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Updated on June 19, 2014

Change is Needed in Spiritual Communities

Some people say soda pop is a soft drink. Considering all the negative health effects of consuming soda pop, I would say it is not a soft drink! Unfortunately many mandirs and other spiritual communities serve it frequently. There are alternative beverages which promote health, which are more in line with Ayurvedic Medicine and which are more ecological.

I have heard priests and teachers talk about alcoholism and smoking cigarettes, but I have never heard any priest or teacher talk about the ill health effects of soda pop. Instead of saving money by buying beverages which are unhealthy, we should be promoting the health of our communities. First we need to be educated on the topic of the negative health effects of soda pop. Then the way to go is to serve healthy alternatives more in line with ecology, health and Ayurvedic principles.

Because pop has caffeine it has a diuretic effect and actually causes dehydration. It is ironic that people drink it when they are thirsty. Water is the beverage which is superior in every way. Drinking it helps digestion and hydrates the body.

Of course pop contains sugar and nasty additives which cause ill health effects. Obesity, type II diabetes and tooth decay are some conditions which are promoted by drinking pop. Diet pop contains additives which are unhealthy. The artificial sweeteners are much sweeter than regular pop. More insulin gets pumped into the body. Aspartame is a nasty chemical additive which causes many ill health effects. According to Dr. Mercola, 92 health side effects have been reported from "brain tumors, birth defects, diabetes, emotional disorders and epilepsy." In fact the FDA has had more complaints about this additive than any other additive. Some of the public schools have removed pop from their vending machines because of the negative health effects.

Phosphoric acid is used in many types of pop. It is connected with poor bone health. The amount of phosphorus in pop is excessive and stops the absorption of calcium in the body. This depletion of minerals causes bone related conditions.

Kidney stones are caused by a number of factors, including consumption of soda pop. Calcium depletion is the effect of consuming pop. This depletion can cause formation of kidney stones.

Cardiovascular problems are connected with the consumption of soda pop. Studies of cardiovascular health have outlined the effects of pop consumption. Those who consume as little as one can a day had a 20% increased risk of heart attacks.

An additive which has been linked to obesity is corn fructose. It also has been associated with cardiovascular problems. In Europe stevia is used to sweeten pop. In the USA stevia is only legal in natural food stores and food coops. It can't be used used elsewhere. Stevia is natural and does not have the same health problems which corn fructose has. It seems the chemical and pop companies have too much influence with the FDA.

Dr. Mercola says that pop drinkers "have higher cancer risk." The benzene levels in pop are excessive at 79 ppb, so this is why pop drinkers can be vulnerable to developing cancer. Sodium benzoate, a preservative in pop, can cause DNA damage making some individuals more prone to contracting Parkinson's disease and cirrhosis of the liver.

As you can see it is not a very healthy beverage. Other natural alternatives promote health, are more in line with Ayurvedic principles and are more ecological. These beverages also promote healthy skin, digestion, physical and mental health and great immunity. Beverages such as pure fruit juices, pure vegetable juices, beverages containing whole grains and good proteins are what we should be consuming. Water, organic milk, organic fruit and vegetables juices, almond and soy milk, pure coconut water and herbal teas promote health. I do not recommend fruit juices with corn fructose because it promotes ill health. Apple juice is very affordable in large quantities. Other natural beverages are available at natural groceries, food coops, farmers markets, grocery stores, and Indian and Caribbean groceries. My favorites mango juice is an organic juice from South Africa from a company called Ceres named after the goddess of abundance. This particular valley in South Africa has the greatest tasting fruit in the whole world. The conditions are perfect for great tasting fruit. This company has received awards for the best tasting juice in the world. It is a treat to consume this juice. You feel as though the goddess is serving it to you personally. It has this kind of divine quality. Of course, there are many other very wonderful alternatives. I was just giving a personal example of what is available out there as an alternative to pop.

Dr. Deepak Chopra studied both Ayurvedic and Western Medicine. He says that people develop addictions when they do not have satisfying alternatives. People often use food to feel better emotionally and to satisfy their addictions and cravings. He talks about transforming your awareness. This is how you can change your eating habits. When I changed to a more healthier diet, I changed a little at a time. First I had to be aware and motivated to change my life. This was very crucial in transforming my life. Dr. Chopra has published a number of books on health, including Perfect Health. I found this book to be very comprehensive and helpful in helping me to change my way of thinking about health.

I would like to see spiritual communities live their values. What good is it when you serve vegetarian food and then serve pop? It does not make sense because the processed ingredients from the pop negates any nutrition you can get from eating the food. It takes courage to change engrained habits, but it is worth it when you gain your health. "Your body is a temple," as my guru, Pandit Munelal Maharaj, has very wonderfully stated. It is about time we get serious about our health at spiritual communities and be more in line with Ayurvedic principles. Change can be difficult for some people. Change is what is happening all the time. As Gandhi has stated, "Be the change you want to see in the world!"




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