Dr. Becky Maes - Is It Bad For You? Approved by Dr. Becky Maes

Is Diet Ginger Ale Bad For You?



Short answer

Artificial sweeteners in diet ginger ale may benefit weight management and blood sugar control but can also lead to health concerns, altered taste preferences, and psychological effects that negate calorie reduction efforts. Carbonation can soothe the stomach but might cause gas, bloating, and acid reflux issues. The drink’s acidity risks dental erosion, while its lack of nutritional value and minimal ginger content provide insignificant health benefits. Individuals with sensitive bladders or IBS may react poorly to artificial sweeteners and carbonation. Healthier alternatives exist for those seeking the benefits of ginger without the drawbacks of diet ginger ale.



Recommended Alternative

Long answer

Artificial Sweeteners in Diet Ginger Ale: Pros and Cons

Many diet ginger ales contain artificial sweeteners to provide a sweet taste without the calories associated with sugar. These sugar substitutes are a common choice for those aiming to reduce calorie intake or manage blood sugar levels. However, artificial sweeteners come with their own set of advantages and drawbacks that are worth considering.

Pros of Artificial Sweeteners:

  • Calorie control: Artificial sweeteners are much sweeter than sugar, meaning a smaller amount is needed to achieve the same level of sweetness. This results in negligible calorie contribution, which can be beneficial for weight management.
  • Glycemic response: Unlike sugar, artificial sweeteners generally do not cause a surge in blood glucose levels, making them suitable for people with diabetes (Individual responses may vary; diabetic patients should consult with a healthcare provider).
  • Dental health: Sugar can contribute to dental cavities by feeding plaque-forming bacteria in the mouth. Artificial sweeteners do not have the same effect, potentially reducing the risk of tooth decay.

Cons of Artificial Sweeteners:

  • Potential health concerns: Some studies suggest that long-term consumption of certain artificial sweeteners may pose health risks such as metabolic alterations and adverse effects on gut health, although findings are not definitive and more research is needed for conclusive evidence. For example, a 2017 study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal reviewed the association between artificial sweeteners and various health outcomes, indicating the need for caution and further research.
  • Impact on taste preferences: Regular consumption of intensely sweet artificial sweeteners may alter taste preferences, potentially increasing the desire for other sweet foods and drinks, which could counteract calorie control efforts.
  • Psychological effects: Some individuals believe that by consuming diet beverages, they can "afford" to consume higher-calorie foods elsewhere, leading to an overall increase in calorie intake—a phenomenon known as the "compensation effect."

In considering the pros and cons of artificial sweeteners in diet ginger ale, it's important to take into account personal health goals and any existing medical conditions. Moderation is key, as with most dietary components. If you're considering diet ginger ale as part of your health regimen, it may be sensible to do so as part of a balanced diet and to maintain awareness of your overall consumption of artificial sweeteners.

Consumers should also be aware that not all diet ginger ales use the same sweeteners, and some may use a combination. Common artificial sweeteners include aspartame, sucralose, and acesulfame potassium, each with varying implications for health. Reading labels and being informed can guide personal choice and help you reach your dietary goals while being mindful of potential health effects.

The Impact of Carbonation on Digestive Health

When assessing the digestive implications of diet ginger ale, it's vital to understand the role of carbonation. Carbonated beverages, including diet ginger ale, contain dissolved carbon dioxide, which creates the characteristic effervescence. While the bubbling sensation can be delightful, it may also influence digestive health both positively and negatively.

Potential Benefits of Carbonation:

  • Soothing Effects: Historically, carbonated water has been used to calm the digestive system. The ginger component in diet ginger ale, in particular, might provide mild relief from gastrointestinal discomfort, such as bloating or nausea.
  • Feeling of Fullness: Some studies suggest that the ingestion of carbonated water can enhance feelings of fullness more than still water, possibly helping with satiety and reducing overall food intake.

However, the benefits should be taken with caution as they are often outweighed by the potential downsides, especially with regular consumption.

Potential Drawbacks of Carbonation:

  • Acidic pH: Carbonated drinks typically have a lower pH than non-carbonated beverages, which can contribute to the acidic environment in the stomach and exacerbate conditions like acid reflux or heartburn.
  • Bloating and Gas: The release of carbon dioxide in the stomach can lead to an uncomfortable build-up of gas, causing bloating, belching, or flatulence.
  • Impact on Calcium Absorption: There is some debate about carbonated beverages potentially interfering with calcium absorption, which can be of concern for bone health. However, this effect is generally associated with soft drinks that contain phosphates, which are often not present in ginger ales.

While moderate consumption of diet ginger ale might not significantly harm digestive health, individual tolerance to carbonation varies. Those with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), acid reflux, or similar gastrointestinal issues might notice exacerbation of symptoms with carbonated drinks. Consultation with a healthcare professional is advisable for those with pre-existing digestive conditions.

Addressing the concerns of diet ginger ale and carbonation, evidence points to a nuanced effect on digestive health. A study published in the European Journal of Gastroenterology & Hepatology found that carbonated water improved indigestion and constipation compared to tap water. However, another study in the Journal of Nutritional Science and Vitaminology concluded that excessive carbonation might contribute to the severity of gastric ailments, such as ulcer pain.

In summary, while carbonation can provide a seemingly paradoxical combination of both comfort and discomfort, personal digestive health and pre-existing conditions play a significant role in determining its effects. Moderation is key, and closely listening to one’s body response to diet ginger ale can help guide healthier choices.

Dental Health Considerations: Acidity in Diet Ginger Ale

When discussing the implications of diet ginger ale on dental health, the acidity of the beverage is a primary concern. The pH level of diet ginger ale generally ranges from 2.82 to 3.22, which categorizes it as an acidic drink. It's this acidity that can have detrimental effects on tooth enamel, potentially leading to enamel erosion—a condition where the outer protective layer of the teeth wears away.

Enamel erosion can result in increased tooth sensitivity, discoloration, and an elevated risk for cavities. The American Dental Association (ADA) suggests that frequent consumption of acidic beverages, including diet ginger ale, can expedite this process. Below is a list of specific dental health risks associated with the acidity in diet ginger ale:

  • Enamel Erosion: The acids in diet ginger ale can soften the surface of tooth enamel, making it more susceptible to wear and decay.
  • Tooth Sensitivity: As the enamel wears away, teeth become more sensitive to hot, cold, and sugary foods and drinks.
  • Discoloration: Thinner enamel tends to reveal the underlying dentin, which is naturally yellower than enamel, leading to a discolored appearance.
  • Cavity Formation: Without the protective barrier of enamel, teeth are more vulnerable to bacteria, leading to an increased chance of cavity formation.

In a study published by the Journal of the American Dental Association, researchers found that repetitive exposure to acidic beverages is significantly associated with dental erosion (JADA, 2012). The frequency of consumption often poses a greater risk than the quantity, which means sipping on diet ginger ale throughout the day can be particularly harmful to dental health.

It's not just the acidity in diet ginger ale that can affect dental health; certain carbonation processes also increase the erosive potential of these drinks. Carbonated beverages, even those without sugar, have been shown to increase the acidity of the oral environment, which can exacerbate the erosion process.

To mitigate these effects, dental experts recommend several strategies:

  • Rinse with Water: After consuming diet ginger ale, swish with water to help neutralize the acids.
  • Use a Straw: This minimizes contact with teeth and reduces the exposure of enamel to acid.
  • Limited Consumption: Reducing the frequency and amount of acidic beverage intake can lower the risk of dental erosion.
  • Timely Brushing: Wait at least 30 to 60 minutes after consuming diet ginger ale before brushing to prevent brushing softened enamel away.
  • Protective Dental Products: Use of toothpaste and mouth rinses with fluoride can help remineralize weakened enamel.

While diet ginger ale might be a sugar-free alternative to its sugary counterparts, it is important to consider the implications of its acidity on dental health. Being aware of how diet ginger ale interacts with your dental enamel can help you make informed choices about your consumption habits, and ultimately, preserve your dental health.

Nutritional Value of Diet Ginger Ale

Diet ginger ale is often marketed as a healthier alternative to regular ginger ale, with fewer calories and no sugar. Typically, a can of diet ginger ale contains no carbohydrates, proteins, or fats, and the calorie content hovers around zero. Instead of sugar, diet ginger ales are sweetened with artificial sweeteners like aspartame, sucralose, or acesulfame potassium. While these sweeteners reduce calorie intake, they can have other implications on health which have been subject to debate and scientific study.

Studies have shown that while artificial sweeteners do not contribute to blood sugar spikes, they may still have effects on the body’s metabolism and even influence gut health. For example, a study in the Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health indicated that long-term consumption of aspartame might affect the balance of intestinal microflora, potentially leading to metabolic disturbances. However, further research is required to definitively understand the long-term effects of these sweeteners.

It's also important to note that aside from artificial sweeteners, diet ginger ale typically contains preservatives like sodium benzoate and natural flavorings. Some products might include a small amount of sodium, usually below 5% of the daily recommended value. While these elements contribute to the flavor and shelf life of the drink, they do not offer nutritional benefits.

Lack of Natural Ginger Benefits

While the name suggests the presence of ginger, which is known for its health benefits, diet ginger ale commonly lacks significant amounts of real ginger. The therapeutic properties of ginger such as nausea relief, anti-inflammatory effects, and digestion aid are attributed to its active compound, gingerol. In a natural form, ginger contains vitamins and minerals such as vitamin C, magnesium, and potassium, which contribute to a healthy diet.

Commercial diet ginger ales might only have a trace of ginger extract, which is insufficient to offer the health benefits associated with the root. In many cases, the "ginger flavor" in these drinks is a result of flavorings that mimic the taste but do not provide the healthful compounds found in ginger.

Compared to consuming raw ginger or ginger tea, drinking diet ginger ale offers negligible health benefits from ginger itself. A publication in the American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine emphasizes that the bioactive compounds of ginger, primarily gingerols and shogaols, are responsible for its health-promoting properties. To gain the medicinal benefits of ginger, one would need to consume it in a more concentrated or fresh form rather than the diluted presence in diet ginger ale.

To summarize, while diet ginger ale may seem like a low-calorie, sugar-free beverage option, its nutritional value is minimal, and it does not provide the natural benefits of ginger. Consumers seeking the medicinal qualities of ginger are advised to look towards whole ginger products and consult scientific literature or health professionals for accurate information on the optimal ways to include ginger in their diets.

Potential Triggers for People with Sensitive Bladders or IBS

When discussing the suitability of diet ginger ale for individuals with sensitive bladders or Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), it's crucial to delve into the ingredients commonly found in this beverage that may act as potential triggers. Diet ginger ale is often sought after for its absence of sugar and reduced calorie content, but certain ingredients included to enhance flavor or longevity can actually be problematic for those with digestive sensitivities.

Firstly, artificial sweeteners, such as Aspartame, Sucralose, or Saccharin, are commonly used in diet sodas to replace sugar and reduce calorie counts. However, some studies have shown that these sweeteners can cause gastrointestinal disturbances, including gas, bloating, and diarrhea, particularly in individuals with IBS. The sweetener sorbitol, also used in some diet sodas, is a known FODMAP, a type of carbohydrate that can exacerbate IBS symptoms.

Caffeine, which is naturally found in some types of ginger ale, can also irritate the bladder and exacerbate symptoms of both IBS and interstitial cystitis, a chronic bladder condition. Though generally considered less problematic than coffee, the amount of caffeine in ginger ale can vary, and even small quantities might be enough to trigger discomfort in sensitive individuals.

Carbonation is another component that can be troublesome. The carbonated water in ginger ale may lead to increased gas, bloating, and an upset stomach, which can be particularly discomforting for those with IBS. While the carbonation itself does not directly affect the bladder, the bloating may put pressure on the bladder, leading to a sensation of urgency or increased frequency of urination.

It's important to note that the actual ginger content in diet ginger ale is often minimal, and the beverage may not provide the digestive benefits traditionally associated with natural ginger. In fact, 'ginger flavor' in some brands may be created with a mix of artificial flavors and may lack the anti-inflammatory properties of real ginger, which can otherwise be beneficial for digestion.

For those concerned about the effects of diet ginger ale on a sensitive bladder or IBS, it is advisable to:

  • Check the label for artificial sweeteners and consider limiting intake if they find these to be triggers.
  • Monitor their body’s response to caffeine and choose caffeine-free versions if necessary.
  • Be cautious with the amount of carbonated beverages consumed, as these can increase bloating and gas.
  • Seek out ginger ales with real ginger extract if they are looking for the anti-inflammatory benefits of ginger.

Some people with IBS or sensitive bladders find that they can tolerate small amounts of diet ginger ale without issues, while others may need to avoid it altogether. It’s recommended for individuals to consult with a healthcare professional or dietitian to develop a personalized dietary plan that considers their specific triggers and nutritional needs.

Healthier Alternatives to Diet Ginger Ale

When considering beverages that seem like healthier choices, it's important to understand that not all alternatives are created equal. For those who enjoy the taste of ginger ale but want to avoid the potential drawbacks of diet versions, which can include artificial sweeteners and other additives, there are several more wholesome options to consider:

  • Homemade Ginger Tea: By steeping fresh ginger in hot water, you can create a soothing tea that provides the digestive benefits of ginger without added sugars or sweeteners. For a touch of natural sweetness, consider adding a teaspoon of honey or a few drops of stevia.
  • Sparkling Water with Natural Flavoring: If it's the fizz you seek, sparkling water with added natural essences or extracts can offer the bubbly texture you enjoy. Brands that use organic flavorings and no added sugars can be a refreshing substitute.
  • Kombucha (Ginger Flavor): Kombucha is a fermented tea that's rich in probiotics and comes in a variety of flavors, including ginger. It has the fizziness of soda with the health benefits of fermentation, though it's essential to check labels for added sugars.
  • Coconut Water with a Splash of Ginger Juice: For a hydrating alternative, combine coconut water with freshly squeezed ginger juice. This mix provides electrolytes and the zesty taste of ginger without the additives found in diet sodas.
  • Infused Water: Adding slices of fresh ginger to water gives it a spicy kick and can be a simple daily go-to for staying hydrated. Infuse overnight for a more robust flavor and enjoy the subtleness of naturally flavored water.
  • Ginger Zinger Shot: For a concentrated dose of ginger's benefits, ginger shots made from juiced ginger root can be powerful. These shots can be intense, so they may be more of an occasional boost rather than a drink to sip throughout the day.
  • Herbal Ginger Blends: Herbal teas with a blend of ginger and other digestive-friendly herbs like peppermint or chamomile can be fantastic alternatives, often providing a complex, satisfying flavor profile. Ensure that they are naturally caffeine-free if you’re aiming to reduce caffeine intake.

Turning to these alternatives not only sidesteps the potential negatives associated with diet ginger ale but also incorporates the natural and health-promoting benefits of ginger. Moreover, these options encourage hydration, a crucial aspect often overlooked in discussions about beverage choices.

Incorporating these healthier choices does require an initial adjustment in purchasing habits and taste preference reorientation. However, the long-term health benefits and the natural, unprocessed flavors they introduce to your palate can enrich your overall dietary experience.

When considering healthful substitutions, remember to check for hidden additives and sugars that can sometimes lurk in 'healthier' drinks. Always aim to choose the most natural and least processed option available. Moreover, consulting nutrition labels and ingredient lists is a proactive way to ensure that you are indeed selecting a healthier substitute.

It's noteworthy to mention that moderation is key, even with healthier alternatives. Natural sweeteners like honey, while beneficial, still contribute to overall sugar intake and should be used sparingly, especially for individuals monitoring blood sugar levels or attempting to manage weight.

Last but not least, keep in mind that individual dietary needs can vary, and what works for one person may not for another. Consulting with a healthcare provider or a nutritionist can provide tailored advice to meet your specific health goals and dietary requirements.

Frequently asked questions

Some diet ginger ales contain preservatives like sodium benzoate, which can contribute to preservation but may pose risks if consumed in large amounts. While generally recognized as safe, some studies suggest that when combined with ascorbic acid (vitamin C), sodium benzoate may form benzene, a known carcinogen. Thus, it's advisable to consume these beverages in moderation.

Regular intake of artificial sweeteners in diet ginger ale may alter your palate, increasing your preference for sweet foods. This heightened desire for sweetness could lead to unintended increases in overall calorie intake, potentially affecting weight management efforts.

For the full benefits of ginger, you can consume it in more concentrated forms such as fresh ginger root, ginger tea, or ginger extract. These forms contain higher levels of gingerol, the active compound in ginger that offers various health benefits, which are often not present in significant amounts in commercial diet ginger ales.

The carbonation in diet ginger ale itself is not directly harmful to bone health. Issues with carbonated beverages often arise from soft drinks that contain phosphoric acid, which can impact calcium absorption. Most ginger ales do not contain phosphoric acid, so moderate consumption is unlikely to significantly affect bone health.

Ask a question about Diet Ginger Ale and our team will publish the answer as soon as possible.

Possible short-term side effects

  • bloating
  • belching
  • flatulence
  • exacerbation of acid reflux
  • tooth sensitivity
  • dental erosion

Possible long-term side effects

  • metabolic alterations
  • adverse effects on gut health
  • enamel erosion
  • tooth decay
  • exacerbation of ibs symptoms
  • potential negative impact on blood sugar control
  • psychological compensation effect leading to overeating

Ingredients to be aware of


  • calorie control
  • no blood glucose spike
  • potential reduction in tooth decay
  • mild relief from gastrointestinal discomfort
  • increased feelings of fullness

Healthier alternatives

  • homemade ginger tea
  • sparkling water with natural flavoring
  • ginger-flavored kombucha
  • coconut water with ginger juice
  • infused water with fresh ginger
  • ginger zinger shot
  • herbal ginger blends

Our Wellness Pick (what is this?)

Zevia Ginger Ale

  • Zero calories
  • No artificial sweeteners
  • Refreshing ginger flavor
  • Sugar-free
  • 24-can pack
Learn More!

Thank you for your feedback!

Written by Diane Saleem
Published on: 03-22-2024

Thank you for your feedback!

Written by Diane Saleem
Published on: 03-22-2024

Random Page

Check These Out!