How Much Diet Soda Should You Drink?

I know a lot of people who drink diet soda.  During my Air Force career, I remember an officer who was an avid drinker.  He told how he was once stationed at a remote location, and when word came that the BX had received a shipment of Diet Coke, he would take the unit’s pickup truck and would load it up with as many cases as he could get.  I’m not sure if that’s dedication or addiction.

What triggered this memory is the item on Time magazine’s December 12th news brief email that President Trump “reportedly drinks 12 Diet Cokes a day.”  Politics aside, what are the health implications of all that Diet Coke?

The article quotes Dr. Dariush Mozaffarian, the dean of the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University, as saying “The long-term health effects of low-calorie or artificial sweeteners are not really well-known.  We’re kind of conducting a national public health experiment on the entire population.”  Mozaffarian adds that “there’s very little reason to drink diet soda” over beverages like water and seltzer.

What could be the possible risks of ingesting that much diet beverage?  The article goes on to list several reasons for concern —

  • Twelve servings of diet soda provides an amount of caffeine which  exceeds medical guidelines for adults.
  • Diet soda includes intensely sweet-tasting artificial sugars, thus raising the standard for what your body normally considers to be sweet.  So healthy but less sweet foods would tend to be ignored.
  • Weight gain could actually be encouraged because diet soda delivers an incredibly sweet taste, but without the calories necessary to satisfy it.  So the body will crave the energy it would have gotten from real sugar and you could overeat later.
  • Although research hasn’t shown that diet soda causes type 2 diabetes, the habit is at least associated with the disease.
  • Your heart might also suffer.  In a 2009 study, those who regularly drank diet soda were 34% more likely to develop metabolic syndrome, which includes symptoms like high blood pressure, high blood sugar, high cholesterol and excess belly fat.  These can raise your risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease and stroke, according to the Mayo Clinic.
  • Finally, a study this year found that people who drank at least one daily diet soda had twice the risk of stroke.  A significantly heightened risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease was also found among diet drinkers.  This is not definitive proof, but the same connection was not present among people who drank sugar-sweetened beverages.

As if we didn’t have enough to worry about!  Perhaps a bit of light on the President’s dietary habits will increase awareness among all of us.

The complete article, “President Trump Reportedly Drinks 12 Diet Cokes a Day. Here’s What That Does to Your Body” by Jamie Ducharme, can be read at http://time.com/5061146/donald-trump-diet-coke/? .

 

 

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