One diet soda per day may affect your heart rhythm


A new study found that consumers could be at a higher risk of atrial fibrillation

According to researchers who've published a new study, it may be time to rethink our consumption of sugar- and artificially-sweetened drinks. 

The study found that having sugar-sweetened or artificially-sweetened drinks each day may increase your risk of atrial fibrillation (AFib), or an irregular heartbeat

“Our study’s findings cannot definitively conclude that one beverage poses more health risks than another due to the complexity of our diets and because some people may drink more than one type of beverage,” said lead researcher Dr. Ningjian Wang.

“However, based on these findings, we recommend that people reduce or even avoid artificially sweetened and sugar-sweetened beverages whenever possible. 

“Do not take it for granted that drinking low-sugar and low-calorie artificially sweetened beverages is healthy; it may pose potential health risks.” 

The link between sugary drinks and heart health

For the study, the researchers analyzed data from over 200,000 adults enrolled in the U.K. Biobank between 2006 and 2010. Participants answered questionnaires about their diets, genetics, and medical histories, and researchers followed up with them over the course of 10 years. 

Ultimately, the researchers learned that consistent consumption of artificially sweetened and sugar-sweetened drinks was linked with a higher risk of AFib. 

The study showed that participants were at the highest risk of AFib – 20% higher than those who never drank sugary drinks – when they drank more than two liters of these kinds of drinks each week. The risk of AFib was 10% higher for those who were hitting that two-liter mark each week. 

Two liters can be rather easy to reach each week. This translates to nearly 68 ounces, or about one 12-ounce drink six days per week. For many consumers, this could mean a daily diet soda or iced tea. 

Diet or regular sodas aren’t the only culprit, though. The researchers found that participants who regularly drank pure fruit juice were also at a higher risk of AFib. Drinking one liter, or about 34 ounces, of pure fruit juice each week was associated with an 8% higher risk of heart complications. 

“This is the first study to report an association between no- and low-calories sweeteners and also sugar-sweetened beverages and increased risk of atrial fibrillation,” said Dr. Penny M. Kris-Etherton, American Heart Association nutrition committee member. “We still need more research on these beverages to confirm these findings and to fully understand all the health consequences on heart disease and health conditions. 

“In the meantime, water is the best choice, and, based on this study, no- and low-calorie sweetened beverages should be limited or avoided.” 

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