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Is Diet Soda Your Enemy?

I just came across a VERY good reason why you should consider staying clear of diet soda.
Recent findings presented at the American Stroke Association’s 2011 International Stroke Conference concluded that diet soda can significantly increase your risk for stroke, heart attack and vascular death.[1] The findings were based on the Northern Manhattan Study, which looked at more than 2,500 people across various ethnic groups to discover specific stroke risk factors.
And as you might guess, diet soda tops the list.

In fact, those who reported drinking diet soda had a 61% higher chance of experiencing a vascular event (stroke, heart attack, etc) than those who didn’t. This still held true even after the researchers accounted for other risk factors like metabolic syndrome, cardiac disease history and peripheral vascular disease.
I don’t know about you, but I think that’s some pretty scary stuff!
While this is the first study to link diet soda to stroke and other vascular events, plenty of other studies show that drinking one or more cans of the stuff a day can have a negative effect on your health.
For example, one study published in the journal Circulation followed men and women for nine years and tracked their diets.
They found that drinking just one can of diet soda increases your risk of developing metabolic syndrome (which includes abdominal fat, high-blood pressure, high-blood sugar, etc) by 10 percent MORE than eating a diet high in fried foods without the soda! [2]
If that wasn’t enough, those that drank diet soda had a 34% HIGHER risk of developing metabolic syndrome than those who didn’t.
In another study (conducted at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio) researchers followed 474 older adults for 9.5 years.
They measured their height, weight and waist circumference, and had all participants report their diet soda intake every time they came in to be measured throughout the length of the study.
Every participant saw their waistline expand as the study continued- but here’s the crazy part:
After the study, those that reported drinking diet soda had 70% greater increases in their waistlines than the non-drinkers. And those folks that reported drinking two or more cans of diet soda a day experienced 500% MORE waistline growth than non-drinkers! [3]
Not the kinds of odds I want on my side…
Researchers still don’t know if it’s something in the diet soda that’s causing these negative health effects or if it’s a behavior-type thing – where folks who drink diet soda think they can eat more since they’re saving calories in what they’re drinking.
Regardless, I’d still stay clear of the stuff- especially with the new finding I told you about earlier that diet soda equals greater stroke and vascular event risk.
Ideally, just drink water most of the time. If you absolutely want to drink diet soda, do so sparingly.
Don’t let it become a daily habit.
If the thought of just drinking water makes you crazy, try drinking tea. Also, adding things to your water like lemon or crushed mint leaves can make it taste pretty good and help you stay sane.
1. American Stroke Association International Stroke Conference. Abstract # P55. News conference February 9, 2011.
2.Lutsey P, Steffen L, Stevens J,“Dietary Intake and the Development of the Metabolic Syndrome:The Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities Study” Circulation. 2008;117:754-761