Phillip Minton M.D.

Artificially-Sweetened Soft Drinks Linked to Surprising Medical Problems

In cardiovascular, diabetes, prevention diet on May 20, 2012 at 9:47 pm

Are you one of the huge numbers of diet soda drinkers? Many of us (sometimes we seem like the minority) never got started with artificially sweetened soft drinks. We didn’t like the taste and were not concerned about calories or our weight. But there are many of us who drink so much diet soda that they seem addicted.

Why did they begin drinking it? The reason, most likely, was to lose weight and avoid sugar-related diseases like diabetes and heart disease. It makes sense. If there is no sugar, surely you will lose weight and not develop diabetes or high blood pressure, isn’t that true? Maybe not.

There is a distinct possibility that chronic consumption of artificial sweetener may somehow impair the body’s ability to regulate sugar intake and/or metabolism as well as providing an overabundance of salt. Chronic consumers of soft drinks sweetened by artificial sweeteners face surprising health risks that correlate with this theory.

A recent study has revealed that such patterns of consumption lead to higher levels of heart attack and stroke, as well as death from causes related to the blood vessels in general. (Gardener, H. et al. “Diet Soft Drink Consumption is Associated with an Increased Risk of Vascular Events in the Northern Manhattan Study.” Journal of General Internal Medicine, Online First™, 26 January 2012 )

Other studies have shown that diabetes and metabolic syndrome are increased in persons drinking significant quantities of artificially-sweetened sodas. Analysis of the Framingham Heart Study data revealed a 56% increased risk of development of Metabolic Syndrome for people consuming one or more servings of diet soda daily. (Ravi Dhingra, MD et al. “Soft Drink Consumption and Risk of Developing Cardiometabolic Risk Factors and the Metabolic Syndrome in Middle-Aged Adults in the Community.” Circulation, 2007; 116: 480-488)

The bottom line? If we desire something safe and healthy to drink all day, pure water or unsweetened green tea appear to be much healthier than sugar-sweetened or artificially-sweetened sodas. For tastier and less frequent treats, low carb chocolate drinks pack a huge antioxidant punch with far less simple carbohydrates than sugary sodas contain.

@2012 Phillip Minton, M.D.

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