Are Diet Sodas Really That Bad?

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Diet soda is often consumed by people who either want to lose weight, or maintain a normal weight. The ironic thing is that diet sodas actually increase a person’s chances of becoming overweight, by tricking the body into thinking it’s actually consuming sugar, which increases food cravings. A study conducted at the University of Texas discovered that consumption of two or more cans of diet soda daily caused increased waistline girth in subjects studied.

The main reason why diet sodas have damaging effects on the body is because they contain artificial sweeteners. The vast majority of diet sodas on the market contain either aspartame or sucralose. Aspartame has been linked to cognitive decline, mood swings, depression, dizziness and migraines, while sucralose has a negative impact on insulin sensitivity and gut health.

Even just drinking one can of diet soda each day can increase the risk of metabolic syndrome (diabetes, heart disease, and risk for stroke) by close to 40 percent. Diet soda also impairs kidney function. A Harvard study followed 3,000 female subjects who drank diet sodas, and found that those who drank more than two sodas each day had impaired kidney function.

As if that wasn’t enough, diet sodas cause damage at the cellular level, as well as erode tooth enamel. This is due to the very acidic nature of diet soda, which has a pH of 3.2. Chemicals such as sodium benzoate and potassium benzoate are added to inhibit the acidic quality of the soft drink, but these chemicals cause damage in mitochondrial DNA in our cells, and have been linked to numerous allergies and asthma in some subjects.

Lastly, most cans which house diet sodas are coated with bisphenol-A (BPA), which has a strong correlation with development of heart disease and reproductive issues.

If you absolutely can’t give up diet sodas entirely, wean yourself off of them gradually. After you have kicked the daily diet soda habit, you can incorporate a diet soda called Zevia, which does not contain aspartame or sucralose, into your diet.

Feeding Time

My tubby girl Kazu

My tubby girl Kazu

Over the past year, my European Burmese cat Kazu has put on considerable weight, and is now rather tubby at 11.5 pounds when she really should be 9.5 pounds. Since I have never had an overweight cat before, and also since my other two cats are rather svelte, I am wracking my brain trying to figure out a solution which would get Kazu to drop weight. When I took Kazu to the vet to investigate her sudden weight gain, the vet told me that all I could really do was to address her chronic constipation via dietary fiber and glycerin suppositories. When I tried feeding Kazu wet food with fiber mixed in, she refused it, but I wasn’t surprised since she isn’t a fan of canned food. On the one occasion in which I decided to try a suppository on her, neither she nor I were happy about the experience, and though I think the treatment helped to move things along a bit that day, I am not convinced that the mild boost in bathroom activity warranted me torturing my poor cat on a regular basis.

I feed my cats a low calorie, high protein, grain-free, dry formula to which they have free range all day. This is partially because I have always done that with the cats I have had since 1986, and because I am always so freakishly busy that I am gone for the entire day and unable to accommodate scheduled feedings. Kazu’s breeder suggested that I consider a timed feeder, but that wouldn’t work in our household because my American Burmese boy Tenshi is so food-motivated that he would chomp down all the food in the feeder, leaving none for the other two cats to eat.

I think at this point, I will try to add fiber by another means, and will measure out food so that about 1/3 cup of dry food is allotted per cat per day. I will have to portion the food out in the morning before I leave and just keep an eye on how much Kazu is actually consuming, though I know she isn’t a big eater. In addition, I have been trying to get Kazu to exercise more, even though she is relatively active. All three of my cats play “grab-ass” (my favorite terminology for the rough-housing they all do) on most days, and Kazu loves playing fetch with socks and toys, so I will try to encourage as much play as I can when I am home. It isn’t exactly easy to put a six year old cat on an exercise plan, but if I can do it for humans, I am certainly up for the challenge with a feline!

My Lumpy Cat

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I have three cats:
an American Burmese male named Tenshi, a silver spotted tabby female named Shima, and a European Burmese female named Kazu. Tenshi is built like a miniature puma, sleek and well muscled, and he maintains a perfect weight despite being a complete pig and prone to eating ANY food that he can get his paws on. Shima is my slender girl, long limbed and with a long tail.

Then there is Kazu. Over the past year or so, Kazu has put on considerable weight, and it troubles me to know that in almost 30 years of having cats, I now have an overweight cat! She is a small cat, consistent with the size of most Burmese, but she weighs 11.2 pounds now. She should be 9 pounds.

I know you may be saying, “She doesn’t look overweight”, but trust me, this little lady has a midsection that is downright lumpy! The vet doesn’t have a good answer for why Kazu is overweight, and I can’t figure out what to do with her. One consideration is the fact that she has always been constipated, but I doubt that my cat is actually THAT full of crap!

Look at Kazu’s deep chest in the picture below. You can see that she has some mass to her and is a muscular cat, which is also consistent with the Burmese breed. Perhaps she is in her “off-season bulking phase”!

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