It's right around that 3 p.m. mark when many of us feel like we're living in a commercial for 5-Hour Energy. We gravitate to something caffeinated, and for many of us, the go-to is a diet soda. Diet because we figure it's calorie-free, so it must be better than the real stuff -- which isn't even "real," because it's laden with lab-made high fructose corn syrup. But it's a trap. A toxic FAT trap!
New research has found that not only did people who drank two or more diet sodas a day see their waist measurement expand five times more than people who didn't touch the stuff, but the fake sweetener aspartame caused higher blood sugar, triggered appetite, and also inhibited brain cells that help you know when you're full.
The fact that these beverages are making us fatter, messing with our blood sugar, and handicapping our brains should be a big red flag that diet soda (and hell, soda in general) belongs in the same dangerous category as cigarettes.
If you happened to be around in the '50s and '60s or ever watch Mad Men, you know that smoking was considered the glam norm until Reader's Digest published the first study linking cigarettes to cancer in 1952. And in 1964, the U.S. government suggested a causal relationship between cigarettes and cancer. Sure, people continued to smoke for years and still do, but it was all downhill from there. It would never be seen as a "smart" or "cool" thing to do again.
And now it's become painfully clear that diet soda consumption should fall under the same umbrella. It's not going to make us pop stars a la Michael Jackson or Britney Spears or whoever has promoted it in multimillion-dollar ad campaigns over the past however many decades. (Like we'd want to follow in their footsteps anyway, yeesh!) Instead, persisting in sucking soda down so frequently that the caramel fluid practically runs through our veins (which, I'm sorry to say, is the case for many of my media colleagues) will most likely lead to weight gain (putting us at risk for heart disease, diabetes, etc.) and potentially lead to heart attacks and strokes, kidney stones, depression, and cancer.
The good news: People quit smoking all the time! Quitting or significantly cutting back on diet soda's GOTTA be a bit easier! (Personally, I quit the stuff a couple of years ago, because I figured the last thing I need is something toxic making it hard for me to stay at a healthy weight!) And hey, if it's about the caffeine, there's always Zevia, unsweetened coffee, or tea. If it's not about the caffeine, there's always -- gasp! -- WATER.
Do you think the risks associated with diet soda put it on par with cigarettes?
Image via Yeah I'm Kenny/Flickr