Thursday, July 19, 2012

Kick the (soda) can to the curb!

Soda is everywhere. It's at every work meeting, in every cafeteria, in the vending machine before class, it's the most bang-for-your-buck option at the movie theater (where the buck doesn't go very far to begin with). And when you need caffeine, I feel like diet coke is the most frequently turned-to option.

I think most people know that regular soda is a diet-killer. I'm not on a "diet" so much as I just try to eat healthy as a general rule, but that means that regular soda has no place in my day. But diet soda has 0 calories so it has to be fine, right?

Actually, no. Diet soda is absolutely terrible for you. Here are some reasons why...

Diet soda confuses your body, which can lead to more weight gain.
It doesn't make much sense at first, so you have to understand what happens when your body gets fake sugar like aspartame. It thinks it's received the molecular parts of sugar, but it hasn't -- this leads your body to crave that sugar and feel hungrier. By drinking soda, you make yourself more likely to crave food, and especially the sugary things that you probably don't want to be craving if you're drinking diet soda!

Bloat, anyone?
Not everyone is affected by fake sugar in the same way, but the combination of fake sugar and carbonation in sugar can wreak havoc on your formerly svelte waistline. Fake sugar--the kind that's in sugar-free gum and soda--can have very negative effects on your digestion and can lead to major bloating. That combined with the carbonation (the bubbles) in soda can cause major bloating. What's the point of not eating the sugar if you can't show off the waistline?

Aspartame might not even be safe for human consumption.
Sure, this one is a bit alarmist, but plenty of studies have found problems with aspartame that suggest it's not something people should be consuming on a regular basis. For example, "of the 166 studies felt to have relevance for questions of human safety, 74 had Nutrasweet industry (those who make aspartame) related funding and 92 were independently funded. One hundred percent of the research performed by the company who makes aspartame confirmed aspartame's safety, whereas 92% of the independently funded research found problems with consuming aspartame" (source).

There is such a thing as too much caffeine...
I'm sure most of us have powered through days and weeks (and months and years...) where we weren't getting enough sleep using caffeine. But there is such a thing as too much caffeine, and you're way more likely to "overdose" on it when you're drinking it in a sweet diet soda can instead of in a coffee cup. Plus, caffeine is a diuretic, meaning it does not hydrate you like liquids such as water do, and instead dehydrates you. And guess what's terrible for your skin? Being dehydrated.

What to drink instead?
Once you kick the diet soda habit, you'll probably wonder why you were ever addicted in the first place because there are so many great alternatives. I'm a huge iced tea drinker now, especially in the summer!

  • Sugar-free iced tea
  • Flavored water (throw some lemons and chopped up strawberries into a pitcher of ice water)
  • Green tea
  • Seltzer water
  • Vegetable juice (very low in calories if you aren't throwing in tons of fruit)

What's one of your favorite soda replacements? Have you kicked the habit or are you holding on to that soda bottle?

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