Saturday, August 16, 2008

That's inflammatory! Part One: Diet soda

What not to eat if you have autoimmune disease: part one

I know for a fact that lupus is characterized by inflammation. I can only imagine other autoimmune diseases also have inflammation as a characteristic. So wouldn't it behoove us to avoid behaviors and situations that increase inflammation? There are many irritants out there that trigger an immune response.

I can't control the fact that planes fly over my house and pollute the air, or that corporations dump poisons in our water.
And I can't control the fact that much of our food supply is garbage. But I can control what I put in my mouth. I don't have to eat the garbage- that is a choice (though not always an easy one!). And some of the things that are touted as being good for you are actually garbage.

Have you tried to find something healthy to eat in your typical restaurant? Something *not* fried, or laden with fatty sauces, sugar, MSG, salt? I end up defaulting to what I call the "typical girl special": chicken caesar salad with the dressing on the side. To be a true "typical girl special," that would come with a large diet coke. But I have ended my decades- long romance with diet sodas. I tell you, it's like quitting cigarettes. I honestly can't tell you how many times I quit drinking diet soda before I finally succeeded, and I still live in fear I'll fall off the wagon. I just tell myself every time I look at a cold dripping tempting bottle of diet something, "poison." Some sources say that aspartame (a.k.a. "nutrasweet," a.k.a. "Equal," in the blue packet) turns into formaldehyde when it gets into your body. Some say it turns into formaldehyde *before* it enters the body, if the temperature is warm enough. Hawaii tried to ban aspartame (a.k.a nutrasweet) from its food supply, and the US federal government wouldn't let them! (Can you imagine how angry Americans would be if they got to paradise and there was no Diet Coke? "What kind of hellhole is this??! Honey take me home!") There are efforts in other countries to get this stuff out of their food supplies as well, including Ireland and New Zealand. Some theorize that it is a major contributor to Gulf War Syndrome. Others say it causes to birth defects in our children and, in a trial, an 86% *death* rate in monkeys. ( ). This "food" has no place in our diets, in our fridges, in our food chain, or in our stores.

I do believe this: there are no casual diet soda drinkers. People either don't drink it, or they chain-drink it like a crack addict, waking up with their first thought being "I gotta have me a hit of diet soda." i have ridden my bicycle to the store in my pajamas to get a diet coke before i would do anything else. It was ruling my day, every day.

I find that getting a monkey off your back is a little more doable if you can find some kind of replacement. I mean I wasn't going to go *caffeine* free on top of ditching the tyrannical nutrasweet. One vice at a time. So, about 9 months after giving up the junk, i am still doing fine drinking filtered or water green tea (which I brew at home) with stevia, a natural sweetener. If I really feel like partying, I have a regular Coke. But I don't do that too often, because it is made with high fructose corn syrup, which is genetically modified (and fattening). I may not be Elle MacPherson, but I am not ready to have my genes modified. And something tells me consuming genetically modified foods is not going to get me any closer to looking like Elle. I hear Mexican Coca Cola is still made with sugar, and there are some natural sodas out there as well, made with juice. And there's seltzer, which is great plain or with a splash of organic juice (read the seltzer bottle- some of it has nutrasweet!!). Of course mankind did pretty well for several eons without sodas to drink.

Many of us with a lupus diagnosis feel like we're being randomly attacked by some mysterious force. But there are some things we can do to limit the likelihood of attack, and one of them is to stop eating garbage.

read more about nutrasweet's dangers:

coming in part 2: sodium nitrate, vegan diets
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