Release date: 9/15/2010 Non-alcoholic beverages do not appease the thirst and do not clean the organism, remember to drink water! What are non-alcoholic beverages? The main ingredient of refreshing non-alcoholic beverages is water (90%) or mineral water in some cases, which contain dissolved sugars (consumer sugar i.e. saccharose or carbohydrate syrups like inverted, glucose or fructose) in 7-10% quantities. Refreshing non-alcoholic beverages are produced and sold with added carbon dioxide (CO2) in 0.4% quantities. They can also be produced without CO2 and then they are labeled as soft drinks. Other ingredients are numerous additives which are added for taste improvement, aroma enhancement and product stability. Refreshing non-alcoholic beverages can be flavored by fruit juices, aromatic herbal extracts or, most commonly, by synthetic aromatic compounds. Various acids are added for better taste of the product, as antioxidants and for color stability. Most widely used is the citric acid, followed by ascorbic, fumaric, gluconic, propionic, lactic, malic, and tartaric and many others. However, cola beverage is acidized with phosphoric acid which gives the stinging taste, and caffeine is added which is bitter in taste. Natural or synthetic colors are also added which resemble the fruits on the label. All non-alcoholic beverages contain preservatives which prevent the spread of microorganisms (benzoic and sorbic acid and sulfites). Common are the “low-energy”, “diet” or “sugar free” non-alcoholic beverages, which are really products where sugar was replaced by artificial sweeteners (saccharine, cyclamate, acesulfame and aspartame), and are targeted for users in reduction diets and diabetics. Non-alcoholic beverages consumption Non-alcoholic beverages are the most sold beverages in our country and in the world. They are in, hip and popular with youngsters. This isn’t an accident. It is the result of intensive marketing and any place, any time availability. However, numerous companies ignore the fact that the colored liquid sold in attractive bottles is harmful for out health. The biggest non-alcoholic beverages consumer is the United States where in the year 2000, 60 billion liters were sold. One 0.33l can was sold to every man, woman and child per day. In 2002, the consumption rose to over 600 cans per person a year, or, 0.54l per day. The consumption in Croatia keeps growing. The Croatian Camber of Economy data indicate that an increase from 129 million liters to 278 million liters occurred from 1994 to 2002. The average consumption is 62 liters a year per person or 0.17l a day. Detrimental health effects The label of the product states that the beverages contain only refined sugar which adds to the calorie count and various additives (E-number) and that it doesn’t contain any nutrients, therefore, the calories in non-alcoholic beverages are rightfully called “empty calories”. Even small amounts, 1-2 cans a day can be harmful. I am going to list only some of the harmful effects of non-alcoholic beverages consumption. Most common health risks include obesity, diabetes and other glucose related disorders, dental damage, nutrients deficit, osteoporosis and bone fracture, heart disease, digestive problems and neurologic problems caused by artificial sweeteners and caffeine. 1) Carbonated water is “dead water” The main difference between water and carbonated water is that the drinkable water contains oxygen (O2) and carbonated beverages contain dissolved carbon dioxide (CO2) which once pressurized creates bubbles and foam. People inhale oxygen and exhale carbon dioxide, meaning, carbon dioxide is, just like urine and feces, one of the waste products of the human body. When consuming carbonated non-alcoholic beverages, various harmful substances are ingested (CO2 and additives) which the body tries to expel. From the digestive tract, carbon dioxide is quickly absorbed into bodily liquids, oxygen is replaced by carbon dioxide in the cells and they enter a state of hypoxia which affects the metabolism, organs and increases the risk of cancer. 2) Non-alcoholic beverages cause water deficiency Only adequate water quantities (2l a day) can cleanse all the waste products of metabolism and toxic chemicals from the body. If the waste isn’t removed from the organism, changes to metabolism and ailments will occur sooner or later. Since 1960, Americans consume less and less water and more and more non-alcoholic beverages, and the situation is similar here in Croatia. They are, however, detrimental to our health because they do not cleanse our body cells, but rather accumulate the chemicals inside the cells as harmful waste products. 3) Non-alcoholic beverages never quench the thirst Continual reduced ingestion of adequate quantities of water lead to a state of chronic dehydration, a condition which weakens the body on a cellular level and may weaken the immune system and cause many diseases. Non-alcoholic beverages “steal” water from the body. They act as dehydrating diuretics similar to tea, coffee or alcohol. Significant amount of water from the body is wasted on huge amounts of sugar processing, meaning; higher amounts of water are spent than ingested. In order to make up for the loss, a person must drink 8-10 glasses of water for every glass of non-alcoholic beverages. 4) Osteoporosis If your diet contains excessive amounts of phosphor, calcium absorption is inhibited. The ideal ratio of calcium and phosphor is 2:1 which is difficult to achieve in a world where phosphates are regularly added to our food as water-binding agents, meat, for example, contains 0.3%. In American food, the calcium and phosphor ratio is 1:5, which causes osteoporosis; a disease characterized by the loss of calcium from the bones and reduced bone density. The bones are fragile, porous and sensitive to physical stress (hits and falls). Osteoporosis is a disease typical for old people and one of the leading causes of serious disability. The cola beverage contains 500mg/l of phosphoric acid. Young people who consume non-alcoholic beverages more often than milk and dairy which are a proper calcium source, ingest much more phosphor than calcium. Young people are being diagnosed with osteoporosis increasingly often, aged 12 to 29, who are the biggest consumers of cola beverages, which are more commonly being called “invisible bone snatchers”. Not only cola, but all carbonated beverages cause calcium loss in bones. Since the carbonization irritates the stomach, the stomach fights back by adding the only antacid (acid neutralizing agent) available to it – calcium from the bloodstream. Due to the reduced amounts of calcium in the blood, muscle and brain damage is likely, so blood resupplies from the bones. In that manner, all carbonated non-alcoholic beverages soften your bones. The situation becomes even worse once you add sugar into the equation. The dissolved sugar is quickly absorbed into the bloodstream, and if there is a large quantity, the pancreas releases large quantities of insulin which reduce testosterone concentration which is responsible for deposition of calcium into the bones. In addition to that, the caffeine in cola increases excretion of calcium through urination. Every 0.33l can of cola means a loss of 22mg calcium. This loss, combined with calcium deficient diet increases the risk of osteoporosis dramatically. 5) Non-alcoholic beverages are very acidic A healthy human body is mildly alkaline pH-7.365. Once the acidic-alkaline balance in the body is disrupted, it is hard to restore it. Drinking water in most countries is neutral (pH-7.0), and carbonated drinks are pH-2.5. This means that ingest something which is 10000 to 100000 times more acidic than out bodies and our drinking water (the pH scale is exponential). In order to neutralize a glass of cola, you would need 32 glasses of water. It is a well known fact in medicine that disease flourishes in acidic environments (viruses, bacteria and cancer cells). Other than the fact that cancer doesn’t grow in alkaline environments, it also doesn’t grow in oxygen rich environments, and we already stated that carbonated non-alcoholic beverages reduce oxygen levels in our bodies. 6) Digestive disorders The most common digestive disorder is excess acid in the stomach which leads to inflammation, and consequently, to stomach membrane erosion. The main culprits are caffeine contained in cola beverages (150mg/kg) and added acids as additives. Caffeine and added sugars interrupt the digestive process and cause malabsorption (inefficient utilization of nutrients from the digestive tract). The human body has the optimal temperature of 37°C at which the digestive enzymes function properly. The temperature of non-alcoholic beverages is much lower, sometimes close to 0°C which causes stress and reduced digestive enzyme activity, digestive disorders, flatulence and gasses. In 99% of cases, the food in the digestive tract brews-ferments which causes smelly gas release, toxin degradation which is absorbed into the bloodstream and distributed throughout the body. 7) Dental conditions Ever since non-alcoholic beverages became available in public and private schools in the US, dentists notices total loss of dental enamel which results in yellow teeth, and is caused by phosphoric acid. The dissolved sugar causes cavities because, due to bacterial activity, it changes into organic acids in the mouth cavity. 8) Additives In addition to carbon dioxide and acids, harmfulness of which already described, non-alcoholic beverages contain other additives. They are preservatives, synthetic colors and, caffeine in cola beverages, artificial sweetener in low-energy products. Americans drink 137 billion cups of coffee a year. That is more than 50 tones of caffeine a day. However, more caffeine is being consumed in the form of non-alcoholic beverages. Caffeine is a semi-addictive drug which stimulates the central nervous system and causes insomnia, nervousness, irritation, fear and function and rhythm of the heart. The color in cola beverages is caramel which is made by heating of sugar with added ammonia or acids which produces the metabolite HMF which some scientists classify under genotoxics (pro-cancerogenic). Synthetic colors in non-alcoholic beverages are aniline derivatives which cause allergies and hyperactivity in children. Artificial sweeteners in low-energy non-alcoholic beverages are saccharin which causes bladder cancer in lab rats and aspartame which excites brain cells which may cause convulsions, depression, vertigo, migraine, mood swings, memory loss and mental retardation. It wasn’t my intention to avert the readers from ever drinking non-alcoholic beverages. I will leave it up to you to decide whether you want to consume those beverages daily or not, much like we all decide by ourselves whether to smoke, drink etc. Scientists are unanimous in their opinion that smoking and alcohol is harmful, whereas the opinion of the scientific community is still divided on the topic of non-alcoholic beverages harmfulness.