Living the WELL Life

Diet Coke and Women’s Heart Health, a Deadly Combination

Monday, March 22, 2010

Coca Cola should be tried for crimes against humanity. It’s that simple, really. Their latest scam plays on the vulnerability of women knowing that heart disease is the leading cause of death in both men and women. It capitalizes on women’s obsession with staying slim. And it contributes to the ever-degenerating health of women. All in one shiny can of Diet Coke with a big red heart on it. With love, from another corporate giant out to steal your health.

The ‘Stay Extraordinary’ campaign by Diet Coke is one of the most subversive, misleading and damaging to health ever launched. Their website dares women to stay extraordinary with a happy, healthy heart and making the most of every moment. Partnering with ‘The Heart Truth’ campaign sponsored by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (part of the National Institute of Health and the US Department of Health and Human Services), the goal is to create better heart health for women, warning them of the risks of heart disease and equipping them to take action against the risks.

It’s as though our very government, the body of people charged by voters to keep us safe from harm have become accessories to the genocide of women in this country.

Dramatic? Maybe, but consider this. On the website homepage are 28 little red hearts…each containing a tip on heart health. A lot of them focus on fitness (a lot…) and they are quite sound, if well-known and tired, almost clichéd…balanced by the most livable cities, the most ‘walkable’ neighborhoods…even healthy party food. But only one tip is glaringly absent. DON’T DRINK DIET COKE!

What’s actually in Diet Coke that could make it so bad for your heart? Pretty much all its ingredients except the water, to be quite frank. With sodium saccharin, caramel color, phosphoric acid, natural flavors, caffeine (I know; I know; there’s a caffeine-free version now…), aspartame, potassium benzoate, dimethylpolysiloxane (whatever that is…) and potassium citrate on the label what are you really drinking? A brew of chemicals that can rob you of your health, heart or otherwise.

The caffeine in Diet Coke has an addictive effect on the brain. And that’s not the worst of it. Caffeine notoriously dehydrates you, so you drink lots of cans of soda without ever quenching that thirst…which can lead to gradual weight gain as a result of confusion of hunger and thirst sensations; you eat when you are really just thirsty. Great for Coke’s profits, but not your heart.

And artificial sweeteners, like aspartame and Splenda cause the brain to react to sweet taste (called the cephalic phase response), preparing the liver for a new supply of sugar to use as fuel to run the body. But since there’s no actual sugar in Diet Coke, the liver signals the brain to eat. Between the caffeine and the sweetener, you actually stand to gain weight. Heart healthy, right?

It only gets better with aspartame. Most of the side effects from this insidious sweetener go unreported because they aren’t openly associated with drinking diet soda, but if you drink it regularly you may experience chronic dizziness, memory loss, headaches, mood swings, irritability, anxiety, diarrhea, nausea, abdominal pain, insomnia, menstrual irregularities, numbness, cramps and even fibromyalgia. Is it coincidence that all these symptoms associated with ‘being a woman’ can be linked to the Diet Coke (and other diet sodas) marketed to women?

Dr. HJ Roberts, author of ‘Aspartame Disease: An Ignored Epidemic’ has documented these symptoms in women as well as showing that health improves dramatically in people who stop consuming it.

Oh, and the phosphoric acid in Diet Coke throws off calcium balance putting the body at greater risk of osteoporosis.

But I guess all these ills pale when compared to the benefits of Diet Coke to your heart…which are conspicuously absent from the ‘Stay Extraordinary’ website. There’s lots of information about fitness and hydration and how to entertain. There are cooking tips and even recipes from the Culinary Institute of America and Chef Tom Colicchio (the picture of achieving your ideal weight through food choices? Jeez; he looks like he swallowed a small child whole!). The recipes are the same old, same old…low-fat this, low-sodium that, along with chicken, ribs, white flour and sugar. Not what I would consider necessarily heart healthy, but that’s me.

The website tells you how to plan a party, set the table and even has a section on eating your veggies, fruit and whole grains…and how those heart healthy choices make for a balanced life. Points in their favor, to be sure.

When you click on ‘About Diet Coke’ a window pops up with the six refreshing flavor options you have. Wow! From the original jewel of diet sodas to caffeine-free, to Diet Coke Plus (providing 15% of your needed niacin, vitamins B-6 and 12 and 10% of your needed zinc and magnesium), to lime and cherry flavors and finally, Diet Coke sweetened with Splenda. Click away on each can and get a sales pitch as to why each one is so great. But nowhere on the site can you get an ingredient list…or nutritionals. And nowhere on the site can you find specifics as to why Diet Coke is beneficial to your heart health.

You would think that if Coke is teaming up with the NIH and the Department of Health and Human Services for support, they would be touting the benefits of their soda to women’s hearts. Instead, they talk around it, playing the shell game of bait and switch with the facts, blinding women to the truth that drinking soda…diet or otherwise…is anything but beneficial to the body in any way.

Slapping a red dress and a big red heart on cans of diet poison are just another attempt to veil the truth and seduce women into buying more soda, with more flavors, more options, more money to spend.

If you think for one moment that Coca-Cola cares for one second about your heart health, then I have some oceanfront property in Arizona I would like to sell you.


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