June 6, 2012 @ 10:56 PM

 

The first time I visited Lebanon, I was 12 years old.  I remember being invited to a string of breakfasts, brunches, lunches, and dinners.  What I remember most during these feasts however were the staple bottles of Coke, Miranda (the cousin of Orange Crush), and 7up on the table – even at breakfast!  Even at the age of 12, I knew this wasn’t a healthy habit, and yet today, twenty years later, sodas are still very much a part of society worldwide.  

I also remember being shocked to see each household having a serving tray of cigarettes for guests, but thankfully awareness of the negative health consequences has put an end to that custom. 

Similarly, a greater awareness of what we eat and drink can only have the same positive effects on our health and perhaps change the way we view the beverage industry.  Although it might not stop the giant soda corporations from producing these drinks, being able to make informed decisions is indeed power in itself! 

Designed To Taste Good

There is no question in my mind that we should be eating the foods that humans were designed to eat – NOT the foods that humans have designed to eat.  For this reason I encourage everyone to read food labels and question ingredients. 

Have you ever looked at the ingredients in soda and other sweetened beverages and wondered what they meant?  Here is a list of the most common ones:

High Fructose Corn Syrup:

This is a man-made sweetener that is produced from corn.  It tastes just as sweet as normal sugar but it costs less to produce and lasts longer on the shelves.  This increase in profits is the reason why many manufacturers switched to HFCS.

The debate about HFCS and its ill effects on our health has been ongoing for years, but a general consensus amongst health officials is finally being reached due to the skyrocketing rates of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and inexplicable cases of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease that we are witnessing today.

The biggest problem with HFCS is the quantity in which it is being consumed.  One soda has around four to five times more fructose than fruits.  Yes, fruits have fructose, but they also have beneficial vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that we need. 

HFCS on the other hand is void of any nutrients and places the entire burden of metabolizing fructose on your liver.  And remember, HFCS is artificially created in a lab!

Sucrose:

This is a component from cane or beet sugar.  So in addition to high fructose corn syrup, sucrose is also added into the mix.  It’s a fact that most sodas have around 9 to 12 teaspoons of sugar!  And people wonder why they are hooked on sodas!  Sugar stimulates the pleasure sensor in the brain and can be quite addictive.

In addition, too much sugar can cause your body to become insulin resistant.  After ingesting sugar, the body releases insulin to remove the excess sugar from the blood stream.  Continuous production of insulin can cause your cells to become resistant, which is the start of diabetes – a disease that is becoming all too common nowadays.

Caramel Color:

This coloring agent is used to turn the soda brown. Yuck!  Need I say more?

Phosphoric Acid:

This is an acidifying agent more acidic than lemon or vinegar that gives soda a tangy flavor.  More chemicals!

Caffeine:

Perhaps this is the only “natural” ingredient from the list but it also comes with its own set of side effects.  It is a well known stimulant that is highly addictive.

Natural flavors:

This ingredient is puzzling as we really don’t know what other ingredients are being used and which ones are deemed “natural”.  What I do know is that “Natural Flavor”, is also synonymous for monosodium glutamate (MSG), which is a toxic chemical that is used to enhance the flavor in foods.

The Bottom Line:

I know that most people enjoy the taste, texture and feeling of a cold soda in their hands, but just remember that it's designed to taste that way!  Most sodas and sweetened beverages are a cocktail of different chemicals, sugars and artificial sweeteners.  Now that you know – the choice is yours!

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