Did you know that 90% of bottled beverages are preserved with acids like Citric Acid, Malic Acid, and Phosphoric Acid? Even drinks that claim to be "clean" abide by them. Up until today, we have not asked too many questions about acids as a whole, like how are they made? Are they safe? Are they necessary? Should we be worried?
Well, let's look at some PROS and CONS.
- Preservatives are widely used today to keep foods and beverages from spoiling too quickly. They offer us convenience and practicality. If it weren't for preservatives, we would need to eat our foods and consume our beverages as soon as they are prepared.
- Acidic preservatives are also used as flavor enhancers that add a bite or tartness to what we drink. They compliment the flavors we desire and our tongues have arguably become used to them and reliant on their taste.
- Acids are cheap to manufacture, meaning that companies can offer beverages well under $5, especially if they manufacture them in the hundreds of thousands or millions.
- Generally regarded as "safe" to consume by food authorities (U.S. Food And Drug Administration).
Those are appealing advantages, but what about their disadvantages?
- Acids in our drinks may be derived from natural sources but they are also artificially made in a lab, most likely for efficiency and to keep costs down.
- Some say natural Citric Acid in our favorite citrus fruits may have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects. But manmade Citric Acid is processed and not exactly natural itself. In fact, some studies suggest that Citric Acid is linked to just the opposite: inflammatory symptoms (Toxicology Reports, 2018).
- If you tend to consume too many acidic foods and drinks, you could bee on a high acidic diet which can negatively impact your health. Our system is always trying to maintain its pH balance and eating too many acidic foods can make its job much harder.
- When we exercise, we produce Lactic Acid. In fact, our system is trying to expel acid. In this regard, drinking sports drinks or beverages with acidic preservatives may cancel out the benefits they claim to give.
As we can see, Acidic Preservatives are convenient (for us but also for companies) and tasty (sounds a lot like sugar doesn't it?). But they are also processed additives made in a lab and can contribute to acidic diets, health problems, and lower our performance on the field. As such, limiting our intake of acids may be ideal, especially if you are looking for any kind of sports performance.