A recent study published in the American Heart Association’s journal Stroke showed a new danger with diet sodas. In this study, people who drank diet soda (compared to people who drank none) had almost a 300% increase in strokes and almost a 300% increase in dementia! What was surprising was that people who drank regular sugary sodas did not have an increased rate of stroke or dementia. This doesn’t mean to say that you should sodas; in fact, long-term regular soda consumption is associated with its own laundry list of complications: weight gain, diabetes, strokes, heart attacks…

Another interesting study published in Nature  showed that, due to different populations of gut bacteria, people could become more susceptible to becoming diabetics, even while drinking diet sodas. This was a direct consequence of the sweeteners themselves. They estimated that 1 in 5, or 20% of the population has the type of bacteria that would convert artificial sweeteners into products that would make you more likely to develop diabetes!

Finally, multiple studies have been done that typically show no weight loss, or even weight gain, when drinking no calorie diet sodas. There are many theories on why this is the case, but basically if you are trying to lose weight by switching from sugary sodas to diet, it probably won’t help much.

So, why drink them? If you don’t lose weight, have a 20% chance of getting diabetes, and have a 300% increase in stroke and dementia risk, the only reason to drink them would be for their taste.

There’s an old health mantra that goes, “don’t drink your calories,” but now with these ironic findings on zero calorie sodas, it should probably be “just drink water!”


About the Author

Harvey Hahn, MD, FACC

Dr. Hahn graduated from Loma Linda University in 1994. He is currently the director of the Cardiovascular Fellowship Training Program at the Kettering Medical Center in Kettering Ohio.

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