Imagine that I take you to a chemistry lab. I put some water in a glass beaker and then I go around the shelves opening jars of chemicals adding a bit of this, a bit of that and a bit of the other to the beaker. I stir the water until all the powders dissolve and then I pass it to you and say, “Here, drink this.”

I am guessing you would refuse because you don’t really know what I put in there. I agree that it doesn’t look very appetising, so I add something else to make it a brown colour and then dissolve carbon dioxide in it to make it fizzy. I invite you to drink it again. It looks like something you might drink but I am still thinking you will say no. It is odd that you would refuse because if I poured it out of the beaker and packaged it in a brightly coloured ring-pull can and called it Diet Cola, not only would you drink it but you would pay me for it.

Those chemicals I put in the beaker would typically be carbonated water, caramel colour, aspartame, phosphoric acid, potassium citrate, natural flavours, citric acid and caffeine. What do they do to you?

Aspartame: There are many conflicting studies on the safety of aspartame. Animal studies show more of an increase in cancer risk than human studies have. But there is definitely enough of a connection to avoid or limit your exposure to this artificial sweetener. Also, artificial sweeteners trick your body in to thinking a load of sugar is coming and you get a surge in insulin, which reduces blood sugar and makes you hungry.

Phosphoric acid: This is acidic enough to erode tooth enamel and some studies have shown it increases your chance of kidney stones.

Potassium citrate: It can cause irritation of the stomach lining, nausea and diarrhoea.

Natural Flavours: Hundreds of chemicals can be used to mimic the taste of natural flavours. Natural flavours can be anything derived from foods found in nature, but doesn’t make them a health food.

Caramel Colour: In 2011, the International Agency for Research on Cancer concluded that caramel colouring is possibly carcinogenic to humans. Caramel colouring is in a host of products, like baked goods and soy sauces, so the total we consume from many different products makes it more of a concern.

Always remember, they don’t make this stuff for your health; they make it for their profit.

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