You know it’s not healthy – but it’s cheap, convenient and tasty. Plenty of people drink it – 15 billion gallons a year consumed in the United States alone.
Need a reason to stop drinking soda? Here are fourteen:
1. Extra pounds
Soda contributes to overweight and obesity. Drinking one can of soda a day can add more than 1 pound of weight gain every month. A single 12-ounce can of soda has as much as 13 teaspoons of sugar in the form of high-fructose corn syrup. A can of Coca-Cola Classic will take about 30 minutes to walk off. Diet soda? Forget about it. It is just as likely to cause weight gain as regular, or even more. Plus there are the added health risks
2. Liver damage
Soda damages your liver. There is evidence that consumption of too many soft drinks puts you under increased risk for liver cirrhosis similar to what chronic alcoholics have. The preservative sodium benzoate may be the cause.
3. Tooth decay
Soda dissolves tooth enamel. Researches say that soft drinks are responsible for doubling or tripling the incidence of tooth decay. Soda’s acidity is even worse for teeth than the solid sugar found in candy. In tests done on the acidity levels of soda, certain ones were found to have PH levels as low as 2.5. To put that into perspective, battery acid has a pH of 1 and pure water has a pH of 7. You do the math.
4. Kidney stones and chronic kidney disease
Colas are well known for their high phosphoric acid content, a substance known to change the urine in a way that promotes kidney stone formation. Research, published in Epidemiology, found that drinking two or more colas a day (whether artificially sweetened or regular) was linked to a twofold risk of chronic kidney disease. Chronic kidney disease includes conditions that damage and decrease the kidney’s ability to remove toxins and maintain normal fluid balance.
Anything that promotes weight gain increases the risk of diabetes. Drinking soda not only contributes to making people fat, but it also stresses the body’s ability to process sugar. Some scientists suspect this is why the number of Americans with type 2 diabetes has tripled from 6.6 million in 1980 to 23.6 million today.
6. Heartburn & acid reflux
Heavy consumption of soda is a strong predictor of heartburn. Carbonated beverages are very acidic. They also deliver a lot of air – in the form of carbon dioxide – which can cause distension of the stomach. And that distension appears to be associated with more reflux.
Soft drinks containing phosphoric acid are linked to osteoporosis (a weakening of the skeletal structure) because they lead to lower calcium levels and higher phosphate levels in the blood. When phosphate levels are high and calcium levels are low, calcium is pulled out of the bones. Researchers found, that high soda consumption (particularly cola) in children poses a significant risk factor for impaired calcification of growing bones.
8. Hypertension (high blood pressure)
Overconsumption of soda leads to an increase in blood pressure. It doesn’t matter if the soda is regular or diet. Teens, particularly black teens, who drink several soft drinks daily may increase their blood pressure and their risk for developing hypertension.
9. Heart disease
Heavy soda drinkers are more likely to develop risk factors for heart disease. Research shows that drinking more than one soft drink a day is associated with an increased risk of developing the metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome is a group of symptoms such as central obesity, elevated blood pressure, elevated fasting blood sugar, elevated fasting triglycerides, low levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL or “good” cholesterol). Having three or more of the symptoms increases a person’s risk of developing diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
10. Impaired digestion (gastrointestinal distress)
Drinking sodas, especially on an empty stomach, can upset the fragile acid-alkaline balance of the stomach and other gastric lining, creating a continuous acid environment. This prolonged acid environment can lead to inflammation of the stomach and duodenal lining.
11. Hyperactivity and Mental Problems
Teenagers who drink more soda have more mental health difficulties, including hyperactivity and mental distress. In a study conducted in Norway, researchers used questionnaires to survey 5,547 Norwegian 10th graders about their eating and soda-drinking habits, as well as hyperactivity and conduct problems in school, and mental health indicators such as anxiousness, dizziness, hopelessness, panic, sadness, sleeplessness, tension, and unhappiness with themselves and a sense that everything is a burden. Teenagers who drank the most soda (an average of four or more glasses a day) scored highest on measures of behavioral difficulties, hyperactivity, mental distress and overall mental health problems.
12. Caffeine addiction
Researchers at Johns Hopkins University say when people don’t get their usual dose of caffeine, they can suffer a range of withdrawal symptoms including headache, fatigue, muscle pain and inability to concentrate.
13. Water Conservation
The amount of water required to produce a single liter of soft drink may be only three or four liters, but vast quantities are used to produce the sugar and corn syrup feedstock. UN calculations suggest that more than one third of the world’s population is suffering from water shortages: by 2020 water use is expected to increase by 40 per cent from current levels, and by 2025, according to another UN estimate, two out of three people could be living under conditions of “water stress”.
If the health risks don’t convince you, look at the economics. A person who drinks just 2 cans of soda a day will pay $206 over the course of a year to keep the habit going. If there is more than one soda drinker in the household, that yearly total could quickly double or even triple.
It’s not hard to ditch the soda habit. I started out by making my own iced tea, then switched to filtered water. If plain water doesn’t do it for you, try these alternatives to soda.