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Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Soft Drinks

Originally posted 4-30-2006

I was recently turned onto an article via Dr. Joseph Mercola’s website. Basically, a twelve year-old did a science project comparing the bacteria levels in ice from fast food ice machines and drive-thrus to bacteria levels of the water from the toilets at those same fast food establishments. The delicious findings were that 70% of the time the water from the toilets had less bacteria than the fast food ice.

Another recent scary finding is the presence of higher-than-allowed levels of benzene, a known carcinogen. In fact, benzene has been found in levels up to 8 times the acceptable level of benzene in drinking water. It seems that the combination of sodium benzoate (a preservative) and ascorbic acid (vitamin C) can produce benzene. Vitamin C is added to soft drinks to make them seem healthier than they really are. Benzene has been linked to leukemia and other cancers of the blood.

So combine the above with the high levels of sugar in soft drinks and it’s amazing that people continue to drink them in such quantities, contributing over $60 billion per year to junk food manufacturers. Sugar-laden soft drinks are the number one source of calories in America. There is no denying the links between soda consumption and obesity. The sad news is that 65% of teenage girls and 74% of teenage boys drink soda daily, contributing 36.2 and 57.7 grams of daily sugar, respectively.

My family never really kept soft drinks around, so eliminating them from my diet was no problem. Several of my friends had soft drinks at hand constantly, and I used to be a bit jealous. I wanted to have that sugary sweetness around any time I wanted it, but soft drinks were pretty much reserved for family gatherings and dinners away from home. Of course, now I am so happy that soft drinks weren’t a mainstay of my diet as a kid. In fact, other than the rare occasions that I drink whiskey, I haven’t
had a soft drink in years.

Unfortunately, for those trying to cut sugar from their diets, the only true safe method appears to be eliminating them entirely rather than switching to diet drinks. Artificial sweeteners are nearly as likely to contribute to obesity as is regular sugar (or rather high-fructose corn syrup). It appears that artificial sweeteners may actually degrade the ability of the body to determine it’s calorie intake. Further, aspartame is a known neurotoxin and Splenda is made with chlorine (which may be a toxic compound).

The bottom line: Cut soft drinks except for special occasions and spend your day drinking water, green, white, and herbal teas, and coffee. Do not drink your calories, even in the form of fruit juice. Fruit juice is far inferior to fruit in that it has the fiber removed and, because of its liquid form, is absorbed by the body very quickly, causing an insulin spike. Calories should come from whole food sources. Tea, coffee, and water are all calorie-free, assuming you don’t add sugar, cream, and milk. Furthermore, tea and coffee contain plenty of antioxidants which your body will appreciate. And while you’re at it, avoid the fast food establishments too.

Other links:
Fast food beverages might be worse than toilet water
Yes, Aspartame is a Carcinogen