Tag Archives: soda

A new take on artificial sweeteners

Artificial sweeteners are supposed to be good for you. Go ahead, ask your doctor or a dietitian. They’ll tell you they are a great way to get your sweet fix without any consequences. When compared to full sugar soda they’re supposed lower your caloric intake, they reduce your risk of being overweight, they reduce your risk of diabetes, they reduce your risk of heart disease and so on and so forth. Unfortunately, that’s not what the recent research is showing.

Non-caloric artificial sweeteners are among the most widely used food additives worldwide, regularly consumed by lean and obese individuals alike. They were introduced over a century ago as means for providing sweet taste to foods without the associated high energy content of caloric sugars, yet supporting scientific data on safety and efficacy remain sparse and controversial. While some data has shown they boost blood sugar very little, other evidence has linked them to type 2 diabetes and weight gain. These are the conditions they were created to prevent. The question then is how do artificial sweeteners create physiologic change capable of making us unhealthy? A new study is providing some input.

Most artificial sweeteners pass through the human gastrointestinal tract without being digested by the person consuming them, thus directly encountering the intestinal microbiota (bacteria), which plays central roles in regulating multiple physiological processes. These artificial sweeteners alter the balance of the bacteria present in our gastrointestinal tract, thus adversely affecting many of these important processes.

This new study titled Artificial Sweeteners Induce Glucose Intolerance by Altering the Gut Microbiota, has demonstrated that consumption of commonly used artificial sweeteners drives the development of glucose intolerance (high blood sugar) through changes in the composition of the intestinal microbiota. Further, the use of antibiotics eliminates these effects. This confirms the bacteria play a central role in the metabolic changes. Now, I’m not saying we should all be on antibiotics. This study used antibiotics to confirm the theory that artificial sweeteners adversely affects physiology through changes in the intestinal microbiome. This is not a viable option in real life as this can have severe consequences long term.

The exact mechanism through which these adverse physiologic changes occur is not completely understood, but it appears to be related to a change in the composition certain types of bacteria. It creates a problem known as dysbiosis (unbalanced growth of bacteria). This dysbiosis results in the same bacterial profile known to be associated with diabetes, obesity, and over-extraction of calories from food.

So, artificial sweeteners create the same problem they are intended to prevent? Yes. So what do you drink, you say? Water. Water is the perfect hydrating liquid. If you are very physically active, a rehydrating drink with electrolytes and some carbohydrate replacement is fine during an intense workout. If you want to have something sweet, have a real soda. But do it only VERY infrequently!

Want to know more? Sign up for our FREE WEBINAR called “Chronic Disease Hates Your Guts!” November 11th at 7PM. We’ll discuss the importance of a healthy gastrointestinal systems as it relates to the most common complaints in medical practice. You don’t want to miss this!

Register here: 

http://www.anymeeting.com/PIID=EB50D98687463D

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One Soda Per Day Causes Heart Disease

In a recent study, it was shown that just one soda per day significantly increases to risk of heart disease!

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Soda Doesn’t Cause Obesity or Diabetes

According to the American Beverage Association the above title is a true statement.  I think most would agree that soda is a major contributor to obesity and diabetes in this country.  See more in the video below.

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Boost “Nutrition” Drinks Vs. Coca-Cola

It’s quite amazing what can be advertised as nutrition.  I recently saw in the news a company that sells walnuts was ordered to stop making factual and well researched claims about their walnuts because only drugs can make claims of that nature.  The FDA reasoned that if this company were to make these claims, they would have to reclassify walnuts as drugs!  Can you believe it?  I couldn’t.

While the above story is outrageous, what’s more so is the fact that something like Boost original nutrition drink can be advertised as a healthy meal replacement.  See my video below. It is absolutely ridiculous!

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Federal Subsidies for Soda?

I recently read a great editorial blog from the Huffington Post.  It made the great argument that soda in this country is being subsidized by the government.  It’s not being subsidized in the traditional way that, say, corn is, but that’s semantics.  The way it is being subsidized is by allowing people to use the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (formally known as food stamps) to buy sugary soda with their money provided by tax payers.  The government doesn’t allow SNAP to be used to buy alcohol or tobacco so why would it let people buy a product that is just as bad for your health as those two are?  Below is the entire blog.  It’s written by Michael F. Jacobson Ph.D., Executive Director, Center for Science in the Public Interest.  Let me know what you think.

Blog Entry

Forty-three million Americans depend on the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program, or SNAP, to help provide the foods they need for good health. SNAP (formerly known as Food Stamps) is a critically important part of the government’s safety net and has become even more vital to low-income families since the economic downturn.

The program distributes benefits via an Electronic Benefits Card that can be swiped at participating supermarkets and, increasingly, farmer’s markets. But the benefits cannot be used to purchase tobacco, alcoholic beverages, supplement pills, hot prepared foods, and non-food items. For those products, SNAP recipients must use their own money.

Unfortunately, huge amounts of SNAP dollars are used to purchase carbonated soft drinks and other sugar-sweetened beverages. Already among the least expensive foods in the supermarket, these drinks are nutritionally worthless and promote obesity, diabetes and other diseases that have a disproportionate impact on low-income Americans.

One supermarket executive shared with me confidentially that carbonated soft drinks accounted for 6.2 percent of the grocery bills of SNAP recipients. Considering that recipients will spend $65 billion of SNAP benefits on groceries in 2010, that works out to around $4 billion taxpayer dollars that go toward the purchase of soda pop. And that sum doesn’t include non-carbonated soft drinks, which are just as nutritionally poor, such as Gatorade, fruit-flavored drinks with little or no juice, and so on.

Though excluding sugar-sweetened beverages from SNAP would be controversial, setting nutrition standards for government food programs is hardly new. The school lunch and breakfast programs administered by USDA comply with strict nutrition standards that exclude soda and junk food, as does the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program, which is limited to foods that have specific health benefits for pregnant and breastfeeding women and young children.

The federal government should be doing everything it can to reduce soda consumption, not encouraging it. In fact, the government’s 2010 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee bluntly stated, “avoid sugar-sweetened beverages.” There would be stiff opposition to eliminating soda from SNAP from several quarters, and the soft drink industry would certainly pull out all the stops. That’s what happened when the idea of a penny-per-ounce excise tax on soda was floated in Congress and in the New York State legislature. And Coca-Cola in particular has a long track record of using its “philanthropy” as a way of buying new friends and silencing critics.

A less controversial way to use the SNAP program to promote healthier diets would be to provide recipients with a financial incentive to purchase fruits, vegetables and whole grains. One easy way would be to provide a credit of say, 30 extra cents, for every dollar spent on healthy foods.

The SNAP program also funds a good chunk of the nutrition education that goes on in the United States, in the form of nearly $400 million in matching grants for state and local governments. But incredibly, during the Bush administration, the U.S. Department of Agriculture ruled that SNAP education funds could NOT be spent to mount community-wide campaigns to discourage the consumption of specific foods, such as soda, and the Obama administration has retained that policy. As a result, health officials in the city of California, Maine, Wyoming, and San Francisco have been effectively gagged when they’ve tried to run campaigns about the health effects of soft drink consumption. We’ve called on the administration to reverse this gag rule, and let SNAP-Ed funds be spent in this most-cost-effective way. (New York City has been running an ad campaign that should be emulated all over the country.)

I suspect that most people would agree that it makes sense not to allow federal nutrition assistance funds to purchase Budweiser and Marlboros, and reasonable people could disagree on where exactly to draw the line. But Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Mountain Dew, and other soft drinks make no positive contribution to the diet, promote expensive and debilitating diseases, and make our already stark health disparities worse. I would draw the line at soda. This is a product–and an industry–that needs to be taxed, not subsidized.

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Statistics on Soft Drinks – You’ll be amazed!

The Stats on Soft Drinks
Dr. Court’s Comments

Some of the stats above are just for fun, but they are interesting.  The ones I think we should all pay attention to are the ones that relate to our health.  Many of you reading this know that soda is bad for you, but seeing just how many liters the average American consumes in soda per year is truly astounding.

According to this, 216 liters are consumed every year by the average person in the United States.  Japan drinks a tenth of that much!  Is it surprising that Japan has the longest life expectancy in the world?

Let’s give you a little perspective on just how much 216 liters is.  It is exactly 57.06 gallons!  That is a lot of soda!  That’s 7,296 ounces of soda or roughly 20 ounces per day per person.

Now, also consider that this is an average.  That means it must take into account everyone, including the people who are not drinking any soda.  So for every person that’s not drinking any soda there is a person drinking at least 40 oz. per day to make up the difference.

I know that some of you reading this know that soda is extremely bad for your health and that you don’t drink any of the stuff.  That just goes to show you that there are plenty more people who regularly consume massive quantities of soda.

So why is soda so bad?  When you drink these sugary beverages, your blood sugar spikes almost immediately.  It spikes very high, too.  Your body responds by secreting high levels of insulin.  This forces your liver to begin the immediate process of turning all that extra sugar into fat.  It is the storage of this fat that, over time, becomes extremely detrimental to health.

It is a proven fact that sugar increases your insulin levels, which can lead to not only weight gain, but also high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease, diabetes, premature aging and many more negative side effects.

People who are misinformed will point to the fact that soda is ‘fat free.’  True, it is fat free, but your body will convert that sugar to fat for storage.  The body does not get rid of that excess sugar because it sees it as energy that could be used at a later date.  People who consume large amounts of soda are setting themselves up to be overweight and under nourished.

The soda industry is a huge problem here in the US.  It causes so many health issues and drives up the cost of health care.  It does so by directly causing avoidable health issues such as diabetes, obesity and heart disease.  I recommend that my patients never drink soda.  In the rare occasion that they do have it, they should have a small amount.  By the way, I define ‘rare occasion’ as once or twice per year

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Like Smoking, Soda Needs to be Taxed

Sugar intake, especially in children, is a major US health problem.  It is a major contributor to obesity and is creating an epidemic of diabetes in children, a disease once considered an adult problem.  The soda industry, much like the tobacco industry in the 80’s, markets heavily to children knowing that if they can form the habits of soda drinking young, they will most likely have a life long costumer.

While soda is not chemically addictive, although some would argue that point, it certainly creates dependency.  It does so by setting up a dangerous process within the body by which a person can become dependent on the sugary surge they get from a soda to feel normal.  Also consider that many sodas contain caffeine.  This caffeine also have a profound affect on a person and can actually cause withdrawal symptoms just like a drug.  The withdrawal symptoms can be very uncomfortable and include  headache, fatigue, sleepiness, inability to focus and concentrate. Others report experiencing flu- like symptoms, irritability, depression and anxiety.

The real problem of soda, however, is the sugar in soda.  It forces the body to release a hormone called insulin in such large quantities that children quickly become insulin resistant and soon thereafter are diabetic.  Soda creates a disease in children that used to take decades to develop in adults.  These children are also overweight increasing their risk for just about every chronic disease ranging from heart disease to cancer.  This places a huge financial burned on our health care system, driving cost up higher and higher.  The way to off set this?  Perhaps a soda tax is the answer.

The Joint Committee on Taxation calculated that a 3-cent tax on each 12-ounce sugared soda would raise $51.6 billion over a decade.  This is quite a lot of money.  A 12 pack of Coke costs about $2.99 so that would up the price to $3.35.  It certainly isn’t enough to stop people from buying their sodas, but it would provide some income to help fight the health problems it is causing.  Proponents of the tax say the money would be used to fund a health marketing campaign to teach people how to eat healthy.  This is a good idea only if they teach it correctly and disregard the whole low fat paradigm.  Studies show that sugared beverages are the No. 1 source of calories in the American diet, representing 7 percent of the average person’s caloric intake and up to 10 percent for children and teenagers.  You will notice sugared beverages are fat free!  Maybe the beverage industry should start advertising that.  The problem in this country is the carbohydrate consumption is through the roof.  Teaching people about eating fat free is a terrible idea because it will only push people towards things high in sugar like soda.  They are fat free after all!

The marketing campaign needs to focus on low glycemic, low carbohydrate options.  This is the only way to change the health picture in the US.  We need to shift our paradigm and consider that fat is not the enemy.  Carbohydrate is.  Simple and refined carbohydrates cause disease and keeping them out of the diet is the single most important factor in long term health.

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