Smorgasbord Health 2017 – The Soda Stream worth 125 billion dollars a year at the cost of your health


We have all drunk them – I remember when I dieted many years ago you immediately reached for the ‘light’ versions and you even have ‘zero’s’ now.  Go to a fast food establishment and you can have a bucket full of it and even a refill!  As you will see, we were aware of the dangers of drinking too many fizzy drinks 40 years ago, but you have got to give the manufacturers their credit they can spin on a dime – or is that $125billion per year.

The estimated consumption of fizzy drinks around the world is 50billion units a day!

There is little doubt that drinking too much alcohol is bad for your health in many respects. Your liver, brain and immune system come under immense pressure when they have to deal with excessive amounts and the long term effect on health is measureable. However, these days, the alternatives that are on every shelf of the supermarket and in bars and restaurants, should not be the first thing you turn to when moderating your alcohol consumption.

The worst offenders are the carbonated drinks. Fruit juices without added sugars and additives mixed with mineral water or undiluted are fine in moderation. They too are high in fruit acids that can cause some tooth damage if you do not clean your teeth at least twice a day, particularly at night.

It is the processed canned and bottled fizzy drinks that really do have some harmful effects on not only the teeth but also our operational systems in the body and structural health of skin and bones.

Do people really drink that much fizz?

The American Soft Drink Association was proud to say a few years ago that the average American consumes over 600, 12oz servings per year. Children are consuming many more fizzy drinks than adults and they estimate that the average teenager drinks an average of 160 gallons of soft drinks per year until their late 20’s. What is more horrifying for me is that they also reckon that teenagers get as much as 10% of their daily calorie intake from fizzy drinks. As I mentioned earlier, the estimated number of units consumed world wide on a daily basis is 50billion.

Children and teenagers are still growing and need a huge amount of nutrients to build healthy bone and other body tissues. It is not just that these fizzy drinks are nutritionally sterile; they contain several harmful ingredients that can have long term effects on your health.

What sort of effects are we talking about?

Scientific studies have shown that as little as one or two soft drinks a day can increase your risk of developing a number of medical problems such as obesity, diabetes, tooth decay, osteoporosis, nutritional deficiencies, heart disease and neurological problems.

Most of the calories in soft drinks are in the form of refined sugars or artificial sugars and they have absolutely no other nutritional content. In one study by Dr. Charles Best who discovered insulin by the way, it was shown that teenagers who drink too many soft drinks could develop cirrhosis of the liver, something we normally associate with chronic alcoholism.

There is no cure for cirrhosis except for a liver transplant.

A very common problem when you drink too many soft drinks is the increased acid levels throughout the body. The worst offenders are Coke and Pepsi. It takes over 30 glasses of high alkaline water to neutralise one glass of Coke. That is 24 more glasses per day than I recommend on the healthy eating plan and many people felt that they could not drink those.

How harmful are the sugars in soft drinks and what are the most common effects?

Caries or cavities in the dental enamel are caused by demineralisation of the calcium in them. Bacteria such as Streptococci, Lactobacillus and Actinomyces form dental plaque that clumps together and adheres to the teeth. Acid is produced and the low pH level that results draws the calcium out of the teeth.

All bacteria thrive in an acidic environment. Drinking lots of soft drinks full of sugars and sugar alternatives provides the perfect environment for them leading to increased damage to the teeth. Our saliva contains calcium, fluoride and phosphate naturally, that would normally remineralise our teeth, but if you are constantly taking in the more acidic soft drinks, demineralisation occurs more frequently than the saliva can cope with.

This ability to corrode our teeth is not a new discovery. I trained as a dental nurse back in 1969 and the dentist I worked for wanted to discourage a young boy of 11 or 12 to stop drinking so much cola as it was causing lots of cavities. He had to extract a tooth and he told the boy to come back the next day. We left the tooth in some coke overnight and the next morning only half the tooth was still there. That was over 40 years ago! Amazing that the formula still contains additives that can cause harm to teeth – why is that do you think? Perhaps down to the amount of tax that certain soft drink manufacturers pay around the world!

Does the acid in fizzy drink have a specific effect on any part of the body?

When you introduce the acid in fizzy drinks to your stomach acid it immediately increases the levels of acid dramatically. It causes an inflammation of the stomach and erosion of the stomach lining, which results in very severe stomach aches. Part of the problem is the combination of caffeine and acids in soft drinks, which include acetic, fumaric, gluconic and phosphoric acids. The effect of these acids is so strong that plumbers will often use a soft drink to unclog a drain or it can be used for example to dissolve corrosion on car batteries.

The stomach maintains a very delicate acid/alkaline balance to enable your food to be digested and then metabolised efficiently. You can see now that by just having one or two soft drinks that this balance is disrupted but in the quantities that most people drink them, there is the distinct possibility of severe damage.

Eventually with constant increased acidity levels there will be erosion of the gastric lining, the phosphorous which is found in high levels in soft drinks will effectively neutralise the hydrochloric acid in the stomach acid, making the digestive process ineffective and this results in bloating and gas.

Carbon dioxide is produced when we consume the soft drink and this depletes the amount of oxygen in the body and some researchers are beginning to connect to this to increased risks to cancer from damaged cells.

How can consuming soft drinks contribute to osteoporosis?

The large amounts of sugar, bubbles created by carbon dioxide and the phosphoric acid remove nutritious minerals such as calcium from the bones allowing them to become weak and brittle. The increased levels of phosphorous from the acid disrupt the calcium-phosphorous ratio, which then causes the calcium to dissolve from the bone.

It is becoming more of a problem as children and teenagers substitute the milk that they used to drink in preference for a coke or Pepsi or other fizzy soft drink. Although milk is not the only source of calcium, it is essential as part of the diet of the growing body and when it is removed at an early age and substituted by this calcium depleting drink, there are long term effects. I have seen the x-rays of the bones of a 16-year-old that could have been those of an 80-year-old.

What about the caffeine that is in some drinks?

Caffeine is a mild drug; in adults too much can elevate blood pressure and cause anxiety. In young children it can cause hyperactivity as it acts a stimulant on the nervous system and they can also suffer from insomnia, anxiety, irritability and irregular heartbeats. Caffeine is addictive and this causes the drinker to want more and more of the soft drinks. It is not unusual for people to drink one can after another much like a chain smoker and cigarettes.

Pregnant women who drink excessive amounts of soft drinks with caffeine in them could possibly be increasing the risk of birth defects.

Is there anything else that causes concern in soft drinks?

Apart from the preservatives and additives I have already covered there are the colouring agents that are used. In particular your lovely dark, bubbly glass of cola did not originally start out as brown in colour. That is due to the caramel colouring caused by the chemical polyethylene glycol which is antifreeze – there are concerns that this is carcinogenic.

What can we use as substitute for canned and bottled soft drinks?

I still enjoy the occasion coke on a hot summer day, but my consumption is down to perhaps two a year from one or two a day. The acid erosion of my teeth is testament to their power of these drinks.

Part of the problem is the addictive nature of caffeinated drinks. To be honest it can be hard for adults, let alone children to give up drinking the harmful variety and you may have to try and wean yourself off them over a period of time.

Substitute drinks like Cranberry juice topped up with sparkling water or soda– Cranberry has actually been shown to help prevent the bacteria from clumping and forming plaque in the first place.

Drink still fruit juices unsweetened but make sure that you are cleaning your teeth thoroughly at the end of the day.

The simplest is to have a bottle of water to hand throughout the day and drink that every time you are thirsty. After about three days you will notice that you will have lost the craving and that the fizzy drinks actually taste far too sweet and have an after taste.

Thank you for dropping by and please feel free to share.. Sally

Medicine Woman’s Larder – Carrots – All the way from Afghanistan.

Medicine Womans larder

The humble carrot is a vegetable most of us take for granted. Carrots have an ancient history originating in Afghanistan.  The Greeks and the Romans ate carrots and in fact, the Greeks called the carrot ‘Philtron’ and used it as an aphrodisiac.  Don’t all rush to the supermarket!

carrotsIn Asia, the carrot was an established root crop and was then introduced to Europe in the 13th century.  It was the Middle Ages before the carrot became better known and doctors of the time prescribed carrots for numerous ills including snakebite!  In those days, the carrot was available in far more radiant colours including red, purple, black, yellow and white.  They were cultivated together and over time, it resulted in the orange vegetable we know today.

The Elizabethans on receiving the carrots from mainland Europe did some rather strange things with them.  Some ate the roots but others used the feathery foliage for decoration in hats (Ascot) and on their clothes.  I am sure like every fashion statement this may come and revisit us at some point.  The colonists took the carrot to America but they were not cultivated there until the last couple of centuries.


Carrots eaten as a fresh, raw and unprocessed food is full of nutrients including Vitamin A (retinol), beta-carotene (turned into Vitamin A in the body), other carotenoids, B Vitamins, Vitamin C and minerals calcium and potassium.  Of all of the nutrients, Beta-Carotene and latterly Alpha Carotene are seen as the most important properties of the carrot.  As far as the eyes are concerned it is the Vitamin A and the Beta-carotene which are the most important nutrients. Vitamin A, helps your eyes adjust to light changes when you come in from outside and helps keep your eyes, skin and mucous membranes moist.

Vitamin A also prevents night blindness. If the vitamin A deficiency causing night blindness is not corrected, it can then lead to a condition called xerophthalmia, causing extremely dry eyes, possibly corneal ulcers and swollen eyelids. If left untreated, xerophthalmia can lead to blindness. In fact, vitamin A deficiency is one of the leading causes of blindness in developing countries. Vitamin A may possibly prevent cataracts from forming and may help prevent macular degeneration, which is the leading cause of blindness in the world.

Beta-carotene is one of about 500 compounds called carotenoids, which are present in most fruit and vegetables. The body changes beta-carotene into Vitamin A, which promotes a healthy immune system and healthy cell growth.  The body can only change so much beta-carotene into Vitamin A and any excess boosts the immune system and is a powerful antioxidant in its own right.  Antioxidants prevent free radical damage to cells, tissues and most importantly to the fat in our bloodstream that can lead to blocked arteries and heart disease.

Alpha carotene has often been overlooked in carrots but some interesting studies in Japan indicate that Alpha carotene might be even more powerful than Beta-carotene in the fight against cancer. As far as our general health is concerned, carrots play an important role in neutralising acid in the body.


The word acid comes from the Latin word acere, which means sour.  The term has been applied to chemical compounds containing the element hydrogen and having the ability to supply positively charged hydrogen ions to a chemical reaction.

Most acids are sour as opposed to most alkalis, which are bitter.  Acid is also corrosive to metals and will change litmus (a dye from lichens) red and neutralise alkalis.

All acids have similar properties to each other because they all release hydrogen into solutions. Acidity is measure using the pH (potential of hydrogen) scales.   The scale runs from 0 to 14.  All acids have a pH measurement between 0 to below 7 on the scale.

Acids are present in all living organisms including the human body.  Acids in plants react differently than acids in protein rich foods such as animal products. All foods are burned in the body leaving an ash as a result, if the food contains a predominance of sulphur, phosphorus, chlorine then an acid ash is produced.

The body has developed different strategies to ensure that the balance between acid and alkali is optimum for each of its different organs and systemic functions.

For example citrus fruit, in particular one that has a sour taste like the lemon, contains high levels of citric acid and is classified as an acid food.  However, the ash that is produced is alkaline. The negative charges on the citrate ions are balanced by positively charged metal ions, such as calcium and potassium.  The citrate is oxidised away during this process to carbon dioxide and water and excreted leaving the calcium and potassium behind.  As alkalis they in turn are balanced by other acidic properties such as bicarbonate or chloride to ensure that the correct pH balance is maintained.  This is an alkaline reaction resulting from ingesting an acid food.

Most animal proteins contain sulphur amino acids and phosphoprotein.  When these are metabolised by the body they become sulphuric and phosphoric acids.  Therefore these foods are said to be acid forming. The lower the pH level, the higher the acidity forming property of the food.

Optimum health and energy begins as with every function in our bodies with balance.  The pH balance of our bodies is not only crucial, it is the essence of our survival and the body has evolved very efficient methods of maintaining this critical balance of acidity and alkalinity in our blood and the major organs of the body.  All cells, organs and fluids have their own preferred pH values in order to operate at peak performance.

Outside influences as well as internal balancing strategies play a part in effecting the pH balance of the body.  Stress, diet, nutrition, levels of exercise and environmental pollution are a major part of our lives today and most of our chronic illnesses are associated with our bodies becoming more acidic than alkaline.

A minor deviation from the optimum balance can have a devastating effect on the operating systems of the body and can lead to coma and death so the body has a number of buffer systems to maintain that balance. When the blood is too alkaline the heart contracts and ceases to beat and when too acidic it relaxes and ceases to beat.

Eating carrots and other vegetables and fruits that burn to an alkaline ash in the body help balance both the acidic ash foods we consume and some external stress triggers.  This means that your proportion of vegetables and some fruits should be higher in relation to grains and some proteins in your diet.  Eating more fish than red meat will help reduce the acidic load as will reducing the sugar content in your daily diet.

The vegetable is versatile and apart from eating regularly with a main meal during the week you can amplify its nutritional punch by combining it with sweet potatoes or squash in soups and oranges in a fresh pressed juice. They are lovely with a little butter and also mashed or roasted with other root vegetables.

Next time…Aubergines.. eat your purples.

©sallycronin Just Food For Health 2007

Please feel free to share and if you have a favourite carrot recipe then please let us have it.