Soda, pop, cola, soft drink — whatever
you call it, it is one of the worst beverages that you could be drinking for
your health. As the debate for whether to put a tax on the sale of soft drinks
continues, you should know how they affect your body so that you can make an
informed choice on your own.
Soft drinks are hard on
Soft drinks contain little to no vitamins or other essential nutrients. However, it is what they do contain that is the problem: caffeine, carbonation, simple sugars — or worse, sugar substitutes — and often food additives such as artificial coloring, flavoring, and preservatives. A lot of research has found that consumption of soft drinks in high quantity, especially by children, is responsible for many health problems that include tooth decay, nutritional depletion, obesity, type-2 diabetes, and heart disease.
Why the sugar in soft
drinks isn't so sweet
Most soft drinks contain a high amount
of simple sugars. The USDA recommendation of sugar consumption for a
2,000-calorie diet is a daily allotment of 10 teaspoons of added sugars. Many
soft drinks contain more than this amount!
Just why is too much sugar so unhealthy?
Well, to start, let's talk about what happens to you as sugar enters your body.
When you drink sodas that are packed with simple sugars, the pancreas is called
upon to produce and release insulin, a hormone that empties the sugar in your
blood stream into all the tissues and cells for usage. The result of
overindulging in simple sugar is raised insulin levels. Raised blood insulin
levels beyond the norm can lead to depression of the immune system, which in
turn weakens your ability to fight disease.
Something else to consider is that most of the excess sugar ends up being
stored as fat in your body, which results in weight gain and elevates risk for
. One study found that when subjects were given refined
sugar, their white blood cell count decreased significantly for several hours
afterwards. Another study discovered that rats fed a high-sugar diet had a
substantially elevated rate of
when compared to rats on a regular diet.
The health effects of
You may come to the conclusion that diet or sugar-free soda is a better choice.
However, one study discovered that drinking one or more soft drinks a day — and
it didn't matter whether it was diet or regular — led to a 30% greater chance
of weight gain around the belly. Diet soda is filled with artificial sweeteners
such as aspartame, sucralose, or saccharin. These artificial sweeteners pose a
threat to your health. Saccharin, for instance, has been found to be
carcinogenic, and studies have found that it produced bladder cancer in rats.
Aspartame, commonly known as nutrasweet, is a chemical that stimulates the
brain to think the food is sweet. It breaks down into acpartic acid,
phenylalanine, and methanol at a temperature of 86 degrees. (Remember, your
stomach is somewhere around 98 degrees.) An article put out by the University
of Texas found that aspartame has been linked to obesity. The process of
stimulating the brain causes more cravings for sweets and leads to carbohydrate
Beverages with bubbles contain phosphoric acid, which can severely deplete
the blood calcium levels; calcium is a key component of the bone matrix. With
less concentration of calcium over a long time, it can lower deposition rates
so that bone mass and density suffer. This means that drinking sodas and
carbonated water increases your risk of
Add in the caffeine usually present in soft drinks, and you are in for even
more trouble. Caffeine can deplete the body's calcium, in addition to
stimulating your central nervous system and contributing to
a racing mind, and
Skip the soda and go
Water is a vital beverage for good
health. Each and every cell needs water to perform its essential functions.
Since studies show that tap water is filled with contaminants, antibiotics, and
a number of other unhealthy substances, consider investing in a quality
carbon-based filter for your tap water. On the go? Try using a stainless steel
thermos or glass bottle, filled with filtered water. Enhance the flavor of your
water with a refreshing infusion of basil, mint leaves, and a drop of Yacon
gently lifts your energy and has numerous health benefits. Black, green, white,
and oolong teas all contain antioxidant polyphenols. In fact, tea ranks as high
or higher than many fruits and vegetables on the ORAC scale, the score that
measures antioxidant potential of plant-based foods.