Soda, So Duh!

In the process of “cleaning up” your eating habits in pursuit of being more healthy, don’t forget to clean up your drinking habits as well! I have addressed wine consumption in a previous article and this time I’m tackling SODA!

Soda sweetened with sugar should be an obvious no-no, yet sodas are unfortunately noted as the beverage of choice for many who battle obesity. They are also the biggest single source of empty calories in the American diet. “Back in the day” of the soda fountain, sodas used to be an occasional treat, but now they are a part of day to day life for many Americans. Filling up with a super sized soda will leave little room or taste for water, so along with being overweight soda drinkers are often under hydrated. In general, the more you fill up on bad or empty calories, the less room you leave for good, nutritious calories.

Obviously too much sugar in any form is damaging not only to your waistline but also to your teeth! Coke and Pepsi are quite acidic and will definitely erode tooth enamel. A great science project for kids is to put baby teeth in Coke or Pepsi and watch them literally disappear over just a few days time. Scary,  right? So if you want to rot your teeth drink lots of soda and give up on flossing and brushing! (Plain club soda, seltzer, or mineral water does not damage tooth enamel.)

It should be easy to agree that sugar sodas have to go, at least most of the time, and be saved for super special once in a while occasions. But what could possibly be the harm in consuming diet soda, you might think? Zero calories/zero harm. Unfortunately this is not the case. One study indicated that those who drink diet sodas are in fact the nations most obese individuals. For one thing, the sweet tooth is activated by the false sweetener, so for many battling a sugar war already, once that taste door is opened by the soda, it may be hard to close the door, moving on from the soda to other sweets, not free of empty sugar calories.

Another reason to give up diet sodas is the false sweetener, Aspartame , a non-calorie artificial sweetener comprised of methanol, phenylalanine and aspartic acid.  It is used in diet sodas and thousands of other products worldwide. Since it appeared on the US market in the 1980s, aspartame and the possible health risks from the substance have been a topic of much debate. Research has linked the sweetener to diabetes, fibromyalgia and certain forms of cancer.

Here are some of the potential dangers of excessive aspartame consumption.

Cancer: Studies have found a dangerous connection between aspartame consumption and the development of brain tumors. When aspartame breaks down it produces a substance called DKP. As your stomach digests DKP, it produces a chemical that induces the growth of brain tumors.

Diabetes: Aspartame consumption is extremely harmful to people with diabetes. It makes it more difficult to control sugar levels and aggravate diabetes-related conditions such as retinopathy, cataracts, neuropathy and gastroparesis.

Psychological Disorder: Emotional and mood disorders have been linked to aspartame. Studies suggest that people with certain emotional problems are more sensitive to aspartame.  High levels of aspartame cause changes in the serotonin levels which can lead to a variety of emotional disorders.

Hinders Weight Loss:  Research indicates that the sweetener actually increases your hunger and can impede your weight loss. Phenylalanine and aspartic acid can cause spikes in insulin levels and force your body to remove the glucose from your blood stream and store it as fat. Aspartame also inhibits the production of serotonin and prevents your brain from signaling to your body that you are full. This can lead to food cravings and make it more difficult for you to lose weight.

Vision Problems: Methanol, one of Aspartame’s components, can damage the retinas and the optic nerves. Aspartame consumption has been connected to eye pain, blurred vision and, in some cases, blindness.

Brain Damage and Seizures: Aspartame can change the chemistry of the brain. Formaldehyde, a product of methanol, gathers in certain areas of the brain causing degenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and ALS.

Soda in general, caffeinated soda particularly, has been blamed for lowering bone density in women.  Phosphoric acid, a major component in most sodas, may be to blame. Phosphorus itself is an important bone mineral. But if you’re getting a disproportionate amount of phosphorus compared to the amount of calcium intake, that could lead to bone loss. The caffeine in soda can interfere with calcium absorption, so beware!

Saying “No” to soda is a smart, savvy health choice!!

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