About Soft Drinks
Our nutritionist Amanda shares some thoughts re soft drinks...
Saturday lunches were a tradition in my family. We would sit at the dining table with our all time favourite meal – hot dogs, salad and the dreaded COKE! This was a much loved past time and something we very much looked forward to. It was a time to get together and catch up on the week’s event. All that changed (well a part of it) when I heard about the infamous coke experiment...
For those of you who are not familiar with it, let me enlighten you. The purpose of this study was to determine the rate of change in indentation hardness of the enamel in permanent teeth that have been exposed to coke for a specific period of time. In other words how quickly the tooth will rot when placed in coke for a period of time. The outcome of the experiment was that coke reduced the hardness of enamel in the teeth. Well, for a then future nutritionist, this had a lasting effect on me.
Needless to say the family traditions went on, however, devoid of the coke!
Soft drinks, as we know are highly processed foods. Our bodies try and cope with these foreign ingredients the best way they can, but they do it under duress causing many unwanted consequences. As we digest these drinks, our teeth are the first ones to feel the pain. The phosphoric acid, citric, malic and tartaric acids are added to soft drinks. Due to their high acidic nature, these substances corrode the surface of the tooth enamel causing much unwanted dental caries and visits to the dentist.1
From the mouth, the soft drink travels through our digestive system and is absorbed into our blood stream where the sugars and other ingredients need to proactively be used. Due to the fact that there is an excess amount of sugars and increased calorie intake in soft drinks, this excess contributes to diseases such as obesity and diabetes.2
Some research indicates that soda could increase the risk of osteoporosis, due to the ratio of calcium:phosphorus being 1:2 instead of 1:1.1 The high phosphorus content in soft drinks (especially coke) hampers the absorption of calcium, if calcium intake levels are low. Calcium is needed in all stages of life but particularly in the elderly, adolescents and during pregnancy.
According to a study from Harvard Medical School, high school girls who regularly consumed soft drinks were three to five times more likely to break bones than those who didn't.3
As mentioned above, soft drinks may harm bones because it's high phosphorus content, which some studies suggest hinders calcium absorption. Up to 60% of peak bone mass is developed during adolescence. In addition to this, many adolescents’ diets do not meet the daily nutritional requirements for calcium.
The artificial sweetener, aspartame, is added to many diet soft drinks. Once absorbed, aspartame can decrease the availability of the amino acid tryptophan and reduce the brain level of the neurotransmitter serotonin.4 These molecules are essential for sleep effectiveness, mood stability.
A 2007 study led by a Boston University scientist examined middle-age participants in the Framingham Heart Study. Researchers discovered that soft drinks and diet soft drinks alike boosted the risk of metabolic syndrome (a collection of conditions that can increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, stroke or heart disease).
This may be due to the fact that artificially sweetened diet drinks may impair the ability of the body to predict the caloric content of foods and may lead to increased intake and body weight.5 They may even make us more hungry later in the day. That’s because the sweet sensation delivered by the drinks primes our metabolism to expect a rush of calories. The calories, of course, never arrive, so the metabolic response is left wondering what to do - and that process may, later on, make us feel hungry and therefore eat excess calories.
2. American Journal of Public Health, April 2007, Vol 97, No.4
3. Carbonated Beverage Consumption and Bone Fractures, Amato et al. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med.2001; 155: 200-201.
4. Chief medical consultant David Edelberg, M.D., FDA: http://www.wholehealthmd.com
5. Circulation. 2008;117:754-761.), 2008 American Heart Association, Inc.
Disclaimer: The material provided is for information purposes only and should not be used as medical advice. Do not use the information as a substitute for medical care.
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