Excessive consumption sugary soda can cause diabetes and obesity, so sugar-free diet soda is advertised as a healthy alternative. The problem is that studies have also linked diet sodas with serious risks.
The research is limited, but so far the strongest evidence shows that people who drink diet soda have a higher risk of cardiovascular events like strokes and heart attacks, as well as type-2 diabetes and obesity.
For example, last month, a study of 4,400 people over the age of 45 who drank at least one diet soda per day were 3X more likely to have a stroke or dementia. No increased risk was observed for sugary drinks.
The study doesn’t prove that diet sodas cause strokes, but findings are in line with two other studies in 2012 that linked a daily diet soda habit with a 30-45% increased risk of stroke, heart attack and death.
It is possible that artificial sweeteners promote inflammation and blood vessel damage, but no one knows. Sweeteners might also “trick” the brain into craving high-calorie foods, which would help explain other studies linking diet soda and diabetes.
And while everyone knows that sugary soda causes tooth decay and cavities, diet sodas may be just as bad. The drinks contain phosphoric acid and acids that strip the enamel off your teeth. Over time, this weakens the teeth and increases the risk of chipping.
Diet sodas can also have weird side effects, like working as a laxative. Headaches are still the most common side effect linked to aspartame since it was un-banned in 1983 over brain tumor fears. Some studies also link diet sodas and depression.
The moral of the story is the one “Big Soda” doesn’t want to admit. When it comes to your general health, water wins every time.