A new study shows people who regularly drink diet sodas are 43% more likely to suffer a stroke, heart attack, and other vascular problems than people who didn’t touch diet soda.
Researchers weren’t sure what exactly in the diet soda triggers that increased vascular risk, but something does.
The study, which appeared in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, interestingly found people who drink regular soda and only have, say, one diet soda each week don’t have these vascular issues.
Now, the take-home from this study is not to engulf Coke and only occasionally have a Diet Coke. I want you to ditch soda, period, whether it’s sweetened with aspartame or high-fructose corn syrup.
Nobody pays much attention when I say diet soda can give you a heart attack or stroke. But mention that it makes you fat, and suddenly people get all riled up: “But, wait… It’s diet soda. And it has no calories…”
Don’t shoot the messenger. Studies verify diet soda can pack on the pounds and lots worse.
One study, for instance, showed that diet soda drinkers who drank just two cans a day got fatter than people who drank two cans of regular soda. No kidding.
Another study showed drinking diet soda daily significantly increases your risk of metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes.
But wait, you say. Diet sodas don’t have any sugar, so how could they contribute to diabetes?
A study in the Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine explained this predicament. In a nutshell, sweetness without the calories could increase your appetite and makes you reach for the Sausalito cookies.
Scientists call this phenomenon “calorie dysregulation.” Ever noticed when you’re drinking a Diet Coke you suddenly get cravings for something crunchy or sweet?
Those Yale researchers also concluded diet sodas trigger sugar craving and sugar dependence.
That could happen for several reasons. One, the diet soda’s exacerbated sweetness could make you crave more sugar.
And your body could mistake the aspartame for real sugar. Your pancreas responds with insulin, which among its other duties stores fat and takes your blood sugar on a rollercoaster ride.
The end result is more cravings. And trust me, when I say cravings, I don’t mean for wild salmon and broccoli.
Oh, and don’t even get me started about the numerous problems aspartame can create.
Look, I know kicking the diet soda habit can be brutal, especially if Diet Coke to you falls into one of the four food groups. If cold turkey seems torture, at least cut back to one can a week. (Or, okay, one a day if your habit is that bad.)
You might also dump the diet soda for seltzer water flavored with lemon or lime. The water’s carbonation has a similar mouth feel to diet soda without the aspartame and other nasty ingredients.