No. 475



In the interest of good health, both yours and mine, here is something that should be of interest to you and your family. A few days ago I got a press release titled, "Arkansas Children's Hospital's Pediatricians Advise Children to Drop the Pop." This release contains some great information for parents who have children, but it also contains some real solid information for adults as well. I am just going to share the release as I received it, and then I have some comments of my own to make regarding the consumption of too many soft drinks.

It begins, "Many children and teenagers see that 2-liter plastic bottle of cola in the fridge as a sugary-sweet, liquid temptation. It's no secret that our children are drinking too much soda, but how is it really affecting their health? Pediatricians at Children's Hospital (ACH) caution that an unhealthy amount of soft drinks can lead to an unhealthy child or teen.

"A common place for parents to discover their child has been drinking too much pop is the dentist's office. Sodas contain a lot of sugar, acid and carbonation. When these three mix in your mouth, they make your saliva acidic and that accumulates on your teeth. The acid then eats away at your teeth and allows bacteria in, which leads to cavities. "Children and adults should diminish the intake of sodas and increase the intake of water and natural juices," says James Koonce, DDS, MSD, director of dental services at ACH. "Sodas often take the place of fruit juices and water in children's diets, and that's unhealthy for anyone."

Hot weather, outdoor play, and soft drinks are not a good combination.

With football, marching band, cross-country, and many other activities, parents should pay close attention to the amount of soda their children are consuming. Soft drinks contain no nutritional value except for the 150 calories of refined sugar in a single can, which can lead to dehydration.

ÎIt's important for teens to understand how certain foods and beverages affect their systems and how they can take charge of their developmental process,1 says Brian Hardin, MD, director of the Adolescent Center at ACH and associate professor of pediatrics at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS).

"ÎWhen your body tells you it's thirsty and you feed it 150 calories, it confuses your system. Your body says, I'm thirsty, and you give it a small meal.1 Hardin says once a child understands how to be healthy, he then gives them advice on healthier options. ÎNatural juice, milk, some sports drinks quench thirst and provide nutritional value, but the best thing to drink is lots of water,1 says Hardin. So how much soda is too much? Koonce suggests one can or less per day is reasonable, but both doctors agree that Înone1 is the healthiest choice.

"Parents should be sure to make children brush their teeth after drinking sodas, and after meals for that matter. Encouraging your child or teen to take responsibility for healthier living; providing facts about soft drinks and alternative beverages; and setting an example by limiting sodas for all family members, are the best ways to focus on good teeth and good health."

Well, that's the end of the press release. I don't normally pass along releases of this nature, but this one hit home with me and maybe for you too, so I decided to make it the exception to the rule.

In thinking about what this release said and how it affects my own health, the thing that hit a nerve with me is that part about drinking one can or less a day of soda pop or cola, as it's now called, is reasonable.

However, this goes against my nature. My nature is to go all out in whatever I do. In the past I've started out slow but over time found myself swigging one cola after another until bedtime, which could add up to six to eight a day. When I was diagnosed as borderline diabetic and had to go on medication, I knew the sugar I was consuming in soft drinks was a big part of the problem, so I switched to diet drinks.

Then a few months ago I hit a period where I couldn't sleep, and finally my wife, along with a golfing friend, tipped me off that the aspartame in the diet drinks was causing it. The footnote to what I'm saying is that I have switched to water, unsweetened tea and fruit juices and now I am sleeping much better. What we eat and what we drink does make a difference in our health. When we are young, we think we are invincible, but as we grow older we learn that is not the case at all. Wish I had been a lot smarter several years ago and I might not have had to have heart bypass surgery. As they say, "There is no fool like an old fool." Hope you will think seriously about what these doctors are saying about drinking colas. It may be time to DROP THE POP.

(Jim Davidson is a motivational speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034.)