Data from the Framingham Heart Study (FHS) has shown that people who frequently drink sugary beverages such as sodas and fruit juices are more likely to have poorer memory, smaller overall brain volumes and smaller hippocampal volumes which are associated with memory. The FHS is a combined project with Boston University.
Researchers also found that people who drank diet soda daily were almost three times as likely to develop stroke and dementia when compared to those who did not consume diet soda.
“Our findings indicate an association between higher sugary beverage intake and brain atrophy, including lower brain volume and poorer memory,” explained corresponding author Dr Matthew Pase from the department of neurology at the Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) and investigator at the FHS.
Diet soda, stroke and dementia
“We also found that people drinking diet soda daily were almost three times as likely to develop stroke and dementia. This included a higher risk of ischemic stroke, where blood vessels in the brain become obstructed and Alzheimer’s disease dementia, the most common form of dementia,” he said.
Both sugar and artificially-sweetened beverages are bad for you
Too much sugar adversely affects health. Thus diet soft drinks are touted as a healthier alternative to regular soda. However both sugar and artificially-sweetened beverage consumption has been linked to cardiometabolic risk factors, which increase the risk of cerebrovascular disease and dementia.
The researchers point out that preexisting conditions such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes and high blood pressure did not completely explain their findings. For example, people who more frequently consumed diet soda were also more likely to be diabetic, which is thought to increase the risk of dementia. However, even after excluding diabetics from the study, diet soda consumption was still associated with the risk of dementia.
WATCH: Dr Matthew Pase from Boston University explains the study.