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Health & Fitness

Three reasons to back off of diet soda

By Ron Kaspriske

How bad is soda for you? Forget the calories. Forget the sugar. Forget the general lack of nutrition. All you need to know is that mechanics sometimes use cola to take the corrosion off a car battery terminal. Not joking. I've seen it done.

While most of you would agree that sugary sodas should be a once-in-a-while treat and not the primary way you hydrate yourself, I've been asked many times what's wrong with diet soda. There's no calories. No sugar. How can it be harmful?

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I won't go into a long list of reasons. Instead, I'll give you the three most widely reported by nutritionists and doctors.

1. It's an enabler. There might not be any sugar in diet soda but it sure does taste sweet, right? Nutritionists believe a steady intake of diet soda conditions your brain to crave other things that are as sweet, if not sweeter. The hormone dopamine is released when we taste sweet things and, well, we tend to like when that happens. So you try to make it happen more often. Get the picture?

2. It's a warning light. Ask yourself why you're drinking diet soda. Is it to lose weight? Is it to get the soda taste without the soda sugar and calories? A recent study by the American College of Cardiology showed that older women who drank at least two diet sodas a day were at a much higher risk of heart attacks and death. It's not necessarily the soda that puts those women at risk. It's just that drinking diet soda is an indicator that they are unhealthy. Have you heard how many diet sodas John Daly drinks in a day? Does he look healthy to you?

3. It's corrosive. The pH of diet soda is typically around 3 or lower, which means it's very acidic. Acid is what corrodes the enamel of your teeth. Think of how many rounds of golf you can purchase with the money you save by not having cavities filled at the dentist. Health plans only go so far these days.

Related: The 10 Worst Things To Eat Or Drink When You Play


Ron Kaspriske is the fitness editor of Golf Digest.


(Photo by Getty Images)