We mostly hear from health expert and parents that soft drinks are not good for health and as a substitute for that recommend fruit juices which are in comparison fresh and good for the body as they do not have any preservatives in them but in reality apart from a few vitamins and minerals there is not much of a difference between the two beverages as both give you almost the same calorie and sugar hit. However it is not correct to see both the drinks in the same platform as fruit juices have few redeeming health benefits that make it better than soft drinks, for example, Prune juice can remove or slowdown issue of constipation while cranberry juice helps lower the risks urinary infections.

One of the biggest assumptions regarding fruit juice is that it is healthier than soft drinks because of its natural sugar content. Even though the above statement is true, it does contain natural sugars which are a composition of fructose, sucrose and glucose, but the sugar quantity is much more than in soft drinks which are not good for humans. Moreover study states that this ‘natural sugar’ is also found in soft drinks in the form of sucrose because it comes from sugar cane. The difference here is in the quantity of sugar we consume which more in proportion in fruit juice than in soft drinks.

According to the ‘National Diet and Nutrition Survey’ young people aged between 11-19 years intake about 47% sugar from fruit juices, cereals bars, biscuits and should therefore limit their juice consumption to once in a day because of its high calorie content. Secondly children below or equal to 10 years of age exceed the acceptable limit of sugar intake to about 34% and as a result in the long run when these children would grow up to become adults but do not bring any change in their eating habits, about 48% of them would suffer from obesity, higher levels of cholesterol and type 2 level of diabetes.

Another study conducted a similar research by comparing the calorie content in three components namely juices, soft drinks and coconut water and came with the conclusion that as previous study states, drinking juices is definitely not a healthy option as the fructose content makes the glucose level in the blood rise above the acceptable level, however being said this it should be also noted that rather than preferring for juice, consuming the whole fruit itself is a much healthier option. Study of coconut water reveals that the drink contains only 46 calories which is far less than other fruits and definitely less than the soft drinks and therefore is a nature’s energy drink provided to man to keep him hydrated.

Next time you check your weight and find it has increased, study claims fruit juice might have contributed to this increase. According to a study conducted by Deakin University   among a group of school children, it found that children who consumed more fruit juice were overweight than those who did not consume. The reason behind this observation was given as when we drink juice rather than eating the fruit as a whole, we miss out on the fibre. Fibre is an important component which controls body weight and keeping the digestive track clean and healthy. Fibre also protects against colorectal cancer, the second biggest cancer killer after lung cancer. The World Cancer Research Fund show that there is high correlation between foods containing fibre with protection against various forms of cancer and therefore for someone struggling to reduce weight, drinking a lot of fruit juice or soft drinks would not help rather usage of water is the best remedy and instead of juice preference of the fruit itself is a better option.

Talking only about juices does not give us any clear picture. Coming to the other side, soft drinks also do not seem so good friends after all. According to a study done in the Imperial College London, drinking carbonated beverage a day results in an increase in your chances of suffering from diabetes by 20%. In addition to this we also have issues of weight gain and an increase in insulin resistance. The soft drink issue when discussed in court, the Supreme Court of India directed the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India to check and monitor all carbonated drinks and to regulate the drinks to protect the public from its ‘deleterious effects’. According to Professor Barry Popkin from the University of North Carolina, other risks associated with consumption of such items can also increase the kidney and liver failure and development of cancer. Studies also have shown a positive correlation between soft drink consumption and increased heart disease and hypertension risks. The sugar content  recommended for adult men is 37.5grams per day and for women its 25grams per day, however a 350ml of soft drink might contain 31.5gram of sugar. So its upon us to see whether we are within the limits or exceeding it.

Now that we know about the effects does this change our consumption pattern?? The answer is no for many and the reason behind this is that most of the adults and children are influenced by the advertisements done by these companies, who are very much successful in attracting the public by using their favorite movie stars or sportsmen for promotional purposes. However one thing is clear, the claim that fruit juice are better than soft drinks is not true to some extent as various studies show that both the beverages have more harm than benefits and that a check should always be kept on the amount of consumption of these food items especially in the case of children.

Georgie Rajan