Sweetened Drinks Increase Risk for Depression: Tips for Cutting Back


Drinking four cups or more of sweetened beverages each day apparently increases our risk for depression.

If you are depressed, or prone to experiencing bouts of depression, and you consume sweetened beverages, you may want to experiment with cutting back or finding less-sweet substitutes.

Study Links Sweetened Drinks and Depression

In a study that involved 263,925 people between 50 and 71 years of age, each participant’s daily intake of tea, soda, coffee, fruit punch, and the like was recorded for one year. Ten years later, the participants were questioned about whether they had been diagnosed with depression during the previous five years, and 11,311 of them had been given that diagnosis.

Those who had downed more than 32 ounces of soda (or pop) per day were 30% more likely to have experienced depression than those who did not drink any soda. The risk for depression was even higher for those who drank more than four cups of fruit punch each day; they were 38% more likely to have been diagnosed with depression than those who did not ingest sweetened drinks.

People who drank artificially sweetened diet soda and diet fruit punch had a higher incidence of depression than those who consumed the sugared kind. Even diet iced tea had a worse track record for depression than sugared iced tea.

The study results for coffee revealed that it makes a good substitute for those wanting to cut back on soda or fruit punch intake. Those who drank four or more cups of coffee each day were at 10% less risk for depression than those who drank no coffee.

You might be thinking, “This study was done with people over 50 so it has nothing to do with me.” It’s true that younger bodies are generally more resilient than older ones but if depression is a problem for you, consuming a lot of sugary or artificially sweetened drinks may be making your depressive symptoms worse.

A diet high in sugar is not good for anyone’s physical health anyway, and ingesting large amounts of artificial sweetener is considered by many health professionals to be a long term health risk.

Five Tips for Cutting Back on Sweetened Drinks

  1. Many of us love soda because of the carbonation, so try substituting either carbonated or seltzer water. You can add a squeeze of lemon or lime if you wish, or add a small amount of fruit juice to flavor it a bit.
  2. Dilute your soda or fruit punch with water (about 50/50). You will still get the sweet taste but less sugar or artificial sweetener.
  3. Do you go through six cans of soda each day? Cut back to five, then four, etc.
  4. Every time you want to open a can of soda or box of fruit punch, drink or sip at least six ounces of water first, and then wait 10 minutes. The craving may pass.
  5. Try putting stevia powder in water, coffee, or tea. Stevia is a sweet herb that has no carbs or calories.

The best way to cut back on sweetened drinks is not to buy any, but we are human. Setting a goal is helpful if it is realistic, and realistically most of us will not be successful in eliminating sweet drinks cold turkey. Small steps are the key for most of us.

Source: National Institutes of Health in Research


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