I’m currently entangled in a passionate relationship with soda. Almost no other drink comes even close to satisfying me. I am definitely addicted. Seeing how much Coke I was drinking, a friend told me to switch to a “diet” soda. I put diet in quotations because the term is used far too loosely. After tasting it, I realized it was still just as sweet as my typical beverage, perhaps too sweet. How was this possible with no sugar? Well, the answer is Aspartame, an artificial sweetener. After reading up on Aspartame and other ingredients in diet soda, the very thought of taking a sip horrifies me.
Aspartame is the ingredient found in Equal, NutraSweet, and other sugar replacements. While the idea of something replacing sugar in our diet may be enticing, the components that make up Aspartame are not worth the substitute. One part of Aspartame, Methanol, changes into Formaldehyde when digested. Formaldehyde, for those that don’t know, is embalming fluid for dead bodies. It is a well known carcinogen, and is toxic at very low levels. Another ingredient, Aspartic Acid, has been found by Dr. Russell Blaylock of the University of Mississippi to cause damage to neurons in the brain, which can ultimately lead to Alzheimer’s disease. I would prefer sugar to Aspartame any day.
But is sugar the addicting part of soda? I don’t think so. From my personal experience, it’s the caffeine and carbonation. Caffeine is just so infused in the daily life of our culture for its ability to wake us up and to become alert. Since the substance is unregulated, it is highly sought after by almost everyone. Then add carbonation into the mix. For me, carbonation makes up the psychological part of the addiction. The bubbles make he think of something new and fresh, it makes the soda feel like the ultimate refreshment. This combination is why I keep coming back for more and more. I find it funny that I was able to kick heroin and other opiates but I still can’t put down my Mountain Dew.
So how does one kick the soda habit? The most common solution is finding a replacement beverage. Sparkling water with some lemon or another fruit added is a good example. It is a far healthier alternative, and the reassurance of carbonation makes the switch a little easier than with other drinks. The good news is that sneaking a quick sip of soda won’t kill you, so it is possible to ease the switch by simply drinking a little less soda each day, and a little more sparkling water. On that note, if you absolutely need some soda during the day, get a bottle instead of a can. Once the can is popped open, the urge to finish the whole drink is too great to avoid wasting it. Sips from a bottle help tone down that urge.
Now I’m still debating if I want to make this change or not. Maybe I’ll start with one less Coke a day.
By -Hayden Carr