As promised, here is my follow-up to my previous post about the negative health risks of drinking soda (here is the link if you missed it).  This time, we are going to take a closer look at what the actual ingredients are.  Don’t ask me to pronounce some of the them, but I can definitely explain what they are.  And I think you’ll be shocked by what the ingredients of soda are!

Here is the label of a regular can of soda:

The first ingredient is carbonated water.  Carbonated water can be found in all carbonated sodas and is also known as club soda, soda water, sparkling water, seltzer or fizzy water).  It is made by dissolving carbon dioxide into water and creates the effervescence in drinks.  Carbonated water has been shown to erode tooth enamel and linked to bone density loss (although it is negligible and not really considered a concern).   Some studies have shown that carbonated beverages can cause aggravation of irritable bowel syndrome.

Next is high fructose corn syrup.  I’m sure we’ve all heard of high fructose corn syrup as there has been lots of discussion about it recently.  HFCS is any group of corn syrups that has undergone enzymatic processing to change glucose into fructose to increase its sweetness.  HFCS is very common in processed foods and is made up of 24% water and 76% sugars.  The HFCS in soft drinks consists of about 55% fructose and 42% glucose.  It is used to replace sucrose in the food and beverage industry and provides an inexpensive sweetener.  HFCS has been linked to obesity, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and fatty liver disease and is more harmful than regular sugar.  Sounds pretty yummy, right?  Not so much!

The third ingredient is caramel color.  Carmel color is just a water-soluble food coloring.  It is made by heating carbohydrates with the caramel being made from commercially available sweeteners.  Carmel color is considered a carcinogenic and toxic to our bodies, prompting beverage makers to lower the amount in sodas to avoid having to label the products as potentially cancer causing.  Wait – isn’t coloring just to add color?  It doesn’t add anything else to the drink.

The fourth ingredient is sugar.  When learning how to read food labels and check the ingredients, I learned that you never want sugar in the first 3 ingredients.  In this drink, sugar is the fourth ingredient so that must be ok, right?  Nope, we already had sugar (disguised with a different name) as the second ingredient.  I won’t go into the negative things about sugar since we’ve probably all heard a lot about it already.  I just want to point out here that at this point, we have 4 ingredients and have of them are sugars.

Next we have phosphoric acid.  Phosphoric acid is a chemical agent.  I won’t really go into the chemical makeup of phosphoric acid, mainly because I don’t understand the complex agents of its makeup.  In its food-grade form, it provides a tangy or sour taste.  It is available quite cheaply.  Studies have linked it to lower bone density but there is some controversy with those results (it is not clear if this or one of the other ingredients causes loss of bone density).  Other studies have linked its use to chronic kidney disease and kidney stones.  Phosphoric acid is also used for rust removal.  Uh, no thanks!

Next is caffeine, perhaps the most common reason that people drink soda.  Too much caffeine can cause nervousness and jitteriness, upset stomach, headaches, insomnia, increased heart rate, and increased blood pressure.   Caffeine is quite addictive, making it profitable to soft drink companies.   Many of the side effects of caffeine withdrawal are very difficult to deal with, so many people avoid them by continuing to consume it.

Second to last is citric acid.  Citric acid is another chemical compound.  Again, I’ll avoid giving you the actual chemical formula but, trust me, there is nothing about it that could be considered natural.  Its purpose in soft drinks is to add an acidic, sour taste.  It is also used as a preservative.  In addition to being used in soda, you can also find it in certain cleaners, cosmetics and pharmaceuticals.

Last we have natural colors.  I’m not really sure what natural colors actually means.  If a color is natural, does it really need to be added to something?  With all the sugar in soft drinks, it seems that the natural color should be white.  Carmel coloring is the second ingredient so it is separate from natural colors.  So I don’t really know what to say about natural colors other than it is some kind of additive to make soda look more appealing and natural.

You can see that there are no added vitamins or nutrients, just around 150 calories of sugar and processed chemicals in some complicated chemical formula.  Is this what you want to put in your body?  None of these ingredients provides any benefit whatsoever to our bodies.  So why not grab some water instead?  THAT will do you body good!

What do you think of the ingredients in soft drinks?  Do you think there should be stricter requirements concerning the labelling of the risks associated with soda consumption, particularly since children and teenagers are consumers?

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