I don’t know about you, but I tend to hit the soda drinks pretty hard whenever I’m trying to lose those few excess pounds I have around my waist. After all they’re good for me, right? It’s got to be better than drinking the full sugar version that has me climbing the walls on a sugar high, only to be followed by the familiar ‘crash and burn’ feeling we all know and love.
But I’ve had to rethink this strategy in recent times, owing to a series of news reports that point to soda as a big health no-no. Now I know what you’re thinking – every food or drink has at some point been touted as being bad for us. We’ve been told we should avoid red meat and fatty foods because they can raise our cholesterol, and now we’re being told actually that’s wrong. Diet soda has been recommended by some as being better than ‘full fat’ soda, but now the news is very different indeed.
So what’s the deal?
Well apparently this news has winged its way to us via a study that was performed by the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. Apparently those involved followed the activities of 2,500 people from New York over a period of seven years. They focused on how many diet sodas the New Yorkers drank, and they found that those who had it every single day were 61% more likely to have what they called a ‘vascular event’. This basically covers high blood pressure, heart attacks, strokes and diabetes. The study did account for those who already had one of these conditions, and it does seem to show that us soda drinkers do have something to think about.
Now obviously you probably don’t need to worry if you only drink the occasional can of diet soda. But if you’re drinking it every day you should reconsider whether maybe bottled water might be better for you.
Some will say this was a very small study and therefore doesn’t have a lot of benefit to the world as a whole. But a 61% increase in vascular occurrences is not something to be ignored. Two and a half thousand people might be a small number compared to the billions in the world as a whole, but the results are startling enough to warrant further research. I know I’ve cut down on the amount of diet soda I’m consuming as a result of reading this. To my mind there is a link here – we just don’t know quite what it is or whether we should be really worried about it or not.
The thing that stands out for me is that a lot of people who are trying to lose weight will switch from regular soda to diet soda because it doesn’t have any calories. So they’re likely to drink a lot more of it than they would have done before. The news reports state that those running the study looked at the use of regular soda too, but no figures were given about whether regular drinks were equally to blame or not.
Another thing that stuck out for me was that the study highlighted the people who drank diet soda on a daily basis. It didn’t say whether that was one can of soda or a hundred. Presumably it covered daily consumption in any shape or form. I reckon the message is that the more of the stuff you drink, the more chance there is of having one of the vascular events they’re talking about.
Interestingly enough though, one of the news stories I was reading on this topic said that the FDA recommends drinking no more than 13 cans of diet soda a day. Thirteen cans?! This would be loads for me; I’ll admit to drinking maybe one glass a day, maybe two if I get a taste for it, but on other days I won’t touch the stuff. I’m a tea drinker more than anything but I do tend to drink more soda when I’m dieting, as I mentioned before.
I think the message here – as it always is in stories like these – is that everything should be eaten or drunk in moderation. I know alcohol can kill me, for example, but one drink a day is fine. I’m not going to go beyond that. I’m sure I could probably do myself huge damage if I decided to live on nothing but chocolate for the rest of my life, but I’m not likely to do that either.
I guess there are downsides of eating or drinking anything in huge amounts. If drinking soda is a regular habit of yours you might want to think about reducing the amount you drink. I’ve gone onto using filtered water with a slice of lemon in it instead. It’s not the same as diet soda but I know what’s in it and it actually tastes pretty good. But I reserve the right to drink the odd soda if I really get a taste for it and I fancy one.
When I first read the headline about this research into diet soda and the potential effects it can have over time, I thought about the amount I drank each day and felt it was time to make a change. This research could be totally wrong – it could be misleading or inaccurate. I don’t know. But I do know that it made me think twice about what I eat and drink, so I guess in that respect it was worth it. In the end I guess it’s all to do with whether something is manufactured or not. If you read the ingredients for your favorite soda you’ll notice there are plenty of them. The glass of filtered water with a slice of lemon in it that is now sitting on my desk has but two ingredients – and I’ve just told you what they both are. I guess this is the real difference when it comes to thinking about what we have put into our bodies, isn’t it?