If you have Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism you’re supposed to ditch regular soda for diet soda because it’s better for you, right? Wrong — research shows people who drink diet soda daily are three times more likely to develop dementia or have a stroke compared to those who drink it less frequently. Unmanaged Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism is already hard on the brain. Don’t make it worse by drinking diet soda.
A 2017 study that tracked almost 3,000 people ages 45 and over for 10 years found those who consumed diet soda daily were almost three times more likely to suffer from ischemic stroke (from blood vessel blockage) or develop Alzheimer’s disease.
Diet sodas are basically a fizzy soup of toxic chemicals, including saccharin, acesulfame-K, aspartame, and artificial colorings.
And while the study did not find the same stroke and dementia risk with sugary sodas, plenty of evidence shows sugar sodas come with their own significant health risks, including obesity, diabetes, heart disease, COPD, and other inflammation-related disorders.
This means if you have Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism you shouldn’t switch from diet soda to sugar soda —you need to drink neither as both pose threats to your immune and thyroid health.
Additionally, if you drink diet soda because you’re watching your weight, you may be surprised to learn diet sodas have been shown to make people fat and prediabetic.
This is because diet sodas skew the composition of gut bacteria in a way that promotes obesity and diabetes. Mouse studies show mice given artificial sweeteners regularly developed high blood sugar compared to control mice. Even mice given a diet of high fat and sugar water did not develop high blood sugar like the diet-soda mice.
A small follow-up study on human volunteers showed similar results — people who consumed artificial sweeteners developed higher blood sugar and obesity-promoting gut bacteria in just one week.
Healthy gut bacteria are vital to help you have better immune function and thus be more successful in managing your autoimmune Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism. Autoimmune Hashimoto’s is a disorder in which an imbalance immune system attacks and destroys the thyroid gland, causing hypothyroidism.
Artificial sweeteners have also been shown to be toxic to the brain. For instance, the majority of complaints to the FDA about aspartame have been neurological in nature. People report such symptoms as headaches, mood alterations, hallucinations, seizures, nausea, insomnia, anxiety attacks, vertigo, fatigue, rashes, irritability, heart palpitations, slurred speech, loss of hearing, loss of taste, and gut problems.
Aspartame is a known excitotoxin, meaning it causes brain cells to dysfunction, degenerate, and die. This is bad when you have unmanaged Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism because the brain cells are already deprived of thyroid hormone.
If you can’t drink diet soda or sugary soda because you care about your health, what can you drink?
Thankfully, sparkling water has become increasingly popular and available. If you’re not willing to give up a cold fizzy drink, simply opt for sparkling water both at the store and when eating out.
Ditch soda and shore up your healthy gut bacteria
It appears the effect of diet soda on gut bacteria may be an important factor that makes it a health risk. One of the most important things you can do for your Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism and thyroid health is to improve the composition of your gut bacteria.
One of the best ways to do this is to make vegetables the primary part of your diet, including cultured vegetables. Not only are they high in fiber, vitamins, and minerals, but they also feed the good bacteria in your gut and help them grow and thrive.
Additionally, avoid processed foods, sugars, and artificial sweeteners, all of which promote bad bacteria and promote health problems.
Ask my office for more advice on how to manage Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism.