A Major Side Effect of Drinking Diet Soda Every Day, Doctors Say — Don’t Eat This That — NBCNEWS

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Eat this, not that

An increasing body of research suggests that choosing a Diet Coke instead of a Coca-Cola to cut some calories isn’t necessarily a healthier choice. While many artificially sweetened drinks contain zero calories, drinking them regularly can put you at risk for health complications typically associated with being overweight, namely metabolic disorders such as cardiovascular disease.

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Although artificial sweeteners like aspartame (one of the more popular ingredients in diet soda) have been approved by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration for use in foods and beverages, that doesn’t mean they’re good for you. “Given the association we found between artificial sweeteners and the additional cardiovascular risks […] it’s best to limit or avoid aspartame,” says nutrition scientist Yasmin Mossavar-Rahmani, Ph.D.associate professor of epidemiology and public health at Albert Einstein College of Medicine.

About one-fifth of the U.S. population consumes diet drinks every day, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This suggests that many people may not be aware of the potential downsides of choosing artificially sweetened drinks for weight management. Read on for an overview of some of the studies. After talking to experts and going through studies, we found that one major side effect of drinking diet soda that you’ve never thought about is that you can put your heart health at risk.

RELATED: 5 drinks that science says can lead to a heart attack

Studies suggest that diet soda intake is correlated with cardiovascular health problems.

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In a 2012 study in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, researchers surveyed 2,564 participants who were younger than 40 years of age and who had no previous cardiovascular health problems and documented their soda consumption over 10 years. During that time, 591 vascular events were reported; 225 of these were strokes, 155 were heart attacks and 351 resulted in death.

After controlling for health, age, physical activity and lifestyle factors, Hannah Tuinman, Ph.D.an epidemiologist at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, and her team of researchers found that: participants who drank diet soda daily had an increased risk of vascular events compared to those who did not drink diet soda.

“The results of our study suggested that people who frequently (e.g. daily) drank diet soda had a higher risk of vascular outcomes such as heart attacks and strokes and diabetes,” says Dr. gardener. “More work needs to be done to determine the exact mechanisms that explain this association, as well as the ingredients in diet soda that may drive the association.”

University of Iowa researchers found similar results by analyzing data from the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI), which tracked the medical histories and health habits of more than 93,000 women. When comparing women who consumed two or more diet drinks per day with those who never or occasionally, they showed that drinkers of diet drinks were 30% more likely to have a cardiovascular event and 50% more likely to die from a cardiovascular event. related disease.

“It is too early to tell people to change their behavior based on this research; however, based on these and other findings, we have a responsibility to do more research to see what’s going on and to further define the relationship, if it actually exists,” Ankur Vyas, MD, a fellow in cardiovascular disease at UI Hospitals and Clinics, told the American College of Cardiology, “This could have major public health implications.” These implications may include coronary artery disease, congestive heart failure, heart attack, and stroke.

Drinking artificially sweetened beverages such as soda can also increase your risk of stroke.

Stroke was also linked to artificially sweetened beverage consumption in a 2019 study by the American Heart Association published in its journal, Heart attack. Researchers found that women with a high intake of artificially sweetened drinks throughout their lives had an increased risk of stroke, which in some cases led to death.

These women were relatively healthy 12 years earlier, but after the prolonged consumption of diet drinks, many of the participants experienced a decline in their overall health and were diagnosed with serious cardiovascular disease.

“We found that a certain type of stroke, which affects the very small arteries of the brain, was particularly strongly associated with artificially sweetened drinks,” says researcher Brian Silver, MD, a neurologist at the University of Massachusetts Memorial Medical Center. “While we can’t prove cause and effect, the study suggests that limiting consumption of this species [artificially sweetened] drinks can lead to a reduced risk [of stroke].”

The inflammatory properties of artificial sweeteners may play a role in the link between diet soda and heart problems.

Diet drinks are typically sweetened with sugar substitutes such as saccharin, acesulfame, aspartame, neotame or sucralose. And they are usually significantly sweeter than regular table sugar (sucrose). For example, aspartame, one of the most common artificial sugar additives in diet soda, is 180 to 200 times sweeter than sucrose.

dr. Mossavar-Rahmani explains how artificial sweeteners like aspartame can have inflammatory potential, which can lead to an increased risk of stroke and coronary artery disease. “It is possible that the artificial sweeteners or the caramel coloring (such as in colas) have an inflammatory potential associated with an increased risk of stroke and coronary artery disease and a shorter lifespansays Dr. Mossavar-Rahmani.

Should You Stop Drinking Diet Soda?

Given the link between artificial sweeteners and excessive cardiovascular risk, Dr. Mossavar-Rahmani that it is best to limit or avoid diet drinks that contain artificial sugars such as aspartame.

If you’re going to consume diet drinks, avoid too many—that is, aim for less than one per week. And don’t forget that there are alternative drinks to diet soda that have been shown to have beneficial health effects.

“People should focus on consuming more water, coffee and tea instead of soda (diet or regular) or other sweetened drinks, because we have good evidence that water, tea and coffee have positive effects on blood vessel health. says Dr. . Gardener.

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