Love soft drinks? Well, in the last few years, a backlash has begun against fizzy drinks. People attack Coke and Pepsi with a fervour that is usually reserved for Twitter kneejerk reactions. We’re all for open discussion around these issues and suggest that you always look at the research for yourself before deciding what goes in (and out) of your body.
So in the cold light of day why should you think twice before reaching for a soft drink? We’ve put together five reasons why you might want to give up and reached the conclusion that the best thing to drink is actually red wine*.
Reason #1 – Sugar
A single can of your average soft drink contains the equivalent of around ten teaspoons of sugar. With an average fizzy drink habit that will add up over a year to 39 pounds of the white stuff.
And with each soft drink, your pancreas is going to strain itself senseless creating enough insulin to counteract all that sugar which, in that kind of quantity, can seriously interfere with the mechanism in our brain that tells us when we’ve eaten enough. All in all, not great when you’re trying to lose weight.
So perhaps it’s better to switch to sugar-free soft drinks instead? Er … no. Not really.
Reason #2 – Sweetener
Wayyyyy too many soft drink manufacturers use aspartame as a sweetener, and so far it’s been linked to all kinds of physical, mental and emotional disorders – over a hundred of them, at last count. That said, it’s currently listed as a safe, non-nutritive sweetener – read this and make your own mind up.
At warm temperatures, it converts to methanol (think antifreeze), which then breaks down to formaldehyde and formic acid. Diet soft drinks can also increase the probability of metabolic syndrome, which raises the level of cholesterol levels and blood sugar… and goes a long way toward creating that spare tyre around the midriff.
Reason #3 – Caffeine
Whether your soft drink is sweetened artificially or naturally, chances are it’ll contain caffeine. As well as being a very efficient diuretic, caffeine can increase the amount of acid the stomach produces. And in that department, it can either bung you up completely, or produce the opposite effect. But you don’t get a choice.
By itself, caffeine leaches potassium out of the bloodstream and has been linked to high blood pressure, dodgy heartbeats and even certain cancers … and in combination with the carbonation and the phosphoric acid in most soft drinks, it can cause calcium loss.
Reason #4 – Other ingredients in your pop
Phosphoric acid can also cause problems with the heart, kidneys and muscles, but other ingredients aren’t that great for you either. For instance, the water many soft drink manufacturers use is plain old fluoridated, chlorinated, heavy-metal-laden … tap water. And then there’s those mould inhibitors in diet soft drinks: sodium or potassium benzoate which have been linked to damage to DNA.
High fructose corn syrup is, in the main, created from genetically modified corn, despite the lack of long-term studies regarding its safety. And there’s a certain amount of our old pal mercury involved in the manufacturing process – delicious!
Dark-coloured cola drinks can use 4-methylimidazole as a colouring agent, a substance that has been linked to the risk of cancer. Citrus-based soft drinks (and some sports drinks) use brominated vegetable oil to stop the flavouring separating from the rest of the drink. That oil is also a flame retardant in plastics – and has been linked to nerve disorders and memory loss.
Reason #5 – The containers themselves
There’s an epoxy resin in most soft drink tins to prevent a chemical reaction between the metal in those tins with the acids in the drink they contain. That resin, bisphenol A (AKA BPA) is alleged to interfere with hormones and has been linked to reproductive problems, diabetes and obesity.
So the next time you feel like reaching for a tin of something cold and refreshing, you might want to think what it really is you’re reaching for … and reach for something else instead.
*Ok, maybe water is a bit better, but red wine is awesome too.