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Local Limelight: Weeklyish Articles Of Interest

The Soda Conundrum: Is Organic Always Healthy?
By Sara Ebrahimy

Environmentalism isn't just about making the world a better place. More specifically, it is about making the world a better place for YOU! Simply put, what good would a clean, healthy Earth do if its inhabitants weren't also clean and healthy? This is the idea that I took with me when I set out to investigate the conundrum posed by organic soda. I mean, sure it's organic, but does that in itself make it healthy? If soda itself is as bad as they say, how much better does it really get when the chemicals are eliminated?

First, I looked at the widely accepted dangers of conventional (non-organic) soda; obesity, tooth decay, caffeine dependence, and bone loss.

As yet, conclusive studies proving soda's influence on the obesity plight in America have yet to come forth. This is because many obese people engage regularly in such a wide range of unhealthy habits, it becomes difficult to pinpoint the specific effects of a single factor.

However, it is impossible to argue that the calorie count of soda is very high, and that none of those calories contain any nutritional value. There have also been studies that show that the brain does not register liquid calories in the same way that it registers solid calories, which means that all of those useless soda calories not only didn't help your body grow, but you're also going to feel just as hungry and drained as you did before you drank them.

Unfortunately, large amounts of sugar are also found in organic soda. Albeit, the more research you do on your soda, the more likely you are to end up ingesting better sugars. Agave nectar, an organic sweetener, is the best bet. In it's organic form, it has not been stripped of it's naturally occurring nutrients like it's conventional counterparts white sugar and corn syrup, and it offers many unique benefits, the least of which include a low spot on the glycemic index, and anti-microbial properties. As yet, there is only one agave-sweetened soda.

Dental Health Directory states that "the carbonic or phosphoric acid dissolves the calcium out of the enamel, leaving a softened matrix for bacteria to enter the teeth and cause wholesale carious destruction." Therefore, the tooth situation isn't really helped by choosing sodas with fewer or no sugar, which means that organic soda won't necessarily be a help to you. Even organic soda contains citric acid and carbonated water, both of which lead to tooth decay.

The caffeine in soda is the next of it's recognized evils. However, caffeine is noted not because of secret detrimental effects, but mostly for it's addictive properties. Therefore, the solution is simple: buy caffeine-free organic soda. There, that problem is easily solved at least.

Finally, we note soda's propensity to weaken bones. The ingredient responsible for this claim is phosphoric acid, a common ingredient in conventional soda. Phosphorous "...appears to weaken bones by promoting the loss of calcium. With less calcium available, the bones become more porous and prone to fracture." Though the soda industry denies that there is enough phosphorous present in their products to cause any real damage, it is clear that even what little phosphoric acid IS present in soda can cause weaker and easily broken bones when too much is ingested during childhood and early teen years when the body is still hoarding calcium in larger amounts. Organic soda, however, is free of phosphoric acid, and therefore does not have any negative impact on the body's bones.

So what did I learn? While switching to organic soda takes us out of the risk bracket for bone weakness and caffeine dependence, we're still left with obesity and tooth decay, so it's not exactly what we'd refer to as the sweetest of deals. As Americans cut back their budgets and re-discover the cheapness of conventional soda, the temptation to relinquish our healthy values becomes even greater, but we would all be much better off just giving up this "liquid candy" completely and switching to water and juice. If you find that you just can't live without soda, moderation is the key. And, as always, be sure to always choose organic.

While the aforementioned agave-sweetened soda is your healthiest bet, there are a few other companies that are definitely worth checking out.  Santa Cruz Organic makes a great sparkling lemonade, Whole Earth Foods has a rather fabulous cola, and if you're in the mood for a root beer float, Blue Sky is always a favorite. So sally forth and drink organic, my friends. Save the earth as well as yourselves.


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