Shocker: Diet Coke isn’t great for you. Sure, most people have known that for decades, and even the most ardent lovers of the stuff get that it’s not some miracle drug (certainly not TrimSpa, Baby!). But now science has reared its ugly head and offered up further proof that all of the things we love will be taken from us. Turns out, Diet Coke’s much worse for you than previously thought.
According to a new study, the problem with Diet Coke (and all diet sodas) is found in the sugar-substitute, Aspartame. Of course, we’ve been hearing about how terrible aspartame is for years and ignoring it because the big drink manufacturers kept soothing us, gently whispering promises that it would help us feel great and lose weight.
Even President-Elect Donald Trump knew not to mess with aspartame back in 2012:
And he didn’t care that people were going crazy over his tweet because he was trying to sell the American public some cold hard truth:
So what’s so bad about Aspartame? The study, which was recently published in Applied Physiology, Nutrition and Metabolism (via Science Daily) says this:
“Sugar substitutes like aspartame are designed to promote weight loss and decrease the incidence of metabolic syndrome, but a number of clinical and epidemiologic studies have suggested that these products don’t work very well and may actually make things worse,” says Richard Hodin, MD, of the MGH Department of Surgery, the study’s senior author. “We found that aspartame blocks a gut enzyme called intestinal alkaline phosphatase (IAP) that we previously showed can prevent obesity, diabetes and metabolic syndrome; so we think that aspartame might not work because, even as it is substituting for sugar, it blocks the beneficial aspects of IAP.”
In order to test this — and because it’s illegal to just pay people to drink diet coke until they die, although many of us would sign up for the job — the researchers used mice to test the effects that aspartame plays on one’s diet. Specifically, they followed four groups of mice (one group was fed a normal diet without aspartame, one was given a normal diet with aspartame, the third ate a high fat diet without aspartame, and the fourth had both the high fat food content and the aspartame) to see what would happen after.
When the study concluded 18 weeks later, the researchers found that aspartame was just bad for everyone all around:
While there was little difference between the weights of the two groups fed a normal diet, mice on a high-fat diet that received aspartame gained more weight than did those on the same diet that received plain water. Aspartame-receiving mice in both diet groups had higher blood sugar levels than did those fed the same diets without aspartame, which indicates glucose intolerance, and both aspartame-receiving groups had higher levels of the inflammatory protein TNF-alpha in their blood, which suggests the kind of systemic inflammation associated with metabolic syndrome.
What does that mean for you this Thanksgiving? It means that you should avoid the diet sodas at the supermarket (even if they’re you’re only way to feel sane when you’re dealing with your family) (even if they’re on deep, deep discount) and make a serious and concerted effort to switch to a drink that isn’t full of sugar or sugar-substitutes — like plain water, no matter how bad that may taste.
But hey, no one’s going to be mad at you if you slip up. After all, even Trump — whose beliefs that diet cola can actually make you hungrier are founded by science (for once, thank god) — can’t keep away from the delicious taste of that sparkling brown chemical water: