You've probably heard the common health advice to avoid soda for optimal health. Find out some of the major reasons why nutrition experts and doctors cite soda as the villain of the beverage world.
Acidity of Soda
Carbonated soda has the same acidity as vinegar--a pH value of 2.5. The lower the pH of a substance, the more acidic it is--water has a neutral pH of 7. Acid oxidizes and erodes whatever it comes into contact with, including metals. Drinking too many acidic beverages can be bad for your digestive health and teeth.
Decreased Bone Density
The elevated levels of phosphorous in soda can remove calcium from your bones, which can lead to an overall loss in bone density and health problems later in life, such as osteoporosis. Phosphorous can also lead to dental health issues, such as gingivitis, tooth loss and periodontitis.
Increased Risk of Bone Fracture and Breakage
Children who drink soda daily are at increased risk for broken bones. Dr. Marion Nestle, author of the book Food Politics, points out that teens and children who regularly drink soda are three to four times more likely to experience bone fractures or breakage than adolescents who do not consume soda.
Effect on Tooth Enamel
Soda's combination of phosphoric acid and high sugar content can erode tooth enamel, weakening teeth and leading to tooth decay and gum disease without additional maintenance to keep the negative effects of soda consumption at bay. Children and adults who regularly drink soda can expect to need more cavities drilled and filled than people who avoid soft drinks.
Increased Risk of Obesity
Consuming soda and gaining weight have been so closely correlated that some scientists, among them Dr. Nestle, claim that consumption of each additional soda increases the drinker's risk of obesity 1.6 times. A bottle of cola can contain around 200 calories that come exclusively from sugar, and overconsumption of sugar is one of the leading causes of unhealthy body weight in the United States.
Diet Soda No Better
Diet soda offers few health benefits over regular soda. Diet soda has the same unhealthy acidity as regular soda, and new research has shown that artificial sweeteners may still contribute to weight gain. When you ingest artificial sweeteners such as aspartame, sucralose and acesulfame potassium, your body registers the sweet taste but no calories, which means the diet soda is not satisfying your sugar craving. A study that followed 2,500 New York residents over nine years found that daily diet soda drinkers were 60 percent more likely to suffer a heart attack or stroke than those who did not drink diet soda.
Too Much Caffeine
Caffeine is an addictive substance present in many soft drinks as well as coffee and tea. Drinking one caffeinated soda a day can lead to addiction and withdrawal symptoms when not enough caffeine is consumed. Caffeine withdrawal can result in nausea, headache, fatigue, mild depression, muscle pain and flu-like symptoms.
Chemical Additives and Preservatives
The chemical additives and preservatives used in the manufacture of commercial soft drinks not only increase the beverages' acidity, they also increase their sodium levels. Drinking too much soda can quickly push your daily sodium intake past the level recommended by nutrition experts. The effects of consuming chemical additives and preservatives, including the innocuous-sounding "caramel color" present in so many colas, are also largely unknown, but several research studies suggest that these substances may contribute to the formation of malignant tumors and cancer when consumed in large quantities over time.
Type 2 Diabetes Risk
The weight gain and spike in blood sugar levels that consuming soda causes carry their own health risk in the form of Type 2 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes is a variant of the disease that is also known as adult-onset diabetes, because it can be triggered by a sedentary lifestyle and overconsumption of sugar. Having diabetes means the body cannot process sugar as efficiently, and the carbohydrate-regulating hormone insulin has to be introduced by external medications as the body no longer produces enough to stabilize blood sugar levels on its own.
The markups on soda products are astronomical when compared with their cost of production. If you buy a bottle of soda each day for a year at around $2.00 a bottle, that adds up to $730 that you could use towards the purchase of a vacation, a gym membership, fresh fruits and vegetables or a host of other, healthier alternatives. Instead of drinking soda, take a reusable bottle with you wherever you go and keep it filled with tap water to keep your thirst at bay.