Parlor Spider...Step In, Little Fly

Insightful thoughts and/or rants from atop the soapbox from one who wishes to share the "right" opinion with everyone.

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Diet Soda Dilemma

Health experts have decried consumption of soda pop for many years: empty calories, weight gains, hyperactivity...a myriad of health issues have been laid at the doorstep of the soft drink companies. They have responded to the crisis by disguising the product with terms like "real juice" or "fruit-flavored" or "zero calories" in an attempt to keep us going back again and again for those soft drink options we love. Even flavored waters and sports drinks contain things we really don't need (like the recently-reported flame retardant in a major sports drink!), yet we continue to guzzle them.
In my mind, the biggest ruse foisted upon us has been the diet soda invention. Supposedly devoid of serious caloric input, these beverages have been touted as an answer to our cravings without the "bad" stuff in regular soda. I read at one point that diet soda had been shown to make us hungry...thus negating the purpose of losing calories. I cannot offer proof of that anymore; however, a recent study reported on Tuesday in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research implies a far more sinister problem with drinking diet soda.
In a small study completed at Northern Kentucky University, researchers had college students (self-identified as social drinkers) ingest drinks of vodka and soda, with some getting regular soda and some getting their drinks mixed with diet soda. Students were given the equivalent of four mixed drinks over a 10-minute period, then were tested for reaction time and blood-alcohol content.
Without fail, the students who drank vodka mixed with diet soda showed an over-the-limit blood-alcohol content as well as slower reaction times when compared with the students whose mixed drinks combined regular soda with vodka. Strong proof (so to speak) of diet soda's effect when mixed with alcohol. Why the difference?
The body treats the sugar in regular soda like a food; thus, the digestion time is slower. The sweeteners used in diet soda confuse the body into thinking that what just went down the esophagus is a liquid, and it processes it much more quickly...hence a much more dramatic alcohol effect.
From the caloric standpoint (remember...this is why people choose diet soda to begin with), researchers found a mere 130-calorie difference between the drinks offered with and without the diet soda: a small difference when the results of the alcohol are factored in.
Another observation was that mixed drinks of this sort were mostly consumed by females; this, of course, adds another dynamic to the dating scene.
Now THIS is research that can be usefully applied.


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