Diet Soda Deception…

Yesterday my friend and I took a drive up the north coast highway-1, between Santa Cruz and Pescadero. We have made this drive many times over the last decade. The scenery is always fresh and new, with seabirds, picturesque skyline and ocean life to the left while raptors, green pastures and vast forests of trees are to our right.

This drive never gets old.

My friend is a big soda drinker with numerous health challenges. He does not consider anyone but a Western MD to be an important guidance-authority figure, so I keep my health coaching ideas to myself. During our drive, my friend had just finished his first 20 ounce diet pepsi when we arrived at the Pescadero country store, our turn around point. I said:

“Time for a refill?”

“Yeah, that’s what’s great about these diet sodas, ” he paused. “No sugar. That’s what my doctor wants.”

I cringed slightly as my friend began to gulp down yet another 20 ounce beverage-this time a diet coke.

Sixteen years ago I taught a Fitness For Life course at a Utah community college about 20 minutes from the ski resorts of Park City. At the time, I was teaching yoga at a gym in the Heber Valley of Utah. One of my students was the lead administrator at the college. After class one day she asked me a question.

“Would you be interested in teaching a course here. The job starts right away.” She went on to tell me that the original instructor quit on day-2 after altercations with a couple of students.  The rest of the week was cancelled. It was now Thursday.

“I’d love to but I do not have a teaching credential.” I responded.

“Oh, don’t worry about that, I will take care of it.” She said, before adding. “You will need to create your own curriculum and begin on Monday.” This gave me 4-days to create an entire semester course.

Midway through the semester, I was giving a discourse on diet and nutrition. I used soda as one of the primary culprits in a wide range of health problems, focusing on three primary detrimental aspects: caffeine, acid content and high sugar or toxic sugar substitutes.

This lecture met with stern opposition from many in the class, for I was talking to a group of 18-20 year old, mostly Mormon students who consumed large quantities of soda as a replacement for coffee which was banned by their religion.

Both diet pepsi and diet coke contain the same basic ingredients: carbonated water, caramel color, aspartame, phosphoric acid, potassium benzoate (coke says to ‘protect taste’ while pepsi adds ‘to preserve freshness’)–the final ingredients include caffeine about 60 mg and citric acid, and natural flavor.

Carbonated water is actually another form of acid–this is good for eroding enamel from teeth or removing coffee stains.

Caramel color is, believe it or not, another acid product and is the most popular food additive of all.  This is essentially acidified, burnt sugar.  It also appears that the body is not able to properly metabolize this ingredient -much like hydrogenated oil but that is another topic. (I use the word ingredient here, for this is truly like a chemistry experiment!).

Aspartame (also called nutrasweet, Equal and Trisweet)–is known for its ability to mimic the sweetness of sugar, to the tone of 200 times sweeter than table sugar.

We need a book here for this ingredient.

Wait there have been plenty: Excitotoxin: The Taste That Kills, Aspartame (nutrasweet) is it safe?, Aspartame Disease, an ignored epidemic, Sweet Deception and my favorite: Are Your Diet Sodas Killing You–and many more!  This is far and away the most dangerous substance added to diet sodas, as well as:

  • Sugar-free ice cream.
  • Iced tea.
  • Jams and jellies.
  • Ice cream toppings.
  • Fruit spreads.
  • Sugar-free ketchup.
  • Sugar-free cookies.
  • Pudding and on it goes!

Aspartame makes you fat and sick, is toxic to the gut bacteria, cause diabetes, disrupts metabolic function, is a known neurotoxin and contributes to cancer formation.

Discovered by a French chemist in the 1960’s, this toxic poison contains aspartic acid, methyl ester and phenylalanine.  Phenylalanine is one of the culprits in ADD and ADHD.

Phosphoric acid gives the zest to the carbonated fizzy cocktail. This lowers bones density and leads to kidney disease.

Of the natural flavors poured into the diet soda, the people at Coke would not say –claiming it was proprietary information…

As we drive home, my friend guzzles down the last of his diet coke while mentioning low back pain, constipation, lack of leg strength, poor appetite , weight loss and occasional blood in the stool–all the telltale markers of colon cancer.

His doctor is finally doing a virtual colonoscopy test. I know the gauntlet that comes next if they find cancer: chemo, radiation and surgery.

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