The following is an extract from “The Consumption Cleanse” chapter on Soda and Bottled Drinks.
May I suggest that if you drink Coke that you DON’T smile, don’t show your fangs. The well-researched facts suggest that unless you think folks want to see a mouth that resembles the keys on a synthesiser after an encounter with a mechanical meat separator, well, remain tight lipped please.
How one of the most successful marketing companies in history didn’t think that one through, I do not know. It’s akin to promoting crystal methamphetamine with “Show ‘em your track marks”. What’s wrong with “Enjoy Coke, but for god’s sake don’t bare your teeth”, or a completely honest promotion (I do know that is not how the world works) – “Enjoy Coke and enjoy an early death from some obesity related disease. PS. make sure you leave some money aside for your open casket as dental technicians are not cheap these days.” I know what you’re thinking – the soda companies would never use such a slogan, it’s too lengthy.
What is it?
From Wikipedia, a soft drink “(..) is a drink that typically contains carbonated water, a sweetener, and a natural or artificial flavouring. The sweetener may be sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, fruit juice, sugar substitutes (in the case of diet drinks), or some combination of these. Soft drinks may also contain caffeine, colourings, preservatives, and other ingredients……(other names are)… carbonated beverage, coke, fizzy drink, cool drink, cold drink, lolly water, pop, seltzer, soda, soda pop, tonic, and mineral”
Other categories of bottled drinks that are at the consumption gallows are bottled fruit juice, energy or sports drinks, flavoured milks and sweetened teas and coffees. Finally, and this is pushing it but I shall explain, bottled water, mineral and spring water. Ouch!
Bottled vegetable juice is the only bottled drink, provided it is freshly squeezed or processed, that remains on the menu.
How much do we consume and why?
The amount of bottled drinks that we are ploughing through is cause for considerable concern given that we get most of the “added sugar”, 40% in an average American diet, from sweetened beverages (soft drinks, sports drinks and “fruit” juice). As for bottle water, ConvergEx Group Chief Market Strategist Nick Colas tells us: “The [bottled water] industry grossed a total of $11.8 billion on those 9.7 billion gallons in 2012, making bottled water about $1.22/gallon nationwide and 300x the cost of a gallon of tap water,” Colas says. “If we take into account the fact that almost 2/3 of all bottled water sales are single 16.9oz (500 mL) bottles, though, this cost is much, much higher: about $7.50 per gallon, according to the American Water Works Association. That’s almost 2,000x the cost of a gallon of tap water and twice the cost of a gallon of regular gasoline.”1
Surely this has to be the biggest con of all time, to take water, often simply tap water, bottle it, label it with a nice picture of a mountain stream, call it mountain spring water and sell it back to us and add yet another plastic bottle to landfill. PepsiCo was found guilty of precisely this in 2007 when their brand Aquafina was found to be nothing but treated tap water. You don’t need to dig too deep to see that cases like these are common place and yet we still buy and drink the stuff in ever growing quantities and at ever higher prices.
Why is it so? Why do we continue to consume this junk, even though we know it’s bad for us and in the case of bottled water, can get it for nearly free from the faucet. Here’s why:
- Mass Marketing.Everywhere you look, on all forms of media, you are bombarded with advertising and promotion, frequently misleading, that cleverly targets the victims on the back of enormous budgets that exist to create a demand that quite simply would not be there at all without it.
- Selective Misinformation.Whether it be fruit juice or bottled water, selective aspects or characteristics of those beverages or indeed of their competitors are used in mass public misinformation campaigns. Take the fruit juice example. Promotion of fruit juice will always focus on the word “fruit”, as it in itself may be quite good for you. Fruit is not fruit juice however, it is far from it, it is far worse for you, but this distinction falls by the wayside in order to peddle more product. There is never any mention of the added sugar or the missing fiber in fruit juice as compared to fruit. On the flip side you have the bottled water companies actively seeking to defame tap water as unhealthy, with ludicrous claims such as that it is good for washing clothes and flushing toilets only.
- Misleading labeling.Obscene amounts of cash are spent on manipulation of the public perception through labelling. Labels that inform consumers about calories or sugar content “per serve” are a classic example. The drinks manufacturer can arbitrarily decide how many “serves” are in a bottle, and then report calories or sugar per serve, (total sugar divide by number of serves) not per bottle. I don’t know about you, but I doubt there are many folks out there who pay attention to what Coke or Pepsi dictate to be 1 serve. You buy a bottle, you drink a bottle without the need for any mathematics. Fruit-flavoured is another term used which should really be read as ‘Contains no fruit’. The Fruit flavor is produced by chemicals that trigger the same taste sensors as certain fruits. And then there’s the old favourite “Zero Calories”, often found in diet soda labelling, and which you should stay away from as it almost certainly indicates that sugar has not been added in favour of adding artificial sweeteners, which as outlined in Refined Sugar and Artificial Sweeteners is the fast track to a myriad of miserable conditions.
- Renaming Harmful Ingredients.High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) a highly processed sweetener that also extends the shelf life of products and is cheaper than sugar has got quite a bad reputation in terms of health impacts and rightly so. It has been linked to several metabolic diseases. The big drink manufacturers know that you know this stuff is terrible so what do they do? They rename it of course. HFCS is sub-categorised based on its fructose content. “The standard HFCS – HFCS 42 or HFCS 55 – contains either 42 or 55 percent fructose. The new term “fructose” is now being used when foods contain the ingredient previously called HFCS-90, which has 90 percent fructose. Identifying HFCS-90 as “fructose” in the ingredients list gives food makers a green light to use statements such as “Contains No High Fructose Corn Syrup” or “No HFCS” on the product label, thus misleading buyers.2”
- Sugar Addiction. By now you should be clear from the chapters Refined Sugar and Artificial Sweeteners and Confectionery that sugar and artificial sweeteners are genuinely addictive. This fact underpins all of the above reasons and is the cornerstone of the ability of the bottled drinks manufacturers’ ability to increase sales.
Why is it bad?
In relation to sugary drinks, which covers almost all bottled drinks except for water which I will get to later, I’ve already made it clear that I am currently at war with sugar. Sugar in solids, as discussed in previous chapters, is not nearly the sinister enemy that sugar in liquids is. If consuming sugar in solids is like aiding and abetting the enemy, then consuming sugar in liquids is like voluntarily walking into enemy machine gun fire with a hunting target painted on your belly after eating a magnet the size of a can of Pepsi.
One 600ml soft drink contains 15 teaspoons of sugar. One 375ml can of soft drink increases a child’s chance of obesity by 60% and a woman’s chance of type 2 diabetes by 80%. Soft drink is dangerous. The fact that it has no nutritional value is eclipsed by the fact that it doesn’t make you feel full, so you keep eating and drinking more of that which you crave – sugar. Its a dangerous downward spiral.
Putting the various bottled drinks categories under the microscope:
- Teeth. Studies documented in the peer-reviewed journal ‘General Dentisty’ have found that the damage caused by the citric acid in soft drinks and energy drinks on you tooth enamel is comparable to that experienced by the methamphetamine user. Energy drinks specifically were also found to detrimentally affect the contraction of the heart.
- Bones. Low bone density has been related to the consumption of colas according to The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in a 2006 study.
- Acidity. Soft drinks are extremely acidic. One cola would require 30 cups of pH-balanced water to neutralise it. The kidneys have to work overtime to filter this acid residue.
- Dubious ingredients. Aspartame, an artificial sweetener criminalised in the Confectionery chapter, is frequently found in soft drinks, particularly diet sodas. Other soft drinks such as Mountain Dew are made with a flame retardant – brominated vegetable oil (BVOs). Granted that your soda pop is unlikely to burst into flames, and that’s good, but do you really want to be drinking flame retardant? “(BVO’s)It can cause reproductive problems, depress the nervous system, interrupt the endocrine system, and create behavioural problems (especially in children).”3
- Empty Fruit Juice. Even the supposedly “100% pure” fruit juice in your local supermarket is not what it seems. The fruit is extracted from actual fruit, but storage over long periods of time (up to 1 year it seems) in oxygen-depleted tanks tends to remove most of the flavor. The big juice companies need to chemically add back the flavor, so they end up a long way from being natural.
- Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals In Bottled Water. Researchers have found endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs), that seem to adversely affect development and reproduction, in 18 popular name brand bottled waters. Endocrine disruptors are chemicals that interfere with the hormone system; can cause cancerous tumors, birth defects, cardiovascular disorders, metabolic disorders and other developmental disorders.4
- Bottled Water can be lower quality than tap water. As bottled water is frequently not regulated by the same authorities as tap water, history has shown many cases where bottled water has in fact been of a lower quality than tap water. A recent comparison undertaken in Cleveland, USA, found that Fiji Water brand contained traces of arsenic whereas the municipal water supply did not.
- Plastic Bottle Mayhem. Aside from the fact that the plastic bottles of water bought every week in the United States alone could circle the globe five times, the bottles themselves are toxic, made from and with all sorts of nasties. The Pacific Institute5 found that it takes about 17 million barrels of oil to produce plastic for bottled water consumed by Americans, based on 2006 consumption data. I.e. the same oil needed to fuel more than 1 million American cars and light trucks for a year.
The consumption of bottled drinks are so ingrained in our modern lifestyles, so accessible and convenient that the idea of quitting them is not widespread and as such does not come with a well publicised path to succeed in doing so. And this is exactly how the bottled drink manufacturers want it to stay. Unfortunately it is this convenience that makes your task quite challenging. But it can be done and you and you planet will thank you in the end. Bottled drinks are also very affordable, based on their price tag, but this price does not take into account the likely increase in personal health care costs nor does it factor in the long term cost of environmental destruction though the sourcing, manufacturing and waste disposal of the product.
The main approach taken to this weeks cleanse is in replacement, as discussed next, but to drive home why we must get off this consumable take a look what the folks from The Story of Stuff have put together on this topic. Their wonderfully honest and informative short film entitled “The Story of Bottled Water” will get you ready to exit bottled drinks. You can watch it at http://storyofstuff.org/movies/story-of-bottled-water/.
Bottled drink replacements may not be immediately obvious but there are many. It my take a little extra effort but your wallet and you body will appreciate it.
- Drink Tap Water.Stop listening to the negative press about tap water. Most western municipal water supplies are perfectly healthy and in many cases, more healthy than some bottled water. If you’re a bit unsure about this add a water purifying filter to you faucet. Reuse old wine bottles and the like, filling them with tap water and refrigerate for cold water. Alternatively buy a reusable water bottle you can fill from the tap and take it on the move with you.
- Eat and Drink Fruit.Knowing now that you are most likely getting minimal if any benefit from bottled fruit juices, give it up and simply eat fruit, getting all the goodness of fruit and some added fibre which will help keep your blood sugar levels stable. If you simply must drink your fruit, then use a food processor that does not remove all the pulp from the output.
- Vegetable Juice.Make using a food processor or bought freshly made, vegetable juices offer a quick low-calorie way to get all the benefits of vegetables but with much less natural sugar then fruit juices. If you need to sweeten it use natural sweeteners or even add some fruit. Experiment with combinations of any number of vegetables (and fruit). My favourites are carrot, spinach, beetroot, avocado, celery, ginger, apple, pear and mint.
- Flavoured Tap Water.This is a good way to ween yourself of energy drinks for the had core addicts. You can start with your purchased energy drink, but start diluting it with tap water, more with each bottle until there is hardly any purchased energy drink in the concoction. Then make the switch to flavoured tap water by just adding slices of you favourite fruit and vegetables (oranges, lemons, limes, watermelon, cucumber, mint) to the cold tap water in you fridge. Also try adding small amounts of essential oils such as peppermint, lemon or orange. Even add cinnamon sticks if you fancy it. Alternatively make ice cubes from a blended mix of water and your favourite fruits.
- Home Brewed Ice Tea.Stop purchasing bottled ice tea which all too often is loaded with sugar and brew your own herbal or green tea at home and then refrigerating and adding fruit if so desired. Green tea is calorie free, high in antioxidants and may help reduce the risk of several types of cancer, heart disease, hypertension, kidney stones and possibly even cavities.
- Home Made Pop.If you struggle to quit soft drinks, make a one off purchase of a water carbonater such as Soda Stream, bubble tap water then add lemons or limes and a small amount of natural sweetener such as Stevia. You only need a minuscule amount of Stevia otherwise it becomes overpowering, and hey presto, home made soda.
Following this replacement therapy plan will have a huge impact on your financial resources and you health and you will no longer be at the mercy of the huge multinational bottled drinks manufacturers. These companies have no regard for your health and the health of the planet so turn your back and walk away – you don’t need them.
Until next week.
1 Matthew Boesler, “Bottled Water Costs 2000 Times As Much As Tap Water”, http://www.businessinsider.com/bottled-water-costs-2000x-more-than-tap-2013-7?IR=T&r=US&IR=T, accessed 9/2/16
2 Waking Times, “High Fructose Corn Syrup Now Hidden Unde a New Name”, http://www.wakingtimes.com/2015/12/09/high-fructose-corn-syrup-now-hidden-under-a-new-name/, accessed 9/2/16.
3 Chistina Sarich, Natural Society, “6 FDA Appoved Foods That Are Banned In Other Counties”, http://consciouslifenews.com/6-fda-approved-foods-banned-other-countries/1185122/, accessed 9/2/16
4 Www.plosone.org,”Identification of Putative Steroid Receptor Antagonists in Bottled Water: Combining Bioassays and High-Resolution Mass Spectrometry”,http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0072472, accessed 9/2/16
5 Pacific Institute, “Integrity of Science: Bottled Water and Energy Factsheet: Getting to 17 Million Barrels”, pacinst.org, accessed 9/2/16