There’s a lot President Donald Trump may want to resolve to do differently in 2018. Today, though, we’re focused on something small — just a slight tweak in habit. Not that he’s asked for our opinion, but we believe it’d be wise for the president to cut down on his soda consumption. A December New York Times report revealed that country’s commander in chief consumes a dozen Diet Cokes per day.
The habit is shocking for many reasons. For one, the sheer volume of carbonated liquid the president consumes daily is a bit unnerving (how could he not be taking an insane amount of bathroom breaks?). Even more, there is so much research to underscore the many risks of a soda-drinking habit — and studies tend to evaluate soda drinkers who consume just one soft drink per day, not 12.
“Calorie-free does not equal consequence-free.”
While Diet Coke is calorie-free, it won’t necessarily help with weight loss. Quite conversely, studies have found that diet sodas can contribute to obesity. In a study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, diet soda-drinkers were found to have bigger waistlines compared to those that did not drink the beverage. The study researchers highlighted people over the age of 65 (Trump is 71, for the record) are already at a heightened risks for conditions like heart disease, and increased belly fat only raises those risks. “Calorie-free does not equal consequence-free,” head researcher Sharon P.G. Fowler said of the study.
Separate research underscores how consuming artificially sweet things can increase a person’s hunger. Fake sweeteners — like the aspartame in Diet Coke — can mess with a hormone called leptin, which helps to regulate the body’s appetite and satiety. In other words, throwing back a Diet Coke at breakfast time could have Trump hankering for a burger way before lunch.
Wired, sleep-deprived and rambling
There’s more bad news about drinking diet sodas that go beyond weight gain. A dozen 12-oz cans of Diet Coke contains 552 mg of caffeine, approximately the amount of caffeine found in six cups of coffee. This means Trump consumes more than the 400 mg of caffeine the Mayo Clinic reports as “safe for most healthy adults.” Too much caffeine is associated with nervousness, insomnia, migraines, irritability, rambling speech and restlessness, all qualities that aren’t wonderful for the leader of a country to possess.
Excess caffeine can also lead to dehydration, which brings its own set of negative health effects. “If you think you’re hydrating by drinking soda, you probably believe in unicorns, too,” David Zinczenko, nutrition expert, creator of Eat This Not That!, said in an email. “The caffeine in many sodas has a diuretic effect, causing dehydration if you don’t adequately supplement with extra water or other non-caffeinated and non-alcoholic beverages.” While we’ve witnessed Trump taking tiny sips of water when behind the podium, we’re curious if there’s enough room in his stomach to host much more liquid beyond soda. According to Zinczenko, dehydration can also affect your energy levels on a daily basis, and over time, “lead to a slower metabolic rate, electrolyte imbalances, water retention and even heart arrhythmia.”
How Trump can cut back — and see his resolution through
Everyone’s got their vice, and Trump isn’t alone in his love for carbonated caramel color. While diet soda consumption has been on a downward trend, 28 million Americans enjoy the beverage at least once a week. According to registered dietitian and certified strength and conditioning specialist Alissa Rumsey, going from 12 to 11 cans won’t necessarily make much of a difference for Trump’s health, but “anything less than 12 will be an improvement,” she said in an email. Rumsey explained that it’s tough to gauge how much soda Trump would need to cut out to see a difference, since side effects are experienced on an individual basis. “That amount of Diet Coke provides an excessive amount of caffeine along with a lot of air from all that carbonation,” she said. “Ingesting that much air can cause bloating and gas. Those side effects would probably start to go away once he gets down to less than six a day or so.”
A quick internet search reveals that many people who have been hooked on diet cola have successfully quit it. Trump could cut out one or two cans out of his routine and continue to reduce the number of sodas he drinks over the span of a few weeks. If he’s experiencing Pavlovian symptoms, he might replace one missing soda with a cup of coffee or tea to help maintain his caffeine dependence or a glass of sparkling or flat water if it’s an oral fixation that’s bugging him. If Trump is experiencing low blood sugar, which might be felt in the form irritability or lightheadedness, he might try munching on a healthy snack, Prevention suggests. A handful of nuts and raisins could very well do the trick because “nuts contain healthy fats that slow the absorption of sugar, and raisins have natural sugars that will bring you back into balance,” according to Prevention.
One HuffPost contributor said she ditched her Diet Coke habit cold turkey, and saw some pretty wonderful benefits. She replaced her soda with slightly flavored water, realizing that she loved bubbles, along with coffee and iced tea with soda water. Inventive!
Trump should recruit the rest of his family to quit soda, too. His daughter, Ivanka, has been spotted sipping on the stuff and even wife Melania will have a glass of Diet Coke as a treat, according to People. If they, too, agree to ditch the stuff, Trump may have the support he needs to kick the habit. Blood is thicker than water and it’s thicker than aspartame-flavored seltzer.