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Soda: the worst “food” on the planet

Kick The Soda Addiction

According to a recent study done by Yale University’s The Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity, while Americans know that soda and other sugary drinks are bad for their health, they continue to drink them at an increasing rate.

One interesting finding of the study was that most respondents favored better education about the health consequences of drinking soft drinks, energy drinks, and other sugary beverages.  Why should you kick the addiction, and how?

I watch the addiction of a few people close to me, to carbonated soft drinks. One of my closest friends drinks it every day and calls it her “binky.” She kicks the habit but always goes back—because when she quits diet soda, she finds herself taking up sugar.

Another tells me he is not addicted but seems to be in denial. I see him drink it 2 or 3 times a day. I’m not saying this to judge—just to express my concern, because soda is not actually food. It’s toxic acid.

I wonder if seven sobering facts about accelerated aging and disease risk from drinking soda would help any of my friends—including you?—kick the habit? Share this with anyone you know who loves the burn of carbonation—or is addicted to the caffeine rush—or maybe both.

Here are seven kicks in the pants, to help you quit the soda habit:

  1. SODA BRAIN! Brominated vegetable oil, or BVO, is added to soft drinks. It’s an industrial chemical used in plastics as a flame retardant. (It’s also in sports drinks.) It is known to cause nerve disorders and memory loss. It builds up in body fat and causes behavioral and mood problems, infertility, and heart problems.
  2. FAT ON THE INSIDE! Researchers in Denmark found that those who drink soda have fat stores around their liver, other organs, and skeletal muscles, which leads to diabetes. Soda drinkers in the study also had much higher triglyceride blood fats and cholesterol than non-soda drinkers.
  3. HORMONE UPSET! Aluminum cans are coated with BPA, which interferes with hormones and causes obesity, diabetes, cancer, and infertility. Neither Pepsi nor Coke has been willing to switch to BPA-free, while everyone else in America is doing so.
  4. FRANKENFOOD! Lots of soda ingredients are corn-derived, and nearly 90 percent of the corn grown in the U.S. is now genetically modified. The U.S. government isn’t particularly interested in testing this horrible social experiment, but we know that genetically modified crops are linked to rapid aging, infertility, and gastrointestinal tract damage. Not that those ingredients really resemble corn by the time you drink them….but you get none of the fiber and other nutritional benefits of corn (which are limited anyway) and all of the downside of the GMO “frankenfood.”
  5. CARAMEL CANCER! Two chemicals with reeeealllly long names are known to cause cancer in animals, and they make the lovely brown color in colas. Center for Science in the Public Interest tried unsuccessfully last year to get the FDA to ban them. The chemicals are just cosmetic, but of course Coke and Pepsi aren’t gonna back down. (Look how big the experiment went over when Pepsi tried to make a clear cola called Crystal Pepsi in 1992. All they care about is what sells.)
  6. DIET AIN’T ANY BETTER! Even diet soda makes you fat. A study in Texas found that those who drink diet soda gained 70 percent in waist circumference in 10 years, compared with people who don’t drink soda. Those who drank more than two per day? They had a 500 percent waist expansion! The culprit is the neurotoxin aspartame. It actually raises your blood glucose levels, even though it contains chemicals rather than sugar.
  7. GET OLD FASTER! Phosphates in cola extend their shelf life and improve taste. But they rob your bones and blood of desperately needed minerals. That leads to kidney problems, osteoporosis, heart disease, and rapid aging. It stops children and teens from building bone mass, in the critical period they are developmentally meant to do so. (After 30, we generally lose bone mass.) Soda manufacturers have increased phosphate levels higher and higher—but a medical journal article two years ago showed that lab rats with elevated phosphates died much earlier than normal.

I’ve been quizzing my readers who talk to me at classes about their soda addiction. I ask them what they like about it, and carbonation (a “party in your mouth”) is a major answer. Here are some alternatives to soft drinks that may help satisfy your craving while you kick the habit:

  1. Try drinking kombucha (a fermented tea)  from the health food store once a day instead. Synergy brand is most popular.
  2. If you really have to have a soda now and then, Zevia brand in health food stores is a much better alternative. It’s no superfood. But no artificial colorings or chemical sweeteners or sugars—just stevia sweetened.  Carbonation isn’t good for your blood. However, many of the dangerous things I wrote about above are NOT in the Zevia sodas.
  3. Better, freeze fresh lemon juice in ice cube trays. Pop a few frozen cubes into mineral water, with some stevia, for fizzy lemonaid.
  4. If it’s the caffeine boost you’re after because you haven’t gotten your nutrition to the level where it sustains your energy, drink an unsweetened, or stevia-sweetened bottled green tea from the health food store.  Tazo has a stevia-sweetened, zero-calorie green tea in a glass bottle. Try adding a spoonful of chia if your mouth is used to being entertained by carbonation–some folks report that the funny little chewy chia seeds help satisfy the desire for a “party in your mouth.”