In case you missed it, on Valentine’s Day the American Heart Association raised yet another warning flag about consuming artificially sweetened beverages.
We already knew that consuming diet soda increases the chance of a pre-term delivery, depression, and of developing type II diabetes. Turns out, in a long term study of over 80,000 women, regular high consumption of diet drinks was also found to be associated with a significant increase in the risk of stroke, heart disease and dying from any cause. The risk of stroke was especially high in women who had no prior history of diabetes or heart disease, and those with a body mass index over 30 (meeting the definition of obesity). Two or more diet sodas per day was the definition of high consumption, and the association between diet soda intake and negative cardiovascular health effects held despite controlling for multiple potential confounders.
Here’s what’s amazing. If a drug was found to be associated with an increased risk of stroke (let alone preterm delivery, depression and diabetes) it would be forced - at the very least – to carry a bold warning label about the potential association on its packaging. The drug might even be forced out of the marketplace entirely, especially if an alternative for it existed.
For diet soda, an alternative does exit. It’s water.
I see many patients who drink diet soda. Often, those same individuals tell me they don’t like drinking water because it has no taste. This can be remedied by adding something to water, like a slice of lemon or orange or lime. In fact, you can get pretty creative. Cucumber slices, mint leaves, pineapple spears – the list is almost endless.
Two cans per day may not seem like much, but over the course of a year, that’s 60 CASES of soda. Next time you’re in a warehouse store, see what 60 cases looks like. Is it any wonder that drinking this amount year after year could affect health?
Nutrition (whether food or beverage) is highly cumulative. After all, we eat and drink multiple times per day, every day. Which means that even small sustained changes can add up to big results over time. So make the change and quit the soda. Your heart and brain will thank you.