Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Why do I hate soda?

Just a little preamble: I usually try to keep things positive, however, I'm going to approach this post a little differently. You'll see disgust, fear, and (hopefully) some science. The food crisis in the US, all aspects, are devastating to me. I can't get through articles or documentaries... or even walk through the grocery store without feeling frustrated, sad, and sometimes I wind up on the verge of tears. I can't say why it has such a strong affect on me, but it does. Some may decide to take this as a criticism towards those who "choose" to partake of unhealthy substance, but be assured that is not my intent. My belief is that it is not, in fact, a choice that you are making, but rather a choice that is being made for you by biology and irresponsibility on the part of the "food" manufacturers and the government.

So... why do I hate soda?
Because it scares me. Soda itself isn't so scary, but the way its pushed on us and the way we rationalize allowing ourselves to consume it is the scary part. I use the tern "me" comfortably here, because there was a time where.... I just didn't know. Now, I have a hostile attitude towards sweetened beverages, and carry a deep worry for those who "abuse" these sweet poisons. I'm going to use soda as an umbrella term for all sugar-sweetened beverages, because its a shorter word and easier to type. :)

I'm going to cover some facts and some things that I personally find concerning. Let's start with the easier stuff and then work our way towards the science, shall we?

If you're thirsty and reaching for a soda, you're only further dehydrating yourself. 
So many soda ads suggest: if you're thirsty, why not grab a refreshing cola? No! If you're thirsty: drink something that will actually quench your thirst! When you use soda as a thirst-crusher, you're really only dehydrating yourself further. For one, soda can be a diuretic. Yes, this is true of anything with caffeine. I have, however, noticed (mind you this has been only a few people over the span of 2 or 3 years) that will drink a soda, and then another, and then another on an average day. The biggest issue I take with that trend is: when the hell are you drinking water?? A few ounces in the morning and at night aren't enough! I believe that if you mindfully increase your water consumption, then the physical need for soda will wither AND you won't have room in your tummy for the extra fluids

What the hell is phosphoric acid?
It has a few uses. Outside the food industry, it can be used as a rust remover. Ever heard of pouring cola on a rusty bike wheel to remove the rust? It works. Dirty penny? Works. I even used it to clean a toilet. No I'm not joking, and yes it worked well. 

Phosphoric acid is also used to combat nausea. It is even in a few anti-nausea otc medications. Ever wonder why mommy gave you cola to help your tummy when you were sick? Though I cannot find the original article where I learned this, but I read that one of the reasons phosphoric acid is used in soda is because our bodies would naturally try to reject the amount of sugar we're trying to consume in one serving of soda. I'm inclined to believe it because I once (looked it up after) consumed 26g of sugar in one sitting while mindlessly eating. The results were not pretty.

Sugar/sweetener is addictive.
I don't think I can accurately and concisely summarize what I have learned about the effects of sugar/food on the brain and dopamine levels, so here is a segment called Sugar- A sweet addiction from The Skinny on Obesity that helped me to understand the chemical responses to sugar and other favorite foods. Takeaway: Your brain reacts exactly the same way to sugar as it does to drugs, alcohol, and nicotine.

Did you know that sugar is the only substance on earth that is both carbohydrate and fat?
Yup. Technically sugar does not contain fat, however it does metabolize straight into fat. [EDIT: It was called to my attention that saying it metabolizes straight to fat is incorrect. Whoops! In an attempt to keep it simple, I accidentally over-simplified it. As I was writing the original edit, I realized it deserved too much info, and so it will be a separate post that can be read HERE.] Alcohol does the same thing, but when we drink alcohol, we are fully aware of what it is and the affect it can have on us.

People who count calories don't count the liquid calories.
I'm included in that category. Even if you're someone who keeps a food diary, its too easy to forget about the 12oz oj you had this morning, or the peach iced tea you bought with lunch, or the Crystal Lite you sipped on while watching The Bachelor. Just kidding on that last one; if you're drinking anything other than wine while watching The Bachelor, then you're doing it wrong.

Our government is not protecting us.
So many lobbyists with connections to big food companies. Unhealthy foods marketed directly to children. Food deserts. The truth is, that there is too much money to be made by putting out delicious and dangerous foods. Big food companies and medical professionals alike benefit from our crappy diets. Why isn't our government protecting us? Our own surgeon general had this to say.
"Often when I speak, the press wants to talk about the tragedy of the day. They want to talk about terrorism, they want to talk about weapons of mass destruction, they want to talk about emerging infections. I was at a press conference a couple of years ago, and no matter what the press conference was about the second question would always be something about a terrorist, something about a bomb, something about chemical warfare. So one reporter one day made a mistake in a room filled like this said to me, 'Surgeon General, what's the most pressing issue before you today?' and I said, 'Obesity.'The room was silent, none of them knew what to ask. They asked me, 'Why do you say that?' and I said to them, 'Because obesity is the terror within. It is destroying us, destroying our society from within. And unless we do something about it, the magnitude of the dilemma will dwarf 911 or any other terrorist event that you can point out to me.' So this is a terror from within, it's destroying us."  -Dr. Richard Henry Carmona (17th Surgeon General of the United States)
So many feels.
I know I don't know everything there is to know about soda, sugar, addictive substances, and the brain. I just know that my instinct is to steer clear. If I can't read the ingredients and it has an unnatural color, why would I think its a good idea to drink it? If I consumed everything that has a pleasing color and smells nice, I would have eaten several dozen candles by this point in my life.

I do occasionally have a sip of someone else's soda. If I'm feeling a little nauseous then I'll hint down some pop. My favorite drink is tequila and cola. Something about root beer goes so nicely with my occasional Chipotle burrito. I don't avoid it at all costs, but I have found that since I now know what is in soda, how it reacts inside my body, and the addicting quality it seems to have.... I know that it can only ever be a casual relationship. That goes for juice, too.

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