Are Diet Drinks BAD for YOU?
A growing body of evidence suggests that diet soda consumption correlates with an increased risk of a wide range of medical conditions, notably:
- heart conditions, such as heart attack and high blood pressure
- metabolic issues, including diabetes and obesity
- brain conditions, such as dementia and stroke
- liver problems, which include non-alcoholic fatty liver disease
Many studies of people who drink soda have been extensive and spanned many years. However, few studies have fully controlled for other risk factors that might lead to chronic health issues, such as being overweight or having a sedentary lifestyle.
Therefore, they may not account for the fact that people who drink soda might have more health issues independent of their beverage choices. For example, a person might be drinking diet soda because they have a high body mass index (BMI) and are trying to lose weight. Or, people who regularly drink soda may be more likely to eat certain types of food, which may pose health risks.
Researchers do not know exactly why diet sodas may increase the risk of disease. Some believe that diet sodas might damage blood vessels or cause chronic inflammation. Diet sodas may also undermine health by changing other habits. A 2012 study suggests that diet soda may change how the brain responds to sweet flavours by affecting dopamine, a neurotransmitter that plays a role in pleasure, motivation, and reward. Frequently drinking diet soda might cause a person to crave more sweets, including both sweet snacks and more soda.
Many studies have linked diet soda consumption to worse health outcomes. The researchers behind a 2017 study gathered data that indicated a link between diet soda and the risk of stroke and Alzheimer’s disease. The study involved 2,888 people over the age of 45 years. The results showed that drinking one diet soda per day almost tripled a person’s risk of stroke and Alzheimer’s disease. A 2014 study of 2,037 male Japanese factory workers found that men who drank diet soda were more likely to develop diabetes than those who did not. The correlation held even after adjusting for family history, age, BMI, and lifestyle factors. Early research suggested that there might be a link between artificial sweeteners and cancer. However, subsequent research has either found no link or called into question data that initially linked artificial sweeteners to cancer. So, while there are plenty of reasons to avoid diet soda, cancer risk may not be among them.
Research has linked a wide range of health risks to drinking diet soda. Despite it being a low or zero-calorie beverage, it may still increase the risk of conditions such as diabetes and obesity. Diet soda offers no health benefits other than functioning as a tool that people can use to wean themselves off regular soda. While the precise relationship between diet soda and medical conditions is uncertain and requires more research, it is clear that people should not see diet soda as a healthful alternative to sugary drinks.