We all know that soda packs lots of addictive sugar. Few of us know that soda has another ingredient that’s worth knowing about.
Some caramel-colored sodas could contain a potential carcinogen, suggests a new study from Johns Hopkins University.
Caramel color is a dark brown food additive. It helps give drinks such as cola their special hue. The one you think as ‘natural’ (ha ha!) It’s made by heating and caramelizing sugars. Sounds simple, right?
The problem is this: some types of caramel color are made using chemicals such as ammonium hydroxide to push along the caramelization process. During the chemical reactions, something called 4-methylimidazole (4-MEI) can form.
Researchers tested 12 sodas purchased in California and New York for 4-MEI content. They found a wide range, from 9.5 micrograms per liter to up to 915 micrograms per liter. The sodas with the highest 4-MEI levels were Malta Goya and the New York samples of Pepsi, Diet Pepsi, and Pepsi One.
Researchers estimated that consumption of the studied drinks could contribute to anywhere from 78 to 5,011 extra cancer cases in the U.S.
In some cases, drinks sold in California had lower levels of 4-MEI. California’s Proposition 65 law lists 4-MEI as a carcinogen and requires manufacturers to include a warning label on products with more than 29 micrograms of the chemical. It seems that the manufacturers used a different formula for products sold in California in order to comply with the state’s regulations, says study author Keeve Nachman, Ph.D., MHS.
So is there good news? Both PepsiCo and Goya have released statements saying that they’ve reduced levels of 4-MEI in their products since these researchers took their samples. They say that all products now meet the California standards.
Still, it’s possible that there’s no truly safe level of intake of 4-MEI, says Nachman. If you’re concerned about exposure to the potential carcinogen, it’s smart to read labels and choose products that don’t contain caramel color.
Ideally, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will step in and regulate this chemical. “What we think makes the most sense is for the FDA to set a tolerance level for the formation of 4-MEI for the caramel color that’s used in beverages,” says Nachman.
Possible risks of caramel color don’t come with much benefit. “One other dimension to this whole thing is it’s not like the caramel color itself really serves an important function,” says Nachman. “Caramel color is just for changing the color of the beverage. It doesn’t play a role in flavor or preservation.”
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I recently had a very interesting talk with a doctor friend. He had a patient he’s known for years call him up and tell him he had terrible gout. Dr Gerry asked him what he’d done differently, and he said he’s bought a juicer based on the amazing health benefits promised on a cable TV advert. And no sooner had he embarked on his intensive juice detox, than the gout descended!
Gerry told him to chuck the juicer. Perhaps a little harsh.. but his patient took his advice and now has no gout.
So what was going on? Isn’t juicing fresh frut and vegetables good for you?
Most health experts now say that sugar has become number one public enemy for health conscious individuals now we as a society have slowly shifted away from smoking and tobacco products. Individuals throughout the developed world continue to eat far too much sugar – an amount considered unsafe by many doctors and researchers.
In the UK, for instance, fruit Juices and soda products are the main source of sugar for children between the ages of four and eighteen. This was pointed out by the most senior nutritionist in the country recently who advised limiting children and adults to a mere 150ml of fruit juice per day. That’s about half a glass, kids!
Additionally, he also specified that fruit juice should not be consumed alone and that providing it with a meal was a better choice for those who insisted on including fruit juices in their diet.
It’s a watershed moment for nutrition in the U.K. Never before was there a hard limit on what the daily intake of fruit juice was intended to be.
Many of us consume fruit juices thinking that it is a short-cut to getting our daily quota of fruits or vegetables (the suggested amount in the U.K. was five servings per day) but we are not aware of the high caloric content, high sugar content and its effect on your teeth. Fruit juice causes tooth decay for some people, particularly when taken in large quantities.
Much of the attention being paid to the health problems associated with fruit juice have come after a study published earlier this year in the Lancet journal where the researchers indicated that fruit juice was just as unhealthy as many sweetened beverages like sodas or energy drinks. The research, which was conducted at the University of Glasgow in Scotland, found that the increase in caloric intake associated with people who included several servings of fruit juice in their diet was directly tied to obesity and a host of other health problems.
Drink up! (Water please. Hydrogen water).
Do you go to the gym to lose weight then have a Coke to cool off?
The biggest mistake many of us make is going to the gym and then failing to clean up our diet. For many of us, diets are a daily kitchen battlefield. And one of the biggest mistakes that individuals often make is by substituting diet soda for regular soda.
While cutting out soda is one of the smartest things a person can do – intaking calories via liquid is never a good ide. And yet that’s what many of us do. We even try it with the so-called zero calorie drinks. Be warned: the calorie count may read “0” – but there are still serious negative drawbacks associated with diet sodas.
A brand new study conducted by researchers at John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, Maryland shows that many, many overweight or obese people who drink diet sodas are more likely to consume a higher amount of calories from food than people who don’t drink soda.
Lead author of this particular study, Sara Bleich, stated that “overweight and obese adults who drink diet soda eat a comparable amount of total calories as heavier adults who drink sugary beverages, they consume significantly more calories from solid food.” This encompassed both meals and snacks and it should give cause for concern to people who may be looking at diet sodas as a quick fix.
Furthermore, people who drink diet soda are more likely to have a higher body mass index (BMI) according to this study.
The data set is strong: it involves information gleaned from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey from 1999 to 2010. That survey was focused on discovering nationwide patterns in adult diet beverage intake and also took into consideration overall calorie intake.
The researchers involved in the John Hopkins study found that drinking diet sodas did not promote excess eating in normal-weight individuals but that overweight or obese people who drank diet soda would eat significantly more and would also consume more snack food than those who drank regular sodas.
The reason for this is likely because of artificial sweeteners, which basically trick the brain into thinking you are less full than you actually are. This can cause cravings which ultimately ruin diets and lead to unhealthy food choices. The researchers involved with the study also noted in their abstract that consumption of diet soda has risen from 3% in 1965 to 20% as of 2013.
Ian: How about it? Where are you substituting liquid for solids with the idea it’s better?