It is no surprising news that sugared beverages such as sodas and sweetened juices are not the healthiest choice for a drink. The incredibly high quantity of sugar contained in them is one of the major causes of the obesity epidemic according to many experts. Furthermore, drinking too many sugared drinks can also increase the risk for:
- metabolic syndrome;
- coronary heart disease; and
It is therefore not surprising that many people turn towards artificially sweetened beverages and diet sodas as a replacement, thinking of opting for a healthier choice.
Studies have also been made in the past trying to understand if there might be a link between sugared drinks and the risk for dementia, as well as between artificially sugared drinks and dementia.
The link is not as straightforward as one could imagine. It is true that researchers were able to observe higher rates of stroke and dementia in consumers of diet sodas, but what could explain that? Do artificial sweeteners really cause more damage than sugar? Or could it perhaps simply be that individuals more prone to switch to diet sodas were the ones already more at risk in the first place, that being the reason for their switch to diet sodas to begin with? It is not yet clear if artificial sweeteners are a cause of cognitive decline or a “marker” of high risk individuals.
Scientists have proposed a series of studies in subjects starting as early as from their childhood, but that may be expensive and long, while another possibility, a retrospective collection of data on lifetime exposure to artificial sweeteners, might be faster but very unreliable.
To be short, both regular and diet sodas might be damaging for the brain, although it is not yet clear how and to which extent. But if in doubt, better to cut it altogether.
Wersching, H., Gardener, H., & Sacco, R. L. (2017). Sugar-Sweetened and Artificially Sweetened Beverages in Relation to Stroke and Dementia: Are Soft Drinks Hard on the Brain?, in Stroke, 48(5), pp. 1129 – 1131.