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Healthy Habits: Cut Back on Soft Drinks, Even Sugarless

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By choosing a diet soda to avoid sugar, you're consuming aspartame. Better known as NutraSweet, it is the sugar substitute used these days in diet soft drinks. Saccharin, previously used, was found to be carcinogenic, as were cyclamates before that. Many health professionals now have serious doubts as to the safety of aspartame, as well.

Andrew Weil, M.D., author of a book entitled Natural Health, Natural Medicine, states that "because I have seen a number of patients, mostly women, who report headaches from this substance, I don't regard it as free from toxicity. Women also find that aspartame aggravates PMS (premenstrual syndrome)."8

Joseph Weissman, M.D., has this warning about aspartame in diet soda: "If it is stored in warm areas or kept on store shelves for a prolonged period, aspartame will change to methanol, an alcohol that ultimately converts to formaldehyde and formic acid – known carcinogens."9 Remember that next time you walk down the soft drink aisle in your supermarket wondering how long those cans have been sitting there, or next time you see pallets of diet soda stacked in the summer heat outside your local convenience store.

When asked which was better, regular pop or diet, Ann Donovan, a certified nutritionist, replied: "Neither! But if you were dying of thirst on a desert island and somebody offered you regular or diet with NutraSweet, go with the regular."

A local health-food store my family frequents has a policy against carrying products on their shelves that contain aspartame (NutraSweet).

The jitters, insomnia, high blood pressure, irregular heartbeat, elevated blood cholesterol levels, vitamin and mineral depletion, breast lumps, birth defects, perhaps some forms of cancer – these and more are part of the package deal of health problems and risks that come with choosing to consume caffeinated drinks.

Taking size into account, the impact of three cans of regular Coke a day on a seven-year-old kid is the same as an adult drinking eight cups of coffee!10Needless to say, physicians – particularly pediatricians – are alarmed. Could it be that the consumption of caffeinated soda pop is contributing to developmental disorders, both physical and mental, in our children? There are many health professionals who would say so. One author puts it this way: "No parent would knowingly give poison to their children; and yet, every time you hand your child a soda pop or flavored drink, you are giving him chemicals that are stored in his body. Is it any wonder that twelve-year-olds die of cancer, teenagers are afflicted with MS, and young men and women commit bizarre acts?"11

How to Cut Back
It would seem that the bottom line here is to stay away from soda pop. At least cut way back. Neither regular nor diet does your body any good. In fact, a steady habit of soda consumption can do a great deal of harm. You ought to be making every effort to wean yourself from it completely. How to do it, though – that's the problem. Here are two tips.

Freshly Made Juices
Consider purchasing a juicer and making your own fresh juices at home from fresh, organic fruits and vegetables. We use a Champion juicer ourselves, well known for its ability to masticate out every drop of juice from the produce. It's "tops" with many nutritionists, although there are other excellent brands on the market.

The important enzymes in fresh juice begin to die soon after they're exposed to oxygen. In order to get the most health benefit, either drink the juice soon after preparation or put it in a tightly sealed thermos for later. Anne and I credit the incredible health effects of juicing as a key element in a cancer-fighting strategy that helped her beat terminal cancer. For more details see our book A Cancer Battle Plan, published by Piñon Press.

Soft Drinks with All the Right Stuff
Or rather, without all the bad stuff. You'll want a product made from purified water and fresh fruit juices, plus free from artificial sweeteners, refined sugar, artificial colorings and flavorings, preservatives, and caffeine. The fewer the chemical additives, the better.

Try making your own soda pop. Mix club soda or sparkling mineral water with various combinations of freshly squeezed fruit juice.

1. Diane Campbell, Step-by-Step to Natural Food (Clearwater, FL: CC Publishers, 1979), page 157.
2. Mary Kerney Levenstein,
Everyday Cancer Risks and How to Avoid Them (Garden City Park, NY: Avery Publishing Group, 1992), page 30.
3. David Reuben,
Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Nutrition (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1978), page 254.
4. Nan Kathryn Fuchs,
The Nutrition Detective (Los Angeles: Jeremy P. Tarcher, 1985), page 2.
5. Fuchs, page 66.
6. Campbell, page 159.
7. Reuben, page 255.
8. Andrew Weil,
Natural Health, Natural Medicine (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1990), page 49.
9. Joseph D. Weissman,
Choose to Live (New York: Penguin Books, 1988), page 123.
10. Nathan Pritikin with Patrick M. McGrady, Jr.,
The Pritikin Program for Diet and Exercise (New York: Grosset and Dunlap, 1979), page 49.
11. Campbell, pages 2-3.

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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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