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The Bane of Soft Drinks

It has become evident to me that soft drinks have become the mainstay for fluids being put into the body. Long- term use of these drinks can have a detrimental effect on the human body. In a recent edition of Townsend Letter For Doctors And Patients an article called The Curse Of The Soft Drink inspired me to bring this to your attention. The following are excerpts of that article written by the author Stan Field.

How can such an innocent drink be of harm to the body? Lets look at some of the ingredients that you will find in almost every can of pop. Most contain phosphoric acid, caffeine, sugar, saccharin or nutri-sweet, caramel coloring, carbon dioxide and aluminum.

Lets begin with phosphoric acid: this slows the carbon dioxide bubbling to help with bottling. Phosphorus works in the body with calcium to maintain proper building and tearing down of bone. Soft drinks cause the excessive excretion of calcium. Thus over time this can contribute to disorders like osteoporosis. It doesn’t stop here though folks. The body excretes more calcium in anticipation of more phosphorus which leads to excess calcium in the urine, the depositing of calcium in joints ( osteoarthritis, bursitis, gout, bone spurs and bunions), the formation of kidney and gall stones, and the development of plaque calcifying on the arteries. Phosphoric acid further depletes other alkaline minerals, magnesium, sodium, and magnesium which are used in numerous body functions such as the heart, nerves, and adrenal gland function. It causes the reduction of hcl (hydrochloric acid) secretion in the stomach thus aiding in the formation of gas and bloating by interfering with digestion.

Caffeine is another popular ingredient in soft drinks: we know that caffeine is a stimulant and helps to overcome fatigue, mental sluggishness and to enhance endurance. Some of its negative attributes are that it aids the constriction of arteries thus increasing the heart beat and blood pressure. It affects the adrenal glands in a way that weakens them.

Sugar: a 12- ounce can of soda contains approximately 11 teaspoons (33 grams) of sugar. The ingestion of simple sugar has many effects on the body: it increases urinary calcium (and magnesium, chromium, copper, zinc and sodium) by impairing reabsorption by the kidneys, causes blood sugar to rise requiring insulin release from the pancreas to normalize. This overworks the pancreas. It causes clumping of red blood cells, impairs immune function by reducing the activity of white cells to attack invading bacteria.

Are diet sodas any better? Artificial sweeteners may not have calories but they affect the body adversely too. Aspartame, when ingested, breaks down into three chemicals. They are aspartic acid, phenylalanine and methanol. Aspartic acid is an excitotoxin to the nervous system due to exciting the nerves excessively. Phenylalanine (amino acid) can depress serotonin (neurotransmitter) thus leading to emotional disorders, depression and poor sleep. Methanol is a poison to the liver and the brain. It is converted to formaldehyde which is a neurotoxin, carcinogen and can lead to birth defects. Methanol poisoning is a cumulative poison with symptoms including headaches, tinnitus, memory lapses, numbness, nerve inflammation, blurred vision and blindness.

Aluminum became an issue when soft drinks were put into cans instead of bottles. The phosphoric acid was eating the can so they solved this problem by coating the inside of the can with plastic. Aluminum still leaches out though and recently has been a factor in aluminum toxicity. It tends to deposit in brain and bone tissue and is a possible contributor to Alzheimer’s disease. It also causes the excess excretion of calcium in the urine which has been shown to cause bone and joint disorders.

I find this to be an interesting subject given the fact that Americans love their soft drinks at whatever price. I have seen many people feel better when they have eliminated or reduced the amount of soft drinks in their lifestyle. As I mention in one of my past articles about the benefits of water. It is still the best fluid you can put into your body. Good health!

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