Everybody knows that drinking plenty of water each day is a cornerstone of good health. Not only does it keep energy and metabolism up, it regulates appetite, detoxification and even digestion. However, meeting the daily 8 glass quota is not always easy, particularly when the taste (or non taste) of plain water often - and ironically - fails to incentivise its very consumption. For decades, squash was the answer. Perhaps not a healthy one per se, but as a catalyst to h2o consumption, it certainly had its place in a balanced diet. In fact, many would say that improved hydration is worth the potential health expenses of a little sugar. And it is mostly just that... a little. After all, those health conscious enough to know and want to drink water, will also know and want to err on the side of moderation when it comes to sugar. The two behaviours go hand in hand. From this stance, it is highly unlikely that squash is to blame for the nations obesity epidemic, as had been the implication through the recent tax on sugar, and the widespread replacement of sugar in cordial with aspartame. Some might not notice the difference, but for those who do, today’s cordial tastes somewhat like your fruity old favourite crossed with a chemical spill. But it’s not just the flavour change that has got consumers’ backs up. It’s the insult to intelligence and freedom of choice that is more frustrating, The drinks manufacturers may claim their intentions in changing recipes are wholly good, quoting their pledge to help cut soaring obesity rates. The reality may, dare we say it, have more to with not wanting to shoulder the additional costs (18p - 24p per litre) or lose customers by increasing prices. From a nutritional perspective, sweeteners are not necessarily the answer. While they have been approved for use in foods by all the major health bodies, not all consumers are entirely confident that there aren’t any health contraindications to an ingredient that is essentially produced in a lab. For these consumers, the only choice now is premium brands such as Rocks, Belvoir and Bottle Green, whose target audiences don’t mind paying extra for the original taste. The price tag comes partly as sugar is expensive to produce, and you need a lot more of it than you need of sweeteners to create the same taste. Sweeteners, though calorifically lower, are known to perpetuate a sweet tooth by way of their effect on brain chemistry. As such, caloric intake may increase off the back of their consumption. Not only this, research shows that sugar consumption from soft drinks is already falling, even though obesity continues to rise, which would imply that the government have really missed the mark with this one. The obesity issue aside, as asparthame has been linked to numerous health issues, and is a particular concern for children who don’t have the same blood brain barrier (BBB) as adults to prevent what is essentially a neurotoxin from interfering with the delicate balance of brain chemistry.
This may not worry everyone, but there’s a segment of consumers who might not want to take the chance. Equally, the chemical taste isn’t for everyone. What we need, therefore, is the option to choose our drinks according to our taste preferences and individual health stance. One size doesn’t fit all, and there are those people who relied on the sugary option of certain soft drinks for medical purposes. Lucozade and insulin dependent diabetics a prime example. Removing the element of choice is not only an insult to our ability to make informed, balanced choices. It is - from the aspartame standpoint - potentially counterproductive to the end goal in any case. For the vast majority who enjoyed the old recipes, the loss goes much deeper. After all, there was an element of nostalgia to the likes of Barley water and Ribena. An instant trip down memory lane with each sip which now, most upsettingly of all, is a distant memory in itself.