• Barbara Moran

    Barbara Moran, Senior Science Writer

    Barbara Moran is a science writer in Brookline, Mass. Profile

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There are 23 comments on Is Soda Bad for Your Brain? (And Is Diet Soda Worse?)

  1. More obese and unfit people drink diet drinks. It’s more likely that the correlation is linked to their state of health – the reason why they;re consuming the drink you’re suspicious of. Take the same data and now look at weight (height to waist ratio) and frequency of exercise. The link will likely be revealed as lazy/obese/unfit people.

    1. People with a smaller hippocampus and overall brain volume might be more likely to ignore healthy diet and exercise advice, involving dedication and work; and supplement their poor diet and low exercise lifestyle with diet drinks, diet pills and infomercial machines that claim to do exercise for you. As stated above, the correlations found could simply be indicative of people likely to have such conditions being attracted to the drinks and not the conditions relating to the consumption of the drinks themselves.

    2. Thank you for your comment. It is possible that those who are unfit or obese gravitate more towards diet beverages. To explore this, we adjusted our results for physical activity. We found that the observed findings exist even once you take physical activity into account. Our findings also did not appear to be explained by waist to hip ratio.

      1. Physical activity seems like a poor proxy for obesity. Do you not have BMI available? This seems like an obvious question. Does diet soda cause the correlation? Or does obesity cause the correlation and there is a separate correlation between those who are obese and those who drink diet sodas.

    3. FYI, obesity is NOT always a person’s “fault” and “laziness” is NOT a common trait amongst obese OR non-obese people!!!
      I found thru genetic testing (from my physician) that I happen to have a genetic combination that prevents me from EVER feeling satiety (for you people “too lazy” to look that up, it means I can’t ever feel FULL.
      That took 25 yrs’ of guilt off my shoulders! However, I also took measures to render the issue moot, without knowing I had done so. I had a gastric bypass 17 years ago to help me with weight loss, as my body and other medical conditions hindered weight loss. AND this “lazy” person lost 125 pounds. And I have kept it OFF.
      Diet drinks are fine in moderation, I believe, but water is my best friend. I have a college degree, raised 3 sons on my own, and I am more than gainfully employed in the financial sector. And I even served as an adjunct instructor for a major University’s School of Business. I exercise and eat correctly…AS I DID PRIOR TO THE SURGERY. However, the bypass helped me clean up the sloppy edges of my diet and helped me gain control over the unrelenting “hungry” signal my body kept giving. Fat shaming is WORSE than ANY other form of “acceptable” behavior in public.
      I don’t know your battle or anyone else’s. Therefore, I always approach others with an OPEN MIND AND KINDNESS. Small-mindedness is ugly.

    1. Hi there – good question. The studies did not differentiate between types of artificial sweeteners and did not account for other possible sources of artificial sweeteners.

    2. Actually, they studied soda consumption between 1991 and 2001 when I’m pretty sure NO sodas were sweetened with sucralose, then did 10 years of follow-up. So it had to be all saccharine and aspartame.

  2. Drank diet coke all my life. At one point a case a day which is documented!Had a stroke and have dementia. Sometimes can not remember my grand childrens names. Is there any help for this?

    1. Tom, please reach out to the Alzheimer’s Association for information and try to see a neurologist regularly if you are not already seeing one. Best of luck to you.

  3. When considering diet quality was electrolyte intake a factor? Considering the small brain mass this sounds like a electrolyte disorder such as hypernatremia.

  4. Did the study include people who stopped drinking or significantly reduced diet soda intake which correlated to reduced level of stroke in latter years?

  5. It would be intresting to see research on the other “Secret” ingredients in soft drinks. We all have our eyes set on sugar vs artificiall sweeteners. isnt it posible that the other stuff within these drinks can cause these symptoms?

    1. I have a similar question. I do not doubt the damage that is possible from high sugar intake or high artificial sweetener intake but what about the active ingredients in products such as coke and Pepsi?

  6. The reason for the brain effect detected in this study could be the aluminium container/can used for the soft drink. Normally, we are exposed to aluminium (Al) protected with an “insoluble” oxide surface layer. However, when the can is opened, there will be an edge with fresh Al the liquid passes, and some Al will be dissolved in the acidic liquid. If soluble aluminium reaches the brain, it can induce Alzheimer-like brain damage. We know that a. o. because some dialysis patients 40 years ago died or got brain damage, because Al hydroxide then was used to “clean” the dialysis water. The healthy kidney has a good ability to excrete surplus of aluminium from the body but nowadays more and more people have decreased kidney function.
    The CNS toxicity of “soluble” aluminium may also be the explanations for some side effects of vaccinations using vaccines with aluminium hydroxide based adjuvants.

  7. Interesting to see that artificial sweetener can cause dementia. I have a niece with PKU who cannot EVER ingest any form of aspartame due to the dual strand of phenylalanine. An untreated person with PKU develops mental retardation and finally death due to the build up of Phenylalanine as Phenyl Pyruvic acid. Has anyone looked to see if the people with mental retardation from untreated PKU have the same plaques? Could dementia be treated the same way PKU is treated? Low Protein diet and Kuvan?

  8. Over thirty years ago, Doctor Adrian Gross, testified before Congress that animals given aspartame in experiments developed tumors. Diet sodas have a substance that is called diketopiperazine which is a brain tumor agent. Aspartame has methanol which can break down into formaldehyde which can actually harm DNA. It should be surprising to no one, the potential devastation that diet sodas can do to your brain. for more information go to Doctor Mercola’s site

  9. I have consumed 3 to 4 litres of Pepsi Max per day since the mid 90’s. Friends and work colleagues have considered me a barometer of any bad effects as a warning for their more moderate consumption. No strokes due to my thin blood (hereditary family condition) and no dementia as yet. I considered the stroke risk as mentioned from an earlier study as low risk for me. However I do not find that the aluminium can to be a plausible theory as the comparison was to sugar soda drinkers (prevelance of can use the same). The comparison also strikes out the theory of an artificial coloring culprit from can allowed to get hot (as incidents should be similar).
    I am now concerned as my generous endowment of little grey cells is now at risk from a lone asassin in a crowd and no-one can identify him ? I am avoiding crowds until I can resolve the matter. Without my old stimulant sidekick this may be more difficult.

  10. Can the study data be divided into people who consume sugar from other sources and those who do not consume sugar from other sources? It seems to me that the old joke about the guy who orders the banana split but wants a diet coke to go with it could be operative here.

  11. After years if consuming diet Coke freely I began noticing lapses in memory. I decided to stop the drink, and the lapses disappeared. Every time I wanted it back, the lapses returned. Paradoxically, small sips of regular Coke during high intensity intellectual work—writing academic papers, for example—seem to help. I am 62 and slightly overweight.

  12. I have very recently stopped drinking 2 liters and more per day of diet soda. I am diabetic, overweight, and 61 years old. I was having a lot of trouble with morning brain fog. Sometimes the brain fog persisted for hours after waking up so that I didn’t want anyone to talk to me until I could think. It’s been only two weeks since I quit and the main difference I see is the brain fog is so much better!

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