by Kris Parfitt
– The Capitol Hill Times -
I’m overweight and pre-diabetic, and I LOVE soda. I keep hearing that it’s bad for my heath, but, specifically, how so, and are the results permanent? – Jamal
The media preaches to us that soda is bad and that it contributes to obesity and diabetes but doesn’t always adequately provide us with how soda is bad for our bodies and our health. Studies confirm that drinking certain amounts of soda are conclusive: evidence shows that high amounts of soda causes a litany of health issues. However, the amount of soda that causes health issues depends on our own bio-individuality, how our individual body responds to nutritional requirements.
Many studies were done on the health risks of the individual ingredients in soda; some ingredients demonstrate a direct correlation to weight gain and insulin issues, while others demonstrate the possibility of health issues, but they aren’t conclusive. What is certain is that the combination of the ingredients found in sodas contributes to certain health risks, which correlate to the amount of soda consumed.
What’s so bad about the combination of carbonated water, sugar, phosphoric acid, and caffeine? By themselves, in pure form, these ingredients are somewhat benign in small amounts. However, added together, the combination impacts sugar levels, fat storage, and heart disease, just to name a few.
The sugars found in a soda range from cane sugar (too expensive for high quantity inventory), white processed bleached sugar (cheaper than cane sugar, but more expensive than high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), artificial sweeteners (cheaper than the first two), and HFCS – the most widely used sweetener in soda because it’s the cheapest available.
Not all sugars cause the following symptoms, but studies show that sugar, in high amounts, is a toxin, and can contribute to diabetes due to the increase in insulin levels. Sugar is also known to contribute to weight gain because the excess is stored in fat cells. The combination of diabetes and weight gain has shown to have an impact on certain levels of heart disease, cholesterol, and high blood pressure.
Artificial sweeteners, like aspartame, aspartic acid, and phenylalanine have been linked to diabetes and weight gain, but also to cancer, seizures, dementia, depression, and emotional disorders.
HFCS, which is added to many processed foods and beverages, also contributes to weight gain and diabetes; studies show that it’s also linked to certain cancers and heart disease, and is considered to be an appetite suppressant, leaving some people feeling hungry despite the amount of calories consumed.
Then there’s phosphoric acid, which decreases calcium absorption, resulting in softened bones and teeth. Studies show that high levels of phosphoric acid contribute to osteoporosis.
Caffeine, a diuretic that can leave us feeling dehydrated if not paired with enough water, is linked to studies that report high blood pressure, irregular heartbeats, and breast lumps.
The only non-toxic ingredient in soda is water, but that has been infused with carbon dioxide to create the bubble effect associated with soda. In lab tests, the amount of carbonated water found in one soda (approximately 86 percent of its volume), decreases oxygen in blood by 25 percent for up to three hours.
Depending on the brand, taste, and color of a soda, a number of other miscellaneous ingredients are added. Other base ingredients include artificial flavoring to mimic natural flavors (approved by the FDA to be GRAS (Generally Regarded As Safe)), preservatives to prevent spoilage, and color for marketing appeal.
Studies show that combined, and in amounts equal to consuming three to six 12-ounce containers per day, the health effects of the ingredients in soda are not limited to diabetes and obesity, but also include elevated blood pressure, liver, and kidney damage, eroded dental enamel, the lowering of immunity, depletion of minerals, and heart disease. And if soda is the only beverage consumed, it also contributes to the complications associated with dehydration.
Thankfully, there’s hope for those of us who have overindulged in soda to the point that some or all of the symptoms are there. It’s easier said than done, but it’s painfully simple:
Stop drinking soda.
It can take as little as two weeks for some symptoms to go away, and it can take over two years for other symptoms to decrease or disappear. Unfortunately, some permanent damage, such as life-long diabetes and certain types of heart disease are irreversible, but can be easily managed with the absence of soda.
The detoxification of soda from our systems can take between 15 to 30 days, depending on our level of use. And while we may experience withdrawal from the sugars and caffeine in the form of strong carb cravings, headaches, and a certain level of orneriness, these symptoms last for up to a week before they disappear altogether.
It can, potentially, take up to 30 days for the mental haze to lift, for weight loss to begin and for some, blood sugar level to begin to stabilize. But that week of hell is worth a lifetime of better health! Five alternative beverages to soda begin with water, then move onto experiment with milk, tea, coconut water and full fruit smoothies.
Have a question for Kris? Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org