Is Drinking Diet Soda a Health Risk?
Many people regard diet soda as a healthier alternative to sugary, carbonated drinks. According to new research, however, artificially sweetened soda may come with its own risks, especially when consumed in high amounts.
Increased Risk of Stroke
According to research out of Boston University, diet soda could increase a person’s risk of suffering a stroke. Appearing in the journal Stroke, the study tracked 4,000 people over the age of 45 for a decade. After evaluating their dietary habits, the researchers found that diet soda drinkers were twice as likely to have a stroke compared to people who did not consume any artificially sweetened beverages. What’s more, the study found that the risk increased with as little as one diet soda per day.
Cause for Concern?
In addition to the increased risk of stroke, researchers also noted that diet soda drinkers appeared to have an increased risk of all-cause dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Other studies have also linked regular diet soda consumption with an increased risk of diabetes, weight gain and heart attack.
What’s the Cause?
While they don’t know why diet soda might increase the risk of health problems, experts have a number of theories. Some have speculated that artificial sweeteners might indirectly promote health problems by altering gut flora. Others suspect that diet sodas may affect blood vessels throughout the body. Whatever the case, there appears to be good reason to moderate diet soda consumption, especially if you have a family history of stroke, dementia or diabetes.
Should I Drink Diet Soda?
While there does appear to be a relationship between diet soda and serious health problems, experts say more studies are needed to draw a conclusive link. Still, it may be a good idea to limit the amount of diet soda you drink until more is known.
If you are trying to use diet soda to get off sugary drinks, try to regard them as a temporary solution. You should also remember that, while there is some evidence that diet sodas could increase certain health risks, a mountain of evidence has shown that sugary beverages are far worse. Still, while diet sodas may be better than traditional soda, you are probably safest opting for a glass of tea or water.