This post is dedicated to my mother, a lover of diet soda, and to Erik Marcus, a non-lover of soda.

I forgot to mention an interesting finding in my post Calcium and Stress Fractures in Adolescent Girls – soda was not associated with bone fractures:

“When the analyses were further adjusted for soda intake, the results were virtually unchanged (data not shown).”

But I’m not making an entire post to point this out and, thus, encourage the drinking of soda by adolescent girls. Rather, I have discovered a diet soda which I think is relatively harmless: Zevia.

I have been known to drink a soda occasionally, and while I don’t want so much sugar, I have found diet soda to be very distasteful and I don’t want all the crap the big manufacturers put into it such as aspartame and sugar alcohols.

Enter Zevia. Zevia is an “all natural soda” with no calories. It is sweetened with stevia extract and erythritol (a sugar alcohol that supposedly does not cause gastrointestinal distress like other sugar alcohols).

When I had my first Zevia, a few years ago, I really disliked it. And I wasn’t alone. So when I heard that Oakland Veg Week had gotten Zevia donated to their events, I thought “Oh, no!”

Yet, when I got to one of the events, I couldn’t help but be pulled in by the siren song of the Zevia and I tried one again. Lo and behold, I didn’t think it was that bad. In fact, I now think it is pretty darn good and have even bought a six-pack since then. I particularly like their ginger root beer. Zevia isn’t quite as satisfying as a sugar-filled root beer or cola, but it’s pretty close.

Why am I posting this? Because I know a lot of people who drink a decent amount of diet soda and I think this would probably be a better choice.

Whole Foods carries Zevia in Oakland.

12 Responses to “Soda”

  1. Valentin Says:

    Hi Jack,
    Is it now completely clear that aspartame is bad for us ?

  2. Jack Norris RD Says:


    Not that I’m aware of. I checked it out awhile ago and wasn’t convinced one way or the other.

  3. Dustin Rhodes Says:

    Regardless of who made it or what awful chemical is in it, I can’t give up trashy diet soda — the real thing. Zevia is like a distant 3rd cousin or ex step-brother.

  4. Jean Myers Says:

    For me the best solution has been the SodaStream soda maker. Simple to use – just create your own soda water, then add a little fruit juice for color /flavor. No bottles or cans either.

    PS: You can get flavorings for it but those contain chemicals and are not necessary.

  5. Janae Wise Says:

    I love Zevia!

    Jean: I so want the sodastream soda maker. Where did you buy yours??

  6. Mark Osborne Says:

    Hmmmm. Consuming stevia will raise insulin levels. Which will make you hungry, tired, and potentially fat.

    Its sweetness will trick the body into assuming there is a going to be a bunch of glucose hitting the blood stream any moment. Even the thought of eating food stimulates insulin production – let alone consuming a sweet beverage. Given your glass of Zevia will provide no zero glucose to the bloodstream, the fat and muscle cells in your body will draw down your glucose level as instructed by the insulin.

    A low glucose level will make you feel hungry, tired or both – your body needs to equalize by consuming more glucose or reducing energy consumption. Consistent elevation of insulin levels usually promotes insulin resistance.

    On the bright side a few lab and animal studies have suggested that insulin resistance may not occur with stevia (no human studies that I am aware of) – so it may not promote metabolic syndrome in the same way as other sugars and artificial sweeteners.

    However elevated hunger, reduced energy consumption and the potential to cause glucose self-regulation issues all make Zevia consumption a risk for weight gain and obesity.

    If you can’t resist diet sodas – I would at least try to combine them with a some complex carbohydrates to offset the inevitable insulin spike. Stevia is probably less harmful than most artificial sweeteners, but don’t assume it’s healthy.

  7. Jack Norris RD Says:


    That’s very interesting. Do you know of any clinical trials that have shown diet sodas to result in weight gain?

  8. Mark Osborne Says:

    The potential was sparked by this clinical trail:
    Stellman SD, Garfinkel L
    . Artificial sweetener use and one-year weight change among women. Prev Med1986; 15: 195– 202.

    But as discussed in the following paper the results of clinical trails of NNS are generally considered non conclusive:

    Here is an animal and an epidemiological study:

    Purdue University researchers have shown that rats eating food sweetened with saccharin took in more calories and gained more weight than rats fed sugar-sweetened food.
    Swithers SE, Davidson TL. A role for sweet taste: calorie predictive relations in energy regulation by rats. Behavioral Neuroscience. 2008; 122:161-173.

    A long-term study of nearly 3,700 residents of San Antonio, Texas, showed that those who averaged three or more artificially sweetened beverages a day were more likely to have gained weight over an eight-year period than those who didn’t drink artificially sweetened beverages.
    15. Fowler SP, Williams K, Resendez RG, Hunt KJ, Hazuda HP, Stern MP. Fueling the obesity epidemic? Artificially sweetened beverage use and long-term weight gain. Obesity (Silver Spring). 2008; 16:1894-1900.

    Of course like most nutrition science it’s a disputed topic. There are even studies that claim that non-nutritive sweeteners are not fattening when compared with nutritive sweeteners which makes me laugh – no more fattening than sugar water eh!

  9. Jack Norris RD Says:

    Thanks, Mark. That’s interesting, though as you suggested, far from conclusive. Maybe a good solution is to mix diet soda with some food containing energy.

  10. Christina Beymer Says:

    Though the information on splenda’s dangers are thin, here’s one reason that I NEVER drink it:
    Splenda is the brand name for Sucralose, an artificial sweetener manufactured by by McNeil Laboratories, a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson. In 2000, a series of reports were published by Permagon press on the details of animal testing for Sucralose at Huntingdon Life Sciences (HLS). These were particularly nasty experiments carried out on dogs, monkeys, rabbits, rats and mice. A total of 12,800 animals died at HLS for this study. One of the objectives was to observe effects of massive doses of sucralose on animal’s nervous systems. In spite of wide spread evidence of health dangers and concerns, Sucralose is widely available for consumption. See also pdf copies of animal testing reports for various species conducted at HLS laboratories. [1] — end

    Since I’m very sensitive to raised or low blood sugar, I take cinnamon and have since found that I get no more highs and lows.

    Improved Insulin Resistance and Lipid Metabolism by Cinnamon Extract through Activation of Peroxisome Proliferator-Activated Receptors

    Cinnamon Improves Glucose and Lipids of People With Type 2 Diabetes

    Turmeric (curcumin)

    Effect of curcumin supplementation on blood glucose, plasma insulin, and glucose homeostasis related enzyme activities in diabetic db/db mice.

    Curcumin inhibits glucose production in isolated mice hepatocytes.

    I noticed with all fake sugar, I’d get a reaction of getting very tired. With real sugar, I’d go up and then want to take a nap (but not with cinnamon). With stevia, I don’t have any reaction. With Truvia – a Cargill product in Zevia – I don’t consume it anymore. I think it’s a screwed up version of stevia.

  11. Jack Norris RD Says:


    Just fyi, if you’re still following this post, a just-released clinical trial concluded: “Our study does not provide evidence to suggest that a short-term consumption of DBs, compared with water, increases preferences for sweet foods and beverages.”

  12. Jack Norris RD Says:

    And here is another study that linked sugar-sweetened beverages and artificially sweetened beverages with type 2 diabetes:

    You gotta love nutrition!

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