Last week, researchers found in an analysis that healthy postmenopausal women are at a higher risk for cardiovascular disease if they drank two or more diet sodas each day.
This generated much talk, mostly among diet soda drinkers. Many people contend that they choose diet drinks because it's without the refined sugars we are told to avoid. After hearing this report, some feel they can't win for losing.
But this report is nothing new. Scientists have been studying the long-term effects of diet soda for years and already made some correlations between its ingredients and illness. It's not to say, however, that diet soda causes those diseases.
In 2012, researchers with the Northern Manhattan Study said daily diet soft drink consumption is associated with "several vascular risk factors and with an increased risk for vascular events." While not a conclusive study, the report also noted that diet and regular soft drinks have been "associated with diabetes and the metabolic syndrome, and regular soft drinks with coronary heart disease."
This "can't win for losing" perspective can be seen in many things associated with nutrition such as a low/high carbohydrate diet or a low/high fat diet. We try to avoid fat, only to add more salt and sugar. We try to avoid carbohydrates only to add more fatty foods to our diets.
Our intentions are good, but we usually fail by fooling around with science or trying to eliminate an entire food group. The key is balance — a balance of real food, that is.
But things are slowly changing. It's apparent in the drop in diet soda sales in the past three years.
These days, more people are taking a minimalist approach to nutrition, as apparent by the numerous "real food" blogs. They are starting to say they don't want the manufactured chemicals and added stuff in their food.
Water is the supreme drink, and they're choosing food that grows from the ground and on trees over "light" and low-fat items on grocery store aisles.
If we can control our portions and only have sweet indulgences at special times, rather than every day, then maybe we will feel satisfied.
It's what dietitians have been saying. They don't ban a certain food. They encourage people to eat a variety of healthy foods and only eat or drink heavy or sweet foods in moderation.
Diet sodas were once that compromise for heavy soda drinkers, who were cutting out hundreds of calories and several grams of sugar out of their diet. Recognizing we should improve nutrition is a start, but we have to make sure we replace the bad stuff with good stuff. Water it is.
See last week's study here: tinyurl.com/lrnfatv.