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Monday, January 30, 2012

The New Russian Roulette

Drinking soda is hazardous to your health; it's the new Russian roulette.  Are you one of the Americans with a drinking problem? No, not alcohol, we're talking soda here. BMC (the Beverage Marketing Corporation) says that an average American drinks nearly 45 gallons of soda a year. If you've filled your child's kiddie pool lately that's about the amount of liquid in it. Scary? More terrifying yet are the people who are drinking yet more of the stuff. I know some people who consume 2 LITERS A DAY!
We all know soda is bad for our health and that it is part of what contributes to our obesity problem. But those extra pounds and heavier hips are just the tip of the iceberg. 
Rodale recently reported some shocking factoids about soda and your body.  The first fact? The Danes recently completed a study that said drinking 'non-diet soda leads to dramatic increases in dangerous hard to detect fats.'  Participants were asked to drink either regular soda, milk containing the same number of calories as regular soda, diet soda or water every day for six months. Research results showed that while total fat mass stayed the same across all beverage-consuming groups, the participants who drank regular soda had a dramatic increase in hidden fats, including liver and skeletal fat. Rodale says, "Those who drank the regular cola experienced a 132 to 142 percent increase in liver fat, a 117 to 221 percent jump in skeletal fat, and about a 30 percent increase in both triglyceride blood fats and other organ fat," The regular soda drinking group also had an 11% increase in cholesterol compared to the other groups.  
Would switching to diet soda keep you safe from harm? While it might not have the same results as the soda tested above, it might cause health problems like hyperactivity, brain cell damage or set you up for a higher risk of diabetes.  Not a good outcome either. These results alone are enough to make me stick to water!
Factoid 2? Soda contains flame retardants.Yes you are drinking flame retardants! YCH! Some sodas, including the ever popular Mountain Dew, use brominated vegetable oil. Brominated vegetable oil is a toxic flame retardant. It keeps the artificial flavoring from separating from the rest of the liquid but who knows what else it's doing to your innards? This ingredient, often listed as 'BVO' has it's own set of nasty side effects.  It can cause bromide poisoning symptoms like memory loss, nerve disorders and skin lesions. OK, senior moments will arrive all on their own, I'd prefer not to accelerate them by ingesting BVOs.  And having just gotten past the age of zits... I'd rather not deal with skin issues either. 
Factoid 3? When you drink soda you are basically a lab rat. Yes, you may not have a cage, but you are a lab rat all the same. In the USA sodas are sweetened with high-fructose corn syrup, hardly heart healthy, but aside from that it is often made from genetically engineered corn. I didn't know a lot about genetically engineered foods until I started shopping at Whole Foods. Since we've only had genetically engineered seed in our food chain since the 1990s we don't know what the long term health issues will be. Corporations developing GE foods and seeds did not have to test for long term safety. It's been suggested that genetically engineered crops might be linked to digestive tract damage, accelerated aging and even infertility. 
OK, if just one of these facts is true, it's enough to put me off soda for life. I used to do medical research, I know numbers can be manipulated. But soda just has too many risk factors for me to chance drinking it any more. How about you? Like playing Russian Roulette? Have a soda. And by the way, think about what is in your soda bottles next.  Is nothing safe anymore?

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