However, substitutes for the sugar it contains may not necessarily be a healthier option for people looking to reduce their risk of diabetes. A 14-year study of 66,118 women found an association between the consumption of artificially sweetened beverages and an increased risk of type 2 diabetes (1). Drinking a reasonable amount of diet soda a day, such as a can or two, is unlikely to harm you. The artificial sweeteners and other chemicals currently used in diet soda are safe for most people, and there is no credible evidence that these ingredients cause cancer.
In addition, while diet sodas and sugar substitutes don't raise blood sugar levels when you consume them, there's no clear evidence that they help control blood sugar or weight in the long term, according to the American Diabetes Association. A more immediate unpleasant effect of consuming sugar alcohols (a type of low-calorie sugar substitute) is gas, bloating, and diarrhea. Along with the artificial sweeteners in Diet Sprite, Sprite Zero Sugar adds acesulfame and potassium to the mix. Coca-Cola Zero Sugar actually tastes more like the original Coca-Cola product compared to Diet Coke.
There are very clear connections between an overly sugary diet and health problems, including heart disease, so it makes sense to take steps to reduce your intake of added sugar. Healthy people may experience mild gas or bloating after consuming foods sweetened with sugar alcohols, but if you have a gastrointestinal condition, such as irritable bowel syndrome, or if you eat a large amount of something sweetened with sugar alcohols, you may have more extreme symptoms. Calorie-free or low-calorie alternatives to sugar are usually hundreds or thousands of times sweeter than regular sugar, but they don't raise blood sugar levels. Some research also suggests that people who drink diet soda have greater activity in the area of the brain associated with the desire to consume foods high in fat and sugar.