Just as I was adjusting to life with bottled nothingness water, something crazy happened to piss me off even more.
During one of the healer's lectures I attended, I learned that he considers water to be the primary cause of cancer in America - even before smoking. Imagine that, the number one cause. I pondered how that could possibly be the case in a post-Erin Brockovich world. Didn’t we all see that flick and immediately discontinue tap water use? Some of us in favor of diet soda? Apparently we did. But that only compounded the problem. What the healer explained that night is exactly what was confirmed in the news months after he said it - companies were bottling minimally purified junk (with more contaminants than our somewhat regulated tap water) and passing it off as clean. We were duped, bigtime. Seriously, it's amazing that we don't give more money to the Nigerians.
On the bright side, the revelation about water made me more optimistic that the solution lay in Diet Coke. I suggested this possibility to the healer via e-mail, but received no response.
When I chuckled at these two options, he conceded that, if I had to drink bottled water, I could have real purified spring water from an artesian aquifer. Unfamiliar with the word "aquifer," however, I demanded that he name brands.
So he did - Fiji, Costco and Whole Foods water, to name a few.
I was dumbfounded by this response.
Now Fiji water is expensive, but Whole Foods water is some of the cheapest around. I was dying to know what ingenious marketing tactics had caused him to come up with this arbitrary ranking. “I tested them on people,” he said. Oh yeah.
In an effort to wean myself off the diet soda, I started drinking more bottled water. Obviously, it’s a grossly deficient substitute, but I had no choice.
I decided on the bottled variety when the healer’s staff warned me about the heavy metals, chemicals and assorted crap that gets into our tap water (from, among other contributors, dry cleaners). And apparently those water filter pitchers that you can buy for about $35.00 aren’t doing the trick either. Even high end refrigerator water filters, although better, are not the best to use (especially when, like me, you never changed the filter because you didn’t know it was in there). Since water is tasteless and not one of the vices that adds pleasure to my life, I didn’t want it to be adding any junk to my body. So I decided that bottledwater was the way to go. I’m sure you know this, but drinking bottled water is a serious pain in the ass - much harder than drinking soda straight out of the two-liter. It’s heavy to load in and out of the shopping cart, car and refrigerator, and the recycling involved is equally cumbersome. But I suffered through, knowing thinking that I was improving my health. Wrong again.
The healer hates it when I call it black magic, but I can't help it sometimes. The quirky and awesome way in which alternative medicine cures ailments is straight out of a Harry Potter book.
For example, recently I acquired the flu. But I didn't know it at the time because - for once - I wasn't experiencing any of the traditional symptoms. I learned about my fate when the healer picked up on it during one of our regular sessions.
"You have a virus," he said. "No I don't. I feel fine."
He laughed at my self-diagnosis.
"Yeah, you do. It's the flu. Take this bottle of drops and put three under your tongue at night for three nights, starting tonight."
I rolled my eyes and lied said I would.
Two days later, while the bottle of drops was still rolling around underneath the passenger seat of my car, I was flatlined with muscle aches and a sore throat. By the time I summoned the energy to go to the garage, I was dizzy, congested and pissed.
As I bit into the package and began counting the drops, I giggled at the notion that three of them could "cure" me. "God, I must be desperate," I thought.
But I woke up the next morning and everything was gone. Everything. As if nothing had happened. I felt like a million bucks.
As my bad luck would have it, aspartame - the primary sweetener found in most diet sodas - is one of the most dangerous chemicals you can put into your body. Since it’s not a real food, and therefore the body has no nutritional need for it, every time you put it into your system, the organs are burdened with the task of having to filter it out. The more frequently you put it in, the less able the organs are to keep up with the filtration.
Eventually, the organs tire out (especially because they are already overburdened with getting rid of the air you breathe, pesticides you eat, lotions you use, etc.), leaving you with headaches, bad skin, a hormone problem, a thyroid problem, and a variety of other conditions. Then, to make matters worse, once the organs are in a burdened state, they are even less able to filter out the garbage you drink. So, what happens when the organs can’t get rid of the toxins? They store them in the body – in the cells and tissues, leaving the body in a persistent toxic state. And a high level of toxicity in the cells is what leads to cancer, heart disease, autoimmune diseases, etc. On top of that, when the liver actually pulls the aspartame back out of the cells for filtration (which will only happen once you stop bombarding it with more aspartame), it has to break it down into a bunch of separate chemicals first, including formaldehyde, a known toxin. And trust me - it’s not fun to have that crap swimming through your blood on its way out. It’s like having a hangover with the flu. But it’s better than having it live in your cells and kill you. Needless to say, the news about diet soda was devastating. I suspected this would be the hardest breakup of my life. I was right. In fact, I never realized how strong my addiction to diet soda was until I tried to give it up. Even today, when surrounded by ice cream, brownies, cake, freshly baked bread and gallons of alcohol, all I do is stare at the soda fountain.
When I was in college, I drank Dr. Pepper all the time. I loved it so much I would sing the company jingle on my way to class. So imagine my surprise when, during my Nutrition for Non-Science Majors class, I discovered that it had sugar in it. It was a pretty traumatic revelation, since I obviously didn’t want to be drinking my calories, especially when I could have been getting them from better places, like midnight Domino’s.
Anyway, that was enough for me to break up with the real deal and quickly move on to the diet version.
Although I did go through an adjustment period, within a few months diet soda (Coke, Pepsi, whatever) and I were best friends, attached at the hip, hanging out together at every meal, road trip and movie. I was committed, happy and calorie free. I even lost the freshman thirty fifteen as a result. But like a lot of relationships that eventually sour, I discovered that my mate had really been bad for me all along. Of course, my well meaning friends tried to tell me, but refill after refill, I didn’t listen.
As the years went on, my addiction to diet soda became unhealthy (funny to write today, now that I know even one diet soda is dangerous). My friends began to notice that I always had one in hand, and usually drank two or three with dinner. Caffeine began to have no effect on me. I could guzzle a can at night and be in full R.E.M. an hour later.
I had no idea how sick I really was.
When the healer discovered my diet soda habit (not hard since I walked in drinking one) he said: “That has artificial sweeteners in it – aspartame. I told you in the beginning that you couldn’t have artificial sweeteners.”
Oh…. that’s what he meant by artificial sweeteners. Aspartame, splenda, sucralose. Whoops – that was a major miscommunication (from me to my mouth).
Unwilling to go down without a fight, however, I began cross examining him on the details of aspartame. Although I had read numerous articles in various notable magazines about how diet soda can dehydrate you and possibly make you even hungrier, that was certainly not enough evidence for me to kick it to the curb overnight. I still was in need of serious proof that it was toxic.