I Replaced Diet Soda With This Spiced Drink For 2 Weeks, and the Results Were Surprising

After recently being diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis (an autoimmune disease), I really started to think about the choices I was making for my health. For years, Diet Coke was a staple for me, but I wanted to find a healthy alternative — something I could feel good about putting into my body — so I decided to read up on golden milk.

Golden milk, also known as turmeric milk or a turmeric latte, is a hot (or iced) drink made with milk and various spices — most notably turmeric, which gives the drink its signature yellow color. Turmeric, and specifically the active ingredient curcumin, is a natural anti-inflammatory and has many scientifically-proven health benefits. One review of the research concluded that curcumin, when combined with pepper to increase its bioavailability, can help better manage conditions including metabolic syndrome, arthritis, and anxiety, and ease exercise-induced muscle soreness, among other things. The researchers noted that even people without a diagnosis can benefit from a relatively low dose of the stuff. That was enough to convince me.

Many people enjoy golden milk at night, but I decided to drink it every morning for two weeks. My mornings are crazy, and since I don't have the time to make my own turmeric concoction, I used Vahdam Teas Turmeric Classic Latte Mix ($15), which is a powder you simply mix with a milk of your choice (I prefer almond milk). It contains pepper as well, which is important for absorption.

The first thing I noticed about golden milk is that it's surprisingly tasty. It's comforting and spicy in a good way, and I didn't feel like I needed to sweeten it with anything. I also found it to be filling; Diet Coke seems to fuel my appetite, but golden milk has the opposite effect. Mostly, I just feel good after drinking it, not bloated the way I feel after downing a lot of soda.

Bloating creeps up almost every night like clockwork, but after a few days without soda, I started to notice an improvement.

In fact, the most dramatic effect I've noticed since giving up carbonated beverages and replacing them with a healthy alternative is how much it has benefited my digestive health (another long-touted benefit). Along with RA, I've also suffered with irritable bowel syndrome since I was 18 years old. My IBS causes chronic bloating, the kind that makes me look like I'm six months pregnant. Not only is it embarrassing, but also very painful. It creeps up almost every night like clockwork, but after a few days without soda, I started to notice an improvement. Now I only get bloated once in awhile, and when I get strong cravings for something fizzy, I reach for a kombucha instead.

I'd love to say that drinking golden milk cured me of my rheumatoid arthritis, but that's not accurate or realistic. I'm currently in the early stages of this disease, and I'm focusing on doing all I can to reduce inflammation in my body. It's simply too early to tell if drinking golden milk is helping with that, but I do know that I feel better since giving up soda and starting to drink turmeric, and right now that's good enough for me.