I’ve seen a lot of ridiculous “health” trends from the grapefruit diet to the notion that all fat is bad… but this latest one has got to take the cake. Some major soda manufacturers are introducing vitamin-fortified versions of their brands. I guess they hope to capitalize on the growing trend toward healthy eating.
Some of the versions contain B vitamins and minerals like zinc or magnesium. But seriously, the notion that drinking soda can be good for you if you just stuff a few vitamins into the can is ludicrous.
Five Reasons to Avoid Soda Pop—Even if it is Vitamin Fortified
High Calorie Count: Most non-diet sodas pack in the calories. A single can of soda (12 ounces) contains 144 calories.
High Fructose Corn Syrup: Most non-diet sodas are sweetened with high fructose corn syrup. This sweetener is calorie-dense, but it doesn’t trigger a feeling of fullness in your body. That means you can easily consume those 144 extra calories without really noticing it.
Chemical Sweeteners: Most diet sodas are sweetened with either aspartame or sucralose. I’ve talked in depth about these sweeteners in a previous issue. These sweeteners can cause allergic reactions in some individuals and there’s little long-term research regarding how they affect your body.
High Phosphorus Content: Soft drinks usually contain high levels of phosphorus. While your body does need some phosphorous, it’s very easy in the modern American diet to get much more than you need. This can deplete your body of calcium and lead to weaker bones.
Empty Calories: Soft drinks—even those that are fortified—contain empty calories. They don’t deliver anything your body can use. The vitamin content of fortified sodas is still so low that the detriments far outweigh the added nutrients.
What You Should Be Drinking Instead
When it comes to beverages, there are plenty of options available.
Water is really your best option. Good, clean, filtered water keeps your body hydrated, which supports your health in many different ways. You feel better when you hydrated, your skin looks better, and your immune system works better.
Coffee and tea are both beneficial drinks. They are rich in antioxidants and have many proven health benefits like the ability to balance blood sugar and lower blood pressure.
Fruit juice is an option, too, but check the label before you buy it. It’s best to choose only those options that are 100% juice. Otherwise you’ll get a drink loaded with high fructose corn syrup and with many of the same disadvantages as sodas.
Vegetable juice and fruit and vegetable blends are another tasty alternative. These are naturally rich in vitamins and often have decent fiber content, too.
There are plenty of healthful drinks out there that you can enjoy on a daily basis, but sodas aren’t one of them. Making the choice to cut out sodas will help you lose weight, it will help your bones to stay stronger, and it will benefit your overall health. It’s a smart choice.
Mark Rosenberg, M.D.