Diet soda is filled with genetically modified ingredients and, despite the "diet" part, doesn't actually help you lose weight, according to a number of studies suggesting that it contributes as much to weight gain as regular soda.
The newest diet-soda downer? Depression, according to a new study from the American Academy of Neurology.
The researchers tracked 263,925 people between the ages of 50 and 71. For a year, investigators measured participant consumption of beverages like soda, fruit punch, and coffee. A decade later, study enrollees reported on whether or not they had been diagnosed with depression in recent years.
How to Combat Diet-Soda Belly
Even after researchers adjusted for physical and social factors that could contribute to depression (age, sex, race, education, and physical activity, for instance), they saw a strong link between soda consumption and depression. People who drank it were 30 percent more likely to suffer from depression than people who didn't, and people who consumed fruit punch were 38 percent more likely to develop depression. Those who consumed diet versions of those drinks had an even greater risk of depression than those who drank sugar-sweetened drinks.
"Our findings are preliminary, and the underlying biological mechanisms are not known," explains study author Honglei Chen, MD, PhD, a tenure-track investigator in the epidemiology branch at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS). "[But] they are intriguing and consistent with a small but growing body of evidence suggesting that artificially sweetened beverages may be associated with poor health outcomes."
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Next time you need a pick-me-up? Consider one of these healthier alternatives (or one of our 8 Healthy Sodas) for a refreshing boost:
Coffee. The soda-shaming study wasn’t all bad news. Coffee drinkers who enjoyed four cups per day were about 10 percent less likely to develop depression than their java-free peers. That’s no surprise, since coffee is rich in antioxidants and might even protect against diabetes.
Green tea. It delivers the caffeine kick you crave, plus a lot more. In addition to fighting cancer and lowering blood pressure, green tea is a natural brain booster: It contains an amino acid called theanine, which enhances mental performance, according Keri Glassman, RD.
Super smoothie. Whip one up at night, and save it to enjoy at work tomorrow. Fruits and veggies are natural mood lifters, but so is chocolate—toss in a dark variety for a healthy helping of caffeine. Need some suggestions, check out some of these awesome smoothie recipes.