Artificial sweeteners are supposed to be a good option for those looking to eat healthier. They are seen – wrongly – by most people as a safe way to consume sweets, without interfering with the scale. Many still consume it due to health problems, as is the case with people with diabetes .
But a study published in Clinical and Experimental Ophthalmology brings a warning. The consumption of diet sodas can lead to the worsening of diabetes, increasing the risk of a serious eye disease, called proliferative diabetic retinopathy.
The experiment carried out between 2009 and 2010 was attended by 609 adults, 73 with type 1 diabetes, 510 with type 2 diabetes and 26 with an unknown type of diabetes.
In a food questionnaire of 145 questions, the participants had to answer, among other questions, about the consumption of soft drinks.
In total, 46.8% people had eaten regular soft drinks and 31.2% drank diet soft drinks.
Almost a quarter had proliferative diabetic retinopathy. But those who drank more than 4,000 servings of diet soda a week had a 2.5-fold increased risk for the disease.
According to the researchers, even those who drank regular soft drinks were not as likely to have the disease. On the other hand, they had a higher risk of suffering other health problems, due to the amount of sugar present in the drink.
Diabetic retinopathy can lead to blindness
Diabetic retinopathy is a disease that affects small vessels of the retina, in the region of the eye responsible for the formation of images sent to the brain.
The accumulation of sugar in these structures, caused by the worsening of diabetes, ends up forming edema in the retina, leading to a blockage of blood flow.
The disease can be divided into 2 stages: non-proliferative and proliferative. The first is milder, related to distortions of the images captured and bleeding (hemorrhages); while the second is considered severe and advanced, and can lead to blindness.
But the disease can be prevented by properly controlling blood glucose levels. Eye exams are also essential to diagnose eye complications caused by diabetes and allow early treatment to begin.
Artificial sweeteners and diabetes
Another study , presented at the annual Experimental Biology conference in 2018, linked diet sodas to diabetes.
Researchers from Wisconsin Medical College and Marquette University used mice that were vulnerable to the development of the disease to conduct experiments.
For three weeks, they fed different groups of these animals with high doses of sugars (fructose and glucose), in addition to common artificial sweeteners (aspartame and acesulfame potassium). From there, they began to observe the animals’ blood.
After a few weeks it was possible to see biological changes in the fluid, which could influence the metabolism of fat and energy. High levels of lipids and fats have also been found, which over time could lead to diabetes and obesity .
The high consumption of artificial sweeteners is linked to the ideas that imply that eating diet foods would be promising for weight control or loss.
Doctors and patients should be aware of the harmful effects of these foods, which can be associated with metabolic and cardiovascular diseases.