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If you’re like most of us, you grew up with the occasional soda at dinnertime or on special occasions, like a movie theater or birthday party, but I could never forget a high school science class where our teacher showed us an example of what a tooth sitting in a cup of soda would do. After a certain period of time it starts to decay, and as I remembered that tooth enamel is some of the strongest material out there, I was pretty surprised that an innocent cup of soda could actually erode a tooth. In fact, new research suggests that many other popular diet and sugared sodas are nearly as corrosive to dental enamel as battery acid!
The latest research, published in Academy of General Dentistry (AGD) journal General Dentistry, reports that drinking any type of soft drink hurts teeth due to the citric acid and/or phosphoric acid in the beverages. The study measured the acidity, or pH, of 20 commercial soft drinks, including Coke, Pepsi, 7 Up and their diet versions, immediately after cans were opened. Then slices of enamel from freshly extracted teeth were weighed before and after being immersed in the soft drinks for 48 hours.
The result was that the teeth immersed in Coke, Pepsi, RC Cola, Squirt, Surge, 7 Up and Diet 7 Up lost more than 5 percent of their weight, according to the report by Poonam Jain of the Southern Illinois University School of Dental Medicine and her colleagues. (Other sodas brought about losses in the enamel weight in the range of 1.6 percent to 5 percent).
And while reality is we don’t soak our teeth in the soda we drink, the potential for damaging the enamel is still enough to take notice the next time you (or especially your child) reaches for a sugary softdrink. Perhaps there’s not much difference between the sugar contents in lemonade or other fruit juices vs a soda, and with the havoc that sugar wreaks on our body as well, I’m not sure it makes much of a difference to reach for one vs the other.
So what’s a kid to do for a treat? I know I feel better when my son drinks fresh squeezed juices, and we turn to those as a first option. If that’s not an option, limit a soda or juice to one cup and then switch them to water. The lessons we learn as children shape the choices we make as adults, so stand firm and help our kids learn to make the best health choices.
Want more proof?
Check out this graphic to see how drinking a soda affects your health, from the moment it enters your mouth to the time it is absorbed into the rest of your body. You can view it here as well.
Our advice? Switch to unsweetened iced tea, or sweeten it with some natural stevia, and learn to love sparkling or flat water with some fresh fruit for flavor.
What are some of your tricks for helping kids avoid sugary soft drinks?
Jennifer Mansfield (301 Posts)
Hi, I'm Jen, and I launched InspiredEats after being diagnosed with several food allergies, and battling auto-immune conditions including Hashimotos, Adrenal Fatigue, Pyroluria and vitamin deficiencies. I have overcome most all conditions by following the Paleo Diet. My hope is to help so many others like me who are suffering and don't understand how to heal. That's the meaning behind my message: Eat.Heal.Thrive.
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