People often talk about the physical effects of drinking too much soda — but can these drinks also affect your mental health?
It’s well known that too much sugar can be bad for your body. It’s logical to wonder if soda with added sugar or sweetener can be bad for your mental health, too.
Research on the role of regular and diet sodas in depression is just emerging, but it may make you think twice about picking up that next can of pop.
There are many factors to consider regarding soda and mental health, including blood sugar and long-term health effects.
Effects of soda on the body
Although any exact connection remains unknown, some experts believe soda may harm your mental health for several reasons.
First, sodas can spike your blood sugar levels quickly. That’s because they provide sugar without any fiber or nutrients to slow its absorption. High blood sugar levels can
A recent 2019 meta-analysis suggests that just 2 cups (473 mL) of sugar-sweetened soda per day may increase depression risk by 5%.
Long-term studies have investigated how regular soda intake may affect your mental health.
Although it’s not possible to definitively conclude that drinking soda increases your risk of depression based on observational studies like these, the results do indicate that more research on a possible connection is warranted.
Even though sugar appears to be the culprit in any negative effects of soda, diet options may not necessarily be any better.
Like regular sodas, diet sodas have been linked to a higher risk of depression. In fact, the same
Further, in a
These results may be related to the content of artificial sweeteners like aspartame and sucralose in diet drinks. Some researchers speculate that these sweeteners could negatively affect the brain and mental health.
For instance, a small
Keep in mind, though, that most people don’t consume as high levels as those used in this study. Still, the cumulative effect of drinking diet sodas sweetened with aspartame over many years may be worth considering.
It’s generally believed that aspartame blocks the release of important neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin in your brain. These compounds play key roles in mood and well-being. Lower levels are often seen in people with depression.
In addition, aspartame may cause oxidative stress and increase levels of the stress hormone cortisol. It’s speculated that this can damage neurons in the brain and cause symptoms of depression.
So, while cutting out sugary sodas might improve your mental health, diet sodas are not necessarily a good alternative.
Certain foods may help protect you from developing depression.
According to the same
However, avoid going overboard on the coffee. The above-mentioned
Healthy high fiber foods include:
- nuts and seeds
Dark chocolate is another excellent choice when it comes to fighting the blues. It has
High-magnesium foods include:
- dark leafy green vegetables
- pumpkin seeds
Vitamin C is another key nutrient when it comes to mental health. It’s needed for the brain to
Excellent sources of vitamin C include:
- citrus fruits
- tomato juice
- bell peppers
To reduce your risk of depression, it can help to avoid foods high in sugar and fat like pastries, cake, and ice cream. Recent
To cut down your intake of sugar, also keep an eye on how much fruit juice you drink. Just like soda, these drinks can be a high source of sugar. Other often-overlooked or hidden sources of sugar include ketchup and salad dressings.
In addition, try to limit or cut out processed foods like potato chips, hot dogs, and sugary breakfast cereals. A large
Lastly, cut back on how much alcohol you drink. Although many people often turn to alcohol when feeling down, any potential relief is short-lived. Long-term, alcohol can increase the risk of depression.
While definite conclusions are lacking, current research suggests that regular and high intakes of sugary and diet sodas might increase the risk of developing depression.
The high sugar content in regular sodas and the artificial sweeteners in diet soda could be to blame for these potential adverse mental health effects.
Still, that doesn’t mean you should never drink soda again. It’s fine to indulge once in a while, as long as you don’t make it a daily habit.
If you find yourself often craving and reaching for a soda, try to instead opt for alternatives like:
- herbal tea
- coconut water
- vegetable juice
- sparkling water
- cucumber-and-lemon-infused water