I’ve been following with interest as New York City’s mayor Michael Bloomberg moves to ban large containers of “sugary drinks”.
Besides that he really means “high fructose corn syrup drinks,” as mainstream American sodas haven’t been mixed with sugar since 1981, the ban is full of loopholes allowing items like 7-11’s Big Gulp and worse, gives a pass to the “diet” forms of these sodas, which have their own set of evils when it comes to the public health.
A recent study out of the University of Miami that tracked 2500 patients for a decade announced this week that drinking one can of diet soda daily resulted in a 61% increased risk of stroke, heart attack, or other cardiovascular event.
While there is a lot of debate in the medical community over whether the study provided an accurate survey of all races and all health habits to arrive at this conlulsion, I’m finding it most interesting to hear all of the defenders of diet soda dismiss the report and continue to hail the low-calorie benefits of diet sodas while ignoring the elephant in the room: artificial sweeteners.
Most diet sodas contain aspartame, also known as Equal, a synthetic sweetener created in a laboratory. Aspartame does not occur in nature and has been suspected in causing a host of neurologic and other physical issues, including possible links to diseases like multiple sclerosis.
“The study highlights the increasingly negative information we are getting about the consumption of non-caloric sweetened beverages,” Dr. Jana Klauer, a New York City-based private practice physician specializing in weight control and nutrition, said to ABC news. “People drink them to save calories and enjoy a sweet taste, but diet soda hasn’t led to weight loss and now appears to be causing more problems than it solves.”
So what’s a soda lover to do?
You don’t want to drink regular sodas every day as they can contain 5 – 20 teaspoons of sugar (often in the form of high fructose corn syrup) per can, depending on the size of the can and the brand. Drinking sugary drinks regularly can cause your pancreas to work overtime creating enough insulin to handle the overload and was connected with an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes in a 2010 Harvard study.
Here are some suggestions for carbonated soda substitutes that are better choices.
Izze Sparkling Juicesare made with sparkling water and real fruit juices. Delicious, and you get up to two servings of fruit with every bottle!
Flavored carbonated waters may be a good choice, but be sure to read the label closely because many contain a chemical sweetener like detrose, sucralose, aspartame, saccharin, or high fructose corn syrup.
Make your own soda! If your family has the soda habit, consider investing once in something like this carbonated water maker kit that comes with the machine and several reusable bottles. Add your own fruit nectars or juices and not only will you save money and plastic bottles from the landfills, but you will have unlimited carbonated beverages made with satisfying and wholesome flavors and without any undesirable additives or side effects.