I admit it. I love Diet Coke. I’ve been drinking it for years—quite happily, thank you.
I know it’s not good for me. But those bubbles and that delicious slightly sweet flavor just make me happy.
That all changed last month.
While researching our July 2014 article on the benefits of coffee, I stumbled on research about the negative effects of soda, which was conducted by the Cleveland Clinic’s Wellness Institute and Harvard University.
The research findings were so striking that I have completely cut the bubbly brew from my diet. Scroll down to read the findings — you actually might consider doing the same.
Here’s to your good health! — Hope Katz Gibbs, publisher, Be Inkandescent magazine
Study Finds Soda Consumption Increases Overall Risk of Stroke
Cleveland Clinic’s Wellness Institute, April 20, 2012 — Researchers from Cleveland Clinic’s Wellness Institute and Harvard University have found that greater consumption of sugar-sweetened and low-calorie sodas is associated with a higher risk of stroke. Conversely, consumption of caffeinated or decaffeinated coffee is associated with a lower risk.
The study, e-published in the April 4, 2012, American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, is the first to examine the effect of soda on stroke risk. Previous research has linked sugar-sweetened beverage consumption with weight gain, diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, gout, and coronary artery disease.
“Soda remains the largest source of added sugar in the diet,” said Adam Bernstein, MD, ScD, study author and research director at Cleveland Clinic’s Wellness Institute. “What we’re beginning to understand is that regular intake of these beverages sets off a chain reaction in the body that can potentially lead to many diseases—including stroke.”
About the Study
The researchers analyzed soda consumption among 43,371 men who participated in the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study between 1986 and 2008, and 84,085 women who participated in the Nurses’ Health Study between 1980 and 2008. During that time, 2,938 strokes were documented in women, and 1,416 strokes were documented in men.
In sugar-sweetened sodas, the sugar load may lead to rapid increases in blood glucose and insulin that, over time, may lead to glucose intolerance, insulin resistance, and inflammation. These physiologic changes influence atherosclerosis, plaque stability, and thrombosis—all of which are risk factors of ischemic stroke. This risk for stroke appears higher in women than in men.
In comparison, coffee contains chlorogenic acids, lignans, and magnesium, all of which act as antioxidants and may reduce stroke risk. One serving of decaffeinated coffee was associated with a 10 percent lower risk of stroke when compared with one serving of sugar-sweetened soda.
The Impact on Men Versus Women
- Study findings show that men and women who consumed more than one serving of sugar-sweetened soda per day had higher rates of high blood pressure and high blood cholesterol and lower rates of physical activity.
- Those who drank soda more frequently were also more likely to eat red meat and whole-fat dairy products.
- Men and women who consumed low-calorie soda had a higher incidence of chronic disease and a higher BMI (body mass index).
Note: The investigators controlled for these other factors in their analysis to determine the independent association of soda consumption with stroke risk.
“According to research from the USDA, sugar-sweetened beverage consumption has increased dramatically in the United States over the past three decades, and it’s affecting our health,” said Dr. Bernstein. “These findings reiterate the importance of encouraging individuals to substitute alternate beverages for soda.”
About the Cleveland Clinic
Cleveland Clinic is a nonprofit, multispecialty, academic medical center that integrates clinical and hospital care with research and education. Located in Cleveland, Ohio, it was founded in 1921 by four renowned physicians with a vision of providing outstanding patient care based on the principles of cooperation, compassion, and innovation. Cleveland Clinic has pioneered many medical breakthroughs, including coronary artery bypass surgery and the first face transplant in the United States.
For more information, visit www.clevelandclinic.org.