Wellness Wednesday - What’s in That Soda You’re Drinking?

Although we know it’s better to hydrate with water rather than with soft drinks, a walk around any showgrounds will reveal that many riders drink sodas. For some it’s to get some additional caffeine, for others it’s the taste, and for some it’s a hard habit to break. Americans drink more than 50 gallons per capita of carbonated beverages every year. The US ranks number 1 in the world in soft drink consumption. Here are some things to consider when you grab a can of soda….Phosphoric Acid: this chemically-processed ingredient is more acidic than vinegar. A report in the april edition of General Dentistry (April 2007) reported that phosphoric acid causes tooth enamel erosion even with minimal exposure. The acidity of phosphoric acid approaches the level of battery acid, according to Kenton Ross, dentist and spokesman for the Academy of General Dentistry. Several other studies have seen a link between lower bone density in women (particularly in the hip) when 3 or more cola-based sodas were consumed daily. Increased calcium intake is very important for any woman who drinks sodas every day. Phosphoric acid is used industrially for rust removal.

Sugar: one can (12 ounces) of Coke Cola contains 39 grams (39,000 mgs) of sugar. That is 1.375 ounces of sugar. If you’ve ever taken a spoonful of sugar, you know how sweet that is; the amount of sugar in Coke Cola is over 2 Tablespoons.

Caramel Coloring: while this sounds like a yummy caramel we find in candies it is a chemical cocktail that contains a chemical by-product labeled by the FDA as “4-methylimidazole (4-MEI).” The Center for Science in the Public Interest issued a request last year to the FDA to ban 4-MEI. Studies done by the National Toxicology Program showed that 4-MEI caused lung, liver, or thyroid cancer in rats and mice. The caramel coloring used by most cola companies is actually a by-product of sugars reacted to ammonia and sulfite compounds; known in the industry as ammonia-sulfite process caramel. The chemical reaction of sugar to ammonia results in the formation of numerous chemical byproducts, particularly 4-MEI. In 2011, the state of California added 4-MEI to its list of known carcinogens.

The Diet Drinks: Aspartame: this is a methyl ester of aspartic acid and phenylalanine dipeptide. Developed by J.D. Searle company, and now owned by Monsanto. One of the reoccurring issues with Aspartame is that methanol (which makes up 10% of Aspartame) is converted into formaldehyde (embalming fluid) in the body.   Several studies indicate that consumption of food with Aspartame reduces the toxicity, as does the presence of ethanol. Independent researchers (not employed by Monsanto) caution that  cumulative toxic damage may increase due to possible synergistic reactions to excitotoxic amino acids (like Glutamate, ie MSG).   Further complications can arise because MSG as glutamate is present in many hydrolyzed proteins including textured proteins like soy and whey. Glutamate can also be present in additives and preservatives like citric acid.

As a former cola addict myself (now over 20 years cola and soft drink-free) I can attest to both how difficult a habit it is to break, but also how incredibly better one feels when liberated from soft drinks. Water is not the most exciting beverage on the planet, but it’s alkalizing powers for our high acid Western diets, makes it an important choice of hydration, health, and well-being.