Fuss over fizz - the truth about soda

To all parents and people of conscience, here is wise counsel that I believe would do you well as regards the health and longevity of yourselves and your families. Nowadays people don’t merely want to live long.

To all parents and people of conscience, here is wise counsel that I believe would do you well as regards the health and longevity of yourselves and your families. Nowadays people don’t merely want to live long.

They actually want to live long and healthy. In fact healthy aging is now a fad. There are those who say they wish they wouldn’t hang around for long, but I believe they are actually raising a flag that they are not enjoying life at their present  states and they wish it were otherwise.

Deep down, everybody desires a long and joyous life.  However, there is a joy-killer in the name of modern lifestyle. Man’s lifestyle choices today are proving to be a hindrance to his efforts towards a long, healthy and independent life.

We in Rwanda are quickly moving into this modern way of living just as the citizens of industrialised countries. Wireless technology, rapid transportation, all-under-one–roof shopping malls, snack, coffee and sports bars are just some of the lifestyle options that are increasingly becoming familiar.

These advances, though brilliant, have minimized the need for physical activity and the faster pace of life has made it more convenient to eat fast food.

In essence, there are now more barriers to healthy lifestyles than before. It is also no secret that we now have a food industry that caters for taste and profit rather than good nutrition and truth be told, producing unhealthy food has proved to be quite a profitable venture.

Therefore, it is one of the products of this ‘taste-bud led’ food industry that I seek to draw you attention to. Of all the drinks on the market, soda probably has the worst reputation.

Science and medical research point their finger sat soda, and blame it for everything from diabetes to tooth decay, hyperactivity to childhood obesity. (Notice how these conditions are quite common in children today)

But is soda really that bad for us?

One certified nutritionist was asked whether soda was inherently unhealthy for people and he gave a simple unequivocal answer, “Yes, Affirmative, Absolutely!”
So, what’s so unhealthy about this popular and favourite beverage?

Let’s start by taking a look at the ingredients. The average cola contains carbonated water, caramel colour, natural flavours, caffeine, phosphoric acid and high-fructose corn syrup.

Carbonated water is plain water infused with carbon dioxide, which creates the fun and sizzling bubbles. Next is the caramel colour which is a natural additive that tints food products, providing the familiar colour consumers expect to see.

Natural flavours are often of the citrus variety and are added for taste. All of these are simple, harmless ingredients. Throw in a little caffeine and the story changes. Caffeine is a diuretic and stimulant known to be addictive.

What’s left on this list of ingredients is what solidifies soda’s bad name: SUGAR. As for Phosphoric acid it is a chemical that adds a tangy or sour flavour by breaking down starches into sugar.

By now you may be familiar with your doctors and nutritionists’ repeated advice every time you visit the hospital or local dispensary that you should consume as little sugar as possible - especially refined sugar.

However, this becomes a hard task as many products on supermarket shelves contain this final ingredient on our soda list: high-fructose corn syrup.

Sample this: most fruit jams, chocolaty spreads, artificial fruit juices, tomato sauces, syrups, ketchups and a lot more products have this ingredient. It’s included because it is a cheaper form of sweetener than anything else.

It is also one of the single most horrific ingredients in the food supply as adding high-fructose corn syrup to foods provides little or no nutrition and but lots and lots of calories.

Any diet in Diet soda?

Experts believe that just because diet soda is low in calories it does not mean that it cannot lead to weight gain. Emerging research suggests that consuming sugary-tasting beverages, even if they’re artificially sweetened, leads to a high preference for sweetness overall.

That means your body craves for sweeter (and more caloric) cereal, bread, dessert and everything. Also, guzzling these drinks all day long and at every chance takes the place of healthy beverages you need. 

Diet soda is 100 percent ‘nutrition-free’, so one diet soda a day is fine, but if you’re downing five or six cans, that means you’re limiting your intake of healthy beverages, particularly water and tea.

Experts, therefore, advice that the best way to hydrate is by drinking low-calorie, high-nutrient fluids such as natural fruit and vegetable juices or good old plain water.

These choices can make all the difference between a future of battling numerous health conditions to a long and healthy life. After all, it is said that conscientious people live longer.


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