A Michigan woman just turned 104 years old. Her secret? Diet Coke.
Theresa Rowley lives in a retirement home in Grand Rapids Michigan. On January first, 2018, she became the oldest resident at her home at 104 years old, and nobody is more astounded by this feat than her.
“I’m surprised that I’m 104,” Rowley told WZZM News. “It just doesn’t seem like I should be that old.”
“When I was 100, I thought I’d never be 104; I thought I’d pass away by that time but it just didn’t happen,” said Rowley. “Then I turn 101, and nothing happens. Here I am 104, and still nothing happens.”
Rowley attributes her incredible longevity to a surprising source: Diet Coca-Cola. She drinks a can per day, and sometimes more.
“I drink it because I like it,” said Rowley. “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 invented in 1982 when Rowley was 68 years old.
While Diet Coke may work for Rowley, scientists and nutritionists generally agree that diet or artificially sweetened sodas aren’t really the best for your overall health. Multiple studies have linked diet sodas with various medical conditions, including stroke, dementia, heart disease, obesity, and diabetes – many of the same medical conditions more commonly associated with sugar-filled drinks.
Last April, a study from Boston University determined that drinking at least a single can of diet soda per day was associated with smaller brain volume in old age. That study looked at over 4000 participants and found that while the sugary drinks didn’t come with an added risk of stroke or dementia, the diet drinks were bad for your brain.
Yale performed its own study which found that contrary to advertising, diet sodas were still contributing to people’s waistlines despite being far fewer calories. Scientists postulate this has more to do with the sweetness of the drink than the actual presence of calories, and that drinking something sweet tricks the brain into storing more of what you eat as fat.
However, a meta-analysis performed by the University of Manitoba says that more research is needed to prove the true risk of diet sodas. While they agree there is an association between diet sodas and larger BMI, not enough quality research has been done to confirm that diet drinks are the cause.