I’ve just started on the case study section of my nutrition course, which is really interesting because I’m actually starting to apply what I’ve learned over the past 5 months. As an introduction, I was given a real case study to use as an example, and an interesting fact about diet pop came out of it that I think is worth sharing.
I used to be a huge fan of Coke Zero and Diet Coke. I would have one every day after lunch as my calorie-free dessert. I knew aspartame had a bad reputation, but I figured diet pop was a better choice than the regular full-sugar version. And I had heard that aspartame isn’t really a health concern unless you consume it in really large amounts (the equivalent of a case of pop per day), which helped me justify my daily habit.
Since starting my nutrition course and learning a bit more about aspartame and other artificial sweeteners I now try to avoid them all together. They are in fact chemicals, and aspartame in particular is a nervous system irritant that affects your mood & energy levels, can cause migraines and can actually cause you to crave regular sugar. I now know that there are better sugar options out there like: honey, organic cane sugar, evaporated cane juice, coconut sugar, agave and real maple syrup. These sugar options actually contain valuable phytonutrients (nutrients from plants), vitamins & minerals. But, this isn’t the interesting fact I’m talking about.
The sample case study involved a 60-year old woman, and one of her areas of concern was that she experienced quite a few serious bone breaks over the last few years. Naturally, the recommendation would be for her to get a bone density test to look for signs of osteoporosis. However, she already had a test, and it came back normal. Hmmm. As the assessment went on it was discovered that she drank 4 diet pops per day. Bingo. One of the main ingredients in diet pop is phosphoric acid, which has been linked to lower bone density. Too much phosphorus depletes the levels of calcium in our blood, and as a result, calcium is pulled from our bones. When bones don’t have enough calcium they become weak & brittle and break easily. Yikes.
Overall, the odd diet pop here and there isn’t going to kill you – everything in moderation right? However, if you want to live a healthy lifestyle it’s important to be educated about popular products that you may think are good for you, and try to make better choices. If you’re looking for some healthy alternatives to pop; try a fresh squeeze of lemon or lime in your water. You can also make your own infused water – cut up a whole cucumber or some watermelon, and put it in your water jug for refreshing, natural flavoured water.
Do you have some other healthy alternatives to pop or ways to spice up regular old water?