Harmonious with hot summer days are words like diet soda, diet ice tea, or a cool sugar-free ice pop. Staying cool is the objective in the summertime, perhaps poolside or by the beach. But should we be cooling it with the word diet?
When you are drinking a beverage and it has the word “diet” on the label, are we really drinking the unknown? Let’s take a look at when a product says “sugar-free” or “diet.” That means they are not adding sugar. Instead, it is most likely they are adding an ingredient called “aspartame” a chemical known to cause an array of health issues. It is made up of three chemicals: aspartic acid, phenylalanine, and methanol. Aspartame is the technical name for the brands NutraSweet, Equal, and Equal-Measure.
Aspartame was approved for dried goods in 1981 and for carbonated beverages in 1983. According to researchers studying the adverse effects of aspartame, chronic illnesses were triggered or worsened by the ingesting of aspartame. So why do we drink it? Perhaps, a major selling point is to avoid weight gain. It is not unusual for people who are dieting to reach for a product that contains aspartame. Aspartame is “200 times sweeter” than ordinary sugar so the idea of fewer calories can be attractive. However, a closer look shows that aspartame may not help control weight gain. Interestingly, even the American Cancer Society confirmed in (1986) that “persons using artificial sweeteners gain more weight than those who avoid them.”
According to one article “aspartame may actually stimulate appetite and bring on a craving for carbohydrates.”
Let us explore the appetite. Perhaps mentally we think we are eating something diet, so therefore we are more at liberty to indulge in the fries. Can this way of thinking be causing us to gain? We may initially feel better about consuming fewer calories but fascinating enough, this causes people to consume more food. Normally when a significant amount of carbohydrates are consumed, serotonin levels rise in the brain, giving us a very relaxed feeling. Aspartame causes the brain to cease production of serotonin, meaning that the feeling of “having enough” never comes to be, leading us to overeat.
We now know that aspartame is a chemical. Remember, drinking is for staying hydrated and to nourish our every cell. Perhaps we can go back to old fashion water, filtered of course, or spiff up a seltzer with lemon or lime. Your waistline will be happier and I know you will be healthier for it.
Q. I like to make lemonade for the kids in the summer, what sweetener is best to use?
A. Try “Stevia”. It comes in packets, so you can take it with you on the run, and it also comes in liquid. It is extremely safe and also fine for diabetics.
Q. I like to have one soda a day, will one hurt me?
A. They say things catch up to you, why wait for the ill effects to happen? It is like having a little bit of poison each day.
Q. With so many new drinks on the market, how do I know what is ok to drink and to give my family?
A. Read labels and I don’t mean calorie counting. Get familiar with the words that are listed under “Ingredients.” You may be surprised at all the offensive things you will find. You can pick up a book at your local bookstore to explain the definition of certain words.
Let's all have a cool refreshing summer and a healthy and safe one at best