drink diet sodas without intense chest pain. I sure miss my soda fix though!
Amen! I love my DC and it’s the first thing I have in the morning. Yep, and then a cup of coffee and then it’s boring old water the rest of the day. There’s something about the fizz that makes me smile in the morning!
Diet Coke lovers unite! It could be WAY worse……like I could start the morning with booze. Nope, not gonna happen!
hear hear!! a fellow mama and Diet Coke aficionado sending you a thumbs up for this post from Australia!
I LOVE Diet Coke but do limit my intake. I recently drove 16 hours straight, fueled by McDonald’s Diet Coke – theirs is the best! – and I was levitating off the bed when I finally got to bed that night.
Diet Coke – the “other” coffee. It’s what’s for breakfast!
I’m surprised that anyone likes artificial sweeteners. I loathe the taste of them. The sense of taste is weird like that, though, how one person can completely hate something that another person loves. And I’ll just never be able to conceive of the things I hate tasting good to someone!
and on that note………… i wish theyd bring back Diet Coke with Lemon!
(and diet coke splenda. i liked that too).
Yes, yes, YES! I am totally with you, Mike. I do try to limit my Diet Cokes to one or two a day, but nothing could ever make me give them up!
I love my two diet Cokes a day with fresh squeezed lime and lots of ice! It makes me happy.
I used to drink a 2 liter of Pepsi every day. A few years ago, I switched to Diet Pepsi, since I am getting older and didn’t need all that sugar. I still drink a 2 liter every day along with plenty of coffee. Yeah, I over-caffeinate. I don’t sleep a great deal. Maybe it’ll all catch up to me. Hasn’t yet! If I had to give up the Pepsi, I don’t know what I’d do.
I drink way too much diet coke also, and feel somewhat guilty about that fact, and yet not guilty enough to go drink tap water, which is way more ecologically friendly than bottled water.
It’s tiring, doing the right thing all the time. love, Val
Mmmm…the Diet Coke in Ontario is sweetened with something with a much longer name than just aspartame. I do find that if I drink too much, I get acne. There are other snack items with the same sweetener–some flavours of Doritos come to mind. I don’t have anything to check what exactly the sweetener is called, but it’s a hypenated name…
One thing that has been found with artificial sweeteners is that your brain thinks it’s getting something sweet, and with the resulting calories. When it doesn’t get the associated calories, it sends out cravings signals, and you go looking for food to fill that. Since I stopped using sweetener in my coffee, and use REAL sugar instead, I no longer need my sweet treat with it, and I actually SAVE tons of calories and often “bad carbs”.
I still love my Diet Coke (can only, no bottle, no fountain pop!), but try not to over indulge.
The fake sugar is called aspartame. Try google aspartame, you will see how good/bad it is.
Yes, I know the sweetener is aspartame. I addressed it in the following part of my blog post:
“In fact, Aspartame (the sweetener used in Diet Coke) has been one of the most thoroughly tested and studied food additives the Food and Drug Administration has ever approved. The agency says the more than 100 toxicological and clinical studies it has reviewed confirm that aspartame is safe for the general population.”
I just got back from a vacation in Mexico.. and I must say, Mexi-“Coca Light”, the locally-produced Diet Coke (for real, no immitation) tastes soooooo good. Mmm!
Diet coke is better than regular coke but it not good to drink daily.
As soda drinks are not good for health, reduce calcium in bones, increases weight and many more.
Fresh fruit Juice are really good!