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Diet Soda and Diabetes: Is it Safe?

written by: Ms Lisa • edited by: Diana Cooper • updated: 3/13/2011

Diet soda and diabetes sounds harmless enough, but is it really? There have been studies that say otherwise. Let us take a look at what the professionals have to say about this very important topic.

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    Ingredients That Some Diet Sodas Have in Them

    Before assuming that diet soda and diabetes is a safe combination, let us discuss the ingredients that some of these diet sodas have in them and the effect that substitute sugars and artificial sweeteners have on the body. It sounds logical that if you are a diabetic that diet soda would be an ideal beverage of choice. However, studies have shown that they may not be as safe as one might think because of the ingredients used in the substitute sweeteners and the effects that this could have on a diabetic.

    Artificial sweeteners do not raise blood sugar. The cornstarch in diet soda does, and if not consumed in moderation, can raise the blood sugar in a diabetic.

    There is also another ingredient found in some diet sodas that diabetics need to be aware of. That ingredient is Agave nectar also known as agave syrup. This ingredient is found in some substitute sugars and artificial sweeteners that are used in diet sodas. The agave nectar is a sweetener that is low-glycemic and generally does not cause a blood sugar spike, however it can cause the need for insulin.

    It is important to note that diabetics need to watch their calories and carbohydrates. They should check the labels of the diet soda and make sure how many calories and carbohydrates that may be consumed with each type or brand of diet soda that they may consume. They should also keep in mind what the sugar substitutes used in diet sodas ingredients are.

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    A Diabetic Would Need to Monitor Their Glucose Levels Before Drinking Diet Sodas

    What can be confusing or misleading is that an insulin dependent diabetic may have too much insulin or they may have had too much exercise. In a case like this, instead of reaching for a diet soda they need to drink a regular soda so that they can raise the blood sugar levels to ensure that glucose reaches their brain.

    It has been determined that an insulin dependent diabetic would need to monitor their blood sugar and glucose levels before they consume diet soda because what their bodies may need instead, is a regular soda.

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    An Interesting Study Concerning Diet Soda and Type 2 Diabetes

    An interesting study conducted by the University Health Science Center in Houston, Texas in 2002 - 2009 Known as the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA) concluded an interesting fact concerning diet soda intake and type 2 diabetes and the risk of metabolic syndrome. Their findings were that there was a difference between type 2 diabetic people that consumed diet soda on a daily basis and type 2 diabetic people who did not consume this type of soda. They found that 67% of the people who consumed diet soda on a daily basis experienced an incident of type 2 diabetes and 36% resulted a higher risk of metabolic syndrome.

    Metabolic syndrome is when a group of medical factors such as type 2 diabetes, stroke and coronary artery disease occur together at the same time.

    The conclusions of the study that consuming diet soda on a daily basis was associated with a higher incident of both metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes.

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    On a Special Note

    In general diet sodas are safe for a diabetic to consume, however, since there are concerns about diet soda and diabetes, moderation and closely monitoring blood sugar levels is the key to drinking diet sodas for a diabetic. Anyone who is diabetic should consult their doctor and or professional dietitian before they consume diet sodas on a regular basis.

    A physician would be able to guide a diabetic on how much is safe for him or her to consume and would be familiar with the health history of each person that has diabetes. The doctor would also be able to monitor other health concerns that need to be kept into consideration for people that have diabetes.