soft drinks, health effects, pH, risks

. . . and What Would You Like To Drink?

. . . and What Would You Like To Drink?

© 2006 Wellness Clubs of

On a recent trip to Atlanta I couldn’t resist touring The World of Coke. Coca-Cola is arguably the world’s most recognizable trademark. It’s not surprising that Coca-Cola is a $100 billion corporation.

The tour ended in two tasting rooms. One was lined with spouts that spewed domestic recipes like Coca-Cola Classic, Tab, Mountain Dew, and Fresca, while the other offered international blends.

One sip of the real thing was enough to remind me why I gave up soft drinks years ago. The thick syrupy texture was nauseating, and the carbonation burned as it passed down my throat.

Beverages, like foods, are an acquired taste. If any proof of this was needed, watching the faces of visitors as they sampled one of the International brews was ample evidence. The concoction, a big seller in its country of origin – I won’t say which one so as not to rob you of the opportunity of discovering it for yourself should you ever visit The World of Coke, had a very distinctive flavor that can best be described as eau d’ dead skunk.

The difference in people’s taste for beverages would be a mere curiosity, were it not for the tragic consequences that result from imbibing the sugary, fizzy drinks. Sodas may one day be recognized as rivaling tobacco products in their adverse effects on health.

The most well documented hazard of drinking soft drinks is the damage done to tooth enamel. Cola type beverages cause an erosion on the tooth’s surface, which predisposes to decay. The effect is less pronounced if the beverage is consumed quickly, and more damaging if it is sipped slowly allowing the liquid to remain in contact with the teeth for a longer period of time. Unfortunately, sodas are sipped in the majority of instances.

Sugar containing soft drinks are playing a role in the increasing incidence of obesity in our society. Each 12 ounce serving contains 140 calories and 39 grams of sugar. A Harvard study of the eating, drinking, and exercise habits of children revealed that for every soft drink consumed per day the risk of obesity increased by 50%. This is highly significant, given that one out of every three children in the United States is now considered obese.

The highly acidic drinks have also been shown to weaken bones and increase the risk of developing osteoporosis. In past decades, osteoporotic fractures occurred primarily in elderly women who had lost bone after going through menopause. In 2000, however, a study of teen-aged girl athletes found that cola drinkers were nearly five times more likely to sustain a fracture than girls who did not drink carbonated beverages.

Several studies have demonstrated that soft drinks in general and colas in particular cause changes that promote the development of kidney stones. People with a history of kidney stones should be advised to avoid carbonated beverages.

One need not resort to scientific studies to recognize the hazards inherent in consuming soft drinks, however. All that is needed is observation and logic. Consider the following:

* One of the most effective ways to remove organic stains, such as fruit juice, from carpet is to apply club soda, which will dissolve the material. Given this, how might drinking soft drinks with meals affect the fruit and vegetable content of the meal?

* An effective way to remove grease stains from clothing is to add a carbonated beverage along with the detergent to the washing machine. The grease will be loosened. How might drinking soft drinks affect your ability to absorb fat-soluble vitamins?

* A steak placed in a bowl of cola will vanish within two days. What does this say about the effect of sodas on dietary protein?

* The pH (acidity) of phosphoric acid is 2.8, that of the blood 7.4. A drop in blood pH to 7.2 is life threatening. How do sodas, which are quickly absorbed into the blood stream, affect the body’s acid/base balance?

To be fair, a number of studies, supported in many cases by grants from the soft drink industry, conclude that neither regular or diet sodas have any effect upon health and can and should be included in the daily diet. Having lived through the era of tobacco institute studies that failed to demonstrate any adverse effect from smoking, I’m unimpressed. I’ll stick with logic.

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