Do you prefer diet soda to regular soda because it is said to be “healthier?” Diet soda, which is free of sugar and calories and uses artificial sweeteners, is touted to be a “more nutritious” beverage. But here’s the horrific truth: Diet soda may increase your risk of cardiovascular conditions including heart attack, stroke, and vascular death.
A study revealed that people who consumed diet soda daily had a 43 percent higher risk of suffering from cardiovascular problems. This significant association continued, even after other risk factors – alcohol consumption, diabetes, smoking, physical activity levels, and heart disease – were controlled.
The authors report:
“This study suggests that diet soda is not an optimal substitute for sugar-sweetened beverages, and may be associated with a greater risk of stroke, myocardial infarction, or vascular death than regular soda.”
Dr. Joseph Mercola warns: “Diet soda can be addictive, so if you need an incentive or motivation to quit this habit, ask yourself whether the pleasure you get from drinking it is worth having a stroke.”
Your Risk of Stroke Increases with Diet Soda
A stroke is a devastating event in any person’s life, and impacts movement, speech, and memory. It can also be fatal; in fact, stroke is the fourth leading cause of death in the United States today, and the main cause of disability.
The signs of a stroke include:
- Sudden trouble walking (loss of balance and dizziness)
- Sudden weakness or numbness (especially on just one side of your body)
- Sudden confusion
- Sudden difficulty seeing
- Sudden severe headache
The most common type of stroke is a “brain attack,” which is similar to a heart attack. The only difference is that the blood clot obstructs the blood flow to your brain instead of your heart, and kills your brain cells. The longer your brain goes without oxygen, the bigger your risk of brain damage.
Modern emergency medications, if applied quickly, may help dissolve the blood clot. However, you will still need to address the underlying conditions after the stroke.
“Prevention is your best option, and research is now suggesting that eliminating diet sodas may be an important way to dramatically reduce your stroke risk,” says Dr. Mercola.
Much research is still needed to confirm that diet soda increases the risk of stroke. However, one thing is certain: there is a great deal of evidence that proves that artificial sweeteners like sucralose (Splenda) and aspartame can be harmful to your health. The U.S. Food and Drug Association (FDA) have numerous reports of adverse aspartame reactions. In fact, in more than 75 percent of the adverse food additive reactions reported to the FDA, aspartame was to blame.
Diet Soda Also Makes You Fat!
Another reason why you should avoid drinking diet soda is it can lead to weight gain and obesity.
For 10 years, University of Texas Health Science Center researchers observed 474 diet soda drinkers and found out that their waists grew 70 percent larger than those of non-diet soda drinkers. In addition, drinkers who ingested two or more diet sodas a day had a 500 percent greater increase in waist circumference. This study was presented at the 2011 American Diabetes Association meeting.
“Your waist size is not only a matter of aesthetics, but also one of the most powerful predictors of lean body mass and your risk of serious degenerative disease,” Dr. Mercola says.
Another study, also from the same researchers, found out that mice who consumed food laced with aspartame had higher blood sugar levels than those who did not. This proves that aspartame may increase your risk of metabolic syndrome and diabetes.
Artificial sweeteners are said to be addictive because they trigger enhanced activity in your brain’s pleasure centers. However, it gives you less actual satisfaction. This is because when you consume artificial sweeteners, your brain actually craves sugar more because your body is not satisfied at a cellular level.
How to Reduce Your Risk of Stroke
According to the National Stroke Association, at least 80 percent of strokes can be prevented. Avoiding diet soda is one of the best things you can do to prevent a stroke, but there are other useful strategies Dr. Mercola recommends:
- Get more vitamin D from sun exposure. Vitamin D, known as the “sunshine vitamin,” has been linked to a lower risk of stroke and heart attack in many studies. Other benefits of vitamin D include:
- Increasing your body’s natural anti-inflammatory cytokines
- Suppressing vascular calcification
- Inhibiting vascular smooth muscle growth
Sun exposure and using a safe tanning bed are the best ways to optimize your vitamin D levels. But if this is not possible, then you can supplement with vitamin D3.
- Avoid processed foods that contain trans fats, as well as smoked or processed meat. Instead, consume unprocessed organic foods based on Dr. Mercola’s nutrition plan.
- Reduce your psychological stress. A study revealed that for every notch lower a person scored on their well-being scale, an 11 percent increase in risk of stroke was seen. To support your emotional stress, try the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT). You can also use EFT to get rid of your diet soda cravings.
- Avoid hormone replacement therapy (HRT) and birth control pills. If you’re using hormonal birth control methods (like the pill, patch, vaginal ring, or implant), it means you are taking synthetic progesterone and synthetic estrogen, hormones that are similar to those used in hormone replacement therapy (HRT). HRT has been found to increase risk of stroke, blood clots, breast cancer, and heart attack.
Dr. Mercola also says that if you feel the signs of a stroke, you must get medical help immediately. “The sooner you get medical help, the better your chances of reversing any permanent neurological damage,” he adds.