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Bitter Truths Of Sweet Drinks

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When we were asked about the healthy foods to eat during school days, the unanimous answer was to be fruits. Without knowing precisely or experiencing the facts about their health benefits, fruits have been the chosen healthy entities. It was taught so at school and at home. This sentiment was grasped by fruit juice manufacturers in their favor equating fruits juice to whole fruits or even giving higher scores to fruits juice over whole fruits. We are so ecstatic that we can consume mango juice in just Rs. 25 and conveniently so than the whole mango while getting the same health benefit as that with whole fruits. Same applies for carbonated beverages, which sell heavily selling the names of high profile personality in their customary way. We regularly consume fruits juices and feel so refreshed and healthy! Wait a minute is it really “healthy” how we feel after drinking juice? You may have sour taste in your mouth after you go through some of the facts about these sweet drinks including soda.

We start sipping pops of soft drinks and fruit juice since childhood. Even the fruit juice and lemonade we take as healthy entities. Alcohol consumption on another hand is a well-known bad habit that causes liver cirrhosis, even cancer among others. However, alcohol is turning itself into social drinks and finds its place alongside soft drinks. Realistically speaking alcohol drinking always has both sides on particular thing. Think about alcohol being used to mend ties between friends; the other side of it is it may create quarrel among friends when one drinks heavily. Red wine (grape wine) is said to be beneficial to heart due to its content of resveratrol. The health benefits of grape wine lies in both its alcoholic and non-alcoholic portion; while grape juice also contain flavonoids and resveratrol, it is devoid of effects the alcoholic portion of wine would have, and also casting health doubts due to its sugar content. This is a typical case when alcohol might even win the race for the consequences on good health against juice. After all, it’s not wholly alcohol that is the problem, its addiction is. When taken in moderation everything seems to have its own benefits to health. Just as the medicines, which work as desired only if used in optimum dose. So, it’s the dose that needs to be controlled as once famously said by Swiss physician Paracelsus.

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People perceive that drinking fruits juice is as good as eating the whole fruits. Many so called “fruits juice” clearly state that these are the flavored juice and not the real fruits squeezes. Eating whole fruit is way better idea as it contains not only fructose but fiber, vitamins, minerals and water. The commercial fruit juice even when they are really the squeezed fruits are devoid of healthy fiber or pulp as they are filtered out along the purification process. The fiber or pulp gives us a feeling of filling and regulates digestion. The consumption of fruit juice fortified with high amount of sugar is linked with weight gain. The obesity leads to serious consequences including Type II diabetes mellitus, hypertension, and coronary heart disease (5). It may well supplement the nutrition requirement if the juice is purely made of fruits. Mothers are seen feeding juice to their child to pacify them, but records speak that fruit juice offers less nutritional benefits over whole fruits for infants and children. Parents even have misconception that juice will help increase stature, but scientists have contrasting say on that. To everyone’s surprise, it was found children consuming about 350 ml fruit juice per day were associated with short stature and obesity. While eating fruit juice is highly sought after, there is a huge concern in it as well. There are rumors that fruit vendors use calcium carbide to artificially ripen the fruits in the country like Nepal where market surveillance is a far cry. The calcium carbide when comes in contact with moisture releases acetylene gas which does what ethylene gas does naturally to ripen fruits. The exposure to acetylene gas thus emitted is likely to affect neurological system leading to memory loss, seizures, among others. Food Rules, 2027 states that artificially ripening fruits is punishable act. So, for the unfortunate Nepalese, it’s up to us to make a desperate choice between the health hazards caused by heavily sugar fortified fruit juice or artificially ripened whole fruits.

The carbonated beverages are the other example of drinks fortified with excessive sugar. The soft drinks generally contain high level of sugar generally ranging from 14 gram to 21 gram per 100 milliliter and nothing else. The health risks associated with high calorie consumption are similar for fruit juice and carbonated beverages. Amid increased awareness about the health risk of carbonated beverages among common public, the carbonated beverages manufacturers are turning their attention in substituting the sugar with artificial sweeteners in the beverages. These artificial sweeteners provide sweet taste similar to that by sugar while containing significantly less energy. They are hundreds of times sweeter than table sugar yet with low calorie. United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have given green signal to artificial sweeteners such as, sucralose, aspartame, and saccharin, among other for use as sugar substitutes. One research reported substitution of added sugar by sweeteners in soft drinks shows positive impact on (Body Mass Index) BMI without conferring any risks. Those beverages that generally come with label claim of zero calorie or so called “diet soda” contains nominal calories compared to sugar rich beverages. Sadly, there are reports artificial sweeteners mimic starvation state in brain that may trigger eating more food which again raises concerns of obesity.

Eating whole fruits rich in fiber increase satiety, and thus we don’t want more which is helpful in effective weight management. But, with sugar mixed juice, it increases desire for more sugar as “liquid sugar” is less filling to solid sugar found in fruits and vegetables. The fizzy drinks are responsible for more calorie desire even when they are devoid of sugar. Ghrelin, a hormone commonly referred to as ‘hunger hormone’ formed in the digestive track, responsible for inducing a feeling of appetite is found to have been up-regulated with the consumption of carbon dioxide gas along with those drinks; thus one ends up taking more calories to add to his body fat.

A gram of sugar is said to yield about 4 calories, while 9 calories make up a gram of fat. A person who consumes 100 ml of juice or soda containing 20 gram sugar per 100 ml beside his usual diet will add roughly an extra 9 gram body fat in a single day. Frequency-wise soft drinks/juice consumption outweighs alcohol consumption; volume-wise too soft drinks consumption outshines alcohol consumption. The government heavily increases taxes in alcoholic drinks citing health risks associated while knowing that those alcohol lovers would never give up drinking. This aids state coffers with huge tax payment that comes along. Drinking soft drinks and sugar fortified fruit juice could be as bad as drinking alcohol. We are so moved by the fascinating ads these soda and juice manufacturers make. Children see their celebrities and sports personality aligned to these brands and gets drawn into the products. That’s how these products are having a strong grip in the markets. But, the choice is ours to decide for the best of our health. If you seek health benefits in juice, make sure whether the juice is 100 per cent fruit juice or it contains fruits juice concentrate or it contains no fruits at all along with a quick check on the label for extra sugar added. The whole fruits seem to be miles ahead of fruit juice and soda drinks.

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