Research is shedding light on the impact drinking diet soda can have on your health. A study with 2,500 participants was presented at the American Stroke Association International Stroke Conference. Study results found those who drank diet soda daily had a 61 percent increased risk of cardiovascular events versus those who did not consume soda. These results remained even when factors such as smoking, physical activity levels, alcohol consumption, and dietary intake were taken into account.
Researchers did go a step further and took into account these 3 situations:
- Metabolic Syndrome
- Peripheral Vascular Disease
- Cardiac Disease History
When these were factored in, the cardiovascular risk associated with drinking diet soda did decrease to 48%… 48% is still significant.
The connection between diet soda and cardiovascular risk appears to be related to metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome is the name given to a group of risk factors that raise your risk for heart disease. These risk factors include:
- A large waist (i.e. abdominal obesity or "having an apple shape")
- High triglycerides
- Low HDL cholesterol
- High blood pressure
- High fasting blood sugar
You may have one of the above five risk factors by itself, but these risk factors often occur together. You must have three out of the five risk factors to be diagnosed with metabolic syndrome.
When you consume diet soda, the body recognizes the sweetness and releases insulin, which is the normal response for handling sugar. However, no sugar appears in the bloodstream when you consume diet soda and instead you have an excess level of insulin in the bloodstream. Having a constant excess of insulin leads the body to be insulin resistant…meaning when there really is sugar to process, the body does not effectively utilize insulin. Also, high levels of insulin cause us to feel hungry and crave sweet.
Diet soda, which is often used as a weight management tool, can actually be working against you.
When it comes to weight loss and overall health, you’ll be most effective if you step back and assess your diet. Determine where you are hindering your efforts and make changes. This may include adding or changing breakfast, eliminating daily sweets, increasing fruits/vegetables, cutting back on chips and crackers, etc.
This doesn’t mean you have to starve and diet. This simple means make smarter food choices.
Once your food choices are up to par, move on to your activity level. Too much time in front of the TV/computer screen? What can you do to change this?
If you are working to lower cholesterol levels, you may access the free ecourse How to Lower Cholesterol in 8 Simple Steps at http://lowercholesterolwithlisa.com.
Lisa Nelson RD, a registered dietitian since 1999, provides clients step-by-step guidance to lower cholesterol and lower blood pressure, so they can live life and enjoy their family for years to come. Because her own health is the foundation of her expertise, you can trust that Lisa will make it truly possible for you to see dramatic changes in your health, without unrealistic fads or impossibly difficult techniques. She can be found on Twitter @lisanelsonrd and Facebook at hearthealthmadeeasy.