If diet soda helps you get through the day, you may want to consider it’s health risks or consider alternatives. Women age 50 and older who drink two or more diet sodas a day are 23% more likely to have a stroke than women who skip the diet drinks, according to a study published earlier this year.
Learn more about how to reduce your risk of stroke by taking diet soda out of your routine.
Did you know that diet soda drinkers have higher risks of heart disease and early death?
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The study was published in the American Heart Association’s scientific journal, Stroke. The authors looked at the diet-soda drinking habits and health of more than 81,000 women age 50-79 over nearly 12 years.
Frequent diet soda drinkers were also 29% more likely to have a heart attack, 31% more likely to have a stroke caused by a blocked artery and 16% more likely to die.
The results don’t prove that diet soda causes these problems. The researchers said there needs to be more study of other issues these women may have faced, like a poor diet, sleep-deprivation and stress.
That said, regular diet soda consumption is associated with abdominal weight gain, metabolic syndrome and an increased risk of Type 2 diabetes. It’s also linked to bone loss, kidney problems and tooth decay, according to Prevention.
Knowing that diet soda may not be good for you doesn’t make it easy to kick the habit, especially if you rely on the energy boost you get from its caffeine. You could go cold turkey, but you’ll probably end up headachy, tired or both. Instead, experts recommend tapering down slowly.
Some dietitians recommend tapering down by one can a day for a week or two, then cutting back by another can a day for another two weeks, and so on. Others suggest making one day a week diet-soda free to start with and then gradually adding more soda-free days. Whichever method you choose, take it slowly.
To eliminate the artificially sweetened soda without losing the caffeine, switch to black or green tea or coffee. You can also switch up your caffeine sources, with coffee in the morning for a strong pick-me-up and tea later in the day so you’re not up all night. Either way, stick with natural sweeteners in moderation.
Don’t write them off and go back to diet soda when the weather is hot. You can buy bottled iced tea and cold-brewed concentrate for iced coffee. You can also make them at home.
For iced coffee, you can pour cooled coffee over ice and top it with half and half. Or you can use the New York Times Cooking method for homemade cold-brew coffee, which is what I like: Dump 1/3 cup of ground coffee into a jar or covered pitcher with 1 ½ cups of water and leave it on the counter overnight. Next morning, strain out the grounds and mix the concentrate with an equal amount of water over ice. You’ll have enough for several glasses.
Other options include sparkling water flavored with fruit, tap water with cut pieces of fruit or mint and herbal teas. Fresh fruit smoothies can help you stay hydrated and add fiber and vitamins to your daily routine. My favorite smoothie right now is:
This smoothie tastes almost like caramel and is full of calcium, potassium and vitamin E.
Finally, grabbing more sleep at night or taking naps can make it easier to taper off caffeinated diet soda. More sleep will also improve your overall caregiving ability and health. If you’re sleep-deprived with no way to solve the problem on your own, it may be time to look into adult day programs, in-home care or respite care so you can take care of your own health as well as that of your loved one.
Are you a caregiver? In what other ways have you reduced your risk of stroke? We’d like to hear your stories and suggestions in the comments below.