Many people assume the food they eat couldn’t be harmful or unclean because then the Food and Drug Administration wouldn’t allow it to be sold in stores or to the general public. Though that is a nice assumption, it is wrong. Many of the foods on grocery store shelves contain harmful chemicals, soda being one of the worst culprits.
“I drink soda every day. I hate water. I’m allergic to water. That’s how I look at it,” said TJC student, La’Nashia Reed.
“I think it’s like smoking. Everyone knows it’s bad for them, but they do it anyway, cause it feels good,” Mary Shoemaker a sophomore Psychology major said.
Practically everyone drinks sodas. The TJC cafeteria goes through about 21 gallons of soda, Powerade and assorted juices each week. In a random sample conducted by Gallup’s annual Consumption Habits poll, it was discovered that 48 percent of Americans drink at least one glass of soda per day. These numbers might decrease drastically if people just knew what is in these drinks.
“There is literally no nutrition in our sodas,” said Jon Groth, professor of health and kinesiology.
Coca-Cola, the number one most sold soda on the market, contains phosphoric acid, giving this soda the same pH level as vinegar. According to Forensicsciencetechnician.org, the phosphoric acid in Coke is so high that it can dissolve a nail in four days. Currently, this is the most acidic beverage that is sold.
Coke is not the only soda offender, however. One of the main ingredients in a can of Mountain Dew is Brominated Vegetable Oil (BVO). This is a food additive used in sodas and sports drinks to keep citrus flavoring from separating. BVO contains bromine, a component found in brominated flame retardants. According to snopes.com, it has been medically proven that vast consumption of BVO, two or more liters a day, can cause serious health problems. That may seem like an excessive amount of soda, but it is more common than people would think. Some soda drinkers even exceed that amount.
In 2003, a man was diagnosed with a rare skin condition called Bromoderma. Blood tests revealed that this man’s bromine level was twice normal limits. This may have been caused by the 8 liters of Ruby Red Squirt, a citrus soda containing BVO, which the man was consuming each day. Some of the other main health problems caused by this oil are major organ system damage, birth defects, growth problems, schizophrenia and hearing loss. This information was found from snopes.com.
Not just the chemical compounds in soda are harmful, though. It has been found that natural ingredients such as sugar are contributing to major health problems. In April 2013, The Imperial College of London conducted a study on the correlation between soda and diabetes and found that the risks of developing type 2 Diabetes increased up to 22 percent when a person drinks soda. This was the case even if someone drinks only one soda a day.
To avoid the high sugar content in sodas, many people have switched over to diet drinks.
“I think there is so little known about the sugar substitutes in diet drinks that I don’t know if the diet drinks are a good alternative either,” Groth said.
Kimberly Snyder, author of the New York Times bestseller, The Beauty Detox Food, crushes the belief of diet soda being healthy in her blog post, “The 8 Dangers of Diet Soda.”
The most commonly used sweeteners in diet sodas is aspartame. Aspartame is 200 times as sweet as sugar and also acts as a neurotoxin. When aspartame breaks down, phenylalanine, aspartic acid and methanol are released in the body. When methanol, a wood alcohol poison, heats to a temperature above 86 degrees Fahrenheit it converts to formaldehyde. The human body’s normal temperature is 98.6 degrees. Aspartame also builds up in the brain and acts as an excitotoxin which can excite brain neurons to the point of cell death.
Increased obesity is also a risk of diet sodas, because even though there is no caloric value in diet drinks, they may impact insulin levels similarly to sugar. Because of the sweetness of sugar substitutes, the human body perceives it as sugar and the pancreas kicks in, releasing insulin to consume what it believes to be sugar.
The University of Miami Miller School of Medicine conducted a study on diet soda and heart disease. They discovered that the risk of a cardiovascular event occurring increases by 61 percent for those who drink diet soda daily. They followed more than 2,500 people for nine years, and during that time 559 vascular events occurred.
Despite all the health problems that can arise from drinking soda and diet soda, people persist in drinking them, due mostly to the fact on how addicting they can be.
“I found the less I drink them, the more I crave them,” Shoemaker said.
Although the best choice is to cut soda out entirely and drink water instead, some other healthier, but flavorful substitutes to these beverages are low-sugar sports drinks and natural fruit juices.