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

Is Diet Pepsi Bad For You?



Short answer

Soda is never good for you and Diet Pepsi is no exception to the rule. Although people with phenylketonuria can celebrate aspartame being removed, it's still a health-destroyer.



Recommended Alternative

Long answer

Back in 2015, PepsiCo decided to listen to consumer complaints and took out aspartame from Diet Pepsi, replacing it with sucralose (Splenda) - although the aspartame-flavored Diet Pepsi is available for purchase online.  So, has PepsiCo suddenly become health-conscious?  No, the fact is sales were plummeting due to customer concern over the health risks of aspartame.  Still, let's take a look at the ingredients and nutrition of the new Diet Pepsi and ascertain whether or not it is good for you.  

Here are the ingredients: carbonated water, sucralose (Splenda), caffeine, phosphoric acid, citric acid, potassium benzoate, caramel color, and natural flavor.

Unfortunately, none of these ingredients are good for you.  Let's start with the most abundant ingredient - and least harmful - carbonated water.  Carbonated water has been shown to have a negative impact on teeth, helping to speed up the process of enamel erosion and, along with phosphoric and citric acids, may contribute to cavities and tooth decay.  Potassium benzoate is known to cause small amounts of benzene to be formed, a substance which is carcinogenic.  While a single can of Diet Pepsi will not produce an amount of benzene that should be a cause for alarm, if you are a regular drinker of Diet Pepsi, the cumulative effect over the years could be significant.  Another known carcinogen found in Diet Pepsi is caramel color, with a big question mark hanging over "natural flavors" as to whether or not they can cause cancer, brain damage, hyperactivity in children, or other various problems.

Some people think diet sodas can help them lose weight.  After all, Diet Pepsi is calorie-free, fat-free, and carbohydrate-free.  What could possibly be wrong?  Well, as it turns out, calorie-free sodas may actually increase the risk of weight gain because of two reasons.  The first is that some people believe drinking calorie-free soda is a license to eat more foods that do contain calories, often leading to them consuming more total calories than they would have had they just drank regular soda.  The second reason is that calories raise your body temperature, which in turn activates your metabolism.  Sodas which lack calories may actually slow down metabolism, leading to weight gain.

While it would be wrong to say that Diet Pepsi is going to give you cancer, in truth- it could (after several years of accumulation). What is known for sure is that, like other sodas, Diet Pepsi can wreak havoc on your teeth and lead to weight gain.  It may be fashionable to shrug obesity off and say things like "big is beautiful" or "be happy with your body," but the fact is obesity is unhealthy. It significantly increases your risk of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, foot problems such as plantar fasciitis, etc.  

Possible short-term side effects

  • hyperactivity (especially in children)
  • gastrointestinal problems
  • migraines
  • dizziness
  • blurred vision
  • allergic reactions
  • blood sugar increases

Possible long-term side effects

  • weight gain
  • tooth decay
  • cancer
  • heart disease
  • decreased white blood cell count

Ingredients to be aware of

Healthier alternatives

Our Wellness Pick (what is this?)

Zevia Zero Calorie Cola

  • Zero calories
  • No artificial sweeteners
  • Non-GMO Project Verified
  • 24-pack of 12oz cans
Learn More!

Thank you for your feedback!

Written by Jeff Volling
Published on: 02-24-2016
Last updated: 12-15-2023

Thank you for your feedback!

Written by Jeff Volling
Published on: 02-24-2016
Last updated: 12-15-2023

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