What’s really in your fizzy drink?
It wasn’t so long ago that a can of coca cola, soda, or any other kind of fizzy drink was a rare treat, but now many of us drink at least one a day. In fact, the average consumption of fizzy drinks in many countries has now reached a staggering 25 gallons a year! We all know that fizzy drinks are not good for us, because they contain heaps of sugar, and the diet kinds of soda can make you put on weight as well, but what else could these popular drinks be doing to harm our health? Recent medical studies have suggested that fizzy drinks are even worse for the health than we ever thought, and it’s not just because of the sugar. Here are ten ingredients that you will be surprised to learn are commonly found in the fizzy drinks that you probably drink daily.
1. Phosphoric Acid
Phosphoric acid, which is also known as orthophosphoric acid, is added to fizzy drinks to give them tartness. Some studies have suggested that phosphoric acid lowers the levels of calcium in the body and can have a detrimental effect on bone density. Scientists have also shown that there is a connection between the amount of fizzy drinks that you drink and an increase in the likelihood of your developing kidney stones.
Surprisingly, researchers at the French National Institute for Consumer Affairs found that over half of the well-known fizzy drinks that they tested contained traces of alcohol. It was nowhere near enough to make you drunk, but it was enough to be of concern to some religious soda drinkers.
Benzene is a carcinogen that can be found in tobacco smoke and crude oil, but it was also found to be in many fizzy drinks too. In 2005, the US Food and Drug Administration found that most fizzy soft drinks contained some benzene, and 10 out of the 200 drinks that they sampled, contained over the legally allowed limit. The worst offenders have now been reformulated, or taken off the market, but many fizzy drinks do still contain too much benzene.
Aspartame, which is a genetically modified ingredient that is used in fizzy drinks as a sweeter, has been linked to many potential health risks, including chronic fatigue, tuberculosis, leukaemia, anxiety and more minor side-effects, such as dizziness and nausea. The ingredient used to be illegal, until that decision was overturned in what some people regards as very suspicious circumstances.
5. Sodium benzoate
Although scientists have found that there are no adverse effects from consuming sodium benzoate, it is certainly not a natural product. Sodium benzoate is a preservative that is not found naturally in any foods. In the UK, Coca Cola are phasing its use due to consumer pressure, though it is still present in many other fizzy drinks, and it is still in cola in many other countries.
The high-fructose corn syrup that is used in many fizzy drinks has been found to contain traces of the highly toxic metal, mercury. In tests carried out by the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, it was found that nearly half of the samples tested contained mercury, which gets into the product during its manufacturing.
7. Citric acid
The citric acid that you get in your fizzy drinks is not obtained from citrus fruits, as you might have thought; it is a manufactured, artificial version of the acid. Manufacturers use citric acid as a preservative and flavour enhancer and although it is too weak to do much harm in small quantities, in large quantities citric acid can eat away at the lining of your stomach.
4-methylimidazole (4-MEI) is a carcinogenic compound that is created as a by-product of the manufacturing of the caramel colouring used in many cola drinks and is considered to be undesirable in most food products. However, it is added deliberately to many cola drinks. The amount of 4-methylimidazole found in certain colas is four times higher than the recommended amount, though in some regions, Cola are reducing the amount.
9. Bisphenol A
In Canada and France, Bisphenol A (BPA), has been banned as a toxic substance, but it is still present in soft drinks in other countries. The chemical mimics oestrogen, and it can interfere with the thyroid hormones. In high doses, this could cause attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and even brain damage.
10. High fructose syrup
High fructose syrup (HFCS) is one of the main ingredients in most of the popular brands of fizzy drinks and it is the volume that is in drinks like Cola that is the problem. Long term high consumption of HFCS leads to an unnatural increase in body fat, which can cause diabetes, cancer and heart disease.
Stay happy and healthy!