Artificial sweetener in soft drinks is commonly marketed as being the ‘healthier’ cousin of sugar sweetened beverages. Whilst there is extensive research linking consumption of artificial sweeteners with obesity, the new study has found an association with development stroke and Alzheimers Disease.

This research into consumption of artificial sweeteners has shown some concerning results. Statistical adjustments were made for a range of factors. These included age, sex, education, caloric intake, diet quality, physical activity, and smoking. Higher recent and higher cumulative intake of artificially sweetened soft drinks were associated with an increased risk of ischemic stroke, all-cause dementia, and Alzheimer’s disease dementia.

What does that mean?

The key word here is ‘association’. The way this study was conducted does not allow for causative effect to be shown. However, whilst the researchers didn’t specifically recommend against any consumption of artificial sweetener, they have ‘urged caution… especially to those individuals who consume multiple diet drinks daily’.

It is important to note though that there is still room for more research.

So are we back to sugar sweetened soft drink then?

Interestingly, other recently assessed data indicated increased risk of alzheimers in those who regularly consume sugar containing alcoholic beverages. Along with all the other negative health affects of soft drinks, in particularly in relation to obesity, poor oral health and diabetes, there is really very little reason to  be recommending these drinks as a replacement.

Not a great day for soft drink companies!

What to drink instead?

So you’ve lost both your sugar, and artificially sweetened drinks… what to have instead? I hate to be the fun police, but water really is your best option. If plain old tap water isn’t your thing, why not try one of the following:

  • Soda water/sparkling water
  • Herbal tea
  • Slice fruit/herbs in your water (flat or bubbly). Some of my favourite combos are blueberries and raspberries (particularly if frozen), mint and cinnamon, lychee and orange or lemon and lime.

Want to hear more?

I spoke about this very topic recently on Talking Lifestyle with Ed Phillips. Tune in each Monday at 1.20pm, EST for our weekly chats on all things nutrition, to help you live your healthiest life.


Photo credit: The Good Shopping Guide


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