Soda has been making headlines all year. New York City is looking to ban large sodas in restaurants, movie theaters, and street cars, and the American Cancer Society is requesting that U.S. health officials view soda’s health risks in the same way they viewed tobacco’s health risks forty years ago. And if that weren’t enough, a study published in the May issue of the American Journal of Nutrition found an increased risk of stroke among soda-sippers.
Why all the focus on soda? What’s the story on this carbonated combatant?
“Soda” was first invented in the late eighteenth century. Carbon dioxide was infused with water to create carbonated water, also known as “soda water.” As we know, carbonated water is the biggest component of most modern soft drinks. The earliest sodas consisted of spices and fruit juices. In fact, drinking this “mineral water” was considered a healthy practice, which is why pharmacists began selling it, infused with medicinal and flavorful herbs. Soda fountains became quite popular in American pharmacies. Soon, soda was bottled, and Coca-Cola and Pepsi were invented in the late nineteenth century. The rest, as they say, is history.
Today, the ingredients in a typical can of cola probably include:
- carbonated water
- sugar or high-fructose corn syrup (equivalent to 10 packets of sugar)
- phosphoric acid
- caramel color
- other “natural flavorings”
What strikes me most is that one twelve-ounce can of soda contains the equivalent of ten packets of sugar. That’s an exorbitant amount of sugar. As a comparison, how many packets do you put in your morning coffee? Maybe one or two? Imagine ten! What’s worse, the average teenage boy drinks twenty-four ounces of soda per day. That’s twenty packets of sugar in soft drinks alone!
Large amounts of sugar cause a spike in blood sugar and insulin. This leads to inflammation, which leads to many serious diseases and conditions like heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and obesity.
It’s not only the sugar that makes soda so unhealthy. Soda is highly acidic, and your body tries to compensate by leaching the calcium out of your bones. This is why researchers found that women who drank just 3 colas per week had a greater percentage of bone loss than women who drank other things.
And don’t think that diet soda makes it okay. Artificial sweeteners have so many problems of their own (including the acidity), that we’ll save that for another blog post.
The bottom line… soda is seriously sorry stuff.
Fortunately, I have some agreeable alternatives for you. With these groovy guzzlers, you won’t miss those sickeningly sugary soft drinks.
Simply slice your favorite fruit and add it to a pitcher filled with water. My favorites are watermelon, lemon, lime, raspberries, blackberries, strawberries, and orange. Throw a few slices of cucumber in there, along with some fresh mint leaves for a refreshing twist.
This couldn’t be easier. Steep about 4-6 tea bags (choose your favorite) in 2 cups of boiling water for about 10 minutes. Remove the bags gently without squeezing them. Pour your tea into a 2-quart pitcher, and add cold water until it reaches the top. Let the tea cool to room temperature before putting in the fridge. If this is too much work, you can fill a 2-quart glass container (with a lid) with water, add 4-6 tea bags, and seal with the lid. Let the tea sit in the sun for about 5 hours, and then chill. If that’s too much work, then most stores sell unsweetened iced tea. Go buy a bottle.
Fruit-infused iced tea
Make the iced tea as instructed above, and add your fruit of choice.
These drinks will provide a superior satisfaction to soda while benefitting your body and satisfying your soul!
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