I am always surprised to find sodas such as Coca Cola or Fanta available at children’s parties and even more so to find that these sorts of drinks can still be purchased at some school tuck shops. Surely we are empowered with enough information in this day and age to know that these sorts of drinks can cause severe issues in our bodies at a cellular level, even their ‘diet’ soda siblings. Why are we fooled by a name? These substances are especially damaging to our children whose bodies should not have to cope with the massive influx of chemicals and sugar that these drinks bring with them. So what really is in a soda?
The basic ingredient for any soda is carbonated water. Carbonated water is acid forming in the body and in order to stay fit and healthy we should be aiming for an alkaline environment. Things that are bad for us like viruses, bacteria etc cannot thrive in an alkaline environment. So by drinking carbonated drinks we are driving our bodies away from this healthy state.
Next is High fructose corn syrup (HFCS). HFCS is a corn syrup that has undergone an enzymatic process to convert some of its glucose into fructose to produce the desired sweetness. (Wikipedia). Dr Mark Hyman says this about HFCS: ‘When used in moderation it is a major cause of heart disease, obesity, cancer, dementia, liver failure, tooth decay, and more.’
Then we have the caramel colouring. The colouring is actually a mix of sugars, ammonia, and, in some cases, sulphite. When heated at high temperatures, this combination turns into 2-methylimidazole (2-MEI) and 4-methylimidazole (4-MEI) – proven cancer inducers. (The Institute for Natural Healing). This is the substance that gives Coca Cola it’s brown colour.
And then there is caffeine, a significant amount of it. Not only does this caffeine impact a child’s body negatively but it is also addictive. This is why it is difficult to label a soda as simply a treat. Every time your child gets a taste of a soda, and the hit of caffeine that follows, they become slightly more addicted to it. Caffeine is also incredibly dehydrating on the body and should be followed by copious amounts of pure water to counter the effects. Kidshealth.org lists the effects of caffeine on kids (and adults) as follows:
- jitteriness and nervousness
- upset stomach
- difficulty concentrating
- difficulty sleeping
- increased heart rate
- increased blood pressure
Phosphoric acid, this is where it really starts getting interesting because this is where minerals actually start being leached from your body causing degenerative issues such as osteoporosis.
Then there are other ingredients such as coca extract, lime extract, vanilla and glycerin.
Many people believe that swopping to a diet soda is the better option as there is no sugar of caffeine in this option. The sweetners used, however, can have harmful effects on the body many of them interfering with our hormonal systems. If we are drinking diet sodas in order to manage our weight then this is very much a losing battle. These drinks are also full of the same acids, colourants and other chemicals that make sodas so bad for you.
If you find that you crave the ‘refreshing’ taste of a can of coca cola give Kombucha a try. This is a fermented black tea based drink. The culture used to make this tea makes use of the caffeine and sugar in the drink during the fermentation process so although the final drink is sweet, it actually contains minimal amounts of sugar. This fermented drink also contains natural probiotics which are great for your digestive system. It is incredibly refreshing and is the closest natural drink to sodas. Kids love the taste of Kombucha too!
Next time you reach for a can of soda remind yourself what this is doing to your body and ask yourself if it is really worth it. Is your health not worth the same investment and attention that your retirement receives?