Many people who want healthier options to sugary beverages have turned to diet drinks over the past few decades. Unfortunately, drinks that use artificial sweeteners are actually not the healthier option.
Diet Drinks: Links To Stroke And Dementia
In a new research published in the journal Stroke, researchers found that people who drink at least one artificially sweetened soft drink daily are three times more likely to suffer from ischemic stroke compared with those who do not drink these beverages.
Drinking one artificially sweetened soft drink a day was also found to be associated with three times an increased risk for Alzheimer's disease, the most common form of dementia.
"After adjustments for age, sex, education (for analysis of dementia), caloric 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 ischemic stroke, all-cause dementia, and Alzheimer’s disease dementia," study researcher Matthew Pase, from Boston University School of Medicine, and colleagues wrote in their study. "Sugar-sweetened beverages were not associated with stroke or dementia."
Besides links to stroke and dementia, consuming diet soda has also been associated with diabetes, abdominal fat, and even weight gain. There are several other reasons why consuming diet drinks on a regular basis is being frowned upon by health experts.
Diet Drinks And Artificial Sweeteners Confuse The Body
Artificial sweeteners have more intense flavor compared with real sugar, so consuming products like diet soda may dull the senses to naturally sweet but healthier food such as fruits. Diet soda and artificial drinks also trick the body into thinking that it consumes real food and sugar, which could cause metabolic confusion and overconsumption.
"You've messed up the whole system, so when you consume real sugar, your body doesn't know if it should try to process it because it's been tricked by the fake sugar so many times," said Purdue University researcher Susan Swithers, who has conducted studies on diet drinks and artificial sweeteners.
Diet Drinks Do Not Have Nutritional Value
Many people with diabetes or obesity switch from sugary drinks to diet beverages supposedly as a step to better health, but consuming diet soda does not give the body any nutritional value. Health experts said that plain old water remains the best no-calorie beverage. Water is also essential for many bodily processes and replacing it with diet soda is not a healthy thing.
"Just because a beverage is advertised as being healthy because it doesn't have any sugar doesn't mean that it is healthy," Pase said. "Artificial sweeteners may have effects in the body that we haven't begun to explore."
Artificial Sweeteners May Alter The Gut Bacteria
Studies have found an association between artificial sweeteners, obesity, and diabetes. A study conducted by scientists from Israel found evidence that may help explain why consuming artificial sweeteners such as those used in diet drinks may lead to weight problems and other body ailments.
Their study involving mice suggested that the sweeteners change the population of intestinal bacteria that are involved in metabolism, the conversion of food into energy or stored fuel, which in turn could result in a range of health problems.