Healthy Living in the Carolinas

Diet Coke Rehab

Diet Coke Rehab
Friends, this post has to be shared to my new SHK site.  I am going to leave it as it was when I wrote it back in 2011 because I feel it’s important to see just how excited I was to be “off the juice” and it has a lot of good information.
Hi, my name is Angie, and I was a diet coke addict. That’s right, WAS!  I was counting down the days until July 31, 2011 so I could blog to you all that I made it! I reached my year mark.  And, of course, life gets busy and weeks pass by…but, I’m here now to share that exciting news. I am DC free! I really can’t believe it’s been a full year. *patting myself on the back*
Just a bit about my background: I LOVED diet coke. I LIVED to drink it.  Sad, I know. I would drink around 32 ounces a day. And very little water. I was determined to make a change and stop this cycle of addiction with my old love, DC. 

After I reached my year mark I was curious as to what my long lost love, DC, would taste like.  Should I take a taste? Should I find out how it tastes now, a year later and risk getting back on the “juice”? Well, my curiosity got the best of me.  I mean, come on, I went a whole year.  

I took a couple sips of DC (keep in mind it’s always at my fingertips since my husband has yet to kick the bad habit…I’m working on him).  My response was, WOW! And not in a good way. It tasted WAY too sweet, syrupy, and chemically (that’s the word I used). It’s funny how carbonated things taste after you don’t consume them for a year. I have no interest in going back down that life with DC.  (My husband did quit DC! It just took him a little longer to “see the light”)

Here are some things I learned about DC in my life:

MONEY:  This chemical water doesn’t come cheap.  If you are trying to save money, it’s one thing to cut out of the budget that will benefit your health and your pocket book! I estimate I am saving around $500 a year now not drinking soda. $500 a year to consume something that makes my health worse!
Think GREEN:  I am making this world a cleaner place by ridding it of my cans, foam cups, straws and other trash that went along with the DC habit! You’re welcome world!
BINGE:  Prior to quitting I had read that aspartame can cause you to crave more sweets (or other foods)! Well, that’s a FACT! In this past year I don’t remember more than a handful of times that I was “so hungry I could eat my arm off”. That used to happen ALL the time on the DC. 
Health facts:  FDA goes back and forth on whether or not diet soda is good for you. Or should I rephrase and say, whether or not it’s harmful to you!(we all can admit it does nothing good, can’t we?)  I really don’t have much faith in the FDA if one minute something causes cancer, next it’s “ok”, and then the next it can cause vascular events! No thanks.
BODY image: I feel so much better now that I am no longer drinking the DC. Soda bloats us more than we want to admit. Leaving you looking heavier than you really are!  I swear, you get off the soda habit and you will for sure notice positive changes on the exterior. 

Some reasons why you shouldn’t drink diet sodas:

1. Our body gets confused by artificial sweeteners – the dissociation between sweet taste and calorie intake may put the regulatory system that controls hunger and body weight out of sync, thus sabotaging weight loss plans. A study on rodents showed that those fed saccharin actually gained weight compared to rodents fed sucrose.
2. We’re “Infantilizing” our taste sense – Artificial sweeteners are a hundredfold sweeter than sucrose (table sugar). By getting ourselves used to so much sweet, normal sweet flavors, of fruit for example, become bland and so do other healthful foods such as grains and vegetables, thus reducing our willingness to consume them and ultimately the quality of our diet.
3. Long term effects unclear – while there have been many studies on artificial sweeteners and disease such cancer, very few focused on long term weight gain. A seven year study, (San Antonio Heart Study), showed a relationship between diet drink consumption and obesity, but the causation is not clear. Consumption of artificial sweeteners is growing yearly. According to Ludwig,
If trends in consumption continue, the nation will, in effect, have embarked on a massive, uncontrolled, and inadvertent public health experiment. Although many synthetic chemicals have been added to the food supply in recent years, artificial sweeteners in beverages stand out in their ability to interact with evolutionarily ancient sensorineural pathways at remarkably high affinity. (source)
 4. It’s linked to weight gain in a new study. (more info)
5. It’s linked to high risk of vascular events if digested daily. (more info)

Here’s an article I found with 16 reasons to STOP drinking regular soda.
I’m not saying that you shouldn’t ever consume a soda again in your life, but instead, rid it from your every day life. If you are consuming it daily, it’s time for a change to reach the best you.   
1. Soda Is Useless.
First of all, there are no nutritionally beneficial components in soft drinks. Soft drinks mostly consist of filtered water and refined sugars. Yet the average American drinks about 57 gallons of soft drinks each year.
2. Weight Gain & Obesity
Many people either forget or don’t realize how many extra calories they consume in what they drink. Drinking a single 330 ml can a day of sugary drinks translates to more than 1lb of weight gain every month.
Several scientific studies have provided experimental evidence that soft drinks are directly related to weight gain. The relationship between soft drink consumption and body weight is so strong that researchers2 calculate that for each additional soda consumed, the risk of obesity increases 1.6 times.
According to the results of high quality study3 reducing consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages helped reduce body mass index in the heaviest teenagers.

3. Diabetes
This is a consequence of #2. Anything that promotes weight gain increases the risk of diabetes. Drinking soda not only contributes to making people fat, but it also stresses the body’s ability to process sugar5. Some scientists now suspect that the sweet stuff may help explain why the number of Americans with type 2 diabetes has tripled from 6.6 million in 1980 to 20.8 million today.
Rapidly absorbed carbohydrates like high fructose corn syrup put more strain on insulin-producing cells than other foods. When sugar enters the bloodstream quickly, the pancreas has to secrete large amounts of insulin for the body to process it. Some scientists believe that the unceasing demands that a soda habit places on the pancreas may ultimately leave it unable to keep up with the body’s need for insulin. Also, insulin itself becomes less effective at processing sugar; both conditions contribute to the risk of developing diabetes.

 Researchers from Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston and Harvard Medical School4 analyzed data from the Nurses’ Health Study II, a trial tracking the health of more than 51,000 women. None of the participants had diabetes at the onset of the study in 1991. Over the following 8 years, 741 women were diagnosed with the disease. Researchers found that women who drank one or more sugary drinks a day gained more weight and were 83% more likely to develop type 2 diabetes than those who imbibed less than once a month.
4.Weakened Bones And Risk Of Osteoporosis
Frequent consumption of soft drinks may also increase the risk of osteoporosis,6 especially in people who drink soft drinks instead of calcium-rich milk7. High soda consumption (particularly cola15) in children poses a significant risk factor for impaired calcification of growing bones.

In the 1950s, children drank 3 cups of milk for every 1 cup of sugary drinks. Today that ratio is reversed: 3 cups of sugary drinks for every cup of milk. Tellingly, osteoporosis is a major health threat for 44 million Americans. Most experts now say that the real culprit is soda’s displacement of milk in the diet, though some scientists believe that the acidity of colas may be weakening bones by promoting the loss of calcium.

5. Dental Caries And Erosion
Soda eats up and dissolves the tooth enamel8. Researches9 say that soft drinks are responsible for doubling or tripling the incidence of tooth decay.
The acidity can dissolve the mineral content of the enamel, making the teeth weaker, more sensitive, and more susceptible to decay. Soda’s acidity makes it even worse for teeth than the solid sugar found in candy.

Dental experts continue to urge that people drink less soda pop, especially between meals, to prevent tooth decay and dental erosion.

6. Kidney Damage
Researches clearly demonstrated that large quantities of cola result in enhanced kidney stone formation1617. If you’re wondering exactly how soft drinks cause kidney stones, it’s because of their acidity and radical mineral imbalances. Your body must buffer the acidity of soft drinks with calcium from your own bones. As this calcium is eliminated through your urine, it slowly forms kidney stones.There is good evidence that cola beverages can increase the risk of kidney problems, more so than non-cola sodas.

In a study published in the journal Epidemiology14, the team compared the dietary habits of 465 people with chronic kidney disease and 467 healthy people. After controlling for various factors, the team found that drinking two or more colas a day (whether artificially sweetened or regular) was linked to a twofold risk of chronic kidney disease.

7. Increased Blood Pressure

Experts have reasons to believe that overconsumption of fructose, particularly in the form of soft drinks, leads to an increase in blood pressure22.

8. Likely To Cause Heartburn

Soft drink consumption is a strong predictor of heartburn2021.

9. Metabolic Syndrome Risk Factor
Soft drink consumption is a significant risk factor for developing of metabolic syndrome18, a combination of the symptoms such as high blood pressure, obesity, high cholesterol, and insulin resistance.

10. Harmful Effects On Liver
There is evidence that consumption of too many soft drinks puts you under increased risk for liver cirrhosis similar to what chronic alcoholics have19.

11. Impaired Digestive System
Soda, no matter who makes it, is the most acidic beverage you can buy, with a pH of about 2.51, about the same as vinegar, but the sugar content disguises the acidity. To put that into perspective, consider that battery acid has a pH of 1 and pure water has a pH level of 7.
The phosphoric acid present in soft drink competes with the hydrochloric acid of the stomach and affects its functions. When the stomach becomes ineffective, food remains undigested causing indigestion, gassiness or bloating (swelling of stomach).Why does that matter? Throughout the digestive system, that starts from the mouth and ends up at the anus only the stomach can resist an acidic environment up to pH 2.0. But before the acidity of soft drink reaches the stomach it passes through all the other organs involved in the digestive system thus causing an abnormal acidic environment. The linings of the mouth, pharynx and esophagus are highly sensitive to acids.

12. Dehydration
Another problem with sodas is that they act as dehydrating diuretics. Both caffeine and sugar cause dehydration.
Caffeine is a diuretic and causes an increase in urine volume. High concentration of sugar is drawing off water because your kidneys try to expel the excess sugar out of the blood. When you drink a caffeinated soda to quench your thirst, you will actually become thirstier.

13. High Caffeine Content
Another advantage of avoiding sodas is that you will avoid the unnecessary caffeine. Soda drinks are a major source of caffeine in the American diet.

High doses of caffeine can cause irritability, restlessness, tension, insomnia, high blood pressure, gastrointestinal disturbance, excessive urination, irregular heartbeat and other side effects.

14. Toxins – Aspartame
If you think diet soda is better think again. The poison in diet soda is an artificial sweetener aspartame. Aspartame is made up of three chemicals: aspartic acid, phenylalanine, and methanol. It is used because it’s about 200 times sweeter than table sugar.
Despite US FDA approval as a “safe” food additive, aspartame is one of the most dangerous substances added to foods. After you drink an aspartame-sweetened product, aspartame breaks down into its starting components: phenylalanine, aspartic acid, and methanol (that further converts to formaldehyde and formic acid, which are known carcinogens.). There are over 92 different health side effects associated with aspartame consumption1013.

15. Possible Cell Damage Ability
A new health scare erupted over soft drinks recently amid evidence that they may cause serious cell damage. Research from a British university suggests a common preservative E211, known as sodium benzoate, found in drinks such as Fanta and Pepsi Max has the ability to switch off vital parts of DNA.
Sodium benzoate occurs in small amounts naturally in berries, but is used in large quantities to prevent mould in soft drinks.

16. There Are So Many Healthy Alternatives!
Soda replaces healthier drinks. By drinking soda, you cut the intake of fresh juices, milk, and even water and deprive yourself from essential vitamins and minerals.
  • Water. Water is the best drink in the world.
  • Tea. Any kind of tea – herbal, green or black – is rich in antioxidants, which were shown to protects the body form many health problems.
  • 100% Juice. Fruit juice can be also useful for flavoring your water and teas.



2014 UPDATE: I have been off Diet Coke for 4 years now. I have never felt better. I sleep better, have more energy, and don’t crave sweets like I once did. 
2018 UPDATE: I have been off DC for nearly 8 years. I just can’t believe it. It was seriously one of the best decisions of my life to give it up and all artificial sweeteners.