Do Diet Drinks Triple Dementia and Stroke Risk?

diet drinkDid that title grab your attention?  Sounds like the latest trendy food hysteria?  Nearly…but not for what you think.  So, do diet drinks really increase your dementia and stroke risk?

It depends on who you ask (and which media source you read).

The more serious and less-so press have been blazoning  the triple-your-dementia-and-stroke-risk since a few days.  And frankly, I was not surprised and at first felt validated in my opinion about diet drinks.  The dementia and stroke risk are just two more important factors added to the list of health issues related to sodas in general and specifically, the artificial sweetener in diet drinks.

It goes without saying, but I will anyway, that regular sodas with their average 10 teaspoons per can are associated with weight gain, rotting teeth, diabetes and heart disease as well as inflammation and more.

You already know all that, right?  But what do you know about diet drinks?

Scientists (not on the beverage industry payroll) have long made the connection that ALL artificial sweeteners are neurotoxins=poison for the nerve cells, especially brain neurons.  All neurotoxins no matter the source, play a great role in developing Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia.

Unfortunately, the effect diet drinks have on our health, has less solid research to prove much, but there are plenty of clear associations and even correlations to increased risk of certain forms of dementia, such as Alzheimer’s, diabetes,  metabolic complications, weight gain (yes, oddly enough), brain fog, addiction and certain cancers such as breast, pancreas, bladder and colon.  You can read my article on artificial sweeteners by clicking here.

On closer reading of the recent articles that diet drinks triple dementia and stroke risk, the information seems inconclusive if we are looking for the cause and effect factor.  In those cases, correlation does not imply causation.

However, nearly all first understandings of a disease result from associations then correlations.  In simple ‘folk talk’, it’s ‘where there is smoke, there is fire’.  Yep, nearly always.  So, when it comes to my health, I would rather be cautious.  Fortunately, I never was into sodas of any kind.

No cause and effect can be proven about diet drinks and the mentioned health risks.  However, if I rephrase that to ‘no direct cause and effect can yet be proven’, how does that sit with you now?  And that is really what those ‘other’ scientists really mean.

Scientists from  another article on the same subject claim that artificial sweeteners are completely safe.  In view of all the research to the contrary, that stance makes me wonder which payroll are they on.

Those scientists should get out from behind their microscopes and consider the body holistically.

The problem as I see it is when scientists focus on disproving any health risk of an ingredient for one or more specific illness (in the recent case of stroke and dementia risk), they are ignoring the cumulative effect on the whole body.  I think we all agree, each body has different weak points that may or may not develop ‘issues’ depending on variables – such as lifestyle choices.

But keep adding more and more chemicals through processed food, and other poor lifestyle choices, add daily doses of artificial sweeteners via diet drinks etc. then one shouldn’t be surprised when weak points develop into something like…diabetes.

Many studies have shown that diabetes mellitus is a known risk factor for dementia and that it is more prevalent in those who regularly consumed artificially sweetened soft drinks.

So, see what I mean?  No direct cause of dementia – but in a domino effect way via the development of diabetes.

But, hey – aren’t they missing the whole point?  What about ‘just say no’ to any artificial sweetener in anything, starting with the diet drinks? Even better, no to all sodas.

Diet drinks may have their short term use for diabetics trying to wean off the sugary drinks or for normal users as an occasional treat.  Key here is short term and not the American average of 2.5  servings a day.

Diet drinks cause insulin to be released in your gut because their artificial sweeteners are sweet like sugar, and that actually prevents weight loss,” Miriam Jacobson, RD, CDN, told us. “Insulin is your body’s primary fat-storage hormone, so it will have the body hold onto any extra fat.

The bottom line:  The authors of the study that triggered the plethora of articles on diet drinks tripling the dementia and stroke risk, admit that their data collected from participants of the various groups studied, is not conclusive.  However, the data clearly showed ‘interesting associations’ and a screaming need for further research.

And as for the question ‘then what are diabetics (and non) supposed to drink?’  Then what about…

…the best, simplest health drink on the planet?


Can’t stand the taste of plain water (because your taste buds have been trained to sweetness)?  Add lemon, cucumber…any number of healthier flavours.  Check out my article 12 Healthy Tips to Flavour Your Water.

Willing to give a healthier alternative a try?  Share your thoughts on diet drinks in the comment section below!


Selection of resources:

  • Trends in Endocrinology and Metabolism:  Artificial sweeteners produce the counterintuitive effect of inducing metabolic derangements,  Susan Swithers, Purdue University
  • –  Could Artificial Sweeteners Cause Weight Gain?
  • Center for Science in the Public Interest:  Coke Shouldn’t Bother Rehabilitating Aspartame’s Image,  Statement of CSPI Executive Director Michael F. Jacobson
  • Soft Drinks: America’s Other Drinking Problem. Valentine, Judith, PhD, CAN, CNC. Weston A Price. 26 May 2002. Web. 1 Feb 2015.
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