Habitual intake of diet soda, dubbed “the Patron drink for alcoholics” by actor Stephen Moyer in an interview with People magazine, can do some serious damage to your health. In a recent study, researchers from Boston University found that both regular and diet soda consumption can even damage your brain.
Study participants who frequently drink sugary beverages were found to have poorer memory, smaller overall brain volume, and a significantly smaller hippocampus — which is an area of the brain important for learning and memory. And a follow-up study found that daily diet soda drinkers were almost three times as likely to develop stroke and dementia than non-diet soda drinkers.
“These studies are not the be-all and end-all, but it’s strong data and a very strong suggestion,” said Sudha Seshadri, a professor of neurology at Boston University School of Medicine (MED) and a faculty member at BU’s Alzheimer’s Disease Center, who is senior author on both papers.
“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. Maybe good old-fashioned water is something we need to get used to,” she adds.
The Damage of Diet Soda
Here are some more ways that soda can harm your health:
- Increased weight. Too much diet soda has been found to cause excess abdominal fat. This is because artificial sweeteners weaken the link in our brains between sweetness and calories, causing sweet cravings.
- Bad teeth. In fact, researchers found the same level of tooth erosion in the mouths of diet soda addicts as in methamphetamine-users. Soda’s acidic content destroys tooth enamel.
- Poor mood. Drink more than four cans of diet or regular soda per day and you’re 30 percent more likely to have depression, says one study.
- Caffeine withdrawal. Headache, fatigue, irritability, depressed mood, nausea, and muscle pain are a few of the withdrawal symptoms that you may encounter if you abruptly cut out your soda habit.
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