By: Michael Engle
Have you ever witnessed a child, at a birthday party or Taco Bell, take one sip of Mountain Dew and instantly become incredibly hyper? According to Rodale's Emily Main, there are plenty of worrisome long-term side effects associated with soft drink consumption, going beyond the heaping tablespoons of sugar and empty calories. Even though diet soda may lack the calories of the regular counterparts, it also contributes to some of these health hazards!
Super-size physique: Drinking non-diet soda leads to dramatic increases in fat buildup around your liver and your skeletal muscles, both of which can contribute to insulin resistance and diabetes. Danish researchers released a study, revealing that people who drank a regular soda every day for six months saw a 132 to 142 percent increase in liver fat, a 117 to 221 percent jump in skeletal fat, and about a 30 percent increase in both triglyceride blood fats and other organ fat. Their consumption also led to an 11 percent increase in cholesterol, compared with the people who drank other beverages such as water or milk. Meanwhile, diet soda drinkers are prone to a 70% waist size increase over 10 years. Drink more than one diet soda a day, and that 70% may rise to 500%!
Cancerous cola?: Both Coca-Cola and Pepsi-Cola recently announced tweaks to their recipes, in order to avoid labels highlighting a cancer-causing ingredient. Two contaminants in the cosmetic coloring, 2-methylimidazole and 4-methylimidazole, have been found to cause cancer in animals, a threat the group says is unnecessary. According to California's strict Proposition 65 list of chemicals known to cause cancer, just 16 micrograms per person per day of 4-methylimidazole is enough to pose a cancer threat, and most popular brown colas, both diet and regular, contain 200 micrograms per 20-ounce bottle.
Fountain of premature aging: Diet or regular, all colas contain phosphates--weak acids that gives colas their tangy flavor and improves their shelf life. Although it exists in many whole foods, such as meat, dairy, and nuts, too much phosphoric acid can lead to heart and kidney problems, muscle loss, and osteoporosis, and one study suggests it could trigger accelerated aging.
Diet soda pollutes water supplies: The artificial sweeteners used in diet sodas don't break down in our bodies, nor do wastewater-treatment plants catch them before they enter waterways, researchers have found. It's not clear yet what these low levels are doing to people, but past research has found that sucralose in rivers and lakes interferes with some organisms' feeding habits.
BPA found in cans: Nearly all aluminum soda cans are lined with an epoxy resin called bisphenol A (BPA), used to keep the acids in soda from reacting with the metal. BPA is known to interfere with hormones, and has been linked to everything from infertility to obesity and diabetes and some forms of reproductive cancers. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have pegged soda cans, along with restaurant, school, and fast-food meals, as a major source of exposure to the chemical. And while Pepsi and Coke are currently locked in a battle to see which company can be the first to develop a 100 percent plant-based-plastic bottle-which they're touting as "BPA free"-neither company is willing to switch to BPA-free aluminum cans.
Taking a chance on GMO's: As much as 88 percent of the corn grown in the U.S. is genetically modified to resist toxic pesticides or engineered to create pesticides within the plant itself. This corn is prevalent in soda, via high-fructose corn syrup. Thanks to lax government safety regulations, and tight corporate control over who gets to test these proprietary seeds, there are no human studies that can prove or disprove whether these crops are safe. Independent scientists have found that, in animals, genetically modified crops, or GMOs, are linked to digestive tract damage, accelerated aging, and even infertility.
Mountain Dew Mouth and Mind: Dentists have a name for the condition they see in kids who drink too much Mountain Dew. They wind up with a "Mountain Dew Mouth," full of cavities caused by the drink's excessive sugar levels. "Mountain Dew Mind" may be the next medical condition that gets named after the stuff. An ingredient called brominated vegetable oil, or BVO, added to prevent the flavoring from separating from the drink, is an industrial chemical used as a flame retardant in plastics. Also found in other citrus-based soft drinks and sports drinks, the chemical has been known to cause memory loss and nerve disorders when consumed in large quantities. Researchers also suspect that the chemical builds up in body fat, possibly causing behavioral problems, infertility, and lesions on heart muscles over time.
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