Will diet soda kill you or at least give you dementia

Every day we hear or read an urgent warning about a food lots of us eat fairly regularly and how this food will kill us. If it doesn’t kill us it’s going to give us some debilitating condition that will make us wish we were dead. It’s scary. What’s safe to eat?

Let me start by saying, we will die. It doesn’t matter what you eat. One thing for sure is I will die and so will you. Our deaths may have nothing to do with what we eat. We may die in an accident.

So this morning I’m watching CBS This Morning and Dr. Blablabla (Dr. Tara Narula, medical contributor to the program) is sitting there at the news desk with the hosts of the program yapping about how diet sodas are linked with dementia. She begins with the big headline, then she gives supporting data for the finding.

If you’re already worried about Alzheimers and dementia you may not hear what else she has to say on the topic.

She goes on to say, “we don’t know if there is a link…” Basically her message is healthy people who drink diet soda everyday have nothing to fear – we think. People who have unhealthy lifestyles may have put themselves at risk for demential or Alzheimers and trying to get healthier by losing weight drinking diet soda may lead to cognitive impairment.

Her segment ends with a statement from the makers of diet soda and the safety of artificial sweeteners.

Of course depending on whose opinion matters to you, the safety of artificial sweeteners is very much up to debate.
  • Harvard Health Publications has no use for them at all.
  • Time thinks they may be a preferable substitute for kids who eat too much sugar, but not without problems.
  • WebMD published on its website an in-depth look at non sugar sweeteners, the fears associated with using them, the back stories about cancer in rats, and the risks (which by the way, don’t include dementia)
  • American Dietetic Association posted a comprehensive, multi-page article on sugar free sweeteners and in general calls them safe and useful when used in amounts typical of most consumers.

My opinion is scary headlines get viewers, listeners, and clicks. This brings a bigger audience to the sponsors who are vying for our attention to sell us stuff. These scary headlines are for nothing to worry about when you realize how much about the human body we will never know.

One thing I know is I had a great aunt, and a paternal grandmother who suffered from dementia. They never drank a diet soda, nor did they eat any food artificially sweetened. In fact, they ate very minimally processed foods, very little chemical additives, preservatives or artificial colors. Their diets were primarily locally sourced meat, vegetables, and grains. No GMOs, no chemical fertilizers and no antibiotics fed or injected in their meat sources.

My mother died 3 days before her 90th birthday. The cause of death was officially recorded as advanced dementia. She ate a healthy diet her whole life although because she was younger than her aunt or mother-in-law her diet reflected more modern foods.

She didn’t, however, drink diet sodas, but late in her life she was taking enough prescription medications to start her own pharmacy. In retrospect I wish I knew more about what drugs the docs had her taking and stood up to them to ask “why does a healthy woman in her mid 80s need this crap?”

I’m more worried about a genetic possibility of dementia than “catching Alzheimers from drinking too much diet soda.”


My guiding philosophy is this:

All things in moderation and if it hurts, don’t do it.

Jackie Conn

About Jackie Conn

Jackie Conn is married and has four grown daughters and four grandchildren. She is a Weight Watchers success story. She's a weight loss expert with 25 years of experience guiding women and men to their weight-related goals. Her articles on weight management have been published in health, family and women's magazines. She has been a regular guest on Channel 5 WABI news, FOX network morning program Good Day Maine and 207 on WCSH.