104 Year Old Woman Believes A Can Of Diet Coke A Day Is The Key To Her Long Life – But The Experts Would Disagree

A woman who has made it to the age of 104 swears that the secret to longevity is drinking Diet Coke every day.

Theresa Rowley, from Grand Rapids, Michigan, celebrated her birthday with a cake on January 1.

‘When I was 100, I thought I’d never be 104,’ she told WZZM. ‘Then I turn 101, and nothing happens… Here I am 104, and still nothing happens.’

The care home resident has revealed she consumes at least one can of the soda a day.

‘I drink it because I like it,’ she explained. ‘I’m going shopping Wednesday, and I need more Diet Coke. I have a bag full of empty Diet Coke cans that I need to return to buy more Diet Coke.’

Diet Coke was launched in the US in 1982 – when Illinois-born Ms Rowley would have been 68.

But scientists would disagree that the beverage had helped give her another 36 years of life – diet soda has repeatedly been linked to obesity, diabetes, stroke and dementia in studies.

Warnings over diet drinks

Diet drinks could cause people to put on weight and trigger diabetes even when they are low-calorie.

Modern diet products confuse the human body because there is nothing natural like them, scientists say.

Where a low-calorie drink is still as sweet as the normal version, the mismatch appears to send our metabolisms haywire.

Researchers at Yale University say in nature sweetness signals the presence of energy, so that the sweeter something tastes, the more calories it contains.

Furthermore, adults who have at least one diet drink a day are three times more at risk from a stroke or dementia, research suggests.

This chart breaks down how much of each of various kinds of artificial sweeteners were used in different soft drinks in 2010 (Source: Diabetes Self-Management, ‘Diet Soft Drinks’ by Mary Franz, MS, RD, LD)

Scientists say they should no longer be regarded as the healthier alternative and urge the public to stick to water or milk.

The study of almost 4,400 adults by Boston University in April this year also suggests diet drinks are more likely to cause strokes and dementia than those full of sugar.

There was no link between sugary beverages and either of the illnesses – although the researchers aren’t encouraging us to drink them either.

The team believe the artificial sweeteners including aspartame and saccharine maybe affecting the blood vessels, eventually triggering strokes and dementia.


A UK pharmacist has shocked fizzy drink fans by releasing a step-by-step guide to the dramatic way a can of Diet Coke affects the body from 10 minutes after the first sip until an hour later.

Niraj Naik, who runs The Renegade Pharmacist blog, has created an eye-opening infographic that exposes how the sugar-free drink can wreak havoc on everything from your teeth to your waistline.

The phosphoric acid attacks the enamel in your teeth at the same time the aspartame in the drinks hits the system.

The drink can trigger an insulin release, which sends your body into fat storage mode and the false high could start kick start cravings.

Here FEMAIL reveals just what happens to your body when your drink Diet Coke.

We also speak to Ella Allred, technical nutritionist at NutriCentre for a detailed breakdown on how the soda affects your system.

In the first 10 minutes: 

It tricks your taste buds and attacks your teeth. The phosphoric acid attacks the enamel in your teeth, while the artificial sweeteners like aspartame hit your system. Aspartame may trigger taste receptors and tricks your body into thinking it has just had processed sugar.

Ms Allred says: ‘

As soon as you taste the sweetness of Diet Coke, your body prepares for the sugar load and causes you pancreases releases insulin. The insulin surge decreases the pancreases sensitivity to insulin, putting you at risk of developing diabetes type 2. The insulin triggers your body to store fat around your middle, and increases your risk of developing heart disease.’

20 minutes:

Can switch on fat storage mode. Like regular Coke this can trigger insulin, which sends your body into fat storage mode. Data from a number of studies, including Nurses’ Health Study and the Health Professionals Follow-up Study also reported greater risk of type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease.

Ms Allred says:

‘Blood insulin saturation is complete. But the problem is, there is no sugar in Diet Coke. But now you have a lot of insulin in your blood stream, pulling all of your blood available blood sugar into your cells leaving you with a massive sugar low. You then need sugar in your blood to maintain equilibrium. The sweet cravings kick in and may find you are reaching for another Diet Coke, which starts the cycle again.’ 

40 minutes:

Can cause addiction. The combination of caffeine and aspartame creates a short addictive high similar in the way cocaine works. Excitotoxins are released which may exhaust your brains by overstimulating its neuroreceptors, especially if consumed on your regular basis.

Ms Allred says:

‘Caffeine saturation of your blood is complete, switching off tiredness receptors. It’s creating pseudo alertness, and pushing our bodies beyond their designed capabilities. The aspartame has reached your brain, where it is a neuro toxin, which in some people may trigger migraines and other neurological problems. Aspartame and caffeine both trigger your brains reward centres, making this combination highly addictive. 

60 minutes and beyond:

Can deplete nutrients, make you hungry and thirsty for me

Unlike the small amount of satisfaction you get from regular Coke, your body may still crave sweets. This makes you likely to reach for another soda, or worse, some other junk food you consider to be safe and the cycle continues.

A can of Diet Coke provides no nourishment and would replace a more nutritious drink you could have drunk while potentially depleting your body of essential minerals.

It will never quench your thirst as it dehydrates rather than hydrates your body. A lack of vital water can lead to brain fog, poor concentration, fatigue and feeling irritable.

Ms Allred says:

The dehydrating effect of the Coke is already having an impact on your cells hydration levels. Dehydration has the effect of causing tiredness and drowsiness, which will likely leave you reaching for another caffeine hit. And so the vicious cycle starts again. Each time worsening its effect, causing you to gain weight and pushing your body beyond its design.