Don’t Be Duped
Maybe you’ve seen the commercial. It’s done by the 800-lb. gorilla of the cola bottlers. There’s feel-good music playing in the background, flashy red and white graphics, and a voiceover talking about all the wonderful changes they’re making. They’re offering portion-control through smaller cans, and more reduced-sugar and reduced-calorie options. They’re offering non-soda options with products like vitamin-infused water.
You might even come away from the ad feeling like the cola giant really cares about your health, and we’re certain most people that work for these giant beverage companies are good, honest people.
At least as nice as the folks who make cigarettes!
But these companies are in business to sell sodas and other beverages, and most of them are bad for you. One way or another, they harm your health. The same is true for manufacturers of highly sweetened juice drinks. No matter what spin they put on it, these beverages aren’t a healthy choice.
In a recent study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers found a direct correlation between the intake of sugar-sweetened beverages and weight gain. People who drank soda weekly or daily showed increases in their body mass index and were more likely to become obese.
In one study, researchers found that regular consumption of diet soda inhibits your kidney function by as much as 30 percent. Diet soda won’t keep you skinny, either. Diet soda drinkers are at 57 percent higher risk of becoming obese than non-soda drinkers!
So, here’s quick cheat-sheet of what you need to know about sugar-laden and artificially sweetened beverages so that you can make smart decisions in the face of the hype:
Sugar: Four grams of sugar on the label equals one teaspoon in the can. The average 12-ounce can of cola contains 39 grams of sugar. That’s almost 10 teaspoons! Just imagine grabbing a bag of sugar from your pantry and measuring out 10 teaspoons into a glass. Take a good long look… do you really want to drink that?
The consequences of too much sugar consumption include metabolic disorders, a higher risk of diabetes, and weight gain. According to the American Heart Association, for optimum health you should limit added sugar (any sugar that doesn’t occur naturally in fruits, vegetables, dairy, and whole grains) to five to nine teaspoons a day. A single small soda blows that limit out of the water.
High-Fructose Corn Syrup: Most of the added sugar in your diet probably comes from high fructose corn syrup. This is another area where marketing messages can leave you feeling confused. According to public relations spin from the corn industry, high-fructose corn syrup isn’t any different than getting your calories from regular sugar. And they’re mostly right with two big differences.
First, studies suggest that high fructose corn syrup is more likely to trigger weight gain and abnormal increases in abdominal body fat than table sugar – even when calorie consumption is equivalent.
Second, high fructose corn syrup does not trigger the body’s normal appetite suppression response. When you eat something with sugar, your brain recognizes you’re full. Not true with high fructose corn syrup. When you drink sodas sweetened with this substance, you’re likely to consume more calories because you won’t feel full.
Artificial Sweeteners: Diet soda drinkers say that the negative health consequences of sugary drinks explain why they choose sugar-free versions. Replacing some or all of the sugar or high fructose corn syrup with artificial sweeteners will drastically cut drink calories… to zero in some cases. But, as we mentioned before, these artificial sweeteners have been tied to weight gain. And even though they are approved by the FDA and considered safe, people do have reactions to them.
Aspartame, in particular, causes bad reactions. At one time, up to 80 percent of all food-related complaints received by the FDA were tied to aspartame. This number may have declined since then, but Americans are consuming more artificial sweeteners than ever, which cannot be a good thing. Artificial sweeteners have no nutritional value whatsoever.
You should also watch soda labels for neotame, a relatively new artificial sweetener created in a test lab at Monsanto. It’s loosely based on aspartame’s formula, but a shocking 7,000 to 13,000 times sweeter. Manufacturers claim this highly potent chemical is safe, but admit it hasn’t been tested much and that the main reason they use it is that it greatly reduces their production costs.
Some medical authorities argue that it’s toxic to your health. We don’t know the answer to this, but we do know one thing – we’re not going to volunteer to be a lab rat in a giant biochemistry test aimed at increasing soda manufacturers’ profits!
Ultimately, the choice is yours. Plenty of tasty, natural drinks are available – drinks that won’t make you fat and more prone to disease.
Water: The very best choice is to drink more water. Make the switch from soda to water, and we promise you that within two weeks, you’ll prefer good, old-fashioned H2O to that syrupy stuff. Hydration is good for your brain, your blood and your organs. Pure water adds no toxins to your body and flushes out toxins ingested through other foods or inhaled from dirty air. Drinking more water also reduces your desire for other beverages.
Infused Water: You can also try fruit-infused water. These low-calorie beverages don’t have sugar or artificial sweeteners added. They have a lightly sweet, satisfying flavor. You can also make your own. Just add a cup or two of sliced fruit (citrus and pineapple are great choices) to a pitcher of water and let it stand overnight. Then strain it and enjoy.
Iced Tea: This is our favorite beverage for when we’re craving an alternative to water. With all the varieties of tea available, you can find plenty of blends that make a satisfying glass of iced tea – no sugar needed.
Taking control of your sweetened-drink consumption is one of those steps that can make a big difference to your health all on its own.
If you’re a daily soda drinker, just drinking one less soda a day and more one glass of water a day can be enough to help you lose 13 pounds over the next year! And it will help reduce your risk of heart disease and diabetes.
So don’t get sucked in by soda propaganda. Give pure water and iced tea a try – we think you’ll be happy with the results.