Researchers in Britain just released a study that tracked 14,000 children and what they ate and drank at the ages of 3, 4, 7, and 8.5 years of age, by asking parents to complete questionnaires detailing their child’s diet.
Not suprisingly, the study found evidence that when 3 year old children eat a diet rich in foods that are high in fat, high in sugar and are processed, their IQ may find a small decrease in their IQ five years later. And on the flip side, this new study suggests eating a healthy, nutrient rich diet may be associated with a small increase in IQ.
Dr. Sandra Hassink, chair of the American Academy of Pediatrics Obesity Leadership Workgroup, believes that there are “so many variables in a child’s life which makes it very difficult to tease out what exactly is leading to a drop in IQ assessments.” Until more research is available, Hassink says, the AAP recommends giving your child a healthy diet, reading to your child, having family routines and structure and lots of physical activity, all which contribute to the healthy development of children.
One of the biggest contributors of fast food, the soft drink industry, has just recently been under fire because of a possible link between the consumption of diet sodas and a higher risk of stroke, heart attack and vascular-related deaths. This study was just presented at the American Stroke Association’s International Stroke Conference in 2011. In findings involving 2,564 people in the large, multi-ethnic Northern Manhattan Study (NOMAS), scientists said people who drank diet sodas every day had a 61% higher risk of vascular events than those who reported no soda drinking.
Last July another study using data from the large, ongoing Framingham Heart Study reported that people who daily downed one or more sodas – regular or diet – increased their risk of developing metabolic syndrome by 56% (The components of metabolic syndrome include excess fat around the waist or abdomen, high blood pressure, and abnormal levels of blood sugar, triglycerides and HLD, or “good” cholesterol.) There were also animal studies that indicated the caramel coloring was also linked to vascular problems.
Lyn M. Steffen, PhD, associate professor of epidemiology at the University of Minnesota and co-author of the second study, states, “The most likely explanation is that people who drink diet soda have other behaviors that might promote the syndrome. Perhaps consumers of diet soda have less healthy diets than their non-diet-soda-drinking peers. Or maybe they are less physically active.” Hannah Gardener, Sc.D, lead author and epidemiologist at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine in Miami, Fla states, “If our results are confirmed with further studies, then it would suggest that diet soda may not be the optimal substitute for sugar-sweetened beverages for protection against vascular outcomes.”
Regardless of whether poor diet, lack of exercise, etc. were involved in the results of these particular studies, the consumption of soft drinks is now, according to the National Soft Drink Association, over 600 12 oz. servings per person per year. Since 1978, soda consumption in the US has tripled for boys and doubled for girls. Young males age 12-29 are the biggest consumes of over 160 gallons per year – that is almost 2 quarts per day. At these levels, the calories from soft drinks contribute as much as 10% of the total caloric intake for a growing boy!
The advertising of soft drinks alone has been targeting the young. According to an article in Beverage, January 1999, “influencing elementary school students is very important to soft drink marketers.” Have you noticed that the size of a single serving beverage has increased from 6 1/2 oz. to a 20-ounce bottle? In fact, when I see bottles at 7-Eleven stores and movie theaters, the most popular size is now the 64 oz. “Double Gulp!” Last year soft drink companies grossed over $57 billion in sales in the U.S. alone.
Studies revealing vascular problems is just the tip of the iceberg . It does not even address the problem of the loss of enamel on the teeth caused by phosphoric acid found in soft drinks, which causes tooth rot as well as digestive problems and bone loss.
High fructose corn syrup, now used in preference to sugar in soft drinks, is associated with poor development of collagen in growing animals. Because all fructose must be metabolized by the liver, animals on high-fructose diets develop liver problem similar to those of alcoholics. It costs less to make, is sweeter to the taste, and mixes more easily with other ingredients. We consume nearly 63 pounds of it per person per year in drinks, sweets, etc. Aspartame, used in the diet sodas, is a potent neurotoxin and endocrine disrupter. And of course the caffeine present in soft drinks can lead to adrenal exhaustion.
Did you know soda works really well in cleaning car engines? It is because of all of the chemical acids present in the sodas such as acetic fumaric, gluconic and phosphoric acids, all synthetically produced. If it can clean your car engine, what is it doing to our insides? It can upset the acid-alkaline balance of our stomach and other gastric lining, creating a continuous acid environment.
Just as the risks of smoking began to emerge in the late 70′s alarming people of the dangers of smoking cigarettes, perhaps it is time to begin to pay attention and sound the alarm about the dangers of all of the processed foods, including soft drinks, that are being consumed. Six out of every ten deaths in our country our directly related to diet. A typical American diet consists of 90% cooked, processed, packaged, adulterated, and even irradiated and possibly genetically-engineered foods, filled with chemicals, preservatives, grown in nutrient-depleted soil, and stored on shelves for long periods of time, resulting in massive nutritional loss, literally creating a “dead-food diet.” We cannot build strong new cells and maintain a healthy immune system to prevent disease, when we only eat lifeless food. What are you doing for you and your family to lead a more healthful life through diet? Asking yourself and your family members these questions….are you tired most of the time? Is depression your constant companion? Do you have frequent colds, flu, etc? Are you living with arthritis or worse? If anyone answers yes to any of these questions, it is time to build up your defense system by building and repairing your immune system, not with “dead” processed food, but with good tasting, healthful food and nutritional supplements that deliver nutrients to the cells.