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Drinking This Is Just As Dangerous As Drinking Soda, New Study Says

New research says opting for artificially sweetened beverages is equally as bad for you.
FACT CHECKED BY Faye Brennan

Study after study has noted that being a regular soda drinker is one of the worst things you can do to your body. After all, overconsumption of the sugary beverages over time can spur weight gain, increase your chances of getting type-2 diabetes, age your body prematurely, cause your skin to break out, lower your sperm count, affect your kidney health, rot your teeth, and hurt your heart. But if you think that you'll sidestep a lot of the bad side effects of drinking soda by switching to diet soda alternatives or other artificially sweetened beverages—chiefly as it pertains to your heart—we've got bad news for you.

According to a new research letter published in The Journal of the American College of Cardiology, which was based on research and data from the French NutriNet-Santé, consuming "diet" sodas and other artificially-sweetened drinks is just as bad for your heart as drinking regular sodas. The study drew on a large sample size of more than 100,000 participants over the course of a decade, and "artificially-sweetened drinks" were defined as those with "non-nutritive" sweeteners. During ten years of follow-up questions, both those who drank sugary beverages and those who drank artificially sweetened beverages showed greater risk of heart disease. (Related: Make sure you're protecting your heart by avoiding the 50 Foods Known to Drive Heart Disease.)

"Our study suggests artificially sweetened beverages may not be a healthy substitute for sugar drinks," wrote Eloi Chazelas, a PhD student and lead author of the study and a member of the Nutritional Epidemiology Research Team at Sorbonne Paris Nord University, Inserm, Inrae, Cnam, who went on to note that the findings could have regulatory consequences. "This data provides additional arguments to fuel the current debate on taxes, labeling and regulation of sugary drinks and artificially sweetened beverages."

It's obviously not the first study to lay bare some of the risks of drinking diet sodas. According to a 2015 study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, for instance, people who drank diet soda over the course of nearly a decade gained almost three times as much belly fat as those who didn't drink diet soda. Researchers have theorized that the consumption of artificial sweeteners leads to more sugar cravings, and therefore, causes people to eat more calories than they normally would.

But this new study offers compelling evidence that phasing diet sodas out of your life is crucially important not just for your waistline, but also for your heart. What follows are even more reasons you should avoid drinking diet soda. And for the complete list of beverages you should avoid for the sake of your health, don't miss our list of 108 Most Toxic Sodas on the Planet—Ranked.

1

Drinking soda will make you eat more unhealthy foods

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"Artificially-sweetened diet soda is way sweeter than regular sugar," Jenna A. Werner, RD, creator of Happy Strong Healthy, once told us. "When your body gets that much sweetness all at once, it may begin to crave even more sweet—which leads to consuming more and more sodas or unhealthy foods."

2

It hurts your gut

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Studies have suggested that drinking diet soda can be tremendously harmful to your gut bacteria. As we've reported many times at Eat This, Not That!, a flourishing gut microbiome is crucial to digestion, weight management, and overall health.

3

You'll be moodier

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If you're looking to boost your mental health, a can of diet soda isn't your friend. According to research highlighted by The American Academy of Neurology, drinking diet soda is linked to depression. "Our research suggests that cutting out or down on sweetened diet drinks or replacing them with unsweetened coffee may naturally help lower your depression risk," observed Honglei Chen, MD, PhD, with the National Institutes of Health in Research Triangle Park in North Carolina.

4

It'll hurt your bones

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According to a study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, your bone density could be directly impacted by drinking sodas. The likely culprit? The outsize amount of phosphoric acid so many cans contain. And for more ways to be healthier starting now, make sure you're eating This One Food That Will Help You Lose Weight and Live Longer, Say Experts.

William Mayle
William Mayle is a UK-based writer who specializes in science, health, fitness, and other lifestyle topics. Read more
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