Diet soda
Diet soda and its association with stroke and dementiaCreativeCommons/frankieleon

While fizzy drinks are often associated with physical health risks such as weak bones, a new study has found that these drinks could also impact the mental health of the consumer. According to a study published by American Heart Association journal Stroke, artificially sweetened drinks such as diet sodas have an adverse effect on the mental health of the consumer and may even be tied to dementia and stroke.

For the research, the scientists from the University of Boston studied 2,888 participants above the age of 45 and1,484 people above the age of 60.

"The sample sizes are different because we studied people of different ages," said Matthew Pase, a senior research fellow at the neurology department at Boston University School of Medicine and lead author of the study.

The scientists studied the first group for stroke and the second one for dementia. "Dementia is rare in people under the age of 60 and so we focused only on those aged over 60 years for dementia. Similarly, stroke is rare in people aged under 45 and so we focused on people older than age 45 for stroke."

The reasearchers found out the amount of sugary drinks two groups consumed between 1991 and 2001 and analysed the risk of stroke and dementia in the 10 years followed.

Diet soda
Why you should avoid diet sodaCreativeCommons/Phera Laster

It was found that people who consumed even one artificially-sweetened drink a day are thrice prone to stroke and 2.9 times likely to develop dementia as opposed to those who consumed such drinks less than once a week.

However, researchers could not find concrete evidence to link such drinks to dementia and stroke. "Even if someone is three times as likely to develop stroke or dementia, it is by no means a certain fate," Pase said.

While there might be no definitive proof, researchers believe sugary drinks must be consumed cautiously and it makes more sense to opt for more healthy substitutes.

"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. We recommend that people drink water on a regular basis instead of sugary or artificially sweetened beverages," Pase noted.