Soda is the unofficial drink of America. While in most other countries they enjoy a tiny bottle of the sweet stuff as an afternoon treat, here in the States we consume bucket-size Big Gulps on a daily basis, sell cans of the sticky syrup out of machines at elementary schools and treat free refills at dinner like a God-given right.
Soda is liquid candy. Actually, soda is a frothy mix of carbonated water, caramel coloring, phosphoric acid, natural flavorings, high fructose corn syrup and caffeine.
That is a pretty potent combination, and one we all know and love. However what you might not know is what those ingredients do to the human body. It’s not pretty, which is why doctors and nutritionists across the board agree that there is almost nothing redeeming health-wise about soda pop.
Drinking soda is just a bad habit, and one that you can break. Need a reason to put down that can? Here are ten.
- Soda increases the risk of obesity. New studies have proven what has long been thought: people who drink a can or more of soda per day are almost a third more likely to be overweight. A can of soda contains 120 to 190 completely empty calories, and by promoting weight gain, soda also increases the risk of type 2 diabetes, an ailment that has tripled in our country over the last 30 years.
- Soda is highly acidic and may cause osteoporosis. The pH level of soda water is roughly the same as vinegar; it is the most highly acidic beverage you can buy. Pour pop on metal and it will rust. Acid oxidizes things, and once inside your body, the high level of phosphorus actually leaches calcium from your bones, contributing towards osteoporosis. Broken bones are more common in children who drink a lot of soda versus those that do not.
- Soda makes you burp and fart. Unless you are a 7th grade boy, you probably want to avoid introducing extra flatulence in your life.
- Soda is a sugar bomb that throws your body system off balance. One can of soda is packed with twelve teaspoons of sugar, more than the recommended amount for an entire day. Consuming this much sugar at once prompts your pancreas to produce a ton of insulin, which weakens the immune system and leaves you susceptible to disease.
- Soda rots your teeth. The phosphoric acid that causes metal to rust also dissolves tooth enamel, especially when combined with sugar. Once you lose tooth enamel, there is no going back- just a lifetime of brown smiles.
- Diet soda is still soda. Many people think diet soda is a healthy alternative to regular soda due to its lack of sugar, however this is not true. Artificial sweeteners interfere with your natural ability to regulate caloric intake; your body only recognizes ‘sweet’ and will crave more. In the body aspartame breaks down into methanol, a type of alcohol that the ancient Egyptians used for embalming, and saccharin is a petroleum derivative known to cause bladder cancer in rates. Thirsty?
- Soda is the drink of sheep. Americans overwhelmingly drink soda for one reason: because it’s there. Soda is everywhere: vending machines at the office, restaurant tables, grocery store checkout lanes, preschool parties, bluegrass music shows – where there are people, there is soda. Soda is always convenient to grab when you are thirsty, and drinking it is a habit requiring little thought process, only herd-like behavior. If everyone was consuming a beverage known to cause massive health problems, weight gain and belching, would you drink it too? Don’t jump off the proverbial cliff- you are smarter than that.
- Sodas with caffeine are addictive. Caffeine stimulates the nervous system and can cause insomnia, stress and of course- the jitters. This addictive substance is also a diuretic, which can cause dehydration and frequent urination, putting your kidneys into overdrive (which can cause kidney stones) and prompting your liver to turn any extra sugar into belly fat.
- Soda companies market unhealthy drinks to children. Soda marketers spend almost $500 million per year to reach children and adolescents- more than any other category. Do you really want to support an industry like that? Didn’t think so.
- Soda replaces healthier beverage options. Guzzling soda all day instead of drinking organic milk, green tea or fruit juice not only dumps plenty of junk into your body, it also denies you the nutrients you would have received from the healthier beverages. Soda has no nutritional value whatsoever.
TIPS ON KICKING THE CAN:
Although giving up soda completely is a worthy goal, going cold turkey can be a bit daunting. You don’t have to give up soda completely to make a drastic change in your health.
- “Rethink” soda as a special treat, instead of a thirst-quencher or mealtime beverage. Enjoy soda on rare occasions, like with popcorn for a night at the movies. Drink it slowly and savor every sip. Change the way your mind perceives soda, and your body will reap the benefits
- Ditch diet soda. Don’t kid yourself- it is really bad for you. Instead, drink all the green tea and fresh water you want, and throw in a slice of citrus if you need a flavor kick.
- Just don’t buy it. This one smart move will keep the liquid candy out of your house and out of your body.
- Clean the toilet. Soda works fantastically to clean the toilet bowl, so try it out for a first-person look at its corrosive qualities. Still not convinced? Soda will take the rust off your car’s bumper as well.
Public Health Advocacy
Photo by BRWoodland