With every passing year, more and more American soda drinkers are switching to water. But we still haven’t even come close to truly conquering our collective soda addiction: The average American drank more than 38 gallons of soda (approximately eight 12-ounce cans per week) in 2013, and the average household spent more money on soft drinks than any other food item in 2011.

You probably don’t need me to tell you this, but all of that soda is terrible for all of us. “Drinking full-fledged soda is like drinking anywhere between 12 and 16 teaspoons of sugar in one sitting,” says Dana Hunnes, senior dietitian at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center (a sugar-laden diet is associated with all kinds of ailments, from heart disease to depression to weight gain). “If a person adds even one can of soda to their ‘normal’ food intake, they could potentially gain between 10 and 15 pounds in a year. Similarly, if a person were to remove soda from their diet—and keep everything else the same—they could potentially lose between 10 and 15 pounds in a year.”

But if you absolutely must have your sugary soda fix, consider this: Among the massive ranks of sodas, some are slightly less unhealthy than others. To find out which are least likely to scramble your insides, I asked Hunnes to help me rank some popular brands, from least unhealthy to most unhealthy.

Since most sodas contain more or less the same ingredients, Hunnes follows the same methodology that she used during our ranking of diet sodas: Basically, the clear sodas are the ‘safest,’ since they don’t contain artificial colors, which all appear to be potentially carcinogenic. The dark sodas contain high levels of caffeine and caramel coloring, both of which are far from healthy. Finally, the yellow (and orange) sodas contain some of the most dangerous dyes, according to Hunnes.

So much like diet sodas, the simplest way to rank regular sodas by how healthy they are is to lump them together by color, with clear sodas being the least unhealthy, dark sodas being the most unhealthy and yellow (or orange) sodas sitting somewhere close to the dark ones.

With that, let’s get our rank on…

1) 7Up and Sprite (tied): “The ingredient lists for 7Up and Sprite are nearly identical, as are their nutritional labels: 140 calories and 39 grams of carbohydrates (aka sugar) each,” Hunnes explains. “The high-fructose corn syrup is obviously the worst thing about them: There’s no nutritional benefit to consuming high-fructose corn syrup, and sadly, it’s lipogenic, meaning it may metabolize into fat molecules in addition to breaking down into sugar.” But hey, these don’t contain artificial colors at least!

3) Coke: As mentioned above, Coke (and the other dark-colored sodas that will follow) contain caramel coloring, which is potentially carcinogenic in high doses. “ Coke contains 140 calories, 39 grams of carbohydrates (which adds up to 10 teaspoons of sugar), high-fructose corn syrup, caramel coloring and caffeine,” Hunnes says. “It also contains phosphoric acid, which can erode tooth enamel.”

4) Pepsi and Dr. Pepper (tied): Pepsi and Dr. Pepper contain, more or less, the same ingredients as Coke, but Hunnes points out that they boast 10 more calories and two more grams of carbohydrates (aka, sugar) each.

6) Pibb Xtra: Pibb Xtra contains the same ingredients (and the same number of calories and carbohydrates) as Coke; however, it’s also comprised of polyethylene glycol, “Which is the same ingredient found in Miralax, an osmotic stool softener,” Hunnes warns. In other words, Pibb Xtra may give you the runs.

7) Mug Root Beer: “Mug Root Beer contains 160 calories, 43 grams of carb (which adds up to 11 teaspoons of sugar), high-fructose corn syrup, caramel coloring and quillaia extract, which is apparently used to treat athlete’s foot,” Hunnes says.

8) Mountain Dew: Again, Hunnes ranks these lower than dark-colored sodas mainly because they contain yellow and red food dyes, which are potentially carcinogenic. “Mountain Dew is rated slightly higher than the next two, only because it contains a small amount of orange juice,” Hunnes explains. “But while it does contain a little orange juice, it also contains high-fructose corn syrup, and yellow number 5 dye, which has been shown to be possibly carcinogenic. The brominated vegetable oil that also contains is an emulsifier, but it can potentially build up in fatty tissues and cause ill effects.” Excessive consumption of brominated vegetable oil may lead to bromism, a condition that causes mental dullness and muscular weakness.

9) Sunkist and Orange Fanta (tied): “Sunkist contains 170 calories, 44 grams of carbohydrates (which adds up to 11 teaspoons of sugar), high-fructose corn syrup, yellow number 6 dye, which is a possible carcinogen, and red 40 dye, which is also a possible carcinogen,” Hunnes says. “Orange Fanta appears to be nearly identical to Sunkist.” It’s worth noting that Orange Fanta contains 10 fewer calories, but one more gram of carbohydrates than Sunkist.

It’s also worth noting, however, that physician and biochemist Cate Shanahan, author of Deep Nutrition: Why Your Genes Need Traditional Food, previously told me that she has no real problem with artificial coloring: “I’ve always been of the opinion that studies claiming artificial colors can cause cancer are irrelevant because they use really high amounts of the artificial colors — like, a million times more than you’d ever get food .”

But that doesn’t discount the fact that all sodas contain zero beneficial ingredients and loads of terrible ones. So do yourself a favor, and stick to water instead.

Ian Lecklitner

Ian Lecklitner is a staff writer at MEL Magazine. He mostly writes about everyone’s favorite things: Sex, drugs and food.

Coca-Cola to test mid-calorie Sprite and Fanta

The Coca-Cola Co. is trying out mid-calorie versions of its Sprite and Fanta sodas months after competitor PepsiCo Inc. launched its own limited-calorie Pepsi Next.

Starting in mid-June, Sprite Select and Fanta Select will be sold in test runs in Atlanta; Detroit; Louisville, Ky.; and Memphis, Tenn. Sweetened with sugar and naturally-derived substitutes such as stevia and erythritol, according to Beverage Digest, the drinks will each have 70 calories.

Usually, 12-ounce cans of Sprite have 140 calories, while Fanta has 160 calories.

“It’s a limited test of two new formulations to see if they might appeal to consumers,” said Coca-Cola spokesman Scott Williamson. “We’re not sure, which is why we want to test it.”

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The Atlanta-based company said it has no current plans for a national rollout.

“A test of this kind is not unusual,” Williamson said.

The beverage industry has offered a range of low- or no-calorie options over the years. Earlier attempts at more healthful drinks, such as C2 from Coca-Cola and Pepsi Edge from Pepsi, saw lackluster sales and were subsequently pulled. But Coke Zero, which was launched in 2005, has developed a loyal base of fans.

Even beers and energy drinks are in the game. Anheuser-Busch InBev launched its Bud Light Platinum this year; Red Bull has its Total Zero option.

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On Monday, 7-Eleven launched its SlurpeeLite Fanta Sugar-Free Mango drink, which it said has 50% fewer calories than comparable drinks. An 8-ounce drink has 20 calories. Other flavors, such as strawberry banana and cherry limeade, are to be available later this summer.

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Follow Tiffany Hsu on Twitter and Google+

Sprite

Caffeine Level 0mg Serving Size fl. oz can Caffeine Strength CAFFEINE FREECorrection? Send Feedback

Sprite Soda is a caffeine-free citrus soda made by the Coca-Cola company.

It originated in Europe under Coke’s Fanta brand but was brought to the USA in 1961 as competition to 7-Up.

Although Sprite has never contained caffeine, there seems to be a lot of confusion in regards to its caffeine content. Sprite is the 22nd most popular drink entered into our Death By Caffeine web app.

If people feel that Sprite wakes them up, it’s due to the high sugar content of this soda.

In the UK Sprite is now partially sweetened with Stevia extract.

Ingredients in Sprite

CARBONATED WATER, HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP, CITRIC ACID,
NATURAL FLAVORS, SODIUM CITRATE, SODIUM BENZOATE (TO
PROTECT TASTE)

Sugar content: 38 grams (per 12 ounces).

Compare sugar levels of other drinks

Caffeine Comparisons

Sprite contains 0.00 mgs of caffeine per fluid ounce (0.00mg/100 ml).

Caffeine (mg) per Ounce 10090807060 5040302010 0 Sprite 5 Hour Energy Espresso Shot Spike Energy Drink Total Caffeine (mg) 400360320280 24020016012080 400 Can of Sprite Can of Coca-Cola Classic Bottle of Redline Energy Drink Can of Monster Energy Drink Can of Red Bull Data Sources: From the Coca-cola website at http://www2.coca-cola.com/ (soft drink nutrition)

Mountain Dew vs Coca-Cola: Which soda is worse for your teeth?

When drinking your favorite soda, do you ever wonder if it’s slowly rotting away your teeth? A young scientist who goes by the name of Chase took over YouTuber Tom Scott’s channel to find out once and for all which soda does the most dental damage — Coca-Cola or Mountain Dew.

In the video, posted on Monday, the young scientist dropped two molars (his sister’s) into bottles of Mountain Dew and Coca-Cola soda and waited for almost three weeks to see what would happen.

Keep in mind that the Mountain Dew has a pH of 3.1, while Coca-Cola has a pH of 2.5 — making it six times more acidic than Mountain Dew.

Two weeks and five days later, we see that the Mountain Dew tooth is yellow but still intact, whereas the Coca-Cola tooth is brown and deteriorated. Surprisingly, after weighing each tooth, the experiment showed that the Coca-Cola tooth lost 7 percent of its mass as it was soaking in the soda, while the Mountain Dew tooth lost 14 percent of its mass.

The video also explains why the organic citric acid in Mountain Dew does more damage to tooth enamel than the phosphoric acid in Coca-Cola. So if you do decide to Do the Dew, remember to brush your teeth soon afterwards.

Mountain Dew is even worse for your teeth than Coke. Just watch this revolting experiment.

Love your pearly whites? Kiss that soda habit goodbye.

It’s not just Coca-Cola that’s bad for your smile: A video posted to YouTube on Monday reveals the disgusting consequences of soaking human teeth in two different sodas.

The experiment: A young scientist named Chase dropped his sister’s tooth into a bottle of Mountain Dew, and another one into a bottle of Coca-Cola. After waiting about 2 1/2 weeks, he inspected the damage — and boy is it damning.

The results: The tooth dropped in the Mountain Dew turned yellow, and the tooth dropped in the Coca-Cola turned brownish-black. According to Wiley’s calculations, the Mountain Dew tooth was 0.13 grams lighter after soaking in the Dew, while the Coca-Cola tooth was 0.06 grams lighter after soaking in the Coke. This loss reflects 14% of the Dew tooth’s mass and 7% of the Coke tooth’s mass, Wiley concludes. Both teeth look pretty disgusting.

Mountain Dew tooth

Tooth dropped in Mountain DewYouTube

Coca-Cola tooth

Tooth dropped in Coca-ColaYouTube

Here’s what’s going on: It’s all about titratable acidity, aka the amount of acid, in each soda, Wiley explains in the video. The citric acid in Mountain Dew is organic, so it can break down the calcium in teeth faster than the artificial preservatives in Coke can break down white chompers.

Weirdly enough, the organic option is worse than the conventional option under these circumstances.

“A very acidic beverage can break down the the enamel, leaving it susceptible to cavities,” Jaime Bremnes, a dentist at Whitehall Dental Arts, said in an email, explaining saliva washes over your teeth to replenish the broken-down calcium.

But with a soda like Mountain Dew, your saliva has a harder time diluting the acid, Wiley notes. A soda’s effect on teeth depends on the sugar content and type of acid, citric acid vs. phosphoric acid, Bremnes said. There are 46 grams of sugar in 12 ounces of Mountain Dew, and 39 grams in 12 ounces of Coca-Cola.

What’s up with the yellow color of the Mountain Dew tooth? When a tooth is soaked in a solution, it can absorb pigments from a soda’s coloring agents, Bremnes noted. (We’re looking at you, Yellow #5.)

“Stunts like this video have no value if we’re talking about how people eat and drink in real life,” Rachel Hicks, the director of communications for the American Beverage Association said in an email.

But lest you think you’re cheating the system by drinking diet versions of these drinks, know that one study revealed diet sodas can wreak similar havoc on your dental health. What’s the optimal amount of soda for dental health? Nada, Bremnes said. You’re better off sipping water.

Watch the full video here:

Sept. 1, 2016. 4:00 p.m.: This article has been updated.

2018 marked another year in the long decline of soda, as volume sales of soft drinks have fallen every year in the U.S. since 2004. Today, annual sales are at lows not seen since the 1980s. Bottled water has surpassed soda in consumption, and a slew of other beverages have also taken market share, including coffee (bottled and brewed), iced tea, sports drinks, energy drinks, kombucha, and coconut water.

Soda giants like Coca-Cola (NYSE:KO), PepsiCo (NASDAQ:PEP), and Keurig Dr Pepper have adapted by acquiring alternative beverage brands. More recently, they have started to branch out even further. For instance, last summer, Pepsi bought SodaStream, taking over the popular DIY sparkling water maker. Coke, meanwhile, acquired British coffee chain Costa Coffee.

However, soda is still big business. Coke and Pepsi command a combined market cap above $350 billion for a reason. While final statistics on 2018 sales aren’t out yet, using older data and trends from last year, we can deduce what the four top-selling sodas in the U.S. were in 2018.

Image source: Getty Images.

1. Coca-Cola

Check out the latest Coca-Cola earnings call transcript.

Coca-Cola has been the most popular soda brand in the U.S. and around the world for decades, and it continued its dominance last year. It’s one of the most valuable brands in the world and has a nearly unmatched distribution network, a giant marketing budget, and partnerships with restaurant chains like McDonald’s that make it the most entrenched soft drink brand in the U.S. and globally.

2018 was another strong year for Coca-Cola. Though the company doesn’t break out sales by brand, it reported a 1% increase in unit case volume in North America in its most recently reported quarter. That growth was likely driven by noncarbonated beverages. But it provides further evidence that the decline in Coca-Cola consumption from previous years may have reversed, after volume sales increased 0.1% in 2017. The brand commands a market share of about 18% among sodas, and according to Nielsen, Coke dollar sales rose 2% last year.

2. Pepsi

Check out the latest PepsiCo earnings call transcript.

For a few years, Diet Coke had supplanted Pepsi as the No. 2 soda in the country. But diet soda sales have plummeted due to health concerns about artificial flavoring and sweeteners, and as a result, Pepsi reclaimed the No. 2 spot in 2014 from Diet Coke. Since then, it has continued to put some distance between itself and Diet Coke as sales of diet sodas, including Diet Coke and Diet Pepsi, have fallen faster than naturally-sweetened sodas — though that trend seemed to reverse last year.

Pepsi does not break out individual performance of its trademark brand. However, its North American beverages segment, which is the company’s biggest category by revenue and also includes Gatorade and Mountain Dew, was challenged in 2018, reporting a 1% volume decline for the first three quarters.

To make matters worse for Pepsi, it recently lost the contract to serve thousands of Arby’s restaurants, as Coke took its place.

3. Diet Coke

Led by Diet Coke, diet soda made a comeback last year after falling sharply in prior years. Dollar sales for Diet Coke increased 4.6%, boosted by the brand’s introduction of a new series of flavors at the beginning of 2018, including Ginger Lime, Feisty Cherry, Zesty Blood Orange, and Twisted Mango. Coke seems to be happy with the new flavors, as it just added two more, Strawberry Guava and Blueberry Acai.

The release of the new flavors in the first quarter of 2018 led Diet Coke to its first quarter of volume growth in North America since 2010. Coca-Cola Zero sales also grew 10.7% last year, showing that consumers seem to be embracing diet sodas again, at least under the Coke label.

4. Mountain Dew

Mountain Dew has commanded a market share between 6% and 7% over the last decade, which is enough to put it in fourth place. Acquired in 1964 by PepsiCo, it has since become one of the food-and-beverage giant’s most valuable brands. Over the years, Mountain Dew has helped juice sales with a number of spinoff flavors, including Baja Blast, which it reintroduced last summer; Code Red; Kickstart, and others.

Pepsi has largely focused its advertising budget on healthier beverages as well as its Frito-Lay snack division, which may signal that its soft drink business will continue to stagnate. However, Mountain Dew’s popularity in certain parts of the country may help it resist the decline in soda. Unlike Coke and Pepsi, its customers are much more concentrated, with sales highest in Appalachia and stronger in the South and the Midwest than on the coasts. Though it may surprise some readers to find Mountain Dew above Sprite, Diet Pepsi, and Dr Pepper, its popularity has been stable, and its fan base is devoted.

8 Sugary Drink Myths, Busted

Getty images

Do sugary drinks cause obesity? State Supreme Court Justice Milton Tingling, who recently dismissed New York City’s proposed “soda ban,” isn’t convinced. As Huffington Post Healthy Living editor Meredith Melnick reports, Tingling made clear that the city’s Board of Health was only meant to intervene “when the city is facing eminent danger due to disease,” he wrote in the decision. “That has not been demonstrated herein.”

To us, the case is pretty clear: Sugary beverages are not just loaded with calories, they also seem to trigger the genes that predispose some of us to weight gain, according to 2012 research.

But a number of other lingering questions about soda and our health are less black and white: Is diet soda any better for us? Do the bubbles affect our bones? And what about high fructose corn syrup? Here are the facts behind some of the biggest claims made about sugary drinks and our health.

1. The claim: Diet soda is better for you than regular soda

The reality: “Diet soda is no panacea,” says Lisa R. Young, Ph.D., R.D., C.D.N., adjunct professor of nutrition at NYU, author of The Portion Teller Plan. Sugar-free doesn’t mean healthy. In fact, the “false sweetness” of diet soda can be quite problematic, says Young. The theory goes that the brain thinks that sweetness signals calories are on their way, and triggers certain metabolic processes that could, in fact, lead to weight gain in diet soda drinkers.

And widening waistlines aren’t the only downside: diet soda has been linked to a whole host of health problems, including increased diabetes, stroke, and heart attack risk.

These studies don’t necessarily prove that drinking diet soda regularly causes health problems, Young cautions, but there’s certainly nothing nutritious about it.

RELATED: Slash calories and sugar, not flavor, with these skinny margarita recipes.

2. The claim: If you want a big boost of energy, choose an energy drink over coffee

The reality: The truth is, a soft drink marketed for energy-such as Red Bull or Rock Star-contains less caffeine than a cup of coffee, but more sugar. Sure, an energy drink is easier to chug, but that doesn’t change the simple fact that your average brewed coffee has between 95 and 200mg of caffeine per eight ounces, while Red Bull has about 80 mg for 8.4 ounces, according to the Mayo Clinic.

3. The claim: Clear soda is healthier than brown soda

The reality: While the caramel coloring responsible for that brown hue can discolor your teeth, says Young, the big difference between clear or light-colored sodas versus darker sugary drinks is typically caffeine. Think Coca Cola versus Sprite, or Pepsi versus Sierra Mist. (Mountain Dew is the obvious exception.) Considering that the average can of soda has less caffeine that a cup of coffee, most soda drinkers probably don’t have to swap Coke for Sprite. But if you are nearing the “how much is too much?” caffeine tipping point, this might actually be a good rule of thumb to follow.

4. The claim: Soda made with corn syrup is worse than soda made with cane sugar

The reality: It turns out that the problem isn’t necessarily the corn-derived sweetener, it’s the fact that the sugar is in liquid form. “I’ve done a lot to demonize it,” Michael Pollan famously told the Cleveland Plain-Dealer. “And people took away the message that there was something intrinsically wrong with it. A lot of research says this isn’t the case. But there is a problem with how much total sugar we consume.”

Both full-calorie sweeteners break down into approximately half glucose and half fructose (corn syrup is about 45 to 55 percent fructose, compared to sugar’s 50 percent). As such, they behave very similarly in the body, which is to say dangerously: “HFCS is, of course, 45-55 percent fructose, and liquid cane sugar is 50 percent fructose,” says David Katz, M.D. and director of the Yale University Prevention Research Center. “So they are compositionally all but identical. Sugar is sugar, and the dose makes the poison in either case.”

5. The claim: A trip to the gym warrants a sports drink

The reality: Watch a Gatorade commercial and you’re apt to think you’ll need a sports drink anytime you break a sweat. But the truth is that your electrolyte and glycogen reserves aren’t depleted until more than an hour of intensive training. So that 45-minute session on the treadmill? Probably not going to require much more than some water.

6. The claim: Carbonation weakens bones

The reality: Young says this claim was likely born of the idea that if kids (or adults, for that matter) are drinking more soda, they’re drinking less bone-benefitting milk. But recent research has zeroed in on the soda and bone density link. A 2006 study found that women who drank three or more colas a week (whether they were diet, regular, or caffeine-free) had significantly lower bone density, leading researchers to believe the culprit is flavor agent phosphoric acid, found more often in colas than clear sodas, that ups the acidity of the blood, The Daily Beast reports. The body then “leaches some calcium out of your bones to neutralize the acid,” study author Katherine Tucker told the site.

Others have suggested that it’s simply the carbonation that hurts bones, but the effect from a single soda would be negligible, according to a report by Popular Science.

RELATED: Soda’s not the only food you should stay away from! Avoid these nine common foods with toxic ingredients.

7. The claim: All calories are the same, no matter their source

The reality: Research suggests that rapid consumption of the fructose in both sugar and high fructose corn syrup doesn’t properly stimulate production of leptin, a hormone that sends the brain a signal when the body is satiated. This commonly leads to overconsumption of the highly caloric drinks. And research finds that soda drinkers do not compensate for their extra calories by eating fewer calories elsewhere. In other words: you’re probably going to eat some fries with that soda-not an apple.

8. The claim: Mountain Dew lowers sperm count

The reality: This myth is little more than urban legend. No research exists documenting any effect on fertility from drinking Mountain Dew, Everyday Health reports. Many speculators link the rumor to the (deemed-safe) food coloring Yellow No. 5 that gives Mountain Dew its neon hue. Yellow No. 5 has made headlines recently, as one of two food dyes two North Carolina bloggers seek to eliminate from Kraft Macaroni & Cheese. They claim Yellow No 5 is dangerous, and in fact the food dye has been linked to conditions such as allergies, ADHD, migraines, and cancer.

“At the end of the day, it’s all about moderation,” says Young. “Nobody’s going to have a reduced sperm count from the occasional soda.”

More on Huffington Post Healthy Living:

10 In-Season Green Superfoods

10 Celebrities Leading the Wellness Revolution

11 Ways to De-Stress At Your Desk

  • By The Editors of Huffington Post Healthy Living

The 31 things you need when you’re ill

3. Loo paper or wet wipes (wet wipes can’t be flushed down the loo, but there is a new breed of wipes that can).

4. Thermometer.

Food and drink

5. Water – water is the single most important aid to recovery. It flushes out infection and toxins, it rehydrates vital organs so that they can function properly and it helps reduce your temperature and keep you cool. Water from the tap is usually fine, but if you’ve had a bout of food poisoning or gastroenteritis – anything where vomiting has been involved – it’s wise to drink water that’s been boiled and allowed to cool.

6. Honey – can be soothing in a drink or to eat, has antiseptic properties and is a source of energy.

7. Coca-Cola, Pepsi, ginger ale, Lucozade, Sprite and lemonade – can all help with rehydration after sickness and/or diarrhoea. Drink these if you don’t have access to water and/or you need a bit of sugar to perk you up. DO let it go flat and/or dilute with water to reduce its gassiness. DON’T only drink as an alternative to water. Have water as well wherever possible.

Preparation is key to reducing discomfort whilst ill, says Jill Sinclair

8. Coconut water – contains essential electrolytes, is sugar- and fat-free and is another great source of hydration.

9. Tins of fruit – mandarin segments, peaches, fruit salad. And fresh bananas, oranges, grapes, melons where possible. Fruit is a good source of fluid, vitamins and sugars.

10. Lemon – also useful in a drink to combat colds and flu, helps reduce catarrh and is a source of vitamin C. Easily available in bottles or squeezy lemon-shaped dispensers. Use fresh where possible.

11. Vinegar – contains vitamins, minerals, amino acids and can protect against heart disease and cancer. Gargle it with warm water to sooth a sore throat.

12. Soup – you can freeze cartons or tubs of soup or keep a couple of emergency cans.

Medication

13. Aspirin – for pain relief.

14. Paracetamol – for pain relief and to reduce temperature.

15, Ibuprofen – for pain relief.

16. Dioralyte – for rehydration.

17. Vaseline – for soothing chapped skin.

18. Vicks VapoRub – to reduce congestion in a blocked nose.

19. Hand sanitiser gel – a good alternative to soap and water, although never as good as washing with soap and water.

20. Vitamin C – helps to aid recovery.

21. Echinacea (according to The Lancet Infectious Diseases, taking echinacea cuts the duration of the symptoms of a cold).

22. Over-the-counter cold treatments such as Lemsip or Beechams Powders.

Comforters

23. Hot water bottle.

24. Ice pack or cold flannel – to reduce temperature or swelling.

25. A box of soft tissues – especially if your nose is raw from blowing.

26. Bed socks – if your feet are cold, you will feel cold.

27. Spare pyjamas – in case of accidents or spillages, or just to make you feel fresher and less smelly.

28. Favourite cardigan or bed jacket – to keep you warm and to cover you up in case of unexpected visitors.

29. Radio/music/television – for company and so you can keep track of the time.

30. Phone – to make those all-important calls to your recovery team and, in extreme situations, to the medics.

31. Cuddly toy – optional.

(Probably best not to have your pets too close while you’re ill. Keep them at arm’s length until you are at the convalescence stage, although obviously don’t forget to feed them).

Extract from The Art Of Being Ill by Jill Sinclair (Freight Books £9.99). Order from Telegraph Books at £8.99 + £1.95 p&p. Call 0844 871 1515 or books.telegraph.co.uk

Still, scientists say the alternative to observational studies — a clinical trial that randomly assigns participants to a sugary drinks group or a diet soda group — isn’t feasible.

“Clinical trials are considered the gold standard in science, but imagine asking thousands of people to stick to such a regimen for decades,” said Dr. Malik of Harvard. “Many people would drop out, and it would also be prohibitively expensive.”

Concerns about artificial sweeteners have been around since the 1970s, when studies found that large quantities of saccharin caused cancer in lab rats. The Food and Drug Administration issued a temporary ban on the sweetener, and Congress ordered up additional studies and a warning label, but subsequent research found the chemical to be safe for human consumption. More recently-created chemical sweeteners like aspartame and sucralose have also been extensively studied, with little evidence that they negatively impact human health, according to the F.D.A.

Some studies have even found a correlation between artificial sweeteners and weight loss, but others have suggested they may increase cravings for sugary foods.

“There’s no evidence they are harmful to people with a healthy diet who are trying to live a healthy lifestyle,” said Dr. Barry M. Popkin, a nutritionist at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. He and others remain concerned that giving diet beverages to young children might encourage a sweet tooth.

Pepsi, Mountain Dew, cranberry juice cocktail, and hundreds of other sugar-sweetened beverages may be heaven on the taste buds, but drinking them daily doesn’t do your body any favors.

According to the recently published International Study of Macro/Micronutrients and Blood Pressure (which goes by the pseudo acronym of INTERMAP), people who routinely drink sugared sodas or juices are more likely to have higher blood pressure and weigh more than those who don’t consume these beverages.

The INTERMAP results are in line with others showing a connection between drinking sweetened sodas and juices and a range of health problems, including excess weight, the metabolic syndrome, and type 2 diabetes. These drinks may have a greater effect on children than adults.

Keep in mind that these studies show only an association between drinking sugar-sweetened beverages and poorer health. In the INTERMAP study, for example, it’s possible that people who routinely drink sugar-sweetened beverages have poorer diets or exercise less than people who don’t drink sweetened soda, and it’s those factors—not their choice of beverage—that causes problems. The clearest way to show cause and effect is with a randomized trial. So far, small trials have shown that reducing consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages can reduce blood pressure and lower weight.

As their name implies, sugar-sweetened beverages deliver lots of sugar—a 12-ounce can of regular soda contaions nine to ten teaspoons of it—and few if any other nutrients.

Water, of course, is the ideal beverage—100% hydration with no calories or additives. If you want something more lively than water, try mixing three or fours parts of sparkling water with one part of real juice.

Top 25+ Caffeine Health Benefits

Caffeine is the most widely used substance on the planet and it is also one of the most researched in regards how it affects the human body.

We’ve dug through many of those scientific studies and compiled a list of the possible caffeine health benefits people may experience from using caffeine.

27 Possible Caffeine Health Benefits

  1. In Japan, researchers have shown that caffeine increases memory. Also, a newer study out of Johns Hopkins University showed that a 200 mg caffeine pill helped boost memory consolidation.
  2. Caffeine mixed with carbs replenishes muscle glycogen concentrations faster after exercise.
  3. Caffeine detoxes the liver and cleanses the colon when taken as a caffeine enema.
  4. Caffeine helps keep you alert while driving during periods of sleep restriction. Here’s the research
  5. Caffeine can stimulate hair growth for balding men and women.
  6. Caffeine relieves post-workout muscle pain by up to 48%.
  7. Caffeine relieves pain associated with sleep loss better than analgesics. The study.
  8. Caffeine may protect against Parkinson’s disease. Research shows that those who consume coffee are at less risk of developing Parkison’s disease and it even reduces the risk of those genetically more likely to develop the condition. Here’s the study.
  9. Caffeine may help ward off Alzheimer’s.
  10. Caffeine increases stamina during exercise.
  11. Caffeine through coffee may protect against eyelid spasm.
  12. Caffeine may protect against Cataracts.
  13. Caffeine may prevent skin cancer. A new study out of Rutgers University found that caffeine prevented skin cancer in hairless mice. Another study showed that caffeinated coffee drinkers have less risk of developing melanoma.
  14. People who consume caffeine have a lower risk of suicide. Src.
  15. Caffeine may reduce fatty liver in those with non-alcohol related fatty liver disease. This study comes out of Duke University.
  16. Caffeine is shown to reduce liver fibrosis risk in patients with hepatitis C. As little as 100 mg per day is believed to have protective benefits. Src.
  17. Caffeine consuming men showed increased semen volume and significantly less sperm DNA fragmentation than non-caffeine consuming men. Src.
  18. Men who consume 250-375 mg of caffeine per day have a much lower risk of developing ED (erectile dysfunction). The reduced risk was even observed among men consuming as little as 85 mg of caffeine daily. This research was conducted by The University of Texas Medical School. Src.
  19. Caffeine may prevent ringing in the ears (tinnitus) in women: A study published in The American Journal of Medicine followed a group of 65,085 nurses since 1991. The women who consumed the most caffeine had the lowest incidences of tinnitus reported. Src.
  20. Caffeine Reduces Kidney Stone Risk. In a large 217,883 person study, those that consumed caffeine from any source had less kidney stone formation than those that did not consume caffeine. The researchers believe that this is because caffeine makes the urine more dilute. Src. Caffeine has also been shown to reduce the mortality rate in those with chronic kidney disease. Caffeine appears to have a protective effect on the progression of the disease. Here’s the study. Another study (2018) also confirmed that caffeine consumption reduces the mortality rate for those living with kidney disease. .
  21. Caffeine improves reaction time and logical reasoning during times when sleep isn’t possible or restricted. See the study here.
  22. Caffeine helps those with asthma. A study published in the U.S. National Library of Medicine concluded that caffeine seems to open airways and help asthmatics breathe easier similarly to theophylline a drug currently used and one that’s a close cousin to caffeine. The study.
  23. Reduces driver error: A recent study conducted by the Australian Department of Defence found that caffeine consumption improves driving performance and reduces driver error. Caffeinated gum was used in the study on soldiers that had been sleep-deprived for 50 hours.
  24. Caffeine may prevent weight gain: Research out of Germany showed that weight loss study participants who drank 2-4 cups of caffeinated coffee a day were more likely to be successful at keeping the weight off than those who did not consume caffeine. The study. Another study showed that caffeine stimulates brown fat cells causing them to burn more calories. This increases the overall metabolic rate. Another 2019 study conducted on rats showed that rats given a dose of caffeine equivalent to 4 cups of coffee a day gained 22% less body fat than rats given no caffeine but fed the same high fat, high sugar diet.
  25. Caffeine reduces chronic inflammation. Researchers from Stanford University found that caffeine blocks the expression of a gene responsible for low-grade chronic inflammation as we age. This inflammation eventually leads to high blood pressure, hardening of the arteries, and heart disease. Caffeine seems to help reduce this age-related inflammation in those that are regular consumers of the drug.
  26. Caffeine is good for the heart. A study out of Germany found that the amount of caffeine typically in 4 cups of coffee daily helps strengthen heart muscle cell function and prolongs the life of heart muscle cells. You can read the study’s abstract here.
  27. Caffeine helps premature infants: A few doses of caffeine given to premature babies drastically improves lung function and overall survival rate. Newer research found that this therapy produces no long-term side effects as the children age. Src.

There can be negative health consequences from consuming too much caffeine, so don’t go too crazy. Also, some of the benefits of caffeine have only been researched within the context of caffeinated coffee.

Here are some further health benefits when the caffeine is consumed via coffee. It is also interesting that some of these benefits didn’t carry over to those that drank decaffeinated coffee.

Caffeinated Coffee Health Benefits

  1. Caffeinated coffee cuts mouth and throat cancer risk by 50%.
  2. Coffee can reduce the risk of stroke as much as 22%.
  3. Shown to reduce the risk of several types of cancer.
  4. Heart rhythm disturbance hospitalizations decrease with coffee drinkers.
  5. Coffee decreases the risk of type 2 diabetes.
  6. People who drink at least 4 coffees or teas have lower blood pressure according to a new study out of Paris. Tea drinkers had the most blood pressure benefit, while coffee drinkers had just slightly less.
  7. Research out of Greece shows that Greek boiled coffee may increase longevity and heart health.
  8. Those who drink coffee after a heart attack are less likely to die from the incident. Research shows that heart attack victims who consume more than 2 cups of coffee daily have the least risk of mortality from the heart attack.

While this list might seem like a green light for caffeine consumption, it does come with a few caveats. In most cases, caffeine’s health benefits were realized by those who consumed moderate coffee/caffeine amounts. Also in some of the studies above, the caffeine was concentrated and applied directly to the body area being researched, i.e. cataracts and baldness, etc.. Therefore, dietary caffeine would not produce the same results.

The British Medical Journal published a study that reviewed 201 studies concerning coffee and caffeine. The researchers concluded that based on all evidence to date, the health benefits of consuming coffee outweigh any risk involved.

We can conclude that caffeine consumed via natural sources is probably the best since many of the health benefits of caffeine are probably largely due to the high antioxidant levels found in regular coffee and tea.

Written by Ted Kallmyer, last updated on December 20, 2019

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