It has long been known that diet beverages are not healthy because of the high sugar content in regular soda. Diet beverages have never been considered healthy foods. However, numerous studies have linked both diet and regular beverages to tooth decay, depression and bone thinning over the last couple of decades. Dietary beverages may also damage your brain, according to several studies published in recent years.
How do diet beverages are hazardous to the brain?
People who drink more than two diet beverages a day or had three servings of soda per week showed signs of accelerated brain ageing which is a risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease. The signs include:
Smaller overall brain volume: The size of the brain correlates with intelligence and researchers also found that diet soda drinkers have smaller brain volumes than others
Poorer episodic memory: Some individuals had some trouble recalling the situations, places, and emotions connected to autobiographical memories
Shrunken hippocampus: This is where the brain's emotion, memory, and autonomic nervous system reside, which controls involuntary functions, such as breathing, blood pressure, and heart rate. It was found that people who consumed at least one diet drink per day were three times more likely to have a stroke and to develop dementia as compared to people who did not. A higher risk of brain problems was not associated with regular (non-diet) soft drinks. And the results remained unchanged when other important factors such as gender, diet, smoking, and physical activity were taken into account.
The brain is tricked into thinking it is getting an extra dose of glucose by diet sodas, but ultimately, the trick is on us because the brain adapts to not receiving additional glucose by overcompensating in other ways. Since we know that the gut has a bacterial superhighway that interacts with key neurotransmitters, diet sodas may upset the gut's bacterial jungle—the microbiome—causing unpredictable results.