A rare glass of soda is not poison, but a can of cola a day certainly is. If you are in the habit of guzzling cans of soft drinks after a hot day out, with your evening spirit, or wash down a meal, you may want to rethink your hydration drink. The harmful effects of soft drinks extend beyond the obvious weight gain and obesity. Soft drinks can cause and exacerbate diabetes, asthma, heart, liver, and kidney disease, bone loss, tooth decay, and cancer.According to the USDA, 16% of calories in the typical American diet come from refined sugars and half of those calories come from beverages with added sugar. Where it once was a treat to have a pop now it has become part of the everyday culture around us.Any beverage without “hard” alcohol or dairy products in it may come under the bracket of soft drinks, but they usually indicate the sweet, bubbly, carbonated sodas or flavored drinks found on the shelves of grocery stores, convenience stores, and gas stations. The “Contains No Fruit” label ironically tells us about the zero nutritional content of the drink. More worrying than the lack of nutrition, however, is the high level of unhealthy ingredients in the average soft drink and the health risk they pose.1. Increases Risk Of Diabetes And Metabolic SyndromeThe high sugar levels in the average drink cause a sharp spike in your blood glucose level, and without helping you stay satiated for long. As a result, your body feels hunger and fatigue, unleashing a vicious cycle that negatively impacts your waistline and ups your risk of type 2 diabetes (1). Having 1 or more soft drinks per day leads to a substantial weight gain and an increased risk for type 2 diabetes in women (2). In men too, having 1 or 2 servings of such drinks daily increases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes (by 26%) and metabolic syndrome (3).While the WHO (World Health Organization) has set the limit of daily consumption of sugar at 6 teaspoons, a 12 oz can of soft drink contains 10 teaspoons of sugar. That is 1-1/2 of your daily limit in one swoopCan Diet Soda Make You Gain Weight?Short answer: yup. If you are thinking that the diet version is better, prepare to be disappointed. Contrary to what they are advertised for, diet sodas may actually make you gain weight. Researchers believe that artificial sweeteners in sodas don’t satisfy your sweet tooth like normal sugar and you tend to reach for more sugar as a result(4). They are also responsible for negatively affecting the microbiome in your gut. Aspartame has been implicated in cancer in some animal studies (5) and artificial sweeteners like sorbitol may also cause diarrhea or aggravate irritable bowel syndrome (6).2. Raises Obesity Risk In ChildrenSince children enjoy guzzling these sugary drinks sometimes daily (often replacing healthy foods), they are at a greater risk of becoming obese. Pediatricians who treat overweight children claim that many of their patients take in 1,000 to 2,000 calories a day from soft drinks alone. Some kids drink pop all day long and getting all the calories they need for a day in sugary drinks with zero nutritional value. Decreasing soft drink intake can significantly reduce obesity in children and adolescents (7).3. Raises Risk Of Heart DiseaseObesity, metabolic syndrome, and type-2 diabetes, all of which become more likely with sugary drink consumption, are all markers for cardiovascular disease. Those who consume soft drinks regularly have a 20% higher risk of getting a heart attack. When you’re consuming too much sugar from unhealthy sources, there are fewer chances of your eating nutrient- and fiber-rich fruits and vegetables. This can lead to an imbalance in your lipids and cause heart problems. In a study conducted over 2 decades, men who consumed soft drinks regularly were found to be 20% more at risk of getting a heart attack (8).4. Causes Tooth ErosionThere is yet another reason why too much sugar in your soda can wipe away smiles. The sugar in your sodas, when acted upon by the bacteria in the mouth, becomes an acid. And this acid attacks teeth enamel and weakens it. Children and adolescents are especially susceptible to tooth decay because of their underdeveloped enamel. Using a straw to drink a soda, gulping quickly, and brushing your teeth 30 mins after consumption can reduce damage. Is diet soda the way out? Sadly, no. The damage caused to your teeth when you drink diet soda is the same as consuming meth or cocaine (9). This is because apart from the sugar, sodas also contain citric acid and phosphoric acid as preservatives. This can sometimes make the drink highly acidic. These acids can wear away the teeth' enamel and dentin, the layer beneath, right from the moment they come in contact with the teeth. For the occasional soda, and even citrus fruit juice, use a straw, take a quick gulp, and brush after 30 minutes5. Leads To Osteoporosis And Bone FracturesPhosphoric acid is a food additive added to colas to give them a tangy flavor and also to inhibit the growth of microorganisms in the sugar-rich environment. Too much phosphate in the blood can intervene with proper calcium metabolism essential for healthy bones. Caffeine too can interfere with mineral absorption. According to one study, having cola daily led to osteoporosis and increased risk of bone fractures in older women, possibly due to an imbalance in the calcium and phosphate ratio. Interestingly, non-cola drinks showed no such effect. Nor did any of these affect the bone mineral density in men. Smaller bones, less physical activity, and hormonal changes may put women more at risk (10). 6. Can Cause Kidney TroubleIn a study on 465 patients with chronic kidney disease and 467 healthy people, it was found that drinking 2 glasses of cola daily, but not non-cola beverages, raised the risk of kidney disease by 2 times. This was attributed to the phosphoric acid in colas which causes urinary disturbances, kidney stones, and chronic kidney disease (11).7. Can Cause Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver DiseaseA common sweetener used in soft drinks is high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), made from corn starch. Unlike glucose, which can be broken down by the cells of your body, fructose can only be processed by the liver. When consumed in excess, it can cause non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, a condition that is also associated with high cholesterol and high blood pressure (12). Since HFCS, being cheaper than sugar, is commonly used to sweeten drinks, some research goes so far as to attribute the obesity epidemic, in large part, to the HFCS in soft drinks.8. Increases Cancer RiskThe added colors and preservatives in drinks spell more trouble for you. Cola Color: The trademark caramel color of the popular colas may be aesthetically pleasing but its effects are pure evil: 4-methylimidazole is a carcinogen found in brown food coloring (13). In a laboratory setting, 4-methylimidazole caused lung, liver, and thyroid cancer in mice (14). The caramel color in cola is a cancer-causing agent.Orange-flavored drinks: The vitamin C (ascorbic acid) in cheerful orange drinks are known to react with sodium benzoate, a common preservative found in soft drinks, to form benzene (15). Benzene is a carcinogen that has been found to damage bone marrow cells and cause blood cancer in animal studies.9. Can Disrupt SleepThe daily caffeine limit for kids is 45 mg, which is just 1 can of diet cola. The caffeine found in your soft drinks is highly addictive and acts as a stimulant by enhancing the production of adrenaline. That’s good news when you need a pick-me-up to get through that deadline at work or that mammoth home renovation project. But if it’s a regular feature, things take a turn for the worse. When consumed in excess, caffeine can interrupt your sleep and digestion. What Can You Drink Instead Of Soft Drinks?Water or infused water: Nothing beats plain old H2O when it comes to replacing sugary sodas and bottled drinks. Toss in some cucumber and lemon or a handful of pomegranate seeds or frozen raspberries for some color and a subtle hint of flavor. Iced tea, coconut water, or real fruit juice minus the added sugars are also a healthy option.Sparkling water: If you just can’t give up on that fizz, drink sparkling water jazzed up with a squeeze of citrus. Or try reducing the sugar in a canned or packaged juice by drinking it diluted with sparkling water 50:50 or more.Chilled teas or coffees are also a good alternative, just watch your caffeine intake.Here at Dispensaries, we promote a whole health approach to health!
March is nutrition month so, why not become knowledgable of what is in our food.Food additives are basically anything added to food during production, processing, treatment, packaging, transportation, or storage. According to the Food and Drug Administration, there are more than 3,000 additives used in foods to—among other things—enhance flavor, texture, or shelf life. They range from simple ingredients like sugar or salt to chemical compounds with unpronounceable names. Even though most of those ingredients are safe to eat in limited quantities, some experts say that certain food additives are increasing our risk of obesity and can be damaging to our health. Some to be aware of are:1 SodiumSodium is an increasingly controversial food additive. Last year, research from a university in Georgia found that teens who eat a high-sodium diet are more likely to be obese, regardless of other factors like total food intake or consumption of sugary beverages. Health Canada recommends keeping your daily sodium intake under 2,300 milligrams.2. High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS)HFCS is the sugary stuff made from a highly-processed, genetically-modified corn starch base, from which fructose is extracted. It is relatively cheap to make and thus saves manufacturers money rather than using regular sugar. Research suggests that our bodies treat HFCS differently than other sugars and that it's associated with an increased risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes. Interestingly enough, obesity has in fact risen in North America in correlation with the increased use of HFCS. It may be more difficult to avoid than one thinks since it is used not just in the obvious sodas and candies, but also in products like bread and sauces such as pasta sauce.3. Trans fatsAdding hydrogen to vegetable oil turns it into partially hydrogenated oil, more commonly known as a trans fat. While there are small amounts of trans fats found in animal foods, manufacturers began adding them in larger quantities to processed foods in the '90s. Unfortunately, trans fats have been linked to an increased risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes. In 2018 Health Canada banned the use of partially hydrogenated oils (PHOs) in foods to effectively reduce trans fats in the Canadian food supply to the lowest level possible, and help achieve the World Health Organization’s public health recommendation to reduce the intake of trans fats to less than 1% of total energy intake. With the ban in effect, it is now illegal for manufacturers to add artificial trans fats to their products. The ban applies to all foods produced for sale in Canada including imported products and foods prepared and served in restaurants and food service establishments and as of September 2020, all artificially produced trans fat will be removed from the food supply. Having said this it is good to be aware of the impact of trans fats as they remain in use outside of Canada.4. EmulsifiersEmulsifying ingredients like cellulose and polysorbate are used in a wide variety of processed foods in order to improve texture. They help mix together ingredients like oil and water that would normally separate. The research is early, but a study published in Nature found that emulsifiers affect the gut bacteria of lab mice, increasing inflammation and metabolic syndrome, which is associated with higher obesity risks.5. Sodium BenzoateSodium benzoate is a commonly used preservative used in a wide variety of processed foods such as fizzy drinks and sour preserved foods, such as pickles and salad dressings. Sodium benzoate has been shown to be a potential trigger for hyperactivity in children and ADHD in all ages. The combination with vitamin C or with artificial sweeteners causes the substance to change into benzene that can be carcinogenic.Generally speaking, this is a food additive to avoid entirely. Choose carbonated drinks that aren’t preserved artificially or just avoid these types of drinks altogether. Drink water, wholesome juices, herbal teas, or other drinks that are part of a healthy, whole food diet.5. Nitrates and NitritesThese food additives are used mainly as preservatives in processed meats—like bacon, hot dogs, and deli meats. It is used as a preservative, as well as for flavoring and coloring (it stabilizes the red color of cured meats, preventing them from turning grey) and also hinders the growth of bacteria that may cause botulism.When these foods are cooked at high heat, like when you fry bacon or grill a hot dog, or when they mix with stomach acid during digestion, the added nitrites can generate nitrosamines. Studies now show that nitrites and nitrosamines might be linked to increased rates of type 1 diabetes, as well as many different types of cancer.Look for bacon products that contain ascorbic acid or erythorbic acid; both are safe additives that help inhibit the potentially dangerous reaction.6. Monosodium Glutamate (MSG)MSG is an amino acid used as a flavor enhancer in soups, salad dressings, chips, frozen entrees, and many restaurant foods particularly Chinese. MSG is known as an excitotoxin, a substance that overexcites cells to the point of damage or death. Studies show that regular consumption of MSG may result in adverse side effects which include depression, disorientation, eye damage, fatigue, headaches, and obesity. MSG affects the neurological pathways of the brain and disengages the "I'm full" function which explains the effects of weight gain.Many people actually have a sensitivity to it and can have reactions. These symptoms often include headaches, numbness, nasal stuffiness, and sweating. If you’re in tune with your body and notice that you feel bad after eating foods with MSG, it’s probably a good idea to start skipping it.7. Common Food DyesArtificial colors are often used to make foods bright and vibrant, especially in products geared toward children. While natural dyes derived from plants (such as beets) are safe, artificial dyes, often derived from coal tar, are more cost-effective and therefore used more often. Though studies on artificial dyes have generally focused on cancers that have led to a handful of bans, scientists are now also researching their effects on children, such as disruptive behavior, attention deficit, and hyperactivity disorder, as well as learning disabilities. These are some of the most questionable synthetic dyes still on the market but note Canadian law does not require companies to list which dyes they use in their products; they only need to indicate "color" as an ingredient.Blue #1 and Blue #2 (E133)Often found candy, cereal, soft drinks, sports drinks, and pet foods. It is banned in Norway, Finland, and France. May cause chromosomal damage and increase cancer risk. Blue #2 may cause brain tumors in male mice.Red dye # 3 (also Red #40 – a more current dye) (E124)Found in fruit cocktails, maraschino cherries, cherry pie mix, ice cream, candy, and bakery products. Banned in 1990 after years of debate from use in many foods and cosmetics. This dye continues to be on the market worldwide. It has been proven to cause thyroid cancer and chromosomal damage in laboratory animals may also interfere with brain-nerve transmission.Yellow #6 (E110) and Yellow Tartrazine (E102)Found in American cheese, macaroni and cheese, candy and carbonated beverages, lemonade, and more. Banned in Norway and Sweden. Causes increases in the number of kidney and adrenal gland tumors in laboratory animals and may cause chromosomal damage.8. Artificial SweetenersThese sugar substitutes, such as acesulfame potassium (Ace K), aspartame, and sucralose, are much sweeter than sugar and have few or no calories.Because they’re used in “diet” foods, one may think that if you don’t eat such products, you aren’t consuming any artificial sweeteners. But some, especially sucralose, are showing up in a variety of regular products not necessarily labeled as “diet” or “low calorie” so reading a label is key.Studies have shown that aspartame and other non-caloric sweeteners are actually associated with weight gain and researchers suggest it might be that sweet tastes increase our appetite, no matter where the sweetness comes from.Some research suggests that artificial sweeteners may be associated with an increased risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes, and a growing body of evidence suggests they can be harmful to the gut microbiome.8. SorbitolSorbitol is a sugar alcohol that has about half the calories of sugar but also about half the sweetness. It is used as a sweetener in sugar-free versions of foods like candy, cookies, and gum, as well as an emulsifier and anti-caking agent in some products. But it also occurs naturally in some dried fruits—particularly prunes. Sorbitol brings water into the colon and acts as a laxative and at high doses, it can have unwanted side effects, such as bloating, gas, and diarrhea.9. PhosphatesPhosphates are a form of phosphorus, a mineral that supports bone health. But phosphorus-containing additives, such as phosphoric acid and disodium phosphate, are found in a variety of processed foods including soda, baked goods, dairy products, and fast food. Phosphorus from additives is more readily absorbed than when it occurs naturally in food.High phosphorus intake is hazardous for people with kidney disease or those at risk for kidney disease. If kidney function is impaired, getting too much phosphorus puts extra strain on the kidneys to try to excrete it. Even those with healthy kidneys should be cautious about eating too many foods with phosphate additives. Too much phosphorus can bind to calcium, pulling it from bones and leaving them brittle. And researchers have found a link between high phosphate levels and increased cardiovascular risk.