It’s worse for you than you might think.
When I was a child, my diet contained plenty of sugar and processed foods. I never thought twice about it. I enjoyed chocolate brownies, sugar cereal, candy bars, and even some of the less obvious junk foods, like whipped yogurts.
Even though sweets took up a lot of space in my diet, there was one bubbly beverage that I almost never got to have— soda. I didn’t understand why my parents were so strict when it came to this one specific drink.
Now that I know a lot more about nutrition, I recognize the severe impacts of drinking soda regularly. I see why my parents didn’t want me to have it often, and why the beverage has been removed from school vending machines.
The following are five scary but true facts about soda you should know about. Hopefully, this information will make you reconsider reaching for a can the next time the craving hits.
1. Soda is incredibly addictive.
Due to its high sugar content and liquid consistency, soda is a very addictive beverage, which makes it dangerous.
“When you chew food, it takes time, and your body and brain acknowledge the act of eating…But you can drink a whole meal’s worth of calories and your body won’t even realize it. It’s like it never happened.”
Because the calories and sugar in soda come in liquid form, your body won’t register that you’ve eaten. This makes soda an especially dangerous and addictive source of sugar.
On top of that, a single can of soda contains almost 40 grams of sugar,which is close to twice the recommended daily intake of added sugar. Therefore, it is not a beverage that should be a key part of your diet.
2. It is a major contributor to these diseases.
Unfortunately, sugary drinks like soda have been found to contribute immensely to obesity in both children and adults.
This often results in the development of chronic and potentially life threatening diseases such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.
Avoiding highly processed foods and sugary beverages, such as soda, is a step in the right direction to combatting chronic disease, improving your health, and promoting longevity.
3. It can cause this much weight gain.
Soda is unique in that it contains an immense amount of sugar in liquid form. It can be easy to fall into the habit of drinking a can every single day.
If you started drinking one can of soda per day, and kept the rest of your diet exactly the same, those extra calories and sugar would add up quickly. In fact, Rady Children’s Hospital of San Diego cites the following shocking statistic:
“Drinking a 20-ounce (oz) bottle of soda every day can lead to about 25 extra pounds of weight gain a year.”
If you are at a healthy weight and you want to maintain it, drinking soda regularly will make it very difficult to do so.
4. Soda can harm bone growth.
For growing children, soda can prove especially harmful. In fact, researchers have found that:
“Teen girls who regularly drink carbonated beverages, have nearly three times the risk of bone fractures of girls who don’t drink soda at all.”
This fact is especially worrisome for athletes. I was a cross-country and track runner in both high school and college, and stress fractures in athletes were very common. So common, in fact, that I was one of the few women on my college cross-country team who never developed a serious injury through my four years of running collegiately. I never got a stress fracture during that time, and I was never out for longer than a week or two (I strained my calf muscle once and had some knee pain one summer).
I have always believed that my healthy, balanced diet was one of the main reasons I never developed a serious injury through my 10 years of running competitively, especially in college when I ran up to 60–70 miles per week my senior year.
For growing and developing children, teens, and young adults, it is especially crucial to get as many nutrients as possible from food. Since soda has no nutritional value, it shouldn’t be a diet staple.
5. Diet soda doesn’t fix the problem.
Now, you might be thinking that you’ll just switch to diet soda and avoid all the calories and sugar. Or maybe, you already drink diet soda. Unfortunately, this still isn’t an ideal choice.
While you may avoid the calories and a lot of added sugar, you will still put a lot of chemicals into your body, especially if you drink it regularly. Some research suggests that diet soda may even trick your brain:
“Diet soda may change how the brain responds to sweet flavors by affecting dopamine, a neurotransmitter that plays a role in pleasure, motivation, and reward.Frequently drinking diet soda might cause a person to crave more sweets, including both sweet snacks and more soda.”
While no one knows exactly how diet soda affects the human body, the fact remains that it’s loaded with chemicals, artificial sweeteners, and contains no nutritional value. I used to think that diet soda was much healthier, but I now realize that isn’t true, and it’s better to focus on natural foods. At the very least, you should try to minimize how much soda you consume.
Drinking a can of soda every once in a while isn’t going to wreck your health. It’s what you do day in and day out that will have the greatest impact.
However, soda won’t nourish your body in any way. Unfortunately, it has a lot of processed sugar, and due to its addictive nature, it might be hard to stop drinking once you start.
If you can transition to healthier alternatives, like lemon water, tea, or even bubbly water, you will get rid of a lot of excess calories, chemicals, and sugar in your diet. This will ultimately lead to greater health down the road. It won’t be easy, but it will certainly be worth it.