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Healthy Habits: Cut Back on Soft Drinks, Even Sugarless

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Soft drinks began appearing on the American scene back in 1849. Few took notice. The average consumption back then was less than a pint per person for the whole year.1 Today the average American consumes over 240 pints of the stuff each year – over 30 gallons.2 Since there are roughly 250 million of us, that means a whopping 7.5 billion gallons down the hatch.

Why Cut Back?
As with everything else we put into our mouths, our chief concern should be its effect upon our bodies. What we consume today determines our health tomorrow. Is soda pop a health-promoting choice? No. What about the diet kind, or the kind without sugar and caffeine? Isn't there some sort of soda pop that's okay? Not according to David Reuben, M.D., author of Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Nutrition. In uncompromising fashion he flatly warns, "Don't use soda pop in any form."3

Phosphoric Acid
The chemicals in soda pop fall under the categories of artificial flavorings, artificial color additives and dyes, acidifying agents, buffering agents, viscosity-producing agents, foaming agents, and preservatives. One of these chemical additives, phosphoric acid, is added to many kinds of soda pop to help keep the carbonated bubbles from going flat. Because good health depends upon our bodies being able to maintain a one-to-one balance between calcium and phosphorus in our systems, calcium is released from our teeth and bones into our bloodstreams to help balance the phosphoric acid in the pop we drink. Eventually the phosphoric acid is excreted, taking with it the released calcium. Thus, a habit of soft drink consumption actually robs our bodies of calcium, leading to a condition known as osteoporosis – soft teeth and weak bones.

Phosphoric acid is also known to neutralize the hydrochloric acid in our stomachs. This is unfortunate, for we need hydrochloric acid to help us digest our food and utilize its nutrients. It is especially required for calcium utilization.4So, not only does phosphoric acid leach calcium from our bones, it also prohibits hydrochloric acid from helping to restore it. Bones and teeth just can't win with this stuff in our diet.

In a survey designed to measure the amount of phosphoric acid in twenty different soft drinks, the following were found to contain the highest amounts: Tab, Coke, Diet Coke, caffeine-free Coke, and Mr. Pibb.5 The formulas may have been changed for the better since this survey was conducted. Read labels. By the way, Pepsi Free, Diet Pepsi Free, Like Cola, 7-Up, and Mountain Dew had no phosphoric acid in them. This, however, does not mean that these products are free from the other problems true of soft drinks.

Tap Water
The main ingredient in bottled soft drinks is water, straight from the tap. We've already talked about the nasty stuff found in tap water. To the sea of chemical additives in soda pop are added things like chlorine, trihalomethanes, lead, cadmium, and organic pollutants found in abundance in our nation's water supply. Not the stuff on which good health is built.

The sweetener in regular pop, of course, is sugar. We've already discussed the health hazards that sugar presents as part of the standard American diet (SAD). It rots teeth, impairs the immune system, and can lead to the onset of degenerative disease.

The manufacturers of soft drinks are the largest single user of refined sugar in this country.6 One 12-ounce can of regular soda pop contains over an ounce of sugar (or about 7 teaspoons). "The sugar is cheap, rotten refined sugar that can only do you damage – diabetes, obesity, tooth decay, and all the rest," observes David Reuben, M.D.7

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From HEALTHY HABITS: 20 Simple Ways to Improve Your Health by David J. Frahm as used by arrangement with Jeremy P. Tarcher, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc. Copyright © 2003 by David and Anne Frahm. All rights reserved.

To order this book visit www.penguin.com. Get a 15% discount with the coupon code FENPARENT.


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