What do you choose to drink on a daily basis, and does it matter? Our bodies are made up of about 60% water by weight, so hydrating the body through beverages is an important part of keeping our bodies healthy. Taking in fluids throughout the day helps to replace water that is lost through various body processes such as sweating, urinating, breathing and metabolic processes.
So, which type of fluid is best to replace all that water loss? Some will choose to drink various types of water like purified, spring or artesian, others will choose to drink sports drinks, coffee or juice. However, two popular drinks in America today are tea and soda. Let’s take a look at which might be the better choice…
TEA is from the Camellia Sinensis plant and comes in various types such as black, green, white and oolong. The difference between these types of tea comes from the way they are processed.
Black tea is withered which allows water to evaporate out of the leaf and the leaf absorbs oxygen from the air which causes oxidation of the tea. This oxidative process results in the dark brown or black leaf with a deeper flavor and higher caffeine content when compared to other tea types. Some benefits of black tea consumption include reduced risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) through its flavonoid content; reduced risk for diabetes; and protects against periodontal disease through its antibacterial activity against major periodontopathogens, among other benefits.
Green tea is slightly withered after picking, and the oxidative process is quickly stopped by steaming the leaves rapidly. Some benefits of green tea consumption include cancer prevention through its catechins; reduces body fat; and protects against atherosclerosis, among other benefits.
White tea is said to be the most delicate tea as it is hand-processed using the youngest shoots of the tea plant with no oxidation involved. Some benefits of white tea consumption include it protects the brain from diabetes-related effects; prevents dental cavities with bioavailable fluoride; and builds healthy skin, among other benefits.
Oolong tea is also known as Wulong tea and is allowed to undergo partial oxidation. Some benefits of oolong tea consumption include it lowers total blood cholesterol; improves brain processing of auditory information; reduces the risk of ovarian cancer, and may prevent bone loss**, among other benefits.
SODA is a carbonated soft drink that contains ingredients such as carbonated water, sugar, caramel color, phosphoric acid, caffeine, and “natural” flavors. High fructose corn syrup: The most commonly used sweetener in America. Consumption of excess fructose in the diet has been linked to fatty liver disease, dyslipidemia (abnormal amounts of lipids/fats in the blood), type 2 diabetes, obesity, gout, and cardiovascular diseases.
Sucrose (table sugar): Sucrose is a crystalline disaccharide of fructose and glucose, refined and extracted mainly from sugarcane and sugar beets. Consumption of excess sucrose in the diet has been linked to increased dental caries/cavities, and autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis (MS), rheumatoid arthritis (RA), type I diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease and psoriasis, among other diseases.
Non-nutritive/Calorie-free sweeteners: Non-nutritive, calorie-free sweeteners are artificial, or synthetic, sugar substitutes that may be derived from natural substances like sugar or herbs. These synthetic sweeteners provide intense sweetness as they are many times sweeter than regular table sugar, or sucrose. Consumption of non-nutritive, synthetic sugar substitutes has been linked to metabolic irregularities such as obesity and diabetes, hyperglycemia and an impaired ability to respond to insulin, and neurological and behavioral disturbances, among other diseases.
Caramel color: Caramel color is added to food or beverages for coloring purposes and is produced with ammonium compounds. Some of the compounds used to manufacture caramel color result in the formation of 4-methylimidazole, which has been linked to increased cancer risk.
Phosphoric acid: Phosphoric acid occurs when phosphates are treated with sulfuric acid to produce a crystalline acid. Phosphoric acid is used in soda to provide a tangy flavor and as a preservative. Excessive consumption of phosphoric acid has been linked to bone loss and osteoporosis as it interferes with absorption of calcium and increases the loss of calcium from bone.
Caffeine: According to Coca-Cola, caffeine is added to soda to provide a unique flavor or taste to the product. Caffeine intake has been linked to increased blood glucose levels and can inhibit bone remodeling, which is the constant process of bone tissue turnover and production. Caffeine may also increase the metabolism of the dental cavity forming Streptococcus mutans.
“Natural” flavors: According to the FDA: “The term natural flavor or natural flavoring means the essential oil, oleoresin, essence or extractive, protein hydrolysate, distillate, or any product of roasting, heating or enzymolysis, which contains the flavoring constituents derived from a spice, fruit or fruit juice, vegetable or vegetable juice, edible yeast, herb, bark, bud, root, leaf or similar plant material, meat, seafood, poultry, eggs, dairy products, or fermentation products thereof, whose significant function in food is flavoring rather than nutritional. Natural flavors, include the natural essence or extractives obtained from plants listed in subpart A of part 582 of this chapter, and the substances listed in 172.510 of this chapter.”
So basically, “natural flavor” may originate from a plant, animal, or in a lab and can be just about anything that provides flavor.
To wrap up our brief review of these two popular American drinks, we can see that TEA provides benefits and its constituents, or parts, have been associated with supporting body processes. SODA, on the other hand, provides a risk for certain diseases depending upon which ingredient you study.
However, there are brands of soda today that do not contain many of these harmful ingredients which can occasionally be consumed instead of the conventional soda brands, to lessen your risk for chronic disease.
The next time you’re thirsty and looking for something other than water to drink to re-hydrate, consider a choice that supports your body and health - choose to drink tea (iced or hot) over soda.
Ephesians:10: “…and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord.”
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