(NaturalNews) Natural News has long reported the dangers of soda, both regular and diet. The Health Ranger and other reporters here have methodically documented the dangers of high fructose corn syrup (HCFS), aspartame, caffeine, and phosphorous. There are multiple stories about the effects of these products on consumers' kidneys, brains, and waistlines, and it's easy to find articles about how sodas - both diet and regular - affect people's health, contributing to diabetes, osteoporosis, and brain damage. There can be no doubt about the dangers of soda in terms of sweeteners (both natural and artificial), the stimulant caffeine, and phosphorous. However, there are even other ingredients in sodas people should be concerned about, making these beverages perhaps the most deadly drinks on the planet!
Even if the carbonated beverage manufacturers decided that tomorrow they would no longer put caffeine and phosphorous in their drinks and would only use natural sweeteners in their sodas (things like Stevia or fruit juice), the remaining ingredients are still questionable and probably dangerous.
Flavorings are one of the groups of ingredients consumers should be concerned with. Most, if not all, carbonated beverages use both natural and artificial flavors to give the drinks their own unique flavor. There is not much difference between natural and artificial flavorings, though, as both are made in a lab; the terms "natural" and "artificial" merely point to where the chemicals initially came from before a flavorist blended the chemicals to make a flavor. In other words, if the chemical is synthetic, it is considered artificial, but if it originally comes from a natural source (for example, if it is extracted from a blueberry), it is considered natural, no matter how dangerous or potentially unhealthy the process was for extracting the chemical in the first place.
Obviously, a main argument against flavors is that flavoring covers up or disguises the flavors already contained in a product. One wonders if people would be driven to consume carbonated beverages if they weren't made to taste good. More than that, though, is the fact that the FDA does not require companies to disclose the actual ingredients contained in flavorings because these ingredients are considered GRAS. However, many knowledgeable consumers also know that MSG is considered GRAS, so the FDA's stance on the status of flavorings isn't necessarily inspiring. That fact aside, some flavorings may contain minute amounts of MSG anyway.
And what about the preservatives? Just a quick look at the short list of ingredients on a can of soda will show at least one ingredient added to "protect taste" or "preserve freshness." One such ingredient is sodium benzoate, added to beverages because it has the ability to kill bacteria and fungi and prevent mold; however, it can also eventually lead to cirrhosis of the liver, cancer, and Parkinson's disease. Potassium benzoate, another such ingredient, is dangerous in much the same way. On occasion, calcium disodium EDTA is used instead to preserve flavor, and it may lead to gastrointestinal and kidney problems.
It's clear that, no matter how one looks at the evidence, drinking soda is bad for a person's health. Even if the big, bad ingredients (caffeine, phosphoric acid, and HCFS or sweeteners) were eliminated, consumers would still be left with a list of questionable, unhealthy items that human beings should probably never ingest.
Cindy Jones-Shoeman is the author of Last Sunset and a Feature Writer for Academic Writing at Suite101. Some of Cindy's interests include environmental issues, vegetarian and sustainable lifestyles, music, and reading.