Soda of any kind is disease waiting to happen

If you want to lose weight and lower your disease risk, start by eliminating empty calories from your diet -- and no calories are emptier than the sugary ones you find in soda.

But whatever you do, don't swap regular soda for diet -- because despite the name, "diet" soda could actually cause you to overeat and gain weight, according to a new look at a dozen studies published over the past five years.

And if you don't need to lose weight, you still need to pass on diet soda -- because they can raise your risk of diabetes, heart disease and stroke even if you manage to keep slim and trim, according to the study.

I know that sounds crazy. After all, diet soda has no calories.

But that's exactly the problem -- because when your brain tastes anything sweet, it expects some calories to follow.

When they don't arrive, it gets confused. And if it gets confused often enough, it can actually "forget" how to handle the calories from real sugar, according to animal studies included in the new review from Purdue University.

This changes how your body releases hormones and insulin after eating or drinking -- and that, in turn, is a recipe for hunger, weight gain, disease and more.

It helps explain why diet soda can double your risk of metabolic syndrome -- and why one study I told you about recently found that even a moderate diet soda habit can raise your diabetes risk by 60 percent.

And that's not even getting into the specific risks of the no-calorie chemical sweeteners used in diet soft drinks, which have been linked to migraines, mood disorders, vision and hearing problems, heart conditions and even cancer.

None of this means that sugary soda is a better option. Instead, pass on all soft drinks -- and if you need a little fizz, try some club soda.

You can add a little fruit to infuse some natural flavor.

Tea -- hot or iced -- is another great option, and green tea in particular can help you to lose weight and improve your overall health.

And don't forget nature's original refreshment: water. Just be sure to drink water filtered by reverse osmosis or a distiller to remove contaminants and impurities.