Last week I asked the question, “should soft drinks be considered unhealthy”? I’ll let you answer for yourself. No matter what “soft” drink you imbibe today, it is likely filled with ingredients that you do not know is lurking in the recipe. Today, the main ingredient (about 90%) of the beverage is carbonated water. Five to 10% of its content is high fructose corn syrup, sugar or non-calorie sweetener, acid (lowers blood PH) and other additives gums, pectins, caffeine, flavors, colors, and preservatives like BHA.
WARNING: The information below may contain material that is alarming but definitely worth reading. The information gives you a better understanding of why it is important to understand what ingredients you actually put into your body.
How can soda affect your health and weight?
1. Citric acid and phosphoric acid affect blood PH and natural stomach acid secretions interfering with digestion, increasing risk of kidney stones, yeast overgrowth and bowel disease and leaching calcium from bone (especially teeth, spine, pelvis) causing weak bones and mineral imbalances.
2. Caffeine is a diuretic that can facilitate vitamin/mineral depletion, dehydration, fertility issues, sleep problems, anxiety, irritability, and depression.
3. High fructose corn syrup and excess sugar leads to excess calories, increased weight and blood sugar problems like diabetes. Research studies also support a link with the following health hazards:
a. Pancreatic cancer: University of Minnesota conducted a study with individuals who drank approximately two regular sodas/day. The conclusion was that there was an 87% higher chance of having cancer than those who drank beverages without sugar/corn syrup.
b. Diabetes and heart disease: At the American heart association’s Cardiovascular Disease Epidemiology and Prevention Annual Cardiology Conference there was a presentation by a professor from the University of California, San Francisco who made the association of approximately 200,000 new cases of diabetes and heart disease/year with soda drinkers.
c. Immune system: sugar has also been shown to lower the immune system due to damage of white blood cells.
4. Artificial sweeteners can lead to eating more because they do not provide the calories to signal to your body that it is satisfying your hunger. They breakdown to methanol and formaldehyde affecting the immune and nervous system and may even be involved in destroying brain neurons leading to headaches/migraines, nausea, abdominal pain, fatigue with an inability to fall asleep. Other associated symptoms include vision problems, anxiety attacks, depression, and asthma/chest tightness. Recently diet soda, like regular soda, was linked to a 50 percent higher risk of metabolic syndrome — a cluster of risk factors such as excessive fat around the waist, low levels of “good” cholesterol, high blood pressure and other symptoms.
5. Sodium benzoate can throw off electrolyte balance. It is a preservative in many foods. The combination of sodium benzoate and vitamin C (ascorbic acid) in soda can react to form benzene. The major health effects of benzene include damage to bone marrow and decreases in red blood cells, leading to anemia. It can cause damage to DNA. Damage to DNA will contribute to aging and nerve diseases like Parkinson’s. Benzene is known to lead to cancer in both animals and humans.
6. Caramel color may suppress the immune system and has been linked to increase blood pressure.
All these potential harmful effects of drinking a “soft” beverage seems kinda extreme when in actuality most of what you are drinking is water. If you are thirsty stick with water and flavor it yourself. Tea (hot or iced), V-8 or homemade lemonade are also good options. Any questions about what you are really eating and drinking, let me know and we can decipher it together.