Dangerous Diet Coke?

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At a conference I recently attended, I sat next to a woman who told me about the terrible side effects of drinking diet soda. I’d honestly never thought much about my love for Diet Coke and how it might be affecting my body. So, I decided to see if she was right (and not just some naturalist espousing the philosophy that I should only drink water and only eat tree bark with a side of seaweed).

Turns out, she might have a good point. Here are some of the results researchers have seen in studies on diet soft drinks.

  • Kidney trouble—processing the chemicals in diet drinks stresses the kidneys. A Harvard Medical School study found that women who drank two or more diet drinks per day doubled the risk of kidney decline. This concerned me because I’m prone to kidney stones already.
  • Metabolic Syndrome—according to a University of Minnesota study, consuming just one diet soda a day puts you at a 34% higher risk of metabolic syndrome (symptoms include belly fat, high cholesterol and higher risks of heart disease).
  • Headaches—most of the evidence on this one is anecdotal, but drinking diet soda has been known to trigger headaches and migraines in susceptible people (some of this may also be due to the caffeine in the soda, not the artificial sweetener).
  • Teeth—all soft drinks are acidic and diet soda is no exception. The citric acid in soda (pH of 3.2, compared to water with a neutral pH of about 7) will weaken and destroy tooth enamel. A case study in the journal General Dentistry compared the mouths of cocaine/methamphetamine users with habitual diet soda drinkers and found similar levels of tooth erosion in both.
  • Bones—the phosphate in diet drinks leaches the calcium out of your bones, putting you at higher risk of osteoporosis and fractures.
  • Type 2 Diabetes/Obesity—this is the big one (pun intended). Drinking diet soda can actually make you gain weight. Researchers have seen these effects but aren’t sure exactly why it happens. The leading theory is that the artificial sweetener in diet soda fools the body into thinking it is sugar, which triggers a flood of insulin to counteract the sugar in the blood stream. This then causes the body to go into fat storage mode, turning anything you eat into fat, plus it makes you more likely to overeat. One study from the University of Texas found that over 10 years, diet soda drinkers had a 70% greater increase in waist circumference when compared with non-diet drinkers.

Whew! That was a long list. Based on all of this, I have started a Diet Coke fast. It’s only been a week and it’s been harder than I thought it would be. Apparently, there’s something in there my body is craving (I don’t think it’s the caffeine because I usually drink caffeine-free diet). But I’m determined to stick with it for at least a month and see how my body feels after that.

How about you? If you’re a diet soda drinker, are you up for fasting with me?

As more research is done on the chemicals in our food and drink, it becomes more obvious to me that what God put down here for us to eat originally are the best things to put in our body—water, fruits, vegetables. I get it. I really do, but I just wish all the other stuff didn’t taste so good.

References: http://www.prevention.com/food/healthy-eating-tips/diet-soda-bad-you/obesity, http://www.foxnews.com/health/2013/10/29/10-reasons-to-give-up-diet-soda/

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Painful Landing

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I don’t get migraines, but I get another type of headache that’s less common. I thought it was just me, until I was talking to a friend while we were on a flight this past weekend. She said she hoped she didn’t get a splitting headache when we landed. My mouth dropped open and I said, “I was just thinking the same thing.”

She described the pain and it sounded just like mine—sharp, stabbing pain in the sinus area just above the eyebrows. On the two occasions this has happened to me, I’m doubled over, holding my forehead, praying for it to go away. And just after landing, it does. It disappears as quick as it came.

During an episode, it literally feels as if someone is repeatedly stabbing ice picks into the front of my skull. I tend to have a pretty high pain tolerance (I know everyone says this, but my first naturally delivered baby was 10 lbs 5 oz, so I know what pain is) and even so, the first time it happened, I thought there was something drastically wrong in my head, like a tumor maybe.

I figured it had something to do with pressure since it happens on landing, but I never looked into it. My friend told me it has an actual name. Aerosinusitis, also known as Barosinusitis, is pain or damage to the sinuses usually caused by a negative pressure gradient, such as when landing a plane. If you’re sinuses are blocked in any way, the air inside them contracts on landing and the pressure can’t be equalized, resulting in the negative pressure gradient and a squeezing of the sinuses.

Most people don’t have this issue and I don’t have it every time I fly. Isn’t it amazing how God made our bodies to compensate for the pressures of high altitudes? Still, I’m glad to know this has a name and is a real issue, although I suppose my career options are limited now. I’ll never be a flight attendant.

Has this ever happened to you? Does it happen every time you fly?

P.S. If this happens to you, it’s probably a bad idea to sky dive or go deep-sea diving without talking to a doctor because the same type of pressure is involved in those activities.

References: http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/862964-overview#a5, http://www.cnbc.com/id/47226552

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Skinny Scare

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Those super skinny jeans so many people wear may soon cause a health crisis of nerve-tingling proportions. A few days ago an Australian woman ended up in the hospital because of her jeans. This woman had been helping relatives move all day in skinny jeans. She had been squatting and working out her muscles and her jeans had felt tighter as the day went on. When she left to walk home that night, her feet wouldn’t move properly, causing her to fall.

She lay on the pavement for hours before receiving help. At the hospital, they discovered her legs were so swollen, they had to cut off her jeans. How on earth had her jeans caused such problems?

Doctors said the squatting was much to blame. As the woman cut off the blood supply to her calves, the muscles started to swell, but they couldn’t swell outward as they normally would because the jeans constricted them. Instead, they swelled inward putting pressure on her tibial nerves and breaking down the muscle fibers. This caused a type of partial paralysis from her knees down.

Her condition could have been serious because a lack of blood flow to the muscles can lead to permanent nerve damage or amputation. Fortunately, this woman didn’t suffer those consequences. After four days in the hospital, she regained feeling in her feet and was able to go home. But I’m guessing she won’t put on another pair of skinny jeans anytime soon.

From painfully high heels to scary skinny jeans, this world would have us believe we must torture ourselves to be beautiful. But that’s not God’s view of us. He says we are all beautiful to Him in our myriad of shapes and colors. We don’t have to suck in or plump up or lift and separate just so we can look like everyone else. Celebrate who you are—who God made you to be—not who your clothes are trying to make you into.

 

References: http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2015/06/22/416487968/painfully-skinny-jeans-land-a-woman-in-the-hospital, http://www.latimes.com/science/sciencenow/la-sci-sn-skinny-jeans-health-hazard-20150622-story.html

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