We already knew the artificial sweeteners in diet soda could cause you to gain weight and be unhealthy for your unborn baby. It’s why we’re always so pumped about finding healthy drink recipes to replace soda! So it doesn’t come as a surprise to learn that a recently published study in the American Heart Association journal Stroke confirms that diet soda is bad for you.
Diet soda is so unhealthy, in fact, that the researchers from Boston University found people who drink just one diet soda per day were three times more likely to suffer a stroke or develop signs of dementia. Conducted over the course of 10 years, the study followed 2,888 adults over the age of 45 and 1,484 adults over the age of 60. While the evidence is there, the team can’t officially determine causation just yet. As a result, they’ve said more research needs to be done, much like the conclusion of the 2014 study that linked heart disease in women with diet soda.
Of course, the negative health effects of diet soda aren’t always so dire. In fact, diet soda can cause all kinds of everyday issues that are annoying at best and detrimental at worst. We spoke with Brooke Alpert, nutrition expert and author of The Sugar Detox, to get her take on just what makes diet soda so terrible and what you can do to break your habit. Bonus: Alpert shares two ways to make drinking water way more fun, promise.
artificial sweet-and-low down
1. Less calories don’t equal healthier. “Health is so much more than calories — in fact, the whole ‘calories in, calories out’ concept is quite antiquated,” Alpert points outs. She reminds us that diet soda is loaded with artificial sweeteners and chemicals, which have been shown to be harmful to our health. Even worse, she says that “studies have shown that people who drink diet soda tend to overeat, and our bodies still react to these fake sugars like regular sugar so they actually still cause weight gain.”
2. Fake sugar is genuinely bad for you. “I can’t say it clearly enough — artificial sweeteners are terrible for you.” Alpert does not mince words when it comes to all the ways “those pretty colored packets” can harm your health. From dementia to heart disease, skin problems, and bloating, artificial sweeteners mess with you in myriad ways with no discernible benefit to your waistline or your energy levels.
3. You’ve just got to stop RN. Bad news, diet soda addicts. Alpert says the only real way to kick the habit is to give it up cold turkey. To help soften the bubbly blow, she recommends “loading up on unsweetened ice tea and flavored sparkling waters to grin and bear it for a few days. My clients have found once they make it past day three, they’re over the worst of it.”
4. Water is where it’s at. Honestly, there’s no replacement for H2O. “Every cell in your body depends on adequate levels of water intake to keep your body functioning as well as it can be. Dehydration is linked to everything from fatigue, false hunger, weight gain, poor skin, and stomach problems,” Alpert says. Of course, these awful effects sound eerily similar to those that come with diet soda drinking — convinced yet?
two ways to stay hydrated af
1. There’s an app for that. We use apps to remind us to meditate, pay our bills, and book flights — so why not use one to remind yourself to drink more water? Alpert says she’s “currently obsessed with WaterMinder right now.” The free app lets you set hydration goals, sends you daily reminders, tracks your water intake, and even gives you badges when you reach your goals.
2. Spice it up. Literally! Add cayenne pepper and lemon juice to your water for an extra kick. Alpert is all about that La Croix life RN and says the lime and grapefruit flavors are her current faves. She also suggests adding fruit, cucumber, or mint to a cute water bottle to make the hydration game feel more fun.
Have you kicked your diet soda habit for good? Tweet us @BritandCo and let us know what worked for you!
(Photos via Getty)