8 Reasons Why People Drink Soda & 16 Reasons To Give Up Soda Drinking
Updated: January 12, 2016
Most of us drink soda, it's a fact. Some drink more than others. United States, for example, ranks first among countries in soft drink consumption. And although many avid soda drinkers are probably aware of soft drinks' bad effects on health, this knowledge doesn't stop them from drinking soda.
So probably we need to know a bit more about this drink that we love so much. First, here are 8 reasons why we drink soda:
1It's Very Tasty!
The taste could be the thing that gets people addicted to drinking soda, it is delicious. In fact, soda is so good, that many people drink it with every meal!
Even if you wanted to drink something else, you would be hard-pressed to find it as prominently displayed in vending machines, at fast-food chains, and supermarket checkouts. You might not realize how ubiquitous Coke, Pepsi, and the like are in our society until you try to stop drinking soda.
The other addictive thing about soda is the convenience. If you are in a hurry - and, let's be honest, most of us almost always are - it is so easy to grab a can and convenient to drink.
4Promotion and Advertising
Soft drinks are heavily consumed in part because they are vigorously promoted - Billions of dollars are spend on advertising sodas and market them everywhere - in stores, restaurants, gas stations, museums, and even schools.
For some people, drinking several sodas a day is a force of habit. You know drinking soda is a habit when you find yourself going to the grocery store at 10 p.m. because your refrigerator is tapped out.
6It Is Cheap
Soda may be pretty inexpensive when compared with fruit juice and milk. With combo meals, a large soda is only an extra dollar, and you get fries!
Often people drink soda to quench the thirst. However, this is probably the worst time to drink soda, because when you are very thirsty or dehydrated you have low levels of saliva. And saliva helps to neutralize acids (soda is the most acidic beverage you can buy, actually) and wash your teeth clean.
Many soft drinks contain caffeine which is mildly addictive. This fact is part of the reason why soda is such a hard habit to break. If you're addicted to the caffeine in soda, you're really having two habits - the soda habit and the caffeine habit.
These were reasons why we drink soda and now let's take a look at 16 powerful reasons to give up soda drinking.
You may not even realize the extent to which drinking carbonated, caffeinated, sugared, or artificially sweetened beverages harm your body? Giving up soft drinks can be one of the best things you can do to improve your health.
1Soda Is Useless
First of all, there are no nutritionally beneficial components in soft drinks. They mostly consist of filtered water and refined sugars. Yet the average American drinks about 41 gallons of soft drinks each year.
2Weight Gain & Obesity
Many people either forget or don't realize how many extra calories they consume in what they drink. Drinking a single 330 ml can a day of sugary drinks translates to more than 1lb of weight gain every month.
Several scientific studies have provided experimental evidence that soft drinks are directly related to weight gain. The relationship between soft drink consumption and body weight is so strong that researchers2 calculate that for each additional soda consumed, the risk of obesity increases 1.6 times.
And not only that, intake of sugar-sweetened beverages is strongly associated with accumulation of fat around the abdominal area24.
On the other hand, according to the results of high quality study3, reducing consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages helped reduce body mass index in the heaviest teenagers.
This is a consequence of #2. Anything that leads to weight gain increases the risk of diabetes. And besides contributes to excess pounds, drinking soda also stresses the body's ability to process sugar5. Scientists now suspect that the sweet stuff may help explain why the number of Americans with type 2 diabetes has tripled from 6.6 million in 1980 to 20.8 million today.
Rapidly absorbed carbohydrates like high fructose corn syrup put more strain than other foods on insulin-producing cells. And here is why: when sugar enters the bloodstream quickly, the pancreas has to secrete large amounts of insulin for the body to process it. Soda habit places an unceasing demand on the pancreas to produce insulin and some scientists believe that this may ultimately lead for pancreas to be unable to keep up with the body's need for insulin. Also, insulin itself becomes less effective at processing sugar; both these conditions contribute to the risk of developing diabetes.
Interestingly, women who consumed a lot of fruit juice--which is high in natural fructose--were not at increased risk of diabetes, leading researchers to speculate that naturally occurring sugars may have different metabolic effects than added sugars. It is quite possible that vitamins, minerals, fiber, and phytochemicals in fruit juices may have a protective effect against weight gain and diabetes, neutralizing the adverse effects of sugar.
Researchers from Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston and Harvard Medical School4 analyzed data from the Nurses' Health Study II, a trial tracking the health of more than 51,000 women. None of the participants had diabetes at the onset of the study in 1991. Over the following 8 years, 741 women were diagnosed with the disease. Researchers found that women who drank one or more sugary drinks a day gained more weight and were 83% more likely to develop type 2 diabetes than those who imbibed less than once a month.
Moreover, artificially sweetened beverages are not healthy alternatives to sugar sweetened drinks for the prevention of diabetes29.
4Weakened Bones and Risk of Osteoporosis
Frequent consumption of soft drinks may also increase the risk of osteoporosis,6 especially in people who substitute calcium-rich milk with soft drinks7. High soda consumption (particularly cola15) in children poses a significant risk factor for impaired calcification of growing bones.
In the 1950s, children drank 3 cups of milk for every 1 cup of sugary drinks. Today that ratio is reversed: 3 cups of sugary drinks for every cup of milk. Tellingly, osteoporosis is a major health threat for 44 million Americans. Most experts now say that the real culprit is soda's displacement of milk in the diet, though some scientists believe that the acidity of colas may be weakening bones by promoting the loss of calcium.
5Dental Caries and Erosion
The acidity can dissolve the mineral content of the enamel, making the teeth weaker, more sensitive, and more susceptible to decay. Soda's acidity makes it even worse for teeth than the solid sugar found in candy.
Dental experts continue to urge that people drink less soda pop, especially between meals, to prevent tooth decay and dental erosion.
Despite consuming the same amount of calories, people who do it with sugary drinks don't feel as full as those who eat solid food. This theory was born out by researchers at Purdue University. In 2000 they gave 15 volunteers 450 calories a day of either soda or jelly beans for a month and then switched them for the next month, while monitoring their total calories. The candy eaters compensated for the extra calories by eating less food and maintained their weight; during the soda phase, the volunteers ate more and gained.
There is good evidence that specifically cola beverages can increase the risk of kidney problems, more so than non-cola sodas.
Researches clearly demonstrated that large quantities of cola result in enhanced kidney stone formation16-17. If you're wondering exactly how soft drinks cause kidney stones, it's because of their acidity and radical mineral imbalances. Your body must buffer the acidity of soft drinks with calcium from your own bones. As this calcium is eliminated through your urine, it slowly forms kidney stones.
In a study published in the Epidemiology journal14, the team compared the dietary habits of 465 people with chronic kidney disease and 467 healthy people. After controlling for various factors, the team found that drinking two or more colas a day (no matter if it was artificially sweetened or regular) was linked to a twofold risk of chronic kidney disease.
7Increased Blood Pressure
Experts have reasons to believe that overconsumption of fructose, particularly in the form of soft drinks, leads to an increase in blood pressure22.
9Metabolic Syndrome Risk Factor
Soft drink regular drinking is a significant risk factor for developing of metabolic syndrome18, a combination of the symptoms such as high blood pressure, obesity, high cholesterol, and insulin resistance.
10Harmful Effects On Liver
There is evidence that consumption of too many soft drinks puts you under increased risk for liver cirrhosis - similar to what chronic alcoholics have19.
11Impaired Digestive System
Soda, no matter who makes it, is extremely acidic beverage, with a pH of about 2.51, about the same as vinegar, but the sugar content disguises the acidity. To put that into perspective, consider that battery acid has a pH of 1 and pure water has a pH level of 7.
Interesting fact: A pH below 4 or above 10 will kill most fish and very few animals can tolerate waters with a pH below 3 or above 11.
Why does that matter? Throughout the digestive system, that starts from the mouth and ends up at the anus only the stomach can resist an acidic environment up to pH 2.0. But before the acidity of soft drink reaches the stomach it passes through the other organs that precede stomach in the digestive system thus causing an abnormal acidic environment. The linings of the mouth, pharynx and esophagus are highly sensitive to acids.
The phosphoric acid (H3PO4) present in soft drink competes with the hydrochloric acid (HCl) of the stomach and affects its functions. When the stomach becomes ineffective, food remains undigested causing indigestion, gassiness or bloating (swelling of stomach).
The next problem with sodas is that they act as dehydrating diuretics. Both caffeine and sugar cause dehydration.
Caffeine is a diuretic and causes an increase in urine volume. And high concentration of sugar is drawing off water as well because your kidneys try to expel the excess sugar out of the blood. When you drink a caffeinated soda to quench your thirst, you will actually become even thirstier.
13High Caffeine Content
To continue the previous point, avoiding sodas you will also avoid the unnecessary caffeine. Soda drinks are a major source of caffeine in the American diet.
High doses of caffeine can cause, among others, irritability, restlessness, tension, insomnia, high blood pressure, gastrointestinal disturbance, excessive urination, and irregular heartbeat.
14Toxins - Aspartame
If you think diet soda is better -- think again. The poison in diet soda is an artificial sweetener aspartame. Aspartame is made up of three chemicals: aspartic acid, phenylalanine, and methanol. It is used because it's about 200 times sweeter than table sugar.
Despite US FDA approval as a "safe" food additive, aspartame is one of the most dangerous substances added to foods. After you drink an aspartame-sweetened product, aspartame breaks down into its starting components: phenylalanine, aspartic acid, and methanol (that further converts to formaldehyde and formic acid, which are known carcinogens.). There are over 92 different health side effects associated with aspartame consumption 10-13.
A new health scare erupted over soft drinks recently amid evidence that they may cause serious cell damage and accelerate cell aging23. Research from a British university suggests a common preservative E211, known as sodium benzoate, found in drinks such as Fanta and Pepsi Max has the ability to switch off vital parts of DNA.
Sodium benzoate occurs in small amounts naturally in berries, but is used in large quantities to prevent mould in soft drinks.
16Other Harmful Effects
And if you are still not convinced, studies published in a couple of recent years show the following health risks associated with soda drinking:
- Increased risk of asthma and lung disease25
- Caffeinated and artificially sweetened soft drinks may increase the risk of early menarche, a risk factor of several diseases26
- Elevation of uric acid levels27
- Risk of developing hypertension28
- Mental health problems30
17There Are So Many Healthy Alternatives!
Soda replaces healthier drinks. By drinking soda, you cut the intake of fresh juices, milk, and even water and deprive yourself from essential vitamins and minerals.
- Water. Water is the best drink in the world.
- Tea. Any kind of tea - herbal, green or black - is rich in antioxidants, which were shown to protect the body form many health problems.
- 100% Juice. Fruit juice can be also useful for flavoring your water and teas.
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Last updated: February 18, 2016