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The artificial sweetener debate has raged for decades now with those on one side claiming that switching out your regular soda for diet can help you lose weight, while the other side cites studies showing the dangers of these false sugars.
But, which side should you believe and is there a right answer?
Well, a study that followed over 450,000 people over a whopping 19 years seems to have finally gotten to the truth — and it may surprise you…
Different diseases for different choices
In plain words, it all came down to this…
If you choose to drink any type of soda (no matter if it’s regular or diet), you have a higher risk of dying.
In fact, it doesn’t matter whether your carbonated beverage of choice uses natural sugars or an artificial sweetener… just drinking it could lead to an early death.
The only difference is what you may die from.
That’s because the study, published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine, found that while both types of soda are linked to an increased risk of death, the type of disease you die from varies by the type of sweetener used.
Sugar and digestive disease
If you love your regular soda, the kind sweetened with sugar that comes with the extra calories, you’re risking death from a digestive disease.
In fact, just two sodas a day or more is enough to raise your risk of dying from a digestive disorder.
Well, according to Dr. Sharon Horesh Bergquist, an assistant professor of medicine at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta. “Experimental evidence suggests that high blood sugar and high sugar intake can impair the gut barrier, leading to a ‘leaky gut’ and access to the gut immune system causing intestinal inflammation, alter gut microbiota and increase susceptibility to gut infections,” she said. “These pathways may increase susceptibility to digestive diseases.”
Heart problems in a can
On the other hand, if you prefer artificially sweetened sodas, digestive disease is not your main concern. Instead, it’s your heart.
The researchers found that those same two or more cans of soda per day (if it was artificially sweetened) were linked to a high risk of death from heart disease.
And, this wasn’t the first study to show that association.
Less than a year ago, research by the American Heart Association found that women over 50 who drink two or more artificially sweetened drinks a day are at higher risk of strokes, heart attacks, and early death. This risk is especially high for women, who already suffer from diabetes or obesity, are African-American, or who have no previous history of heart disease.
More risks linked to soda consumption
If that weren’t enough, the consumption of diet drinks has also been linked to a higher risk of:
- Type 2 diabetes
- Metabolic syndrome
And, that new study of close to half a million people found that drinking both diet and regular sodas are associated with an increased chance of ending up with Parkinson’s disease.
Kicking the habit
So, it looks like the answer to what is best for your health isn’t in choosing whether to drink diet versus regular soda but instead, kicking the soda habit completely.
Here are a few tips to make that easier…
#1 – Cut Back Slowly
Trying to give up your sodas cold turkey might have you running for the refrigerator and guzzling down the first cold can you can get your hands on.
Instead, try skipping one serving per day until you get down to only one soda. At the point, you can alternate soda days, working your way down to zero.
#2 – Try seltzer or sparkling
To help you give up your soda habit while still enjoying the fizz associated with carbonated beverages, give seltzer or sparkling water a try.
You can even add in an ounce or two of a healthier fruit juice, like pomegranate, to boost its flavor.
#3 – Substitute sweet flavors
A big reason you like those sodas is that they satisfy your sweet tooth. But, there are alternatives.
Instead of reaching for a soda, grab a piece of fresh fruit or a handful of dried dates. These can help you get past your initial sweet cravings naturally.
#4 – Hydrate
Try keeping a bottle of water with you at all times to sip on throughout the day. It will keep you hydrated, your hands busy, and your mind off the soda.
You can even add flavored stevia to it for an extra kick or infuse it with fruit.
With the results of this new study, it’s clear that neither regular nor artificially sweetened soda is the healthier choice but instead just a different way to die early. Instead, use the tips above to give up your sodas of choice to live healthier, longer.
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