Thursday, May 10, 2012

Put down the soft drink and back away slowly...

We all know that soft drink (a.k.a. soda for some) is bad for us, right? Loads of sugar, bad for your teeth, too easy to over-consume and therefore a major cause of weight gain for many people and so on....

Many people stick to diet drinks to avoid the excess sugar found in the standard versions. Next to no calories, no sugar to cause tooth decay - seems like a great idea. That's as long as you can stomach the taste of artificial sweeteners. And if you're not fazed by emerging claims about health risks related to said artificial sweeteners.

Now and then there's a sensational story in the news linking soft drink to illness or even death, like the recent tragic death of a young mother in New Zealand who was said to drink up to eight litres of cola a day. But it seems that even relatively moderate consumption may be linked to serious health issues.

It's been known for some time that excessive cola consumption has a negative effect on bone density, but a recent study has added a new concern - increased heart attack risk. I haven't trawled through the study, but if this article has the facts correct, the phosphoric acid in cola has the effect on our bodies of stimulating bone breakdown to release calcium. The way I understand it, it's all about balancing mineral content in our bloodstream, and extra phosphorous (from consuming cola) means releasing extra calcium from the bones to keep the ratios in check. We then excrete most of that calcium in urine. Because many western diets are low in calcium and high in phosphorous anyway, this re-balancing is going on constantly. If you add regular cola consumption into the mix, you're effectively robbing your bones of calcium and setting yourself on the road to osteoporosis.

Calcium isn't just for strong bones though. Our bones store the stuff and release it when it's needed for a whole range of functions. Among other things, our muscles can't contract without it, we require it to aid in the absorption of Vitamin B12 (and no B12, no iron - trust me, anaemia is NOT something you would want), and it helps regulate blood pressure and control heartbeat.

Deplete your calcium stores and you're not only lining up for brittle bones; you're also in the queue for a cardiac event.

It doesn't matter whether you drink regular or sugar-free cola - the effect is exactly the same. I have no idea what the safe consumption amount is, or even if there is such a thing. Personally, I'll be avoiding it like the plague and keeping my water bottle nearby.


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Jan De Joya said...

This is why I am staying away from soft drinks. I used to drink a lot of them until I found out how much sugar goes into a bottle of one. Now, I stick to fresh fruit juices or smoothies sweetened with a natural sweetener like Natvia.

Kathryn said...

I don't get soft drinks. Waste of money and stomach space that could be used on other stuff like coffee and champagne.

keroppi said...

Soft drinks are really tempting aren't they? but we should be conscious and aware of its negative effects on our health. I also use Natvia to sweeten my drinks. Natvia is an all-natural sweetener that has no aspartame, saccharin, sucralose, and fructose, but it tastes really great.

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