If you’re a regular reader of my blog you know that I’m all about ditching diet products and anything that’s artificial. In fact, in my newest book I devote nearly three pages to why you should quit diet soda. Now, new research published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine finds that daily diet soda drinkers may be at increased risk of suffering from strokes and heart attacks.
Researchers analyzed data from over 2,500 participants in a study funded by the National Institutes of Health. They looked at how often regular and diet soft drinks were consumed, and the number of vascular events that occurred over ten years. They found that people who drank diet soda daily were 43 percent more likely to have suffered a vascular event, compared to those who drank none. This was after taking into account pre-existing conditions like metabolic syndrome, diabetes, and high blood pressure.
While this study doesn’t show a cause and effect relationship, it certainly is intriguing particular because statistically, diet soda drinkers are more likely to be overweight or obese. That’s right: MORE LIKELY. Two-can-a-day drinkers have a 54.5 percent chance of becoming overweight or obese, compared to 32.8 percent for two-a-day drinkers of regular soda. In my private practice I’ve had many clients who worried that giving up diet soda was going to lead to weight gain, but in my experience the opposite is true. Once they kick the habit they tend to report fewer cravings for sweets and a heightened ability to tune into hunger and fullness cues. And the additional water they’re drinking can lead to other health and beauty benefits.
If you’re a diet soda drinker and you want to cut back or cut it out all together try my five favorite healthy alternatives. It may be tough at first, but your taste buds will eventually adjust!
• Flavor infused all-natural seltzer or sparkling water—the only ingredients you should see are carbonated water and natural flavor
• Hot or iced all natural flavor infused teas, like mint, vanilla, berry, mandarin orange or peach
• Dressed up H2O—add fresh sprigs of mint, wedges of lemon, lime or lime key lime, or a slice of orange or pineapple
• Flat or bubbly water with a splash of 100% fruit juice, like white grape or apple
• Water or brewed iced tea served with ice cubes made from 100% juice and bits of real fruit, or water-based ice cubes with seasonings added, like organic citrus zest or cinnamon
Cynthia Sass is a registered dietitian with master's degrees in both nutrition science and public health. Frequently seen on national TV, she's a SHAPE contributing editor and nutrition consultant to the New York Rangers and Tampa Bay Rays. Her latest New York Times best seller is S.A.S.S! Yourself Slim: Conquer Cravings, Drop Pounds and Lose Inches.