A fave among many Americans, both youngsters and those who remember Pamela Anderson running on the beach in a red bathing suit, diet coke is something that does not cease to spark heated debates. Its advocates say it is so delicious that they simply cannot wean themselves off it; others say it is detrimental to health. Here is what happens to the body once you’ve ingested it.
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Coke binge drinking is quite common. Originally driven by its apparent “healthiness” (there are no calories, because the sugar is substituted with artificial sweeteners), consumers’ wish to buy it turned into a habit to indulge in a can or two every day. Despite being sugar-free, it can still contribute to weight gain and be a significant risk factor for diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.
Ok, the Coke is in. The first place the drink gets in is the mouth. It is here that its first effects are produced. The artificial sweeteners designed to mimic sugar, such as aspartame, trick the body into believing glucose is on the way. This triggers insulin production by the pancreas, as it prepares to process sugar. The mouth is not only for mechanical grinding of food: it is a fully functional part of the gastrointestinal tract, and the saliva is an important participant of the digestion process.
Another effect is damaging the teeth. The acids used in soda drinks cause enamel erosion, and calcium is leeched out of the teeth. The colors used in the drink can also affect the teeth.
This stage lasts about 10 minutes.
This is where the vicious cycle of drinking more and more coke originates. At this stage, your blood is teeming with insulin that is waiting for new glucose – which is nowhere to be found, because there is none of it in diet coke. Since insulin cannot wait for some time and go home, it has to use all the glucose supplies available in the bloodstream, causing hypoglycemia. Your body senses that the ratio is out of balance, and cravings follow. There are two possible variants: you either eat something with loads of sugar, or drink another diet coke again and again. All this increases your risk of type 2 diabetes, obesity, and cardiovascular diseases.
This stage starts after 20 minutes of exposure to diet coke.
The caffeine in coke makes you less tired and more alert. The combination of caffeine and aspartame is addictive, as it affects the brain’s reward system. Besides, aspartame is toxic to the brain, and it reportedly can be involved in development of neurological diseases. Overstimulation of neuroreceptors also takes its toll.
This stage starts after 40 minutes after consumption of diet coke.
This stage starts after 60 minutes.
Despite being a drink, coke, as well as other sodas, does not quench your thirst; rather, it depletes your water and nutrient supplies. This soda-induced dehydration makes you want to drink more, and if it is another can of soda, the situation is aggravated.
The takeaway is that diet coke is not beneficial, and no promotional campaign can change it. There are no nutrients, and the abundance of controversial artificial sweeteners and other additives do not make it any healthier either. By the same token, regular coke is to be avoided too, because there is nothing it can offer your body: rather than replenishing fluid supplies and providing nutrients, it leaves you craving for more.
It’s not just a coke problem: all sodas are virtually the same, with the major difference being their colors and flavors. Even those that are enriched with vitamins are not that beneficial after all, now that a series of researches revolving around the uselessness of vitamin supplements has been published.
If you want to stay hydrated, opt for water: it is the best source of fluids. Let it be pure drinking water – trendy raw water and other allegedly safe yet potentially dangerous drinks are not part of healthy diets. If you cannot do without something tasty to drink, consider lemonade, but not the commercial one: home-made lemonade with only lemon juice, water and sugar could be the best option.