Soft Drinks

BENEFITS

o Isotonic drinks help to replace lost fluid and energy very quickly after vigorous activity

DRAWBACKS

o Can be high in sugar, which may contribute towards tooth decay

o Acidic drinks can erode the enamel on your teeth

o Ii is possible to consume excessive amounts of caffeine if you drink too many cola drinks, as well as coffee

Most sweetened soft drinks provide empty ‘calories’; they supply plenty of energy, but no other useful nutrients. Typically, a 330ml (10½fl oz) can of a regular, non-diet cola drink contains just over seven teaspoons of SUGAR. Too many sweet drinks can therefore contribute to weight problems as well as to TOOTH AND GUM DISORDERS.

There are, however, an increasing number of low-calorie, sugar-free soft drinks now available. Some of them claim to be good for you. Isotonic drinks, which are specifically produced for sports enthusiasts, are designed to boost energy – and to replace the electrolytes (mineral salts such as sodium, potassium, magnesium and chloride) that are lost through sweating. The isotonic drinks usually contain 5 percent sugar, which allows the water in the drink to he absorbed much more quickly by the body than from a glass of pure water.

FIZZY DRINKS AND SQUASHES

The original cola drink was invented in 1886 when John Styth Pemherton, a pharmacist in Atlanta, USA, concocted a mixture of coca leaves, cola nuts and caffeine to sell as a cure for headaches and hangovers. Today, regular colas contain only about one-third of the caffeine found in a cup of coffee, and there are also decaffeinated versions. The sugar con- rained in diluted squashes ranges from a single teaspoon per glass to four or even more in the case of some blackcurrant drinks, but these may also provide useful amounts of vitamin C. The sugar in soft drinks is broken down by bacteria growing on teeth – to produce acid. If you sip sugary drinks over long periods, this increases the risk of tooth decay by prolonging the time that enamel-destroying acids are in the mouth. Acidic fruit-juice cordials can also erode your teeth. Try to drink soft drinks at mealtimes, and clean your teeth regularly. In a recent survey, researchers at Southampton University found that some children are gaining almost half their daily energy intake from sugary drinks, and that these empty calories are leading to irritability, loss of appetite, poor weight gain and diarrhoea. And doctors who treated eight toddlers referred to Southampton General Hospital with eating or behavioral problems found that the children’s symptoms disappeared when their consumption of sweetened soft drinks was reduced.

LOW-CALORIE DRINKS

Made with artificial sweeteners, low- calorie drinks are suitable for almost everyone, including diabetics. They do not contribute to tooth decay by promoting the formation of plaque, or to weight problems. Sparkling waters with added herbs, minerals and gins eng claim to act as a natural pick-me up, but tend to be more expensive than other soft drinks. They arc usually sweetened with fruit juice.

ALLERGIES

Some ADDITIVES used in soft drinks, such as the azo dyes sunset yellow (El10) and tartrazine (E102), found in some orange, lemon and lime squashes, have been alleged to cause allergic reactions in susceptible individuals. The symptoms can range from skin rashes and upset stomachs to irritability and hyperactivity.