My friends know I’m a hater of diet soda [bad aspartame! bad aspartame!] I say, do natural (real sugar) or do nothing! Every day, I consume about 200 ounces or more of water. I have been told I was going to drown myself (hyponatremia)… but, I feel parched with less! Sometimes I’ll add wedges of lime and orange…another time I had a piece of vanilla bean left over from a custard, so I threw that in my bottle with some sliced strawberries and lime ~ YUM! And I’ve been doing this long before I ever heard of “SPA WATER”! I would like to share the following educational information, then some yummy recipes for infused waters for your drinking pleasure! My goal is to convert 10 diet-soda drinking friends to the good stuff! Live long friends!
“The beginning of the diet soda or refreshment era was in 1952, when Kirsch Bottling in Brooklyn, New York launched a sugar-free ginger ale called No-Cal. It was designed for diabetics, not dieters, and distribution remained local. Royal Crown Cola placed an announcement in an Atlanta newspaper in 1958 announcing a diet soda product, Diet Rite. In 1962, Dr Pepper released a diet(etic) version of its soda, although it sold slowly due to the misconception that it was meant solely for diabetic consumption. In 1963, the Coca-Cola Company joined the diet soda market with Tab, which proved to be a huge success. Tab was originally sweetened with cyclamates and saccharin.
Tab, Diet Rite, and Fresca (a grapefruit-flavored soda introduced by Coca-Cola) were the only brand-name diet refreshments on the market until Pepsi released Diet Pepsi in the 1960s (initially as Patio Diet Cola). Diet 7 Up was released in 1963 under the name Like. It was discontinued in 1969 due to the US government ban of cyclamate sweetener. After reformulation, it was reintroduced as Diet 7 Up in 1970. It was renamed Sugar Free 7 Up in 1973 then back to Diet 7 Up in 1979. Coca-Cola countered by releasing Diet Coke in 1982. After the release of Diet Coke, Tab took a backseat on the Coca-Cola production lines; Diet Coke could be more easily identified by consumers as associated with Coca-Cola than Tab. Additionally, a study was released claiming that saccharin was a possible carcinogen, leading to Coca-Cola’s decision to decrease production of Tab. Prompted by the rising popularity of soft drinks, in the mid-1980s some of those in the alcohol industry began to follow their lead with some beer companies putting sugar-free beer on the market.
By the early 1990s, a wide array of companies had their own diet refreshments on supermarket shelves. Tab made a comeback during the late 1990s, after new studies demonstrated that saccharin is not an important factor in the risk of cancer. Nevertheless, the Coca-Cola Company has maintained its 1984 reformulation, replacing some of the saccharin in Tab with NutraSweet.”
Aspartame, commonly known by the brand name NutraSweet, is one of the most commonly used artificial sweeteners. The 1982 introduction of aspartame-sweetened Diet Coke accelerated this trend. Today, at least in the United States, “diet” is nearly synonymous with the use of aspartame in beverages.
The first artificial sweeteners used in diet soda were cyclamates (often synergistically with saccharin). While many say these cyclamate-sweetened sodas had a more pleasant taste than the diet sodas that followed them, the Food and Drug Administration banned cyclamates in the United States in 1970 on evidence that they caused cancer in lab rats. Cyclamates are still used in many countries outside of the United States.
Once cyclamates were banned, American producers turned to saccharin. When used by itself, saccharin was often criticized for having a bitter taste and “chemical” aftertaste. Some products, such as Coca-Cola‘s Tab, attempted to rectify this by adding a small amount of sugar. In 1977, the FDA was petitioned to ban saccharin, too, as a carcinogen, but a moratorium was placed on the ban until studies were conducted. The ban was lifted in 1991, but by that time, virtually all diet soda production had shifted to using aspartame. Perhaps the most notable holdout is Tab, which also uses some aspartame in its formula.
Sucralose and acesulfame potassium; “sugar-free” sodas
Recently, two other sweeteners have been used with increasing frequency: sucralose (marketed as Splenda) and acesulfame potassium (“Sunett” or “Ace K”). The K in “Ace K” represents the chemical symbol for potassium. Acesulfame potassium is usually combined with aspartame, sucralose, or saccharin rather than alone and its use is particularly common among smaller beverage producers (e.g. Big Red). Diet Rite is the non-aspartame diet soda brand with the highest sales today; it uses a combination of sucralose and acesulfame potassium.
Advocates say drinks employing these sweeteners have a more natural sugar-like taste than those made just with aspartame, and do not have a strong aftertaste. The newer aspartame-free drinks can also be safely consumed by phenylketonurics, because they do not contain phenylalanine. Critics say the taste is not better, merely different, or note that the long-term health risks of all or certain artificial sweeteners is unclear.
The widespread, though not universal, agreement that the newest formulations taste much more “normal” (sugar-like) than the older diet sodas have prompted some producers, such as Jones Soda, to abandon the “diet” label entirely in favor of “sugar-free soda,” implying that the taste is good enough to drink the soda even when not trying to lose weight. (This idea was first floated by Diet Coke in 1984, with the tagline, “Just For the Taste of It.”)
In 2005, the Coca-Cola Company announced it would produce a sucralose-containing formulation of Diet Coke known as Diet Coke with Splenda, but that it would continue to produce the aspartame version as well. There were also rumors that a sugar-free version of Coca-Cola Classic, also sweetened with sucralose, was being formulated as well. This formulation was eventually called Coca-Cola Zero, though it is sweetened with aspartame in conjunction with acesulfame potassium.
Changing the food energy intake from one food will not necessarily change a person’s overall food energy intake or cause a person to lose weight. One study at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, reported by Sharon Fowler at the ADA annual meeting, actually suggested the opposite, where consumption of diet soda correlated with weight gain. While Fowler did suggest that the undelivered expected calories from diet soda may stimulate the appetite, the correlation does not prove that consumption of diet soda caused the weight gain. The ADA has yet to issue an updated policy concerning diet soda.
In an independent study by researchers with the Framingham Heart Study in Massachusetts, soda consumption correlated with increased incidence of metabolic syndrome. Of the 9,000 males and females studied, soda drinkers were at 48% higher risk for metabolic syndrome, which involves weight gain and elevated blood sugar. No significant difference in these findings was observed between sugary sodas and diet drinks. The researchers noted that diet soda drinkers were less likely to consume healthy foods, and that drinking diet soda flavored with artificial sweeteners more than likely increases cravings for sugar-flavored sweets.
For the following recipes, use a 2 quart pitcher or Mason jar. Use a long-handled wooden spoon to stir and muddle fruit and herbs. Store covered, in fridge for up to 3 days ~ note: make 2 or 3 of these flavored waters ~ they’ll go fast! And don’t be afraid to try a variety of fruits and herbs! Pineapple with mint; watermelon, lime with rosemary; apple, ginger & cinnamon ~ the possibilities are endless!
ps. Good old sugar only has 15 calories per teaspoon ~
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup sugar
Bring sugar and water to a low simmer in a small saucepan; stir until sugar is completely dissolved. Store covered in your fridge for up to a month.
- 1 Key Lime sliced thinly
- 6 pitted cherries cut in half
- 1 sprig of mint
- ice and mineral water
Let first 3 ingredients steep 30 minutes. Add ice and water ~ enjoy!
Peaches & Cream
- 5 very ripe peaches pitted and sliced thinly
- 8 vanilla beans sliced down the middle
- 2 tbsp organic honey
- 2 liters water, still or mineral
Warm the honey and stir into the water prior to adding the fruit. Once mixed and the water has cooled, add in the peaches and vanilla beans into 2 liters of water (still or mineral). Refrigerate for at least four hours, add ice and serve!
Watermelon–Lime Iced Tea
- 4 tea bags green tea
- 1-½ tablespoons agave nectar, to taste
- 2 cups water
- 6 sprigs fresh mint + extra for garnish
- 1-½ cups ice cubes
- 2 limes
- 1/2 of a watermelon, cut in chunks
Steep tea for 5 minutes; Place watermelon chunks, lime juice, water and mint leaves with 1 cup water. Stir in green tea, sweeten to your taste preference with Agave nectar or simple syrup. Serve over ice with a sprig of mint
- Cucumber–Citrus Spritzer
- 6 cups chilled spring or mineral water
- 12 thin slices of cucumber
- 4 thin slices of lemon
- 4 thin slices of lime
- Juice of one lemon
- Simple syrup (optional for those who want a sweet drink)
In a 2- to 2 1/2-quart pitcher, combine water, juice, cucumber, lemon and lime slices (and simple syrup if using). Serve, or cover and chill at least 2 hours or up to 8 hours. Add ice cubes just before serving.