If you have diabetes, you may be drawn to diet sodas that tout zero sugar and fewer calories. But are these really healthier options? Researchers are finding more and more reasons why artificial sweeteners used in diet sodas may pose dangerous health risks. Here are seven reasons to skip the diet soda.
1. High blood sugar
People with diabetes may be tempted to turn to sodas with artificial sweeteners believing the lack of sugar won’t raise their blood sugar. However, new studies are indicating that the artificial sweetener aspartame can increase your blood sugar and insulin levels at similar rates to natural sugar. Additionally, a British Journal of Nutrition study found that drinking diet soda can increase your risk of insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes by 13 percent every day for each 12-ounce soda you drink.
2. Increased caloric intake
If you think you’re cutting calories by drinking diet soda, think again. A 2014 study found that people who drank diet soda regularly took in 100-200 extra calories per day. Researchers theorize that diet sodas with artificial sweeteners don’t satisfy the reward center of your brain enough to satisfy the craving, which can lead you to seek out additional calories elsewhere.
3. Vision loss
A 2018 study from the Singapore Eye Research Institute found that drinking four diet sodas per week can significantly increase your risk of developing proliferative diabetic retinopathy (PDR). This is a complication of diabetes in which extra blood vessels grow in the eye, causing severe vision loss. PDR is the leading cause of blindness among people with diabetes.
4. Excess belly fat
Excess fat around the midsection contributes to insulin resistance because the fat puts pressure on the pancreas and decreases blood flow. Research shows that drinking diet soda even occasionally can directly contribute to fat deposits around the belly, and make you gain up to three times as much weight as a person who doesn’t drink diet soda.
5. Stroke and heart disease
According to a study from the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association, drinking two or more artificially sweetened sodas per day can increase your risk of stroke by 23 percent and heart disease by 29 percent.
6. Dementia and Alzheimer’s
7. Gut health imbalance
Artificial sweeteners like those found in diet sodas are notorious for killing off the good bacteria in your gut. When you upset this delicate balance, it can lead to metabolic syndrome, decreased insulin sensitivity, and inflammation.
Drink options for diabetes
Water is clearly the best drink choice, even if you don’t have diabetes. But if your taste buds need a little more excitement, stick to drinks like unsweetened tea, unsweetened coffee, low-fat milk, and low-sugar fruit juices.