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orange juiceThe Mail is reporting about the 15 worst “health” drinks in Britain with a focus on high sugar levels. The article warns about 15 different drinks, including orange juice with as much sugar as 13 Hobnobs, Innocent smoothies with the same sugar levels as three-and-a-half doughnuts and Starbucks coffee has as much sugar as 10 bowls of Golden Grahams.

It says that until recently, we thought the ‘bad’ drinks were those such as Coke and Pepsi, while orange juice was an easy way to get one of our ‘five a day’, but according to the article the goalposts have shifted. It says that more and more experts are warning that sugary drinks in any form are largely to blame for our ballooning waistlines.

The article references “leading U.S. expert” Dr Robert Lustig and how his new book ‘Fat Chance: The Bitter Truth About Sugar’, argues that it doesn’t matter whether the sugars you drink come from fruit juice, smoothies or fizzy drinks. Dr Lustig says that liquid fructose sugar is dangerous for our health, irrespective of the source.

The article continues by saying how these sugars are overloading our livers and leading to health issues such as heart problems, diabetes and obesity, which not only affects our quality of life, but also costs the NHS over £6 billion a year.

Not all juices are the same!

I will come back to the Mail’s article shortly, because in my opinion some of their “healthy swap” suggestions are simply frightening! First, I want to explain why not all juices are made equal.

All of the so called health drinks in the Mail’s article are either bottled or from high-street chains. These differ massively from freshly extracted juices. Whilst bottled juices and freshly extracted juices may be derived from the same original source, a lot happens to bottled juice after it is squeezed out of it’s fruit or vegetable and before it is poured out of the bottle and into your glass. Most bottled juice has been heated and pasteurised, so pretty much all of its natural enzymes, vitamins and minerals are completely depleted. It has also had preservatives, colours and artificial and refined sugars added to it – rendering it even worse for your health.

I have to admit to getting frustrated whenever people tell me that they are too busy to make juices themselves and then drink a bottle of pasteurised fruit or veggie juice they believe is an adequate substitute. This is nowhere near the same thing. Not even close.

Dr Joseph Mercola agrees with me:

“I believe that fruit juice and pasteurized milk are two of the most misunderstood foods in our culture,” Dr Mercola writes on his website. “Most people believe they are health foods, while the polar opposite is true. They tend to be pernicious fluids that worsen most people’s health.”

“Nearly every canned or bottled commercial juice, on the other hand, are actually worse than soda, because a glass of juice is loaded with fructose, and a lot of the antioxidants are lost.”

On the other hand, juice that comes straight out of your juicer is packed with live enzymes, vitamins and minerals. For example, carrot juice is full of betacarotene (which converts into vitamin A in the body), and green juices give us amazing doses of chlorophyll. Freshly made juices are alkalising and they provide our bodies with intense hydration and oxygenated cells. To get the most benefits out of drinking fresh juice, it’s best to drink them straight from the juicer. If this isn’t possible, store them in a dark, airtight bottle or container (I use Sigg flasks) and open when you’re ready to drink. Remember that over time light, air and heat destroy most, if not all, of the available nutrients.

“But why is orange juice, for example, so bad?”

This is a question posed by the article in the Mail. It’s response is that the key issue is a lack of fibre and argues that in fizzy drinks, fruit juices and smoothies, there is no fibre, which leads to the liver being overloaded. Clearly they have never heard of soluble fibre, such as Pectin, which is found in fruits such as apples, apricots and oranges!

So what is included in the worst 15 “health” drinks?

The article declares “Sun Grown Pure White Grape Juice” as the worst fruit juice. In the expert verdict it claims that “it doesn’t matter where the sugar comes from”. Really? So is the sugar in Coca-Cola the same as the natural sugars found in a banana?

Not All Sugar Is The Same!

Despite what you may read in the papers, not all sugar is bad for you and in fact, your body needs sugar to survive. Naturally occurring sugars in vegetables are fruits are NOT the same as white refined sugar or other processed sugars like High Fructose Corn Syrup (known as glucose-fructose syrup here in the UK).

These refined sugars have been labeled the sweetest poison, toxic, and harmful and recently in ‘Hungry For Change’… a drug. Unfortunately it does seem a little extreme to label a food as a drug but when you look at how sugar (especially the highly refined and processed kinds) are metabolized by your body then you can begin to understand why.

Sugar when taken in excessive amounts can lead to cravings and addictions, quite similar to those with alcohol and tobacco, yet we have no problem labeling them as drugs. As Jason Vale says in the film ‘Hungry For Change’, “it’s illegal to give a child cigarettes and alcohol, and so it should be, but it’s not illegal to give them white refined sugar or refined fats.”

In the Mail’s article it is suggested that instead of drinking “Sun Grown Pure White Grape Juice” you drink “Tropicana Trop 50 Low Sugar Orange Juice”. I assume this suggestion is made on the basis that the Trop 50 has less sugar. The official motto of Trop 50 is “Be 100% Fabulous With 50% Less Sugar And Calories” and it is touted as having “No artificial sweeteners” and providing a “full day supply of vitamin C and a good source of antioxidant vitamin E.” What the small print tells us is that it is sweetened with PureVia, an extract of the stevia plant, so while this juice isn’t sweetened with “artificial sweeteners”, unlike pure orange juice, it is sweetened with something that’s not naturally found in orange juice.

Worst Kids Drink

The article declares the “Worst Kids Drink” as “Starburst Strawberry Flavour Milk” which it describes as “a supposedly ‘school friendly’ healthy kids drink, that’s bordering on criminal.”

What does it suggest as an alternative? Semi Skimmed Milk, despite it’s own article about how children who drink reduced fat milk (skimmed milk and semi-skimmed milk) are more likely to become overweight than those who drink full fat milk. Nothing like consistency!

Worst Water

Yes, this category is really included in the article. Does the article warn about chemicals in tap water or BPAs from plastic bottled water? No, it focuses on a “water” that quite frankly isn’t water at all. “This Water Pure Squeezed Lemon & Limes” gets the award for worst water, but as the ingredients include “some sugar” I’m not overly surprised by this. On its website Juicy Water says “We believe in making great tasting drinks. But when you blend fruit and water together they often come up a little short of the mark. A little too sharp. So sugar is the answer. It’s natural, it’s been growing in the ground for hundreds of years, and it delivers sweetness and a great texture.”

Worst Energy Drink

This award goes to “Rockstar Punched Energy & Guava” and the article says its sugar equivalent is 20 Maryland Chocolate Chip Cookies. Having looked at the ingredients list for this drink it reads as follows:

Water Carbonated, Fruit Juice Concentrates (Blenched Vermicelli, of Apple(s), Pear(s) and, Guava Juice) , Sucrose, Citric Acid, Taurine, Flavor(s) Natural, Pectin, Benzoic Acid, Caffeine, Sorbic Acid, Acesulfame Potassium, Sucralose, L-Carnitine, Inositol, Milk Thistle Extract, Niacinamide (Vitamin aB), Calcium Pantothenate, Ginkgo-Ginko Biloba Leaf Extract, Arabic Gum, Guarana Seed Extract, Sodium Benzoate, Panax Ginseng Root Extract, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (HCL), Red 40, Ester Gum, Yellow 6, Cyanocobalamin
I have no idea what some of those things are, but I suspect the sugar is the least of your worries.

Worst Fizzy Drink

This award goes to “Burger King Super Size Coke”. What difference does it make if you buy it in Burger King or from anywhere else? Surely Coke is Coke and a big (Super Size) portion is the same regardless of where you buy it from. The suggested alternative? “Burger King Super Size Diet Coke”! Personally I would be more concerned about the aspartame in the Diet Coke than I would the sugar in the original and my advice would be to have a smaller portion or completely different drink!


One more point made by the article is that fruit is high in fructose. Fructose is fruit sugar, so this shouldn’t really be a surprise! The article continues by saying how fructose affects blood sugar levels and that any sugar that the body doesn’t need is converted to fat.

Dr Lustig says that liquid fructose sugar is dangerous for our health, irrespective of the source.

I don’t agree with this. From my personal experience freshly extracted vegetable and fruit juices have help me lose over 5 stone in weight and go from being classed as severely obese to having a body mass index that is considered “normal.”

I think the real problem and potentially the major cause of the obesity epidemic seen in Dr Lustig’s native US is high fructose corn syrup – a highly refined form of liquid fructose. Mike Adams describes it as follows in the film ‘Hungry for Change’:

“In terms of Glycemic Index, high fructose corn syrup is like jet fuel for your body. If you put jet fuel into your car you’re going to ruin your engine and burn it out. Much of the same thing will happen in the human body!”

It is worth noting that high fructose corn syrup is starting to become increasingly prevalent in processed foods in the UK, although here it is typically labelled as glucose-fructose syrup. Where will you find this highly refined liquid sugar? Well, the “new shape” Cadbury’s Caramel bar is one example. Others include McVities biscuits and HP and Daddy’s sauces. Oh, and if you were concerned about horse meat in Ikea’s meat balls, I would be more worried about the glucose-fructose syrup in their confectionary products.

Products containing glucose-fructose syrup

Cystic Fibrosis A Race We Must Win2013 Miles in 2013

I am doing my 2013 miles in 2013 challenge in aid of the Cystic Fibrosis Trust as I have been surprised since I started fundraising for the CF Trust just how many people are unaware of this disease and so I hope my efforts will not just raise money, but also awareness of the UK’s most most common life-threatening inherited disease.

The first person to commit to sponsoring my 2013 mile challenge has committed to 1p per mile (£20.13 in total) and this got me thinking. I am hoping that as many as possible of those reading this will commit to do the same and the best thing is, if each person does this on a “pay as you go” type approach all you will need to part with is approx £2 just after each pay day. In January I completed 205.9 miles and in February I completed a further 200.9 miles. If you can please spare £4.07 to help the Cystic Fibrosis Trust it will be greatly appreciated.

The easiest way to give your sponsorship is to visit my Just Giving page:

2013 Miles in 2013 – The rules

The rules for my 2013 miles in 2013 challenge are quite simple:

  1. All miles must be completely self powered (no motors, sails, etc)
  2. I must be able to evidence all miles, either via GPS or with a picture of any static gym equipment

To complete my 2013 miles I will be running, cycling, rowing and who knows, I might even try a few other self powered methods along the way.