Articles by Natural Health Author Barbara Minton
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Is Your Favorite Drink Dissolving Your Skeleton?
by Barbara Minton
(The Best Years in Life) If you eat a healthy diet most of the time you probably feel good about indulging in a Coke or Pepsi. Almost everybody knows soda can lead to obesity, but if you're not obese what's the problem, right? The truth is that if you are a soda drinker you have a lot more to worry about than obesity. Soda consumption sets you up for a host of major diseases that can completely rob you of your health and happiness in the coming years.
Consumption of carbonated soft drinks averages more than 50 gallons for every man, woman and child in the U.S. according to the Beverage Marketing Corporation. This is the highest in the world. What can you expect from consuming them? Here is a list:
Osteoporosis - Let's start here, since if you are a woman who drinks lots of soda over an extended period of time, osteoporosis at a relatively young age is almost a sure thing. This is because of the extremely high acidity levels of high fructose corn syrup and sugar that cause calcium to be withdrawn from bone and dumped into the blood in an effort to keep blood acidity levels stable over time. This decrease in bone mineralization means bones become less dense and the decline into osteoporosis has begun.
Research from Tufts University found that in women consumption of carbonated cola beverages was associated with lower bone mineral density at all three hip measurement sites. And this finding was after consideration of other factors such as calcium and vitamin D intake, menopausal status, and substance use.
Elson M Hass MD has reported that almost eight million fractures yearly are the result of bone mineral density loss. He also noted that a low calcium to phosphorus ratio in the diet increases the incidence of hypertension and the risk of colon and rectal cancer.
Cola drinks get their tangy taste from phosphoric acid, a substance so caustic that it is used in shipyards to remove rust from aircraft carriers and transport ships. If you drink cola regularly, eventually phosphoric acid will dissolve away your skeleton too, starting with your jawbone, pelvis and femur.
Ruined teeth - Of course phosphoric acid plays havoc with the enamel on your teeth. General Dentistry carried a report of how drinking soda causes enamel erosion with only minimal exposure whether the soda is regular or diet, because its acidity level approaches that of battery acid. Dr. McCoy, the nutritionist at the Naval Medical Research Institute, and his research team put human teeth in cola and found they softened and started to dissolve in a very short period of time. If you are a soda drinker, wait at least half an hour before brushing your teeth to retard the damage.
Kidney function decline - In a study at the Harvard Medical School, researchers found that drinking 2 or more servings of artificially sweetened soda increased the odds for kidney function decline by 2-fold in women. This is a whopping 100 percent increase in the risk of function loss.
A study done at Loyola University and published in PLoS ONE found that women who drink two or more cans of soda a day were nearly twice as likely to show early signs of kidney disease as those who do not drink that many sodas. Their kidneys were unable to properly filter out large molecules like albumin. The lead researcher pointed to high fructose corn syrup as the culprit, noting that high fructose corn syrup has been found to be contaminated with mercury. This study included data from 9,358 U.S. adults.
The risk of kidney stones is also increased in soda drinkers due to the elevated levels of minerals passing through the kidneys and creating deposits there.
Cancer - The caramel color of cola does not come from burnt sugar as you would expect. It is actually made by reacting sugar with ammonia and sulfites at high temperatures because this process is cheaper. The reaction results in the formation of 2-methylimidazole and 4-methylimidazole, chemicals that have been documented by the U.S. government to cause cancer in mammals. In other words, cola companies are risking your life to make their products look appealing and boost their bottom lines.
Cola drinks must reformulate or carry cancer warning labels in the state of California to comply with Proposition 65, the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986.
Infertility - In a study of the relationship between caffeine and fertility, scientists found that just one caffeinated soft drink per day was associated with a 50 percent reduction in the monthly chance for conception.
A study at Copenhagen University Hospital reported in the American Journal of Epidemiology found that men who drink large amounts of cola everyday have lower sperm counts than men who do not. And this effect did not appear to be the result of caffeine.
Is diet soda really better for you?
Given the tremendously high rates of obesity and diabetes associated with soda consumption, it is tempting to think that drinking diet soda removes risk. But this is not so. All sweeteners used in sodas with the exception of Stevia have been linked with a host of bad outcomes. Saccharin is a petroleum derived zero calorie sweetener that as far back as the 1970's was found to cause bladder cancer in lab animals.
Aspartame contains wood alcohol. Since coming on the market in 1981, it has been the source of 75 percent of the complaints reported in the FDA's Adverse Reaction Monitoring System. Reported reactions included headaches, dizziness, attention difficulties, memory loss, slurred speech and vision problems. This symptom cluster is so common that it is referred to as aspartame disease, and it is just the tip of the iceberg.
John W. Olney MD, of the Washington University Medical School in St. Louis believes there is a link between aspartame and brain tumors. In an article published in The Journal of Neuropathology and Experimental Neurology he reported that animal studies have shown high levels of malignant brain tumors when fed aspartame at levels comparable to those ingested by a frequent soda drinker.
The U.S. Navy and Air Force have published articles warning that "several researchers have found aspartame can increase the frequency of seizures, or lower the stimulation necessary to induce them."
Are multiple sclerosis, chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, arthritis, depression and mood disorders linked to aspartame? Documented cases of patients with symptoms so severe that they were mistakenly diagnosed with any one of these conditions were completely healed by getting off aspartame.
Should your children drink soda?
The stratospheric levels of acid in soda have the same affect on children as they do on adults at a time when they are most vulnerable. A study of 57 children with low blood calcium levels found that 66.7 percent drank more than four 12 to 16 ounce bottles of soda per week, compared to only 28 percent of the 171 children with normal serum calcium levels. High blood calcium levels mean calcium is being leached and bone is poorly mineralized at a time when children are growing. This explains the greater risk (3 to 4 times higher) of broken bones in children and adolescents who drink soda.
The relationship between soda consumption and body weight is so strong that researchers calculate that for each additional soda consumed, the risk of obesity increases 1.6 times.
What about those developing brains? Teens who drink soda have more mental health issues including hyperactivity according to a study published in the American Journal of Public Health. When researchers questioned 10th graders about their soda-drinking habits, they found that soda drinkers reported far more incidences of hyperactivity, conduct problems, and mental health indicators such as anxiety, dizziness, hopelessness, panic, sadness, sleeplessness, tension and unhappiness than non-soda drinkers. The higher the level of soda consumption, the higher the scores on measures of behavioral difficulties, hyperactivity, mental distress and overall mental health problems.
What's the alternative?
For hydration water is a great choice. If you are looking for a more exciting drink, try tea. It has all the health benefits of water and also contains many phytonutrients. Tea is as convenient as soda and comes in several varieties including many with tantalizing flavors. Tea is available non-sweetened or sweetened with sugar. Plain and flavored teas are coming to market sweetened with Stevia, the one low calorie sweetener that is actually good for you. If your favorite tea is not yet sold with Stevia, buy the unsweetened variety and add some Stevia to it. Stevia is available at health food stores and other socially responsible grocers. And think about how much money you could save by brewing tea at home.
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