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Don't Drink Your Calories!

By: Karen Peralta

It may well be that soda pop is mankind's worst ever discovery. If you drink soda pop, especially the caffeinated kind, it could kill you, as shown recently when a man's death seems to have been associated with his overconsumption of diet soda. But most especially, it can go right after your kids' health. Pop gives the average teenager approximately 12.5 teaspoons of refined sugar a day. It works out to that much more than what our US government has determined people need in unrefined sugar per day. Also, your kid and you are using soda pop, in all probability, as a food. In 1977-78, teenagers drank twice as much milk as soft drinks, but by 1994-96, it had turned around; they were drinking twice as much soda as they were drinking milk. And such consumption is linked with lower intake of nutrients, such as vitamins, minerals and fiber.

Meanwhile, empty calories are all those soda pops contain, aside from ulcer-causing acids. The ingredients in both regular and diet pop can eat away the inner lining of your stomach, eventually causing severe digestive problems. And the average small bottle or can of soda contains over 200 calories, none of which harbor any real nutrients for your health whatsoever. If you consume one can of pop per day, you will gain 12 pounds in only one year. Pop is contributing to major health problems, particularly obesity. Such a condition has been proven to injure your health by the USDA Economic Research Service. Several studies by them have shown that weight gain is directly related to soft drink consumption. Weight gain itself is the prime risk factor for Type Two Diabetes, which can make you go blind, cause lifelong paralysis and finally death. It can be controlled only through a daily regimen of diet or medication. Do you want that sort of thing in your life? If not, cut back on your drinking of soda pop.

Also, fruit juices and drinks like iced tea, Gatorade, Snapple, and other such common drinks which are promoted to be ''healthier'' than soda pop are often no such thing. Check the label before you buy fruit juice. It may contain only 10% real fruit juice. And the drinks that claim to contain 100% real fruit juice have just as many calories as soft drinks and are not that much more nutritious, either. Many fruit juices are simply loaded with sugar, either refined or unrefined. A glass of apple juice holds 10 teaspoons of sugar, as the juice is concentrated from a much larger amount of apples. You're much better off eating a single apple and getting the smaller amount of calories and the roughage instead. The sugar in apple juice is concentrated, unlike when in the original apple, and it will raise your insulin level, making your body burn excess blood sugars rather than fats.

And our average alcohol intake is certainly not any better. Hard liquors contain a high amount of calories, and even a light beer has about 100 calories-all empty. Alcohol is quite dense in calories; one gram of alcohol is worth seven calories. Although an occasional glass of fine vintage red wine is good for your heart, it contains a high amount of alcohol, which is high in calories and contains no nutrients. And alcohol does not satisfy your body's hunger cravings, as your body will burn alcohol for fuel before it begins to burn your body fat. So you will continue to eat commensurate to your hunger, thus piling on the calories. This is not to mention the facts that alcohol also destroys your brain cells and causes a remarkable amount of vehicle accidents and deaths.

It may well be that soda pop, alcohol and other such empty calorie consumption is a major problem in America, especially for teens and adults. That's why they're trying to remove it from the schools. And as you get older, being overweight can give you coronary disease, strokes from blood clots building up in your arteries, and cancer. Cancer is like being eaten away by your own body, literally a piece at a time.

Also, always downing that two-liter of soda pop increases the risk of osteoporosis in both men and women when they drink soda pop instead of milk, which is rich in bone-building calcium, and dentists are especially keen on people not drinking sugar-laden, no calcium, hopelessly empty soda pop. All it seems to do is taste good, it would appear. Dental experts say that if you drink it between meals to quench your thirst, you get tooth decay and dental erosion due to the sugars and the acids in pop.

Some of your desire for pop puts you at a risk for kidney stones and a slightly higher risk of heart disease. There needs to be more research done in these two areas, but there has been a fair degree of documentation done by the University of California at Berkeley.

Caffeine, on the same hand, has been proven to be a highly addictive drug. If you drink a cup of coffee or more per day, day in and day out, you are technically addicted to coffee. It's a stimulant and has been proven to help people's sex lives somewhat, but it also increases the excretion of calcium. Other ingredients in soda pop such as Yellow Number Five promote attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder in some children. Yellow #5 also induces allergic reactions such as asthma in a sizeable portion of individuals.

Soft drinks are one of the most heavily promoted items in all of human history. You can find them in gas station stores, the 7-11 or the AM-PM, vending machines are everywhere, and they are lining the school halls also. You need something wet to quench your thirst, and that's the secret reason people are going to bars anyway. To get a drink. But neither the soda pop nor the booze, as both caffeine and alcohol are addictive drugs.

US companies spend $700 million or more per year on media advertising for soda pop per year, and hundreds of millions on other promotional activities. They even make contracts with your public school systems to sell soda pop in the halls. Parents and educators have recently, however, been making a concerted attempt to reign in that form of merchandising. Several states have banned at least the non-diet soft drinks from some or all schools, but that could be more of a step backward than a step forward. It does cut the calories, and diet soda has been proven to not quench hunger by some studies, again done at the University of California. Your kids will not do much better on diet soda, but at least they'll be more prone to eating or drinking something else..unless they don't. Diet soda is still full of those same acids they mentioned, and have no sugar in them to help them along in your digestive cramp. They can cause nausea, diarrhea and constipation, not to mention those same allergic reactions, including asthma, as regular soda does. Diet soda alone is not an ''easy way out.''

Nonetheless, the Center for Science in the Public Interest makes these recommendations: that governments should require chain restaurants to declare the calorie content of soft drinks and all other items on menus and menu boards; the Food and Drug Administration has been told by them to require labels on non-diet soft drinks to state that frequent consumption of sugar-laden drinks promotes obesity, diabetes, tooth decay, osteoporosis and other health problems; governments should provide water fountains in schools, government buildings, parks and other public places; school systems and other organizations, and all those organizations which cater to children should stop selling soft drinks, candy and junk foods in hallways, shops and cafeterias.

Until this month of September, 2005, there was no hard and clear evidence through science that soda itself alone can make kids fatter. But reporting in The Lancet, a British medical journal, a team of Harvard researchers had found the first evidence absolutely linking soda pop drinking to childhood obesity. Twelve year olds who drink soft drinks regularly are far more likely to become or to be obese than those who don't.

Obesity experts at Harvard found this to be highly important and spent 19 months following the children rather than simply following them around for a week or so like many studies gone before have done. Statistically through many similar studies it's been found to be more important to use a lengthy study than a sporadic or shorter study. And in this study, it was found that schoolchildren consume who drink pop take in some 200 calories per day more than children who usually don't. It supports the notion that long-term obesity is an ingrained behavior, starting in childhood, and that we don't compensate well for calories in liquid. In short, water or milk is simply better.

In fact, the answer to this problem is patently obvious: drink water, and more water. Milk is good, but you should always remember that it's a food, and not that useful for thirst purposes. Whole milk especially is high in both fat and calories, so go easy on the milk. Water, on the other hand, has no calories and is the very thing you should drink to quench your thirst. You should drink a minimum of six eight-ounce glasses of water per day, say all the experts who have studied this subject. And water, without adding on any calories, can take the edge off your hunger and help you fill up. A good time to drink a glass of water is just before a big, calorie laden meal; it will slow you down. One strategy that works is to always carry a bottle of fresh, clean water with you, and to take sips from it frequently. This also helps prevent daily dehydration, which can be exacerbated by overconsumption of alcohol, soda pop and coffee or tea, which all produce excess thirst.

A small daily consumption of coffee and/or tea is fine, as long as you don't add lots of sugar to your caffeinated or decaffeinated beverage. Both coffee and tea contain antioxidants, which are anti-cancer agents benefiting your overall health. Green tea has been discovered to have terrific health benefits, less caffeine, and to boost your metabolism, helping you to burn fat. You can even drink it before you go to bed, calming hunger cravings for that ''midnight snack'' which might cause you to gain weight. But avoid the ''designer drinks'' you find at Starbuck's and other such shops which are loaded with high amounts of milk fat and sugar. If you must have your latte, put cinnamon in it, which helps slow down your absorption of sugar--and which also has no calories and tastes delicious. And add honey or turbinado sugar and low-fat milk to your drink.

Although fruit juices are not the best bet to quench your hunger and your thirst, as they contain too high of amounts of insulin-raising sugars, vegetable juices such as V-8, Welch's, and Heinz tomato juice are fine, as they are both low in calories and do not have a high sugar concentration. However, don't depend on them too heavily, as they are high in salt content, which again like soda pop, alcohol and caffeinated beverages make you thirstier. Too high of salt intake is also associated with major health problems. And you should not substitute ''veggie'' juices for fresh fruits and vegetable, which contain fibers and other nutrients than you will find in the juices from them. In fact, if you eat fresh fruit and vegetables in large quantities, they will help you with your thirst problem and fill you up with proper food and nutrients as well. Have a slice of watermelon instead of a beer. Fruits and veggies will help quench your thirst, as well as drinking plenty of water.

But soda pop has been shown to make you thirstier, and that does lead to the further drinking of it as you attempt to quench your thirst. Something about the combination of chemicals in many soda pops dries out people. So then they reach for another can of soda, thus becoming committed to a vicious cycle. And that greatly increases their calorie intake, especially since pop today is now coming supersized as well, filling up those larger and larger plastic single-serve looking bottles. It might not be a bad idea to try to follow the serving suggestion, at least, on the bottle. And it might be a better idea to drink either soda pop or alcohol of any kind from a plastic or glass bottle than an aluminum can, as the aluminum has been shown to seep into the can. This may have something to do with the formation of Alzheimer plaques in the human brain, as aluminum may be a cause of Alzheimer's disease, a dreadful illness that causes people to forget everyone and everything that holds any meaning whatsoever in their lives.

Is it worth it, to worship a can of a kid's drink that was invented as a snake oil remedy in a poor man's fireplace by bubbling a concoction of chemicals together that tasted good? He only intended to sell it in small amounts to adults as a tonic, as it did seem to settle people's stomachs, and stimulate them. That's because original formula Coke's main ingredient was cocaine, not caffeine, but eventually cocaine became illegal. Caffeine and alcohol are both heavily addictive drugs which have been overly promoted as beverages. Water is not. Water is good for you, where caffeine and alcohol can actually hurt your body and eventually cause long-term health problems leading to great pain and death.

The Coca-Cola Company finally removed cocaine from its product. Perhaps someday, we should follow suit on caffeine and alcohol. But until that day ever comes, we are stuck having to police ourselves and our children. Please do it wisely.

Many of the statistics and facts in this article are from:

The Amazing Statistics and Dangers of Soda Pop
By Sally Squires and Dr. Joseph Mercola

From Liquid Candy: How Soft Drinks are Harming America's Health
The Center for Science in the Public Interest

About the Author

Executive Director and President of Rainbow Writing, Inc., Karen Cole-Peralta writes. RWI at http://www.rainbowriting.com/ is a world renowned freelance writing, copyediting, ghostwriting, graphics and CAD, search engine optimization, publishing helpers, internet marketing, xml code authoring, free professional services, and supercheap dedicated web host and website development corporation.

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