Diet soda always seemed so good to be true, didn’t it? Sweet but no calories? A sugary, bubbly, and guilt-free green card? Well, a new study out of the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine and Columbia University Medical Center found that people who drank diet soda daily had a 43% increased chance of suffering a vascular event (heart attack, stroke, vascular death) than people who drank none, and that was after taking into account pre-existing vascular conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and metabolic syndrome. The researchers are unclear why diet soda had such harmful effects. Interestingly enough, however, researchers found that regular soft drink consumption and a more moderate intake of diet soft drinks did not appear to be linked to a higher risk of vascular events.
I’ve long discouraged diet sodas and artificial sweeteners because while they can technically help you meet your fluid needs, they leave your body wondering why it didn’t get any sugar out of the sweet-tasting beverage, causing you to eventually crave and scavenge for sugary treats. This makes you grumpy and crazy, and causes you to cycle through diet sodas, candy bars, guilt, more diet sodas, free-based sugar, and so on. Plus, many individuals feel more anxious after consuming artificial sweeteners and often have trouble falling asleep at night, regardless of caffeine consumption.
If you need to sweeten and a touch of real raw sugar or agave nectar won’t do it, stevia powder like Truvia (made from stevia leaves) has zero calories and is made from nature, not chemistry. Plus, it doesn’t have the unhealthy heart or sugar-craving delirium side-effects. For beverages, however, straight up water jazzed with fresh fruit and cucumber wedges, or filtered water seltzered with the at-home Soda Stream, are always best.
Sorry to bear the bad news, diet soda lovers! But, the good news is that after 3 diet soda-free weeks, your taste buds will adjust and you’ll be clear out of the health risk woods. Plus, you’ll feel shockingly amazing. No more panicked vending machine runs!