Despite a sharp decline in consumption, lots of people still consume soda. Data suggests that Americans are one of the highest consumers of soda in the world.
I can’t blame them, sodas are sweet and delicious. However drinking such has zero health benefits whatsoever hence the term “empty calories”.
Drinking large quantities of soda will not only make you fat, it also has several other pitfalls. Even the so-called “sugar-free” variants aren’t healthy.
And if you like consuming these highly sugary drinks, you’re health is in danger!
If you still need convincing, here are reasons why you should stop drinking soda.
To help understand why soda is so bad for your health, let’s look at the ingredients of these brands
Data source here: https://joshmadison.com/2003/12/14/soda-ingredients/
MIC.com enumerated 5 ingredients found in Pepsi and Coca-Cola products that may be detrimental to your health in large quantities. I’ll just highlight interesting facts written in MIC.com.
High-Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) – Research has shown that consuming high-fructose corn syrup is far worse than table sugar. In their research, lab rats that were given HFCS showed signs of metabolic syndrome. Excess fructose turns into fat while glucose becomes energy.
4-MEI (or 4-methylimidazole) – Studies reveal that this caramel coloring agent is potentially carcinogenic. Consumer Reports say that consuming less than 3 micrograms or less would be “negligible” to consumers. But with the highly addictive nature of sodas, it’s easy to consume more than 3 micrograms.
Bisphenol-A (or BPA) – Soda manufacturers sadly still use BPA to line aluminum soda cans despite the potential effect it has on the human body particularly to young children. Studies show that BPA can possibly hamper the function of the endocrine in rats. It also can negatively affect the reproductive system.
Caffeine – A single can of caffeine contains 64 milligrams of caffeine which is two-thirds that in a cup of coffee. Adults shouldn’t be negatively affected by caffeine even in large amounts. But if children gulp down large amounts of caffeine it can disrupt sleep patterns, increase anxiety, cause hyperactivity and stomach issues.
1. High Sugar Content
Perhaps the worst part of drinking soda is the amount of sugar it has. It’s the main reason why we should avoid it.
Let this information sink in for a minute. One can of Coca Cola contains a whopping 39 grams of sugar.
If you don’t know how much 39 grams looks like, it’s equivalent to around 9.5 teaspoons of sugar!
The worst part is some manufacturers use high fructose corn syrup (or HFCS) instead of sugar! But that’s another topic altogether.
Without any fiber to slow down absorption, all this sugar goes directly into our bloodstream. Once it’s in the bloodstream, it spikes the body’s sugar level which releases lots of insulin to absorb excess glucose.
Overtime this can have negative consequences as the body develops insulin resistance which then leads to type-2 diabetes .
Drinking two or more cans of soda per can increases risk to diabetes by 25% !
2. Increases Risk to having a Heart Attack
Another side-effect of drinking something that has that much sugar is it increases risk to a heart attack.
Men and women who drank one can of soda per day increase their risk of having a heart attack by 20%!
A few decades ago, it was hard to image that consuming excess amounts of sugar could possibly lead to cardiac arrest.
But according to research daily consumption of sugar increases LDL (bad cholesterol) and decreases HDL (or good cholesterol).
It also increases inflammation markers. All of these factors increase risk factors to heart ailments.
3. Artificial Sweeteners in Sugar-Free Soda are Equally as Bad
A lot of people I know consume diet sodas thinking that it wouldn’t hurt them because it’s “sugar free”. The sad news is, the replacement to sugar manufacturers has its own health hazards.
For every diet soda you consume, you’re also consuming aspartame. And according to research, this sugar substitute is actually more harmful than sugar!
Don’t take my word for it, just look at what the experts say.
Dr. Mercola says that aspartame is by far “the most dangerous substance” added to most foods .
The American Cancer Society says that this sugar substitute is 200 times sweeter than sugar. Yes, you heard that right 200 times !
Folks who have a condition like phenylketonuria or schizophrenia should not consume aspartame.
4. Increased Risk to Type-2 Diabetes
Did you know that drinking one or more cans of soda daily increases your risk to type-2 diabetes by 26 percent versus those who don’t? One such study in 2010 confirms this.
Being young doesn’t excuse you from gulping down huge quantities of soft drink. Young adults and Asians are at a higher risk to type-2 diabetes.
How does soda increase type-2 diabetes risk?
A can of soda contains 39 grams of sugar. And since all of it is in liquid form, it is directly absorbed in the bloodstream.
Sodas that use high-fructose corn syrup have more fructose than you think. Sadly, these companies don’t accurately report sugar content.
Researchers who did a study on 34 popular beverages such as Pepsi, Dr Pepper, Coca-Coca and Mountain Dew reveal that all these drinks contain more fructose than glucose .
High fructose consumption will lead to obesity and other conditions like metabolic syndrome.
Another negative of fructose consumption is that it doesn’t promote satiety. In layman that means you don’t feel full and you consume more which leads to a vicious cycle .
5. Bad for the Teeth
High sugar content in soda is bad for teeth. When bacteria in your mouth come in contact with sugar, it becomes acidic. This acidity eats away at the enamel of the teeth – it’s hard protective coating.
Apart from sugar, soda also has preservatives, namely citric and phosphoric acid. All this combine to make soda highly acidic with a pH balance of 2.3.
One 25-year old man found out the hard way why it is a bad idea to consume soft drinks at a daily basis and have poor dental hygiene. A close look at his dental case reveals high consumption of as high as 1.5 liter per day! And the photos of this binge drinking are painful to see.
6. Can Lead to Osteoporosis (in Women)
There are studies that show a connection between soda consumption and osteoporosis on women.
Several possible reasons include the presence of phosphoric acid in soda that can interfere with calcium absorption.
One reason why researchers suspect this is because carbonated drinks like ginger-ale and lemon lime drinks don’t have phosphoric acid.
Another reason is drinking soda in place of milk or other healthier drinks can cause a void in calcium consumption. The lack of activity in older women also plays a factor for brittle bones.
7. Not Good for Kidney Health
Drinking two or more servings of colas per day increases the risk of chronic kidney disease. This is the conclusion of one study done on 467 individuals between 1980 and 1982. The culprit for this link again is phosphoric acid that researchers associate with urinary changes and kidney stones .
But wait there’s more…
Diet soda also poses a health risk to kidney function. A new study by the Nurses’ Health Study reveals a link between sugar-free cola consumption and a decrease in kidney function by as much as 30%!
Drinking only sugar-free soda did not decrease kidney function. However, drinking two or more will cause problems in the long run.
8. Increases Risk to Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease
Soda contains three ingredients that are responsible for Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (or NAFLD). These are high-fructose corn syrup, caramel colorant and aspartame.
A lot of soft drink manufacturers use high-fructose corn syrup that contains 55% fructose and 45% glucose. The body’s cells metabolize glucose without any issues but only the liver absorbs fructose. And that’s where all the issues start. Aspartame and caramel colorant potentially can increase insulin resistance and inflammation – both contributing factors to NAFLD .
9. Soda is can be Addictive
Forbes.com says that sodas are probably the next cigarettes despite the decline in sales. Soda contains one highly addictive ingredient – sugar.
Some may argue that caffeine is as addictive but research has been inconclusive.
Sugar on the other hand is a different story. There’s growing number of research that supports the claim that sugar can be addictive as street drugs and have a similar effect on the brain.
Consuming sugar releases opioids and dopamine. The latter feeds the “reward circuit” in our brain and can lead to addiction. Research says that the more sugar we eat, the more sugar reinforces neuropathways and we crave for more sugar. Worst part is we crave for more because our body is building tolerance like any drug.
Research done on rats confirms this as Oreo cookies activates more neurons in the brain’s pleasure center than cocaine .
Another study done in France says that there is a link between sugar and illegal drugs saying that sugar consumption makes the brain feels “more rewarding and attractive” than cocaine .
10. Increases Risk to Asthma (in High School Kids)
Soda does not only increase your waistline, it also increases risk to having asthma according to a research done by the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion.
The study reveals that students who drank three or more cans of soda per day increase their risk to having asthma by 64% versus those who don’t drink. Students who drink twice a day increase their risk by 28% versus non-consumers.
Research points to high fructose corn syrup as the culprit to this association .
11. Potentially Carcinogenic (and Can Lead to Cancer)
Consumer Reports said that the artificial caramel coloring that soda manufacturers use in dark colored soda contain a chemical 4-methylimidazole (4-MeI) that’s potentially carcinogenic .
In studies done on mice, it was found to cause cancer. Unfortunately there are no federal regulations against 4-Mel except in California were they require products containing 29 micrograms per can to have a warning label.
Unless you consume huge quantities of soda, this shouldn’t be a concern.
How much is soda is dangerous? WebMD says that drinking two or more cans almost doubles the risk to pancreatic cancer.
12. Displaces Essential Nutrients
Research shows that soda consumption translates to lower consumption of milk (therefore lowers calcium intake), lower intake of fruit and dietary fiber. It also lowers intakes of macronutrients in cross-sectional, longitudinal, and longer-term experimental studies.
The study further reveals that soft drink consumption might stimulate an individual’s appetite for more sweetened beverages and having poorer diet.
Here’s the worst part, the same study said that if you drink soft drinks, you’re more likely to also binge on foods like hamburger and pizza .
13. Empty Calories (No Nutrition Whatsoever)
A can of soda contains zero nutrients and a whole lot of sugar and calories. Think about it, every can of soda can potentially increase your risk factor to a number of diseases that I enumerated above.
People drink soda because it tastes good and highly addictive. What sane person would want to drink something that could potentially make them sick?
Healthy Alternatives to Soda
Now that you know why you should stop drinking soda, let me present to you some healthier alternatives.
Green Juice – Hands down my favorite and a much healthier option than a frizzy can of coke. Don’t be let the “green” in juice scare you. With the right combination of ingredients, you can have a healthy and nutrient rich alternative.
Smoothies – Fiber is good for the gut and with a cup of smoothie, you’ll have loads of it. Not only does it promote gut health, it helps fills you up pretty fast so it helps in cutting down excess weight.
Fruit (or Herb) Infused Water – Add some flavor to water simply by infusing fruit or herbs. Two of my favorites are lemon water and tarragon tea. If drinking water is just too bland, try this for a change.
Kombucha – It has the same frizz as soda but minus the unhealthy fructose.
Honey lemon juice – This is simply lemonade with honey instead of sugar.
To wrap up
Despite the push back from large soda companies saying that there’s no scientific evidence linking soda to the health issues above, there’s growing evidence that suggest otherwise.
There really is zero benefit to drinking soda. Aside from giving you a sugar rush and satisfying sweet cravings, all you’ll get are ailments and a wider waist line.
And to be honest, some of them (especially sugar-free sodas) don’t taste good at all.
So why risk your health with these types of drinks that could have catastrophic consequences.