By Dr. Mercola
If the thought of drinking toilet water makes you cringe, you will probably be none too pleased to find out that ice served at many fast food restaurants contains more bacteria than the water found in their toilets. As reported by the featured article:1
“Scientific tests have shown that ice from branches of McDonald’s, Burger King, KFC, Starbucks, Cafe Rouge and Nando’s all had higher levels of bacteria than samples of water taken from their lavatory bowls.
Experts say it could be due to them being cleaned more often than the ice machines... The Burger King result suggested the cause was human contamination, likely to be from a staff member failing to wash their hands.”
While none of the samples presented an immediate health risk, four of them contained high enough levels to be considered a “hygiene risk,” the laboratory warned.
And, while the study was carried out in restaurants in the UK, the results can be expected to be about the same in the US as the issue relates not to the water itself, but rather the bacterial growth that can occur in the ice machine, and/or lack of hygiene on the part of the workers.
This revelation is similar to an investigation done on lemon wedges served in restaurants, back in 2008. At that time, two-thirds of all restaurant lemon wedges were found to be contaminated with disease-causing bacteria -- including fecal bacteria. In all, 25 different, and potentially dangerous, microorganisms were discovered on the wedges.
The fact that people are not keeling over from foodborne pathogens en masse is proof that your body is equipped to handle these types of infectious assaults, but that certainly does not mean there’s no health risk.
Children, the elderly, and anyone with a poorly functioning immune system are among the most vulnerable. Ironically, regularly frequenting fast food restaurants and drinking lots of sweetened beverages is, in and of itself, a factor that will take a toll on your immune function, which could render you more susceptible to experiencing health problems from contaminated ice.
Are You Ready to Ditch Sweetened Drinks Yet?
I’ve been warning you of the many dangers of soda and sweetened drinks ever since I started this site over 17 years ago. Americans in particular get a majority of their daily calories from sugar, primarily in the form of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) in soda and other sweetened beverages. Half of the US population over the age of two consumes sugary drinks on a daily basis,2 and this figure does not include 100% fruit juices, flavored milk or sweetened teas, which means the figure is actually even higher.
Fructose (and especially HFCS) has been identified as one of the primary culprits in the meteoric rise of obesity and related health problems—in large part due to its ability to turn on your “fat switch.”
The HFCS found in sweetened beverages and most processed foods is also highly processed and has been found to be frequently contaminated with mercury. Add to that the fact that most HFCS is made from genetically engineered corn, and you have a recipe for poor health, regardless of whether you’re ingesting it from a can or a meal...
Please note that freshly squeezed fruit juices also contain fructose, which will have the same detrimental health effects as HFCS when consumed in excess, but at least it’s not processed from GE corn...
Ditching sodas and other sweetened drinks and replacing them with pure, vitalized structured water, I believe, is one of the most powerful actions you can take to improve your health and lower your risk of disease and long-term chronic health conditions.
Especially when you consider that just one can of soda per day can add as much as 15 pounds to your weight over the course of a single year, and increases your risk of diabetes by 85 percent! Fructose is also a likely culprit behind the millions of U.S. children struggling with non-alcoholic liver disease, which is caused by a build-up of fat within your liver cells. Fructose is in fact very hard on your liver, in much the same way as drinking alcohol.
How Much Sugar Do You Consume Each Day?
Around 100 years ago, the average American consumed a mere 15 grams of fructose a day, primarily in the form of whole fruit. Today, 25 percent of Americans consume more than 135 grams per day (that's over a quarter of a pound!), largely in the form of soda and other sweetened beverages. Just one 12-ounce regular soda contains the equivalent of 10 teaspoons of sugar. Similarly, one eight-ounce glass of orange juice has about eight full teaspoons of sugar, and at least 50 percent of that sugar is fructose.
Fructose at 15 grams a day is unlikely to do much if any harm and may even be beneficial for some. But at nearly 10 times that amount it becomes a MAJOR cause of obesity and nearly all chronic degenerative diseases.
As a standard recommendation, I strongly advise keeping your total fructose consumption below 25 grams per day, or 15 grams a day if you are insulin resistant, obese, or have high blood pressure, high uric acid levels, diabetes or heart disease. To get to that low a level, you would essentially need to eliminate processed foods and sweetened beverages from your daily diet, and make sure everything you put into your mouth is a whole food. You might need to limit your whole fruit intake as well. For a list showing the amount of fructose contained in common fruits, please see this previous article.
Sugary Drinks Linked to 180,000 Deaths Annually
In 2009, the American Heart Association (AHA) issued a scientific statement3 about sugar intake and heart health, pointing out that there is evidence for a relationship between the two. According to the abstract:
“High intakes of dietary sugars in the setting of a worldwide pandemic of obesity and cardiovascular disease have heightened concerns about the adverse effects of excessive consumption of sugars. In 2001 to 2004, the usual intake of added sugars for Americans was 22.2 teaspoons per day... Between 1970 and 2005, average annual availability of sugars/added sugars increased by 19%... Soft drinks and other sugar-sweetened beverages are the primary source of added sugars in Americans’ diets. Excessive consumption of sugars has been linked with several metabolic abnormalities and adverse health conditions, as well as shortfalls of essential nutrients...”
The postulated relationship between sugar intake and heart disease is undeniable at this point. Hundreds of excellent scientific articles have linked insulin and leptin resistance to cardiovascular disease much more strongly than cholesterol, and they are in fact at least partially responsible for cholesterol abnormalities. For instance, insulin and leptin resistance result in "small dense" LDL particles and a greater number of particles, which is much more important than your total cholesterol number for evaluating heart disease risk. Insulin and leptin resistance in turn are directly caused by excess fructose and other sugars in your diet.
As I reported back in April, research presented at the American Heart Association’s Epidemiology and Prevention/Nutrition, Physical Activity and Metabolism 2013 Scientific Sessions suggests sugary beverages alone are responsible for about 183,000 deaths worldwide each year, including:
- 44,000 heart disease deaths
- 133,000 diabetes deaths, and
- 6,000 cancer deaths
Among the 35 largest countries in the world, Mexico had the highest death rates associated with sugary beverage consumption. There, the average consumption of sugary beverages was 24 ounces per day. The US ranked third, with an estimated 25,000 annual deaths4 from sweetened drinks.5 (Many might have expected the US to come in first place, but remember that American processed foods contain far more sugars than other nations, so Americans also consume a lot of “hidden” sugar in products other than beverages. This factor was not addressed in this study.) Interestingly, and quite disturbingly, the death rates associated with sweetened beverages were highest in those under the age of 45.
What’s the Healthiest Beverage You Can Drink?
Your body requires a constant daily supply of water to fuel all the various waste filtration systems nature has designed to keep your body healthy and free of toxins. Your blood, your kidneys, and your liver all require a source of good clean water to detoxify your body from the toxic exposures you come into contact with every day. Clearly, the most efficient way help your body both avoid and eliminate toxins is to provide your body with the cleanest, purest water you can find. This is easily done by installing one or more types of water filtration systems in your house.
A whole house water filtration system is ideal, as water contaminants can be even more hazardous to your health when absorbed through your skin into your blood stream, bypassing your gastrointestinal tract. I've written a large number of articles on the hazards of tap water, from fluoride to dangerous chemicals and drugs, to toxic disinfection byproducts and heavy metals, so having a good filtration system in place is more of a necessity than a luxury in most areas. There's just one water line coming into your house, so putting a filter on this is the easiest and simplest strategy you can implement to take control of your health by ensuring the water and the air in your house is as clean as possible. To learn more about different types of water and water filtration systems, please see my special report on this topic.
One of my new passions is structured water as pioneered by Victor Schauburger. Vortexing appears to be one of the best ways to produce this and I'm currently doing some research to help define this better.
Another option to consider is to bottle your own water from a gravity-fed spring. This may be one of the highest quality waters and may not require vortexing as the water is already highly structured and full of H3O2. The web site FindaSpring.com6 can help you find natural springs in your local area. As an added boon, most of these spring water sources are free. Just remember to bring either clear polyethylene or glass containers to collect the water so no unsafe chemicals can contaminate your water, and be sure to wrap them in towels to keep them from breaking during transport.
Ditching Sweetened Drinks Is the First Step Toward a Healthier Life
Remember, sweetened beverages (including flavored milk products, bottled teas, and “enhanced” water products), whether sweetened with sugar, HFCS, naturally-occurring fructose, or artificial sweeteners, are among the worst culprits in the fight against obesity and related health problems, including diabetes, heart and liver disease, just to name a few. Ditching ALL of these types of beverages can go a long way toward reducing your risk for chronic health problems and weight gain.
So what should you drink? Your best most cost effective choice is to drink filtered tap water. The caveat though is to make sure you filter your tap water. Nothing beats pure water when it comes to serving your body’s needs. If you really feel the urge for a carbonated beverage, try sparkling mineral water with a squirt of fresh lime or lemon.
If you struggle with an addiction to soda and other sweets, try Turbo Tapping. It's a simple and clever use of the Emotional Freedom Technique, designed to resolve many aspects of an issue in a concentrated period of time.