Confession: I have a handful of dirty little secrets when it comes to my health and fitness. One of them is that I harbor a serious Diet Coke addiction. I've been known to have a regular two cans on a weekday, partially for the caffeine jolt, and partially because I like the taste (I know, I know).
Recent studies have shown that even diet versions of popular sodas aren't good for you, and can lead to obesity. I've even heard them described as "chemical water with a little caffeine." I recently noticed that after drinking more than one Diet Coke during the day, I've started getting dull headaches. After one too many DC-induced headaches, I switched my second soda of the day to a caffeine-free Diet 7-Up hoping that would stop the problem, but it did just the opposite — the headaches got worse. To see what I think is causing them and what other problems my Diet Coke habit may be causing, read more.
I remembered reading about the artificial sweetener aspartame and potential side effects in the past; turns out the sweetener — better known as Nutra-Sweet — is found in most diet sodas, including Diet 7-Up. While the FDA's acceptable intake of aspartame is the amount found in about four cans of soda (yikes!), a sensitivity to the sweetener can cause other side effects: headaches, dizziness, mood changes, and even skin reactions. In addition, soda consumption has been linked to lower bone density, since it can block your bones' absorption of calcium. Plus, if you're drinking a soda, you're choosing not to drink something else — a glass of water, juice, or anything with actual health benefits.
While the satisfying sound of a fresh can of Diet Coke popping open will probably always cause a reaction, I'm better off switching to an afternoon iced coffee. Besides being a great caffeine fix, it's full of benefits, from antioxidants that lower disease risk to helping to ease post-workout muscle pain.
Source: Flickr User Svadilfari