If you haven’t already sworn off diet sodas, and poured any bottles or cans still lurking in your home down the drain, I’ll wait here while you go do it. Because the evidence is overwhelming that these so-called “safe” alternatives to sugary soft drinks are downright dangerous for your health.
If you’re a regular Healthier Talk reader you can probably recite by heart some of the dangers artificially-sweetened diet drinks are associated with. In fact, just a few days ago I told you about research linking less than two cans of soda a day to double the risk of diabetes (if you missed that story, you can click here to catch up).1
Now researchers are warning these same artificially-sweetened drinks are linked to stroke and dementia, too.
Diet soda linked to 3X’s the stroke risk
The study, published in the journal Stroke, paints a frightening picture. Because while scientists can’t yet say for sure that there’s a cause-and-effect relationship between drinking diet sodas and these brain conditions, they found folks who drink a diet soda a day are a shocking three times more likely to have a stroke or suffer from dementia.2
To reveal the link researchers took a deeper dive into the data from the Framingham Heart Study. They looked closely at the cases of 2,888 adults over 45 who had suffered a stroke, and 1,484 adults over 60 who had a dementia diagnosis and a clear link began to emerge. Drinking diet soda appears to TRIPLE your risk of these conditions.
Diet drinks could harm your health
Of course this is far from the first time that we’ve seen links between artificially-sweetened diet soda and serious health concerns, including stroke, heart attack, high blood pressure, sexual dysfunction and diabetes. And what most of these diet-soda linked conditions appear to share in common is that they’re related to our vascular system.
For example, a 10-year study published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine linked a daily diet soda habit to a significantly increased risk of a vascular event, including stroke.3
In that study researchers from the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine and Columbia University Medical Center analyzed data from 2,564 volunteers. After making some adjustments for any pre-existing vascular conditions folks had—such as metabolic syndrome, diabetes or high blood pressure—they found the diet soda fans still had a 43 percent increased risk of a stroke, heart attack or other vascular related event.
And a large University of Iowa study, which focused on the food and drink habits of almost 60,000 folks, found drinking two or more diet drinks a day could increase your risk of heart disease, heart attack and stroke.4
Researchers found that when they compared senior women who drink very little (or no) diet soda to ladies who drink two or more diet sodas a day, the heavy soda drinkers were 30 percent more likely to have a heart related event, and 50 percent more likely to die from a vascular related disease.
Ditch diet soda for a healthy alternative instead
It’s clear we’ve been sold a bill of goods when it comes to artificially-sweetened diet sodas. They’re nothing but bad news in a can. It’s time to ban them from your life and replace them with something that’s not just palate pleasing, but good for you too.
Following are our top three suggestions:
1. Fruit infused water:
Your body loves plain water, so go ahead and drink up. But if you’re looking to add a bit more oomph to your H2O try infusing your water with some healthy fruit.
Drop chunks of your favorite fruits, or whole berries, into a pitcher of water and let it sit in the fridge for at least three hours. You’ll be left with a deliciously refreshing drink that will make you forget all about diet soda.
Not sure where to start? Check out our water detox recipes for some inspiration. A fun variation is to fill an ice cube tray with water and drop a fruit chunk or berry into each cube and freeze.
Whether you choose a simple black tea, a cancer-fighting green tea or a tummy slimming hibiscus variety, tea is a tasty and healthy diet soda alternative.
There are at least 1000 (and no, that’s NOT a typo) studies on the potential cancer-fighting benefits of tea. For example a study published in the Journal of Nutrition found that six cups a day of green tea offers significant protection against prostate cancer.5 Experts say it’s the polyphenol EGCG in green tea that provides the protection against cancer. In fact, it may help fight a variety of cancers including skin, lung, breast and prostate cancers.6
Research has also found that tea could help support heart health, with three or more cups a day linked to a 21 percent reduced risk of stroke.7 And according to the large Women’s Health Study, women who drank four cups of tea a day had a 30 percent reduced risk of developing type 2 diabetes.8
You probably know by now I’m a HUGE coffee fan. Not only is it delicious, its resume is packed with a long list of health benefits. In fact, experts now say drinking several cups a day could end up adding years to your life, instead of robbing you of them like diet soda might.
For example a recent large study, published in the journal Circulation, found that women drinking one to five cups of java a day had significantly less chance of dying from any cause than ladies who rejected the brew.9 And middle-aged men and women who down three to five cups of coffee a day are 65 percent less likely to develop Alzheimer’s, according to research published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.10
But the benefits don’t end there. A study found a link between two and a half cups of coffee a day and a drop in cancer risk. 11 And according to experts a regular coffee habit could slash your diabetes risk by up to a whopping 50 percent!12,13
In other words, if you’re a coffee fan you can stop thinking of it as a guilty pleasure. It’s a far healthier choice than diet soda, and tastes terrific hot or over ice. Just remember, filling up your coffee with sugar and syrupy creamers undoes all the good, so stick to black or have yours with a splash of real cream instead.
Ditch the diet soda today.