Arguably once the most chic of carbonated drinks, Diet Coke has had everyone from Karl Lagerfeld to Jean Paul Gautier redesign its packaging as Creative Directors and even sent custom bottles by Donatella Versace and Missoni down runways. Diet Coke’s involvement with fashion is more than just a $$ sponsorship—it was known as a staple accessory. The once supermodel diet of Marlboro Lights and Diet Coke (read: DON’T DO THAT, IT’S NOT HEALTHY) was right there in our faces at every meeting, every paparazzi shot, the editorial spreads of magazines and backstage at almost every fashion show. What can I say, I went through a Diet Coke phase too: it’s sweet, it satisfies cravings and boasts a 0 calorie appeal that will send any sugar-hungry female running to the nearest bodega for a (fictional) guilt-free fix.
But there are a few things you need to know before you pick up your next can of diet coke, and it’s not pretty. These are the reasons why the fashion industry is already starting to shift away from its long-standing Diet Coke obsession and swapping it out for green juices and cleanses. It’s the reason why Diet Coke is not “the fashion drink” anymore – it’s “the rehab drink.” Despite its supposed appeal, this soda is actually doing your body more harm than good—and here are the reasons why you need to stop drinking it ASAP:
It Actually Makes Your Body Store Fat.
The fake sweeteners in diet soda (whichever ones they may be) still trigger the production of the hormone insulin, which automatically puts your body into fat-storage mode. Those fake sugars in the drink are 200x (aspartame) even 600x (splenda) times sweeter than actual sugar and trick your brain into thinking real sugar (ahem, a sugar craving is your body’s natural call for calories) is on its way. So when the calories don’t arrive, this triggers a tumbling effect that interferes with your hunger signals, metabolism, blood sugar levels and all of your internal hardwiring that says, “OK, I feel full.” Researchers from the University of Texas found that over the course of about a decade, diet soda drinkers had a 70% greater increase in waist circumference compared with non-drinkers. And get this: participants who slurped down two or more sodas a day experienced a 500% greater increase!
Heart and Kidney Failure.
When the pancreas is overworked from creating insulin to control blood-sugar levels, diabetes rears its ugly head. And a recent study in Japan found that middle-aged people who drank 1 or more diet sodas daily were much more likely to develop type 2 diabetes in as little as a 7 years. Another study from the University of Miami found that people who drank diet soda every day were 44% more likely to suffer a heart attack than those who didn’t drink any soda.
It is Directly Correlated to Shitty, Old-Looking Skin.
Diet soda is so acidic (you can thank all of those advanced glycation end ingredients, a.k.a. AGEs) that it causes your body to produce all kinds of inflammatory products which literally eat away at your good skin tissue (ever see that YouTube video of Coke eating away the rust from an old metal car bumper?). All acidic drinks lower your body’s natural pH levels, which obvi cause acne and make your skin look dull and tired, but a recent study from the National Institutes of Health showed that that AGEs react with the proteins, lipids and nucleic acids in all skin cells and 100% accelerate skin aging. Not to mention that if you have a skin condition you are totally exaggerating it—think eczema, or dry, itchy inflamed skin, and acne, all in hyper drive.
Actually Can Cause Osteoporosis (especially dangerous for women)
Diet Coke interferes with your calcium levels because it is high in phosphate. Drinking too much adds large amounts of phosphate into the blood stream, which then draws calcium from your bones. Drinking Diet Coke daily may increase your chance of fracture from a fall by as much as 4x, according an article in the American College of Sports Medicine newsletter! And, according to a study published in the FASEB Journal, the excessive phosphate levels can even accelerate the ageing process– causing lab rats to die a full five weeks earlier than the rats whose diets had more normal phosphate levels.
Hello Headaches, Migraines, Anxiety, etc.
The chemicals that make up aspartame alter your brain chemicals in a very unnatural way- nerve signals heart palpitations, interfering with the brain’s reward system- which all lead to insane side effects. In truth, there are many different types of artificial sweeteners on the market and almost all of them have potential side effects, which include and are not limited to headaches, dizziness, palpitations, upset stomach and diarrhea, forgetfulness, fatigue, and some even more serious symptoms. Don’t forget this nasty cocktail mixed with caffeine is surely causing your insomnia and anxiety (even depression is a symptom!) as well.
According to a study published in the journal General Dentistry, research compared the mouths of a cocaine-user, a methamphetamine-user, and a habitual diet-soda drinker, and found the same level of tooth erosion in each of them. So basically, your teeth will look no better than that of a meth head– just from drinking diet soda. Gross.
It Will Turn You into a Sloppy Drunk.
A study of men and women ages 21 to 33 who drank vodka mixed with diet soda had blood alcohol levels that were 18% higher after 40 minutes compared to those who drank the same amount of vodka mixed with regular soda. After three or four drinks mixed with diet soda, they had breath alcohol levels that exceed the legal limit for driving, while those who drank regular soda in their cocktails did not. Researchers note that your stomach empties out faster as a result of the fake sugar in diet soda and since our bloodstream is able to absorb the artificial sweetener (mixed with the booze) quicker than sugar, it causes a drastic increase in blood alcohol concentrations in a shorter span of time. Another study also correlated the carbonation as another factor to speeding up alcohol absorption (but you find that in regular and diet sodas).
The ability to digest and extract energy from our food is determined not only by our genes but also by the activity of the trillions of microbes that dwell within our digestive tract (see our article about gut health/probiotics here for more on why healthy gut bacteria is so important for optimal health); collectively, these bacteria are known as the gut microbiome. The fructose, artificial sweeteners, and sugar alcohols (another type of low-calorie sweetener) present in diet soda all interfere with natural gut bacteria. Experiments show that artificial sweeteners can alter the mix of bacteria in the guts people in such a way that can lead some to become glucose intolerant within days (!) and develop pre-diabetes. Stanford University microbiologist David Relman says this finding suggests that the bacteria in the human gut may not only influence our ability to extract calories and store energy from our diet but also have an impact on the balance of hormones, such as leptin (a hormone that plays a crucial role in appetite and weight control).
OK so in short, Diet Soda will make you ugly, old and wrinkly, feel like crap and rot you from your insides. Is it really that hard to give up? My advice is to drink coffee if you need the caffeine, or (my favorite) make a fresh brewed ice tea. You can even sweeten it with some honey if you absolutely need the sugar, plus you have a variety of herbal or black teas to choose from, flavor-wise. Need the bubbles? How about sparkling water with fruit (or even fruit juice) inside. Give it a try, you need to reprogram your taste buds anyway. Believe me, your body will thank you in as little as a week of going soda-free!