Artificially Sweetened Drinks, Strokes and Alzheimer’s Disease

In an effort to lose weight, many folks turn to diet soda in a seemingly health-conscious choice to save all of those unwanted calories. A new study published in the American Heart Association’s journal Stroke, showed that those who drink artificially sweetened drinks daily have almost three times the risk of having a stroke and developing Alzheimer’s disease. The study covered a period of 17 years, comparing daily consumption of artificially sweetened drinks to drinking less than one a week, and involved 2,888 people over 45 years of age for the stroke analysis and 1,484 people over 60 for the Alzheimer’s part of the study.

If you haven’t already reconsidered your diet soda habit, you should. This study isn’t the only one to raise red flags about artificial sweeteners. Others have shown that artificial sweeteners may interfere with the gut bacteria that play a key role in healthy metabolism, altering gut microbes, glucose intolerance and metabolic syndrome (both precursors to Type 2 diabetes) in mice and humans.

Oddly, the new study in Stroke didn’t find an association between sugary beverages and stroke and dementia. Keep in mind, however, that there is a host of literature linking added sugars to conditions that lead to cardiovascular disease, the number one cause of death in the world. Diets high in added sugars have also been connected to obesity and high blood pressure, and elevated blood pressure increases the stroke risk. The message, therefore, is not to switch to sugary drinks.

Diet soda is simply not a healthy choice. It does not do your body any good. Stick to purified water or natural sparkling water for those who crave the fizz. There are many interesting flavors available, or try adding your own fresh lemon or other fruit.