Scared silly about the health hazards of sugar, you started drinking diet sodas years ago. Now, you’re hooked. Every time you head to the grocery store, you stock up on your favorite brand of them. If you can relate to this scenario, you’re not alone.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, CDC, reported that approximately one out of every five Americans consumes diet soda every day. Rather than helping you improve your health, a recent study revealed quenching your thirst with diet drinks might harm it. The new study, published in Stroke, showed that post-menopausal women who consumed multiple diet sodas a day were more likely to experience a stroke or other cardiovascular event.
Researchers discovered that women who consumed two or more diet sodas each day faced a significantly higher risk for vascular problems than those who drank diet beverages less than once every week or none at all. According to Healthline, the women who consumed diet drinks more often were 23 percent more likely to experience a stroke, 29 percent more probable to get heart disease, 31 percent more likely to have a stroke resulting from a clot, and 16 percent more probable to die overall.
Greater than 81,000 women who were between the ages of 50 and 79 at the beginning of the study self-reported the data. The study took place from 1993 to 1998.
The study’s authors cautioned that their findings don’t prove that diet sodas categorically cause strokes. Rather, their research showed the existence of a link between consuming more diet sodas and having a cardiovascular event.
The study revealed that some females face a higher risk than others. Participants who consumed more than two diet beverages a day doubled their risk for having a stroke. This was especially the case if the women had previously suffered from diabetes or heart disease.
Obese women without previous diabetes or heart disease also faced an elevated stroke risk. Alarmingly, African-American participants without prior diabetes or heart disease were 3.93 times more probable to have a stroke caused by a clot.
Combined with other observational research, the recent study showed that artificially flavored beverages might not be safe and that high consumption of them is associated with having an increased risk for both heart disease and stroke.
The results of the study were reached after making adjustments for stroke risk factors, such as smoking, high blood pressure, and age. In a supplementary editorial, researchers stated that heavy diet beverage consumption was linked with an elevated stroke risk only in women who were obese. Those who were merely overweight or possessed a healthy body mass index didn’t see any effects.
This study certainly isn’t the first of its kind to sound the alarm on diet sodas. According to WebMD, other studies have linked health problems to diet soft drinks broadly instead of to certain artificial sweeteners. However, they didn’t show definitively if diet soft drinks were the culprit.
A 2014 study discovered that obese and overweight people who consumed diet beverages ate between 90 and 200 more calories of food daily than those who drank regular soft drinks. A BMJ review of studies in 2015 revealed that one daily serving of diet soda skyrocketed the chance of diabetes by eight percent. A 2012 study showed that daily diet beverage drinkers had a 43 percent increased probability of stroke, heart attack, or dying due to blood vessel problems. The average age of participants in the study was 69.
According to WebMD, the artificial sweeteners in diet sodas may trick you into consuming more calories than you otherwise would. This might explain the link between diet drinks and diabetes and weight gain.
Christopher Gardner, PhD, director of nutrition studies at the Stanford Prevention Research Center, stated that this can happen in one of two ways. First of all, if you drink a diet soft drink rather than a regular one, you may reward yourself later in the day with a treat. This indulgence might contain more calories than the sugary soda you skipped earlier.
Your brain chemistry can also play a part. For instance, the sweet taste of the diet beverage might prepare your brain to expect a calorie boost. But, no calories are on the way. So, this could trigger your appetite resulting in you consuming more food.
If you’re a diet soda fanatic, consider swapping your beverage of choice for water. If the thought of drinking plain water sounds too boring, you might enjoy water infused with fruit such as strawberries, cantaloupe, pineapple, or blueberries.