There’s no denying that diet drinks made with dangerous artificial sweeteners are just plain bad for you. With the laundry list of added chemicals and potentially toxic side effects from the ever-popular aspartame, many health-conscious consumers scour supermarket shelves for a healthy alternative.
What luck! Soda bottles with the promising phrases “All Natural” or “Old Fashioned” in big letters spanning the labels are placed strategically at eye level. No artificial sweeteners, no high fructose corn syrup, these by far have to be the best option out there right? The answer is a resounding, no!
To the innocent health-conscious consumer who has just loaded their cart with every flavor of these healthy-sounding drinks, you’ve just been scammed. These drinks are anything but natural and are as far from “old-fashioned” as you can get.
The fact is, if you’re looking to remove high fructose corn syrup from your diet, replacing it with anything labeled “all natural” or “real” sugar is simply replacing it with another genetically modified crop. Most of the sugar used in the United States is comprised either all or partially from the genetically modified sugar beet and not the non-GMO crop, cane sugar. In fact, manufacturers are not even required to specify on the label whether sugar is derived from sugar beets or cane sugar, so consumers really have no way of knowing what they are getting.
The main problem with this is that a whopping 95 percent of the sugar beets grown in the United States are genetically modified. These “Roundup Ready” beets have been specifically engineered to withstand the effects of the most widely used herbicide in the world, Monsanto’s famous glyphosate, otherwise known as Roundup. While Monsanto claims that the use of glyphosate is safe, there are studies that suggest otherwise.
Glyphosate has been linked to the impairment of a vital gene pathway (cytochorme P450) in the human body. This pathway is responsible for producing a myriad of vital enzymes that are necessary to perform various bodily functions such as regulating blood pressure, converting androgen into estrogen and managing cortisol production just to name a few. Any minor disruption in this gene pathway can have a domino effect of disastrous consequences to the human body since so many systems rely on its proper function.
Furthermore, another study found glyphosate exposure is actually toxic to placental cells and can lead to a host of pregnancy-related problems. This was determined after agricultural workers exposed to the herbicide were experiencing health problems during their pregnancies. Perhaps most disturbing is the fact that glyphosate exposure was proven toxic at levels far below the standard “safe” levels used on most crops.
Yet the EPA continues to raise the standard for allowable levels of this toxic herbicide since glyphosate-resistance is becoming more and more commonplace. It is important to keep in mind that the sugar derived from the beet comes from the beetroot, which has an even greater exposure to pesticides since it absorbs residues from the soil rather than just receiving a top coating.
The long and short of it is that most products, not just sodas, but anything containing sugar probably contains some quantity of “Roundup Ready” sugar beet sugar and that includes all of those “healthy” sounding snacks too.
So how do you safeguard yourself? Don’t be fooled by phrases like “all natural” or “old-fashioned” or even “100 percent real sugar.” Instead look for “100 percent organic” sugar or “Non-GMO cane sugar.” Better yet, skip the sugar all together and drink something that is made with a purely natural sweetener like raw stevia or coconut crystals. Remember, if a product label says it is “made with organic ingredients,” it only needs to contain 70 percent organic ingredients, so read the labels carefully. Until GMO-labeling becomes mandatory, health-conscious consumers will just have to do their homework.