No doubt about it, Americans love soda. Deep dark colas or sparkling lemon-limes, we consume an average over just over two cans of it per person per day. According to the Department of Agriculture, that adds up to a staggering national consumption of over 15 billion gallons of the bubbly stuff each year.
Unfortunately, it turns out that while soda is excellent for lots of things, the human body isn’t one of them. New studies indicate that the ever-increasing consumption of carbonated sodas is having a detrimental effect on health in several ways.
It’s making us fatter. Soda and soft drinks now make up 10% of the calories in the American diet, according to the Center For Science In The Public Interest. These are essentially “empty” calories, adding no significant nutritional value. One extra-large regular soda packs about 400 calories, more than a quarter of the total daily calorie requirements for the average-sized woman.
It’s squeezing out other important nutritional sources. Dept. of Agriculture records show that in the 1950s, Americans drank roughly four times more milk than soda. In 2009 that ratio was almost exactly reversed. This is a real problem because fortified dairy products are a major source of vitamin D for most people, and vitamin D benefits are crucial to all aspects of health. The CSPI warns that not only is soda is playing a huge role in the obesity epidemic in the US, it’s robbing us of nutrition that we need.
It’s been linked to some serious illnesses. Research has linked the acidic components of soda to digestive problems, ulcers, tooth decay, and a 2009 Rutgers study implicated the high-fructose corn syrup commonly used in soda as a trigger for diabetes.
If you’re inspired to cut back on soda, don’t go pouring your favorite fizzies down the drain. Soda is remarkably good for things other than drinking.
1. Get gum out of hair. Soak the hair-gum clump with soda for a few minutes. The gum will gradually loosen and you can slide it gently out.
2. Clean the toilet. Any soda that contains citric acid (which will eat away stains on vitreous china) can be an effective emergency toilet bowl cleaner. Just pour in, let set, brush, and flush. Soda is also effective at removing rust stains from sinks or tubs.
3. Tenderize meat. Marinating steaks in cola before cooking makes them more tender and adds a interesting flavor boost.
4. Remove rust. A brisk rub with aluminum foil dipped in cola will remove rust from chrome.
5. Remove stains from fabrics. Soda can budge some really difficult stains, including wine, oil, grease, marker, and blood. Pour directly on the stain and let it soak in. If the stain is on a garment, launder as usual after soaking. If the stain is on upholstery or carpet, after soaking with soda scrub lightly with soap and mild water and blot well.
6. Remove stains from concrete. What it does for the carpet, it can do for the sidewalk, porch steps, and garage floor. Pour straight soda on the stain and let it soak in. Scrub with warm soapy water and hose area down. The stain will be gone.
7. Deodorize. Adding a can of soda to the laundry can get set-in odors out of fabrics.
8. Remove corrosion. Cola removes corrossion from many metals, including brass and bronze. Soak small items in straight soda; wrap a soda-soaked rag around corrosion on larger items.
9. Clean burned-on residue from pots and pans. Empty a can of soda into a pan with burned-on food and bring to a boil. The residue will wipe right out.
10. Clean glass. A wipe-down with soda will leave glass gleaming. It can remove stubborn hairspray from mirrors and bugs from windshields.
11. Make cut flowers last longer. Adding soda to the water will keep cut flowers fresh looking for a longer time.
12. Supercharge your compost. Pouring a can of cola into your compost can boost the bacterial action that breaks down organic materials.
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