We just can’t win when it comes to our favourite carbonated drinks. Regular, old pop has a ridiculous amount of sugar that’s bad for anyone’s waistline (not to mention blood sugar and heart). Diet pop, on the other hand, may appear to help us maintain our weight, but we’ve all heard that it just tricks the body into storing even more fat. Plus, it’s been linked to other things like higher cholesterol, headaches and increased tooth erosion.
And as it turns out, that’s just the beginning of why diet pop is bad for us. Thanks to yet another study, we now also know that people who drink diet soft drinks could be up to three times more likely to develop dementia and suffer from a stroke.
Let’s let that digest for a minute, shall we? Three times more likely. Oy.
These findings came about after Boston University researchers decided to study the effects of sugar on the brain — especially for pop drinkers — to see what the correlation between sugar and memory might be. What they found was that those who consumed pop had a smaller overall brain volume and a much smaller hippocampus — that area of the brain that’s responsible for learning and memory.
So the natural response was to follow up on what kind of effects diet pop had. To do that, researchers looked at what kinds of drinks 2,888 participants over the age of 45 consumed during a seven year period and whether any of them suffered from a stroke. They also studied 1,484 participants over the age of 60 throughout the same period and looked for signs of dementia.
Overall, while there was no correlation between those two diseases and sugar, they did find that people who had at least one diet pop per day were three times more likely to suffer from a stroke and dementia. Of course, more research needs to be done to figure out if this is an actual cause-and-effect situation, but what they’ve learned so far is frightening enough.
“These studies are not the be-all and end-all, but it’s strong data and a very strong suggestion,” professor of neurology and senior author on the study Sudha Sephardi said. “It looks like there is not very much of an upside to having sugary drinks, and substituting the sugar with artificial sweeteners doesn’t seem to help.”
So basically, this is just more proof that sugary drinks and artificially-sweetened offerings are bad for us in a multitude of ways. It’s definitely depressing if you love pop.
For now, you might want to get used to drinking flavoured carbonated water… flavoured with natural ingredients like fruits, herbs and veggies only, of course.