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Description: Soda is carbonated water with added flavors and sweeteners. Basically, it is bubbly sugar water. If soda was made from just fresh fruit juice and sparkling mineral water, it would be a cool and refreshing drink, but unfortunately this is not the case. Commercial soda is laden with so much sugar that it may be the ingredient of highest concentration in the drink. Manufacturers often use a combination of sweeteners such as sugar, dextrose, fructose, corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, maltodextrin and a variety of others in differing proportions so sugar does not appear first on the ingredient list. Ingesting sugar to this degree is deleterious to one’s health and leads to a host of dis-ease.

Diet sodas are even worse than non-diet varieties because they are artificially sweetened with chemically derived ingredients such as aspartame and monosodium glutamate, which have been linked to cancer, and are commonly referred to in alternative circles as as the “new crack” because they are so highly addictive.

California is currently leading the way in recent political action against soda companies stocking their machines in schools, effectively banning the sale of their products in all public high schools throughout the state. Hopefully this will have a ripple effect throughout the nation.

What to look for: If you decide to follow the urge to have a soda, look for organic varieties or try sparking sodas flavored with organic fruit juices; better yet, make your own using organic fruit juice and sparkling mineral water. Fruit juice spritzers are found at natural food stores nationwide. Alternatively, try bottled organic kombucha, now available in a wide variety of flavors, or organic iced teas. Look for drinks sweetened with natural varieties of sugar such as maple syrup, or at least organic, rather than conventional, sugar.

Uses: Soda is highly addictive because of the high sugar content and the caffeine buzz that it provides. These are undeniably difficult ingredients to shake from one’s living routine, but the benefits to health of excluding them are infinitely worthwhile. Experiment with other drinks that have the capacity to satisfy the palate.

Where to find: Natural food stores and other stores carrying alternative beverages, or online sources.

Avoid: Commercial soda, chemically sweetened drinks and inorganic products. Make a special resolve never to ingest any diet soda.