Diet drinks and dementia

From the summer 2017 issue of our Care and Cure magazine, find out about the unclear association between artificially-sweetened beverages and dementia.

People who drink at least one artificially-sweetened beverage every day may have an increased risk of developing a stroke or dementia compared to those who drink them less than once a week, according to research carried out in Massachusetts.

The researchers reviewed what people were drinking at three different points in time over seven years. People reported their eating and drinking habits by completing questionnaires.

The researchers kept in touch with the same people for the next 10 years to see who developed a stroke or dementia. There was a link between developing dementia and drinking artificially-sweetened beverages, but not with drinking ones that had been sweetened with sugar.

Dr James Pickett, Head of Research at Alzheimer’s Society, said, ‘This research does not show that artificially-sweetened drinks cause dementia. But it does highlight a worrying association that requires further investigation.

‘Research into dietary factors is very complex and there are a number of issues that need clarifying – for example, why drinks sweetened with sugar were not associated with an increased risk in this study – and teasing out links between all types of sugary drinks, diabetes and dementia.

‘What we do know is that the things we eat and drink can have an effect on our brain health. Evidence shows that along with eating a healthy diet, including watching what you drink, the best way to reduce your risk of dementia is to take plenty of exercise and to not smoke.’

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