If you're among the 59 percent of Americans who regularly sip diet drinks, it's time for a change.
A new study, published in the journal Stroke in April 2017, linked diet soda with an increased risk of stroke and dementia. The study found that drinking just one artificially sweetened drink a day seemed to raise the risk nearly three times, compared with drinking less than one diet drink per week.
We think it's time to rethink the use of artificial sweeteners, especially since this news comes on the heels of other discoveries about how they may affect your health:
- Higher heart health risks. Older women who sipped two or more diet drinks daily had a 30 percent higher risk for a heart attack in a recent University of Iowa study of 59,614 women.
- Trigger more food cravings. People who had diet drinks were more likely to think about and eat high-calorie, sugary snacks, a new Texas Christian University study finds.
- May cause weight gain. In several large studies of adults and kids, diet soda-drinkers gained more weight over several years than those who sipped regular soft drinks or none at all.
But what should you sip? Not sugary drinks. We agree with our friends at the Center for Science in the Public Interest, who say, "No diet-soda drinker should interpret the study as license to switch to regular soda." There's no doubt that the calorie and sugar overload in regular soda - and in bottled tea, iced coffee and energy drinks - is bad news for your weight, your waistline, your heart and your blood sugar. Steer clear of lower-sugar sodas starting to pop up in stores, too. They still contain a lot of refined sugar - nearly nine teaspoons in a 12-ounce can. Instead, try some of these refreshing alternatives:
- Fruit water - Add some flavor to your water with a squeeze of lemon or lime, or use single-serve packets of tart, unsweetened lemon or lime flavoring. You can also plop a couple of strawberries, orange slices, lime wedges or cucumber rounds into a pitcher of water and refrigerate overnight.
- Unsweetened iced tea - Brew unsweetened iced tea. Try caffeine-free or herbal flavors.
- Iced coffee - Rustle up homemade iced coffee with or without a splash of skim milk and with a shake of cinnamon and/or a dash of vanilla extract. Brew extra in the morning or put on a pot of decaf later in the day so your iced coffee doesn't keep you up at night.
- Seltzer water - Try calorie-free seltzer or club soda with a citrus spritz or mix in a splash of your favorite real fruit juice for a treat.
This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.