Ifwe truly are what we eat then our bodies must resemble walking chemistry sets. Never mind that apple you ate this morning. think of that burger (bean or beef) and oozy, pink milkshake you had for lunch yesterday. Yeugh. At least we know it‘s junk, but what about that healthy glass oforange juice“? Ifnew research from Bristol is to be believed you might just be better ofwith that strawberry milkshake after all.
Remember when orange squash was every child’s staple diet? These days one is hard pushed to find a bottle onuosh. let alone Robinson’s barley water. long since departed from Wimbledon’s centre court. All gone to their sugary graves. to be replaced by the real thing. Sales of fresh juice have been the consumer success story of the 90s. but people switching to juice to avoid tap water may be making life worse for themselves.
Commercial brands of fruit juice contain ten times as much aluminium — which is linked to Alzheimer’s disease — as tap water. and those who drink it may be exposing themselves to greater risk ofbrain damage.
Andrew Davenport and Roberta Goodall of the department of renal medicine at Bristol’s Southmead Hospital tested eight brands of fresh orange juice and nine brands of reconstituted juice, and no amount
Commercial brands of fruit juice contain ten times as much aluminium as tap water.
of sugar can sweeten their results. On average aluminium levels were ten times that of Bristol tap-water, although freshly-squeezed juice was less contaminated than reconstituted brands. Dr Davenport claims that all foods contain some level of aluminium, but that more of the metal is absorbed by drinking juice,
t'acrlitated by the presence of
citrates. Tap water. on the other hand. contains various compounds
which reduce absorption.
‘Aluminium is ubiquitous to our diets‘, says Davenport.‘At the moment, however. juice comes under the legislation for foodstuffs, and it would seem reasonable that EEC directives on what we drink should also be applied to certain things we eat, to cover juice for
Davenport has not carried out studies on other foodstuffs, but points out that the real question is how much aluminium is available to be absorbed. ‘Ifyou have a litre of water and one ofjuice, with the same amount of aluminium in each, the
actual aluminium that can be
absorbed from the juice is ten times
Despite this high figure the risks are still regarded as minimal, although Davenport says he would be unhappy if young children were drinking large quantities, and points out that kidney failure patients should be particularly wary.
‘Historically there has always been a problem with aluminium and patients with kidney failure. It can have effects on the brain in the form of dementia, it can lead to anaemia, and to fracturing bone disease. As citric acid increases the absorption of aluminium, it would seem that it was time for the Ministry of Agriculture to get together with its counterparts in other EEC countries and introduce new standards’.
Only action at that high level would induce Scottish dairy Kennerty’s to reduce aluminium content in their reconstituted orange juice. Production told The List: ‘Realistically there’s no way we could reduce aluminium content, and we wouldn’t unless we were forced to.’ That looks doubtful at present, and the government will be well aware of the public’s short-term memory. Food scare today, gone tomorrow. Salmonella, BSE, listeria; the threats all remain but the brief fears they ignited have vanished. Were we to remember every food scare of the last five years we would be a nation of vegetarian, non-dairy eating, vitamin guzzlers. Food for thought indeed. (Aaron Hicklin)
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The List l7—30July 19925