People who love to mix their alcoholic drinks with soda tend to go for the "lesser evil" by choosing diet or low-sugar variants. What people do not know is that this can bring more harm than good.

More often than not, people like to mix their alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks for a better experience. Although eating food with alcohol may help reduce peak breath alcohol concentrations (BrAC), experts found that diet sodas are not included in that "food list."

In a new study, researchers from Northern Kentucky University found that alcoholic drinks mixed with diet soda may boost breath alcohol levels more strongly than when combined with regular sodas.

To perform the study, the researchers asked 10 men and 10 women aged 21-30 years old to drink five various mixed beverages over five drinking sessions. The drinks had different amounts of alcohol and some were mixed with either diet or regular sweetened soda. One of the drinks involved in the experiment was a plain regular soda.

During the course of the sessions, the researchers repeatedly measure the concentration levels of alcohol in the subjects' mouths for three hours.

The findings of the investigations show that the breath alcohol level of participants who took an alcoholic drink mixed with diet soda was higher compared to those who drank an alcoholic beverage with regular soda.

The level of alcohol in each drink was different. Drinkers of low-alcohol drink mixed with diet soda exhibited a 22 percent higher BrAC compared to those who drank concoctions with regular soda.

Participants who drank beverages with high amounts of alcohol showed a 25 percent higher breath alcohol level when their drinks were combined with diet soda.

The researchers did not find any discrepancies in the results between different genders. They said, however, that the findings of the study may be more applicable to women than men as the former order diet sodas more frequently than the latter.

The underlying cause behind the study results may be attributed to "gastric emptying," which pertains to the time it takes for food to leave the stomach and enter the small intestine for absorption.

Dr. Chris Rayner, who was not involved in the current study, but was involved in a past study, discovered that alcohol leaves the stomach and enters the bloodstream more rapidly when it is mixed with diet drinks compared to regular sweetened drinks.

"Although it makes good press, I wouldn't interpret the findings as indicating that diet beverages are 'bad,'" said Rayner, a gastroenterologist from the University of Adelaide in Australia.

With this, he said that drinking alcohol without food may most likely lead to higher peak alcohol levels in the blood. He added, however, that moderate alcohol drinking must still be practiced at all times, whether or not food is consumed together with alcohol.

The study was published in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence.

Photo: Rex Sorgatz | Flickr

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