New Study Connects Daily Consumption of Diet Soda with Heart Attack and Stroke Danger
This is a message not only for African Americans, but all Americans.
I stopped drinking soda pop on a daily basis some six years ago. I read a few studies that soda pop was loaded with sodium (salt) and contained other weird stuff that I didn’t want to encourage to rot my insides, and that did it. (On top of it, I also saw Super Size Me.) I am lucky to drink soda once a week these days. Once in a while, I have Vitamin Water. I like iced teas, lemonades, fruit juices, water that’s been purified with a Brita or Culligan pitcher and chilled in a refrigerator. (Yes, I am not mucking up the environment by quaffing bottled water.) Sometimes I make the fruit juices even more watery, especially if I am eating late in the evening after work, like 9 p.m. Why? Because I don’t want to have heartburn during the night, and have to pop a couple of Tums.
Getting back to soda pop: I used to drink a lot of it. (The thing that would horrify me was seeing toddlers being given soda pop to suck on in baby bottles or sippy cups as if it was milk.) I’m sure a lot of people still use soda pop as a substitute for drinking water, and that’s what I did. I drank quarts of it, not knowing that I was infinitely more dehydrated than if I had drunk a quart of water instead. It’s amazing how much people hate to drink water; water has to have some kind of fruit or sweet taste before they would bother to drink it. Hence the popularity of Vitamin Water, or drinks like it. I spritz a little lemon in my water at times, with half a packet of fake sugar, and it works. In the bad old days, I told myself that I wouldn’t feel so bloated in the working afternoons after I drank pop, whether it was with a McDonald’s fast food burger or with Chinese food. And it was usually diet pop. It was Diet Dr. Pepper, or Diet Mountain Dew, or a Diet Pepsi or Diet Cream Soda. I may be eating junk food, but I was drinking a diet cola, at least.
See how one can brainwash themselves? And I was hip to eating right and correctly, but eating junk was my favorite, secret easy way out, especially when I didn’t feel like cooking for myself. And if you are working two or three jobs, you don’t always feel creative about cooking for you. You want someone else to do it for you. Cooking for yourself is actually like a ceremony, a personal celebration of what you like about food. That you would love yourself enough to put good food in you. I didn’t want to take the time to think about me. I just wanted food, period.
And so many people don’t even like healthy foods, foods that would do them good. A woman in Montana admitted to me several years ago that she would rather eat a certain junk food on a daily basis rather than submit to eating healthier food that would save her life. She just didn’t like it; the junk food gave her lots of pleasure, but not nourishment. She would go miles for it, and since it was Montana, it was fairly easy to go a long way for a little something. The First Lady has her work cut out for her.
So hearing about this new study, which suggests that people who drink diet soda/pop/cola may be on the train straight for a heart attack or stroke doesn’t surprise me. This, as well as other illuminating studies connecting health, longevity and diet were revealed during the American Stroke Association conference occurring this week in Los Angeles.
A preliminary study raised concern about diet soda and stroke risk. Researchers surveyed about 2,500 adults in the New York City area at the start of the study and followed their health for nearly 10 years afterward. Researchers found that people who said they drank diet soda every day had a 48 percent higher risk of stroke or heart attack than people who drank no soda of any kind. Researchers adjusted for differences in other risk factors, such as smoking and high blood pressure.
Lead researcher Hannah Gardener of the University of Miami had no explanation for the findings but said that for those trying to cut calories, “diet soft drinks may not be an optimal substitute for sugar-sweetened beverages.”
Younger people and middle-aged women are becoming more prone to strokes, a sign that obesity among Americans “may be starting to shift the age burden of the disease.” And sodas and cola drinks are connected with weight gain.
Several small studies had recently suggested an ominous rise among the young and among middle-aged women.
“We were interested in whether we could pick that up in a much larger, nationwide dataset,” said Dr. Mary George, a stroke researcher at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The researchers examined federal records from a sample of hospitals in 41 states, covering about 8 million cases each year. They looked at the percentage of all hospitalizations for stroke by gender and in six age groups.
For every 10,000 hospitalizations in 1994-95 compared with 2006-07, strokes rose:
—51 percent, from 9.8 to 14.8, among males 15 to 34 years old
—17 percent, from 3.6 to 4.2, in females 15 to 34
—47 percent, from 36 to 52.9, in males 35 to 44
—36 percent, from 21.9 to 30, in females 35 to 44
“The increases seen in children are very modest, but they are more so in the young adult age groups, and we feel that deserves further study,” George said.
Better awareness of stroke symptoms and better imaging methods for detecting strokes in young people could account for some of that change, but there is no way to know, she said.
Make the consumption of soda pop, any soda, whether it is diet or regular, a sometime thing. Phase out soda pop in your home. You really, really don’t need it that much. Not even if it is cheap. If you do, understand that you’re an addict, just as if you were chain-smoking cigarettes, or mainlining heroin. Find out what fruit juices you like or what your kids like (start with apple juice). Invest in a juicer and make fresh squeezed. Start reading the labels that tell you what’s in what you’re drinking, as well as what you are eating. Drink water. In fact, drink lots of water to clean yourself inside out.
You’ve got to drink to live as well as eat to live.