Diet soda is generally considered by the average American to be healthy. People can experience anxiety from diet soda, however, as it has several ingredients that can trigger psychologically distressing symptoms. The best thing to do if diet soda causes anxiety is to eliminate it from your diet.
If you drink diet soda and experience anxiety afterwards, the most likely culprit is caffeine. Caffeine is a stimulant that can cause anxiety, irritability, restlessness and insomnia in sensitive people, or when consumed in excess. A 12 oz. can of diet soda may have as much as 55 mg. of caffeine. It is easy to consume much more than this is you drink diet soda throughout the day. Exceed 200 mg of caffeine and you may experience anxiety even if you're not otherwise particularly sensitive to its effects.
It can be difficult for the body to break down the chemicals found in artificial sweeteners. As a result, these chemicals can be stored in neurological and fatty tissues, causing effects that range from brain fog to anxiety, according to Diaa Osman, health and wellness instructor at Normandale Community College. He points out that these sweeteners can adversely affect the hormones that regulate the stress response as well. If you are drinking diet soda and are experiencing anxiety, these sweeteners may be the reason, especially if the soda is decaffeinated.
Artificial Colors and Preservatives
Diet soda comes in many different flavors, all of which are visually distinguished from one another by the use of artificial coloring. This additives can contribute to hyperactivity. As a result, many of these food colorings are banned in the United Kingdom, according to an article published in the journal "Clinical Pediatrics." In adults, hyperactivity can translate into feelings of anxiety, so it is possible that the artificial colors in the diet soda are to blame. The preservative sodium benzoate, used in almost all diet sodas, has also been implemented in hyperactivity and may be a contributing factor to your anxiety.
If you can't imagine giving up the bubbly taste of diet soda, but suspect it may cause you anxiety, consider purchasing diet soda prepared with stevia, a natural sweetener that doesn't have calories. Check to make sure that the soda doesn't contain artificial colors, preservatives or caffeine. You can also purchase a soda maker, which adds carbonation to any drink you choose, such as fruit juice or lemon water. Whatever you choose, don't switch to sugared sodas, as sugar can contribute to anxiety as well.