2007-07-06 / Columnists

Health & Harmony

Soda.. the pause that.. refreshes?
Commentary By Dr. Nancy Gahles

Commentary By Dr. Nancy Gahles

DR. Nancy gahles
DR. Nancy gahles Take a look around you at the beach and then peek inside your own cooler. What are most people drinking? Soda. The ubiquitous drink that we consume in excess quantities causes excess calories. According to one study, the number one source of calories in America comes from soda. Along with the obvious increased risk of obesity from over-consumption of this alleged "beverage", it is reported that one soda a day can increase your risk of diabetes by 85 percent.

Diabesity, the newly labeled designer chronic disease affects children in ever-increasing numbers. Obesity and diabetes are insidious and require lifetime maintenance to manage the host of accessory health problems that are related to these conditions. The burden it places on the healthcare system is one that every politician is attempting to address, especially as the election year approaches.

As if that scenario isn't bad enough, consider this. The preservative sodium benzoate, which is freely available and in use in the U.S., has been discovered to pose a serious health problem. According to Dr. Joseph Mercola, "Prof. Peter Piper, the UK expert who discovered the problem, says the soft drink preservative can 'totally inactivate' and 'knock out' cell's mitochondria." Dr. Mercola continues, "Sodium benzoate has previously come under fire because, when combined with Vitamin C in many soft drinks, it forms benzene, a cancer causing chemical linked to leukemia. In one study, at least five brands of soft drinks were found to contain excessive benzene levels. Please note the latest ad campaign for Coke with Vitamins!

The June 2007 issue of To Your Health magazine cites 10 reasons to stay away from sodas and energy drinks.

The average soda has NO nutritional value - only sugar, carbonated water, caramel color, natural flavors (NOT!), caffeine, phosphoric acid and high fructose corn syrup.

According to Harvard researchers, the risk of childhood obesity increases 1.6 times with each additional daily serving of soda consumed.

Soda adds more sugar to a typical two year old's diet than cookies, candies and ice cream combined.

Numerous studies indicate the sugar and acids in soda may cause tooth decay.

According to some household cleaning Web sites, soda can be used as a toilet cleaner and rust and grease remover.

A Harvard study of teenage athletes identified a strong association between soda consumption and bone fractures in 14-year-old girls.

An average can of soda has 35-38mg of caffeine and as much as 13 teaspoons of sugar.

Most energy drinks contain about 80 mg of caffeine, along with other legal stimulants like guarana and ginseng.

Certain energy drinks contain huge blasts of caffeine (up to 280 mg) - almost triple the caffeine in a cup of coffee.

Energy drinks can boost heart rate and blood pressure, increase anxiety, dehydrate the body and cause insomnia.

Now that the Fourth of July is passed assert your independence by making conscious health choices. Freedom is all about the right to choose. And forewarned is forearmed.

Delicious, refreshing drinks that hydrate include water. Water stands alone as the number one drink of choice on a hot summer day. For diversity, use slices of fruits such as lemons, limes or oranges. I like cold seltzer with a splash of unsweetened cranberry juice and a few blueberries. Another refreshing and digestion stimulating beverage is seltzer with a slice of fresh ginger, a squeeze of lemon and a dash of honey. Add mint for a cooling sensation.

Most importantly, protect your children from the known risks associated with soft drinks. There is much of life that is unknown and that we cannot prevent. When we are aware of the potential health hazards, it is unconscionable to serve the suspect beverage to your child and then wonder why, when they become ill. As a doctor who treats people every day and discusses lifestyle choices to regain their health, I can tell you that I agree with the sage Ben Franklin, "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure."

Stay safe this Fourth and I will see you on the beach. And, be sure to put the soda can in a brown paper bag!

May The Blessings Be!

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