Soft drinks are extremely highly processed foods with many unwanted, artificial ingredients. Our bodies do their best to cope with these unfamiliar ingredients. Nonetheless, they do it under great stress and duress.
As these drinks are digested and absorbed into our bloodstream, they do damage little by little. Phosphoric acid, citric, malic and tartaric acids are all added to soft drinks. These highly acidic substances corrode the surface of the tooth enamel and when consumed in high amounts, cause many unwanted dental caries and astronomical dental bills. Following the teeth, the soft drink finds its way to our digestive system. The body has an amazing ability to find uses for the ingredients that we digest, some useful, some not. In the case of the soft drink, the excess amount of sugars and calories contribute to heart disease and diabetes.
Soft Drinks and Osteoporosis
Research also suggests that soft drinks contribute to osteoporosis. This is due to the high phosphorus content in soft drinks. A high amount of phosphorus in the diet hinders the absorption of calcium, should calcium levels be low. In general, adolescents are more likely to drink high amounts of soft drinks and consume lower than the RDI (Recommended Daily Intake) requirements of calcium. They are therefore in a higher risk of having bones that show signs of being less dense, of losing strength and breaking more easily.
During adolescents, more than half of peak bone mass is developed. It is therefore imperative that this age group meets the RDI requirements of calcium and that they avoid massive consumptions of soft drinks.
The Risks of Artificial Sweeteners
When it comes to diet soft drinks, many consumers are unaware of the dangers of the added artificial sweetener, aspartame. Aspartame is added to many soft drinks to give them that sickly sweet taste which may be appealing to some consumers. The dangers of aspartame are as follows:
- It can decrease the availability of tryptophan and therefore serotonin. Tryptophan is a precursor for serotonin. Serotonin regulates mood, sleep and appetite;
- Phenylketonuria (PKU) is a rare disease in which the person is unable to process the amino acid, phenylalanine. As a result, the levels of phenylalanine in the blood increase to very toxic levels. This can cause a variety of complications, including brain damage. Aspartame contains the amino acid phenylalanine in the blood and therefore should be avoided.
Metabolic Syndrome is a collection of conditions that may increase the risk of Diabetes Type 2, stroke or heart disease. Research suggests that in middle age people, the consumption of soft drinks, including diet soft drinks may boost the risk of metabolic syndrome. This is due to the false presumption that because the diet soft drinks contain no calories, they can eat more calories, therefore increasing their caloric content of foods. This may in turn lead to increased body weight.
The Effects of Caffeine
Last but not least, soft drinks contain amounts of caffeine. Caffeine is mildly addictive at low doses. We might know that caffeine manifests as behavioural changes. These include:
- Increased alertness;
- Increased energy;
- Increased ability to concentrate.
It may be reasonable to assume therefore, that these behavioural modifications may encourage repeat soft drink consumption causing addictive behaviour.Originally published on Nov 22, 2011