March 10, 2010
For years, advocates of natural health have been hammering away at the message that soda causes diabetes and obesity. The soda industry, meanwhile, has remained in denial mode, mirroring the ridiculous position of the tobacco industry that “nicotine is not addictive.” Soda doesn’t cause diabetes, the industry claims, and it’s perfectly safe to consume in essentially unlimited quantities.
The Corn Refiners Association has joined the denial with its own spin campaign that seeks to convince people High-Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) is totally natural and completely harmless. HFCS is, of course, the primary sweetener used in sodas and soft drinks.
Now comes new research presented at the American Heart Association’s Cardiovascular Disease Epidemiology and Prevention annual conference in San Francisco. This new research reveals that over the last decade, soda consumption has conservatively caused:
• 130,000 new cases of diabetes
• 14,000 new cases of heart disease
• 50,000 more “life years” with heart disease over the last decade
“The finding suggests that any kind of policy that reduces consumption might have a dramatic health benefit,” said senior study author Dr. Kirsten Bibbins-Domingo (associate professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco).
The American Beverage Association, meanwhile, says this study hasn’t been published in a peer-reviewed medical journal yet and therefore it doesn’t count. Soda consumption doesn’t cause diabetes or heart disease, they claim, because “…both heart disease and diabetes are complex conditions with no single cause and no single solution.”
It’s silly logic, of course: Diabetes obviously has a cause. It’s not some spontaneous disease that appears out of nowhere. And when you go looking for the cause, you obviously have to look at dietary factors since diabetes is a disease related to the consumption and metabolism of dietary sugars. Once you do that, sodas immediately raise a red flag because they’re liquid sugar in a highly-concentrated form that does not exist naturally in nature.
HFCS doesn’t grow on trees, in other words. Nature provides sugars locked into insoluble fibers that slow digestion and lower the effective glycemic index of sugars that are consumed. In nature, sugars are always combined with minerals, too, and many of those minerals help prevent diabetes and heart disease. But High-Fructose Corn Syrup is stripped of virtually all those minerals. It contains no fiber and no healing phytonutrients that you might encounter in plants. As a result, HFCS — sometimes dubbed “liquid Satan” — might be called a dietary poison that causes disease while contributing to nutritional deficiencies that accelerate disease.
Interestingly, this new study did not look at loss of bone density, which is another side effect of drinking soda. Due to the extremely high acidity of the HFCS sweetener combined with the phosphoric acid used in sodas, people who drink sodas often lose bone minerals and end up being diagnosed with osteoporosis (even at a relatively young age).
Other people end up with kidney stones due to all these minerals passing through the kidneys and contributing to the built up of mineral deposits there. Long-term soda consumers may even suffer from pancreatic cancer due to the extreme stress placed on the pancreas following the consumption of liquid sugars.
In all, soda consumption is linked to at least six serious diseases:
#3) Heart disease
#6) Kidney stones
That’s why taxing sodas is more than merely a way to raise money through soda sales; it’s also a way to dramatically reduce the cost of treating these diseases. It’s no surprise that several U.S. states are now starting to seriously consider slapping new taxes on sodas and other “junk” beverages.
That’s not the way I would prefer to see the situation handled, actually. The better option, in my view, would be to ban all soda advertising by effectively stripping Free Speech rights from corporations. Such rights belong only to individuals, not multi-billion-dollar corporations. Corporations whose products physically harm the health of the population at large should not be allowed to openly advertise and promote those products to the public. They can still sell them, they just can’t advertise them.
This is the real solution to the problem: Take away the advertising of sodas and consumer consumption immediately plummets. It’s all the advertising that keeps the soft drink sales machine churning out disease and suffering in the name of corporate profits. Soda companies, of course, will argue that they have a Free Speech right to advertise their products even if they do promote disease. That’s an argument to be taken up by the U.S. Supreme Court, of course. But let there be no mistake about it: The continued tolerance of soda advertising is creating a nation of diabetes, obesity and heart disease.
There will be a price to be paid for all this, and I fear it will be a price far beyond what society is able to pay. To raise a nation on sodas and processed foods is to ultimately doom that nation because failed health will ultimately lead to a failed nation. You cannot built a healthy nation upon the backs of a diseased population, and thanks to the soda companies and junk food companies, the United States of America is now a nation of diseased, diabetic, obese consumers who continue to poison themselves every single day with the dangerous chemicals found in heavily advertised food, beverage and personal care products.
If I were the health advisor for a country, I would outright ban all advertising of harmful consumer products (foods, beverages, personal care, cleaning products, etc.), and in their place I’d run public service announcements teaching people about nutrition, disease prevention, vitamin D and commonsense self-care. Within one generation, that nation would be the healthiest in the world, with the lowest rates of disease and affordable health care coverage for all.
The junk food and soda companies, of course, would go broke, and the economy would rearrange itself to open up new jobs in healthier and more productive industries rather than the “disease industries” that dominate America today.
Sugary beverages, you see, aren’t just a disease upon those who regularly consume them; they are a disease upon the very nation that threatens its economy and compromises its future.
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This article was posted: Wednesday, March 10, 2010 at 5:22 am