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Can't kick the can? Try the organic versions

The chemicals in fizzy drinks have actually been found to be carcinogenic. They weaken the bones, rot teeth and are a serious health risk.

Fizzy drinks have a rather flat reception these days and are usually blamed for increasingly hyperactive kids in need of tooth fillings. But is allowing your child to indulge in fizzy beverages really that bad?

One look at the list of ingredients will help answer that question. When you see things such as phosphoric acid and potassium benzoate, it does not take much to know that they don't sound like something we should be ingesting.

At this stage, forget the sugar content - these chemicals have actually been found to be carcinogenic. They weaken the bones, rot teeth and are a serious health risk, which increases the more we drink.

Caramel colour, an ingredient of many fizzy drinks, is made from the chemical caramel. It doesn't add any flavour but is used purely for cosmetic purposes and has been found to be tainted with carcinogens. Other food dyes that are added have been linked to impaired brain function, hyperactive behaviour, difficulty in focusing and lack of impulse control.

Moving on to the sugar: high fructose corn syrup is a concentrated sugar that raises body fat and cholesterol significantly and at the same time increases your appetite. This makes it practically impossible for you to say no to those unhealthy snacks. The sugar-free versions of these drinks are just as bad, with aspartame added in place of the sugar, which, when digested, breaks down into formaldehyde - also a carcinogenic compound.

If this sounds quite one-sided, the evidence is overwhelming. In reality, one soda probably won't do that much damage. But children's digestive systems are too sensitive for sodas to ever be a good idea. If kicking the fizz proves too difficult, you can get totally natural and organic versions. Check out the options by Whole Earth. They taste great and are available in most supermarkets. I'm loving the cranberry flavour.

Laura Holland is a well-being consultant and nutritional therapist. For more information, visit www.BeUtifulYou.co.uk

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