It is mind boggling how a label like the word DIET, will make us feel better about ourselves and the food and drink choices that we make. It is safe to say that we all know soda is no good for us, but to what extent do we really know how bad it is?
I can’t help but think of the countless times that I had to make a choice of beverage and often fell a victim to soda. But like many I transitioned to Diet soda thinking it was the better option. It was exciting to have the sweet savory crisp taste of soda that was so irresistible minus all of the sugar and all of the calories, right?
But what is the catch of still getting this amazing crisp taste without the sugar? What was the trade off in the ingredients to make this possible? Let’s start in the 1960’s when the category was introduced by beverage companies. At the time diet sodas were sweetened by cyclamites and saccaharin. Both of these ingredients were later banned by the FDA between 1970 and 1991. Aspartame was introduced in 1982 and that’s when the diet soda market started to Boom!
Let’s look at what Aspartame is. Aspartame is defined as a very sweet substance used as an artificial sweetener, chiefly in low-calorie products. It is a derivative of aspartic acid and phenylalanine.
Aspartame may trick your body into thinking it has just processed sugar. In 20 minutes soda can trigger the production of insulin in your body, which sends your body into fat storage mode. In 40 minutes the combination of caffeine and aspartame creates a short, addictive high. Thus, making you crave more. Aspartame is an artificial sweetener added to medications, diet foods and diet sodas. So, what else is in the “perfect” can of diet soda? Well…
One of the biggest known soda brands on the planet is Coca Cola & here are its ingredients…
CARBONATED WATER, CARAMEL COLOR, ASPARTAME, PHOSPHORIC ACID, POTASSIUM BENZOATE (TO PROTECT TASTE), NATURAL FLAVORS, CITRIC ACID, CAFFEINE
PHENYLKETONURICS: CONTAINS PHENYLALANINE
Federal regulations require that any beverage or food that contains aspartame bear this warning: Phenylletonurics: contains Phenylalanine. As you can see above, this is listed in caps under your ingredients.
Caps? Sounds like someone is screaming this at me!
What is Phenylalanine you might ask?
Before I even conducted my research there are so many red flags here based on my knowledge with ingredients. Phenylketonurics??!!! I can’t even say that word, can you? Aspartame, potassium Benzoate (flavor enhancer). Oh, and there goes that word again NATURAL FLAVORS!!! There can be over 100 chemicals under that one word alone that companies are Not REQUIRED to list!!
Let’s break it down further…
According to the Merriam Webster’s Dictionary version 4.6 computer software the following words are defined as…
PHENYLKETONURICS– Phenylketonuria the root word is defined as: An inherited metabolic disorder caused by an enzyme deficiency resulting in accumulation of Phenylalanine and its metabolites in the blood causing usually severe mental retardation and seizures unless Phenylalanine is restricted from the diet beginning at birth.
PHENYLALANINE: An essential amino acid that is converted in the normal body as tyrosine. (Oh another word to look up).
CARBONATED WATER: A salt of Carbonic Acid
CARAMEL COLOR: Used as a coloring or flavoring agent
ASPARTAME: A crystalline compound that is a diamide synthesized from PHENYLALANINE!!!
CAFFEINE: A bitter alkaloid.
ALKALOID: Any of numerous colorless, complex, and bitter organic bases such as morphine and caffeine.
Here is a brief description of the next five ingredients found in Coca Cola
PHOSPHORIC ACID: Helps in acidifying soda to get in tangy flavor. This acid makes coca cola beverages more acidic than lemon and vinegar!! The heavy amounts of sugar however disguise the acidity of the drink. Studies show can lead to lower bone density linking it to the disease osteoporosis.
POTASSIUM BENZOATE: Is a chemical preservative. It can form benzene, which is a carcinogen when combined with vitamin C. Research shows links between diet sodas weight gain, cancer and diabetes.
NATURAL FLAVORS: Natural flavors are complex mixtures created by specially trained food chemists known as flavorists. The FDA has not defined the word natural meaning it can be any type of chemical/food.
CITRIC ACID: Naturally found in citrus fruits however the food industry uses it to preserve and enhance flavors. Also used as a disinfectant and a cleaner. yuck!
As you read so many of these definitions are so confusing which should only hinder you to look the other way.
Coca Cola like many other known brands reduce or remove the amount of sugar in their drinks/foods and slap labels on the front of their packaging like No sugar and No calories. Which leads us to believe, OK! I can do this now that its sugarless and calorie free! In my head I automatically correlate calories and sugar to being fat, so this is good thing! Right?
For those of us who do turn the can of coke around, we look at how much sugar it contains and if it in fact says 0 mg of sugar than that confirms that the nutrition label on the back matches the marketing label in the front.
You should see in the image below how bold and clear these 0’s are printed to market to you they’re so called health benefits…
|1 Serving Per Container|
|Serving Size||1 Can|
|Amount Per Serving|
|% Daily Value|
|Total Fat 0g||0%|
|Total Carbohydrates 0g||0%|
|Total Sugars 0g|
As you’ve read there was harm from the very beginning where quickly they switched ingredients to only add another modified chemical compound. Today with modern advancements we often race ahead of ourselves to the production line to fast track products without thoroughly putting the necessary research in place. When it comes to the precious gift of life, does 2-3 years of testing products equal a lifetime of consuming these products. Where far to often the impact of these products to human health are responsive than preventative.
Today soda companies are already exploring new marketing that says aspartame free on their diet products. They are introducing even more chemical compounds like these super sweeteners that have no calories listed to them such as Ace K also known as Acesulfame potassium and sucralose.
The reality is that these artificial sweeteners and sugar substitutes are not going to go away. Chemists will always find a way to replace the ingredient that we have uncovered to be harmful. You can always bet there will be controversy on either side of the topic. Both positive and negative. I challenge you as the consumer to take your power and choose wisely your next choice of drink.
Now when you see a diet soda, will you still pick it up?
Miss Rehab Ramdass
Disclaimer: Miss Rehab Ramdass website, blog, social media and videos should not be construed as medical advice. Content from this site and blog are not intended to be used as a medical diagnosis or treatment. The information provided is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice.