Drinking diet soda increases your risk for stroke, dementia –Study
If you regularly take a can of cola soft drinks at lunch , or enjoy it with your favorite rum , you might want to put that drink down.
According to a new study , just one diet drink a day can triple the risk of a deadly stroke , with researchers also finding the beverages have a “ worrying association ” with dementia .
The team of researchers from Boston ’ s University School of Medicine said people who consume a can of artificially – sweetened soft drink a day were at three times the risk of suffering the most common form of stroke , compared to non – drinkers .
The US study also indicated that diet soft drink fans were 2 . 9 times more likely to develop Alzheimer’ s.
But after accounting for all lifestyle factors , the researchers found the link to dementia was statistically insignificant, though the impact on stroke risk remained .
The study , which looked at 10 years ’ worth of data from more than 4 , 300 people, indicates that people need to look beyond the word ‘ diet’ when making drink choices .
“ Drinking at least one artificially sweetened beverage daily was associated with almost three times the risk of developing stroke or dementia , compared to those who drank artificially sweetened beverages less than once a week, ” the research read .
It was published in the journal of the American Heart Association, Stroke .
“ After adjustments for age , sex , education (for analysis of dementia ) , calorific intake, diet quality, physical activity and smoking , higher recent and higher cumulative intake of artificially sweetened soft drinks were associated with an increased risk of ischaemic stroke , all- cause dementia and Alzheimer’ s disease dementia . ”
“ To our knowledge , our study is the first to report an association between daily intake of artificially sweetened soft drink and increased risk of both all- cause dementia and dementia because of Alzheimer’ s disease , ” the co – authors added .
Diet drinks contain next – to – no calories, because they use artificial sweeteners that are hundreds , sometimes thousands of times sweeter than sugar .
There is public concern about some sweeteners, with scientists across the world arguing that low – calorie substitutes may lead to weight gain and increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes .
“ A lot of people assume they must be healthy choices because they are not sugared beverages , but the critical thing for people to understand is we don ’ t have the evidence, ” Prof . Susan Swithers , from the US ’ s Purdue University told the BBC .
Typically , the different types of sweeteners used in diet drinks range from Aspartame , Saccharine and Stevia .
Aspartame is the sweetener most used in diet drinks, and is also the most controversial .
At 200 times sweeter than sugar , it is used right across the world as a sugar substitute , including cereal , chewing gum and lollies .
“ Diet drinks, despite having zero sugar and hardly any calories, actually taste far sweeter than regular soft – drinks, ” nutritionist Kristen Beck told
news . com . au .
“ The problem is that the human brain aren ’ t set up to be able to deal with the intensely – sweet, zero- calorie version of sweetness that artificial sweeteners provide. ”
Humans are set up to crave and seek out sweet foods, and when they eat something sweet , the brain responds to sweetness with signals to eat more.
“ Artificial sweeteners provide an intensely sweet taste without any calories which can actually cause you to crave more sweet foods and drinks, ” Ms Beck said .
“ In turn , the sweetness drive you to eat more kilojoules from sweet foods and drinks than you normally would .
“ While sugar signals a positive feeling of reward , artificial sweeteners may not be an
effective way to manage a craving for sweets .
“ Artificial sweeteners trigger insulin , which sends your body into fat storage mode and leads to weight gain , ” Brooke Alpert , author of The Sugar Detox said .
According to Prof . Swithers , ingesting sweeteners also obstructs the way the body deals with real sugar when it’ s consumed again .
“ We think the diet sodas may be bad because they make it hard to deal with the sugar you are consuming , ” she said .
“ When the animals get real sugar they ’ re not as good at processing it, their hormonal responses get blunted , their blood sugar levels go up and it leads to weight gain. ”