The study analyzed 2,888 people (mostly white) over the age of 45 for the stroke study and 1,484 people over the age of 60 for the dementia study. The researchers found that people who drank a diet soda daily were three times more likely to develop a stroke caused by a blockage of blood vessels and 2.9 times more likely to develop dementia than those who drank an artificially sweetened soda less than once a week. Oddly enough, the study did not find an association between the diseases and regular soda-though researchers and doctors noted that both types are detrimental to blood vessels in the brain and body. They also note that there are a few key limitations, since the study’s population was primarily Caucasian and it was observational, but the overall message was clear: for the love of God, just drink water.
“We know that limiting added sugars is an important strategy to support good nutrition and healthy body weights, and until we know more, people should use artificially sweetened drinks cautiously,” Rachel K. Johnson, Ph.D., M.P.H., R.D., past chair of the American Heart Association’s Nutrition Committee and professor of nutrition at the University of Vermont told Stroke. “They may have a role for people with diabetes and in weight loss, but we encourage people to drink water, low-fat milk or other beverages without added sweeteners.”