Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Diet Coke Myths

What is it about diet soda that seems so naughty? Maybe it’s because enjoying something without any calories leads people to feel like they’re going to have to pay one way or another-if not with their waistline now, then with ambiguous bad health later (a tumor? osteoporosis?). Maybe it’s because it takes an already unnatural beverage-there’s no such thing as a soda tree-and fills it with even more foreign substances. Either way, people often have a complex, love-hate relationship with diet soda, especially when you throw some caffeine into the mix. 1. Diet Coke's sweetener was developed as an ant poison and is therefore hazardous. Myth. Aspartame, the artificial sweetener in Diet Coke, was created by a chemist working on an ulcer drug. The compound doesn't kill ants or short-circuit their nervous systems, as legend has it. Even if those things were true, they wouldn't prove that aspartame is dangerous to humans, since many products that aren't toxic to us (like black pepper) do repel ants. 2. Diet Coke exacerbates arthritis. Myth. In fact, the aspartame in Diet Coke may actually ease arthritis! Studies of people with osteoarthritis or a mix of rheumatoid and osteoarthritis found that aspartame relieved their pain and helped their joints move more fluidly. (Note: The studies weren't done specifically with Diet Coke.) 3. Drinking Diet Coke while eating Mentos candies can create a mildly explosive reaction in your body. Fact! Luckily, you can't consume enough to cause a major internal eruption. Yet some very sticky people have had a wild and crazy time creating geysers that shoot over 10 feet high, including a mini version of the Bellagio fountains in Las Vegas that involved hundreds of candies and 200 liters of Diet Coke (we're not kidding). How does it work? Certain types of Mentos have a microscopically rough surface that, when combined with the carbon dioxide in Diet Coke (or any soda), seems to create an insane number of bubbles. Pressure builds FAST and -- boom! Epidemiological research often associates diet soda with weight gain-like 2005 study from the University of Texas Health Science Center, which showed that with each diet soda a person drank there was a 41 percent increase in the likelihood of becoming obese over the next seven to eight years. These larger epidemiological studies, however, measure correlation more than causation, meaning that the soda isn’t necessarily what’s leading to the weight gain. It could be the other way around: people may start drinking diet soda when they start gaining weight.

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