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Zevia All-Natural Diet Soda Review, with some added “food for thought”

I have found myself with a bit of spring fever lately and cannot seem to get myself back in the kitchen. Although I haven’t been outside as much as I would like because the New Mexico winds can be rather ferocious in the spring time! I have lived here for 12 years, and I still cannot get over the tumbling tumbleweeds that blow everywhere, they get stuck underneath my car, I get piles of them in my backyard, I even have to run away from them when I am out for my daily walk… crazy!  I saw this picture on Google Images and had to share it, it’s funny but so true!

Anyway, Sam, Luke and I were out and about yesterday afternoon and we stopped by one of my favorite places to buy gluten-free products, R. Downs Nutrition Center. Mike was out of town on a business trip so I decided we would do something different for dinner, to make it fun for the boys because they were missing their dad (he really is like a 3rd child when it comes to playtime) and so I didn’t have to do any dishes!. We splurged on some gluten-free packaged foods for dinner (will be doing reviews of those soon), and I “kicked it up a notch” by trying a new product (new to us anyway), Zevia All Natural Diet Sodas. I can’t say I was optimistic about this, as I have tried many “Natural Sodas” over the years, while trying to kick my nasty Diet Coke/Diet Pepsi habit, but my curiosity got the best of me.

I didn’t start drinking diet soda because I wanted to lose weight, but my dad has battled Type-2 Diabetes for years and when I was growing up, if there was soda in the house, it was diet soda. I developed an affinity for that artificial taste at an early age. I was never a big plain water drinker as a teen/young adult (although I am now… is it just me or does your craving for water only increase the more you drink??), I guess I thought it was too boring. :-D Because of my own experience, my kids drink mostly water, milk or I allow them a juice in their lunch box (no more than one a day). I want better for them and I know that if you start kids young enough eating and drinking healthfully (and naturally), that is what they will prefer, at least in the long run.

My diet soda consumption only increased as I aged, especially after I started developing more serious health problems. I put on some serious poundage after my thyroid was ablated (Graves’ Disease) but before my “hidden” Celiac Disease and Dermatitis Herpetiformis were discovered. No joke, I was essentially without a thyroid for over 6 months, my TSH levels were in the 150′s at one point! I was probably putting on 2 – 4 lbs a week, despite being on Weight Watchers, drinking 4- 5 diet sodas a day (needed the caffeine for energy because I was so lethargic from the severe hypothyroidism) and exercising like a mad woman (when my energy levels were up enough to do so, which is why I drank so much diet soda and coffee). Looking back in hindsight, I believe I was only contributing to my weight gain by drinking so much diet soda! It was a vicious cycle. Check out this article on one of my favorite new blogs: Fooducate, I HIGHLY recommend subscribing to it, they do a great job helping to break down the complexity of processed food ingredients! Here is another one from Fooducate: Phosphoric Acid.

Anyway, after my brilliant endocrinologist (you need to scroll down a bit on the page I linked to, for a great article on endocrinological disorders and celiac disease), returned from a medical conference (after being at his wits end as to why I was not absorbing my thyroid replacement hormone) and gave me the blood test for celiac disease. That was in 2005, when it was exceptionally unusual for doctors, especially non-GI doctors, to do a random blood test on someone without the classic GI symptoms of celiac disease. I really do love that man, well, after 2 years of therapy I do, because before that, I cursed his name for handing me that diagnosis! :-D

Anyway, on to my review (Warning: this has turned into more than a simple review for me. I apologize in advance for my tangent :-D ).

I have tried many natural soda alternatives over the years, including Oogave but it wasn’t close enough to what I craved to work for me. Oogave soda still has 17 grams of sugar, regardless of the fact that it is lower on the Glycemic Index, it is still sugar and diabetics especially, need to watch their sugar intake. I eventually gave up hope for finding something that would fill that diet soda void and after many fits and starts, I decided to suck it up and go a completely different route. Sparkling water with lemon or lime juice. It took a while to adjust to it, but now it is my beverage of choice when I want something bubbly. However, a cold, crisp sugar-free soda would be a really nice occasional treat (especially with some popcorn!). Zevia fills that void for me. I also think this soda would be helpful if one is trying to wean off of mainstream diet sodas (hopefully on the journey to drinking more WATER!). I am excited to see what my dad thinks of these.

First, a little bit about Zevia All-Natural Diet Sodas:

Based in Seattle, Washington, Zevia LLC is the creator of the world’s first all natural zero calorie soda: Zevia® Natural Diet Soda. Zevia® is branded Nature’s Answer To Diet Soda™ for one reason: the ingredients. Zevia® contains none of the chemically processed artificial sugar substitutes found in other diet sodas because Zevia® is sweetened with stevia. Other diet sodas also contain artificial flavors and colors. Zevia® does not. All seven delicious Zevia® varieties – Zevia® Natural Cola, Zevia® Natural Orange, Zevia® Natural Twist , Zevia® Natural Root Beer , Zevia® Natural Black Cherry , and Zevia® Natural Ginger Ale – are healthier and taste better than regular diet soda. Click here to read about the passionate and inspired history and people behind Zevia®, the world’s only truly all natural zero calorie soda. Click here to meet the management team at Zevia LLC.

I want to re-post something from the Zevia Website, that I found really interesting and wanted to see what others thought, my emphasis is added in bold, red type (remember my warning)!

Because stevia has no effect on blood sugar levels, it is attractive as a natural sweetener to people who must control their intake of certain carbohydrates. But, in 1991, responding to an anonymous complaint, the United States Food and Drug Administration labeled stevia as an “unsafe food additive” and restricted its import. Many believe the complaint came from Monsanto, owner of Nutrasweet® artificial sweetener. Stevia was later approved for use as a dietary supplement but not as a food additive. >Learn More. That meant we could offer ZEVIA, but we could not call it a “soda”. From January, 2007 until February, 2009, ZEVIA was labeled as a “carbonated stevia supplement”, consistent with the FDA requirements.

**Is it just me or do you suddenly find yourself hearing a lot about Monsanto these days? The above information re: Nutrasweet® may be common knowledge to a lot of people, but I only recently heard about Monsanto for the first time, after watching Food, Inc! I am amazed by all the products or political figures that seem to have a Monsanto connection. If you have not seen Food, Inc. yet, PBS will be airing the film on Wednesday, April 21, 2010, and I cannot recommend this film enough!!

I am still just completely dumbfounded and disturbed by what I viewed on Food, Inc. (as well as other food documentaries). I am just seeking the truth about the food I put into my mouth, not only for maintaining my disease, but for the overall health of my family. I just want the facts so I can decide what I want to buy or not buy. I have tried to have an open mind with both sides of the issue, but what I cannot get past, is that IF biotech food products are completely “safe” then WHY isn’t there a label on the product that tells me, that what I am about to purchase and consume, is not really what I think it is?

According to Bio.org, here is the reason:

Myth: Biotech crops increase food allergies.
Fact: There is no evidence that biotech crops increase food allergies; in fact, researchers are working to develop biotech foods that are free of known allergens, such as peanuts. In fact, according to the FDA’s labeling policy, biotech foods are required to be labeled if the product is significantly changed nutritionally or uses material from a potential allergen. Today, the majority of biotech products in the marketplace are not labeled since they are not derived from known allergens.

Okay, so what does that mean? The top 8 known allergens or ALL known allergens?

And what about this in regards to the Increasing Prevalence of Celiac Disease?

I am not a conspiracy theorist by any means, but I do have to say that the connections that have been made between Monsanto and certain US government employees, definitely raise my eyebrows. If you are interested, click here for more on Monsanto (Wikipedia article). Click here for Monsanto’s statement regarding the claims made in the film Food, Inc.

What are your thoughts on this issue??

I always worry about posting things like this because one, I do not want to come off as a person “on the fringe,” because I am not, and I usually just “tune out” people that I think are extreme. Second, I don’t have any real answers because I do not know what the “truth” is. I just hope to encourage people “to ask the next question.” Our health and well-being is a matter of personal responsibility, but it is difficult to make the best decisions for ourselves when there is so much hidden, incorrect or conflicting information out there.**

There really is no “quick post” with me, is there? LOL! ;-) Moving along…

About Stevia

Stevia is an herb in the sunflower family, native to subtropical and tropical South America and Central America. For centuries, the Guarani Native Americans of Paraguay and Brazil used stevia as a sweetener in native foods and medicinal teas. The extract from the stevia leaf has no calories, no effect on blood sugar levels, and is hundreds of times sweeter than sugar.

Stevia Has Other Health Benefits

Research published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry concludes that stevia could also be a rich source of antioxidants and may protect against DNA damage and cancer. <click here for an abstract of the research.>

Stevia also has shown promise in medical research on high blood pressure <Research Link #1> , inflamation <Research Link #2> , insulin efficiency <Research Link #3> , cellular immuntiy and nutrition <Research Link #4> , and healthy cell growth <Research Link #5>.

Purdue University’s Dental Science Research Group concluded after two studies that stevia “significantly” inhibits the development of plaque and may help to prevent cavities.

Here is another article that is just plain educational on how the food industry works. The article is on artificial sweeteners, including Splenda and it also mentions Stevia. Some of the information is outdated as the article is from 2007.

As for how Zevia All-Natural Diet Sodas taste? While the Cola is not exactly like Diet Coke or Diet Pepsi, I think it is really darned close!!! The Ginger Root Beer and Orange flavors were our favorites. The Twist was good too, but it has a much more pronounced lemon lime flavor than say Diet 7-Up or Diet Sprite, and I presume that is because the lemon lime flavor is derived from lemon and lime oils, which are more pronounced (if you have ever used oil flavorings in baked goods, instead of extracts, you will know what I mean). Mike thought it tasted like the “old” Gatorade, only carbonated. Mike is excited to try the Dr. Zevia if I can find some. There is also Black Cherry and Ginger Ale, which we haven’t tried yet.

Have you tried Zevia All-Natural Diet Sodas yet? If so, what did you think of them?

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Comments

  1. Diane (pilateschik) says:

    Awesome!! I am with you on the Monsanto conspiracies, though. I do think we are seeing increases in food allergies because of all this messing around with our foods and due to more processing of foods. Thanks for the review of Zevia. I have been hesitant to try it. I have a Soda Stream. Due to some meds I am on, Diet Coke, etc tastes very funny to me now. May try Zevia for a quick fix. But, I do the water thing more. Or tea. Thanks again!!

  2. Jen says:

    Fooducate???? I LOVE IT!!! This website is right up my alley, thanks for sharing!

  3. Diane,

    Trader Joe's has a great Pomegranate White Tea, I drink it all the time!

    Jen,

    Fooducate! I need to put it on my blog roll, haven't updated that in a while!

  4. Ashley says:

    I love these sodas,, and I hate soda! so this was big for my family who thought they needed soda for fishing trips!!
    I also had what sounds like really similer health problems as you so I'm sad you had to suffer too I am doing really great as well as my kids, thanks again for all your insight.

  5. Todd Bender says:

    I like Zevia! It is the best closest thing to a diet soda, made from safe natural ingredients. I would buy more but it's pretty expensive!

  6. tried it an didn't care for it, but I also don't really care for soda anyway.

  7. ashley says:

    my family and i love zevia! the black cherry is good, but the cola is our favorite. i, too, was a diet coke drinker. the dr.zevia is pretty good (but it still just isn't dr. pepper)…so i stick with the cola. we live in the seattle area and we try to find it on sale! it is pretty expensive!

    i havent' seen the programming you were talking about on PBS…but i want to find it! i, too, am trying to raise my kids were healthier eating habits! thank you!

  8. Jeri says:

    I haven't tried Zevia yet but have tried Blue Sky free. It's also made with Stevia. I have only tried the cola and root flavor. They are pretty good. I will have to get some Zevia and compare.

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