We all do it. You’re not quite in the mood for water so you grab a soft drink from the fridge – a diet one in the hopes that it isn’t as bad as the full-sugar soft drink.

But, even that one glass could still be doing a world of harm to your body.

A study conducted at the University of Boston has revealed that drinking even one artificially sweetened drink a day can increase your risk of dementia or stroke by three times.

While the findings, published in medical journal Stroke, has only found an association, not a direct link between artificial sweeteners and reduced brain functionality, the results are concerning.

The US-based study analysed the diets of approximately 2,900 people over the age of 45 to investigate the link between artificial sweeteners and stroke.

In a separate study, researchers monitored the food habits of 1,500 people over the age of 60, analysing the link between these diet drinks and dementia.

After a 10-year period, they found that 97 participants had suffered a stroke and that there were 81 cases of dementia – 63 of which had reached the Alzheimer stage.

However, lead author of the study Matthew Pase noted that even if there is a three times increase in the likelihood of these illnesses, it is no means a certain fate. It does suggest that more research into the effects of these drinks, and artificial sweeteners more broadly must be undertaken.

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The study also didn’t find a connection between sugary drinks in general, and dementia and stroke.

“Although we did not find an association between stroke or dementia and the consumption of sugary drinks, this certainly does not mean they are a healthy option,” says Matthew.

“We recommend that people drink water on a regular basis instead of sugary or artificially sweetened beverages.”

Text: Claudia Poposki / The Australian Women’s Weekly

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