There are several good reasons why you should avoid drinking soda, from avoiding weight gain to health problems related to its contents. This article looks at the main points and asks some searching questions.
If you ever wondered why so many people have become overweight and even obese in the last two decades, you might want to look at their diet. But don't make the mistake of just looking at what they're eating. Check out what they're drinking too.
You are likely going to find they get through a lot of soda every week without even realizing it. Some get through a whole load more than others. So what is it about soda that causes people to gain weight and get unhealthy?
I talked a lot about the problems that can occur with consuming too much refined sugar in my article on the subject here: Cut Down on Sugar. It's pretty obvious that the excessive consumption of soda is one of the main culprits in the obesity epidemic that is sweeping the country. You only have to look and see just how many calories are in a can of the stuff to figure out that drinking two or more cans each day as many people do is a recipe for trouble.
Excessive amounts of refined sugar, either sucrose from sugar cane or fructose from HFCS (High Fructose Corn Syrup), when ingested cause the body to process all the unused sugars and convert them to storable fat for later use. Except for most people, "later" never comes, so that fat just keeps getting added to day after day.
There are on average 140 calories per 12oz can of regular soda, including all the big brand names you are used to seeing. Although some have more or less than others, the low end drinks still pack over 100 calories per can. For many people, those calories are unused because the body is probably already getting more calories than it can burn from the food being eaten.
If you want to know how that converts to weight gain, it takes roughly 3,500 unused calories to make a pound of fat.
Say for example you drink an average of three cans of soda each day. That's quite a conservative estimate as it's quite common for people to drink more, especially if they are buying the larger 34oz plastic bottles from the supermarket because they are cheaper. That runs out at around 400 calories per day. Over a month, that works out at 12,000 extra calories, or just over three pounds of fat gained. Each month.
Over a year, that's an extra 36 pounds gained just from drinking soda!
You may think you're safe if you only drink diet soda and avoid the regular stuff with all its sugar. You are correct in that avoiding the sugar you will avoid all that extra fat. But you are wrong if you think it is a healthy alternative.
Diet soda contains artificial sweetener to compensate for the lack of sugars. The most common of these today is Aspartame, although two decades ago it was Saccharine. Both of these sweeteners come with a nasty payload of health problems.
Saccharine has been proven to cause cancer, a fact that has been known by scientists and governments for the best part of the entire time it was used as a sweetener. Aspartame has also been shown to cause cancer when consumed in large quantities. At 86 degree Fahrenheit, aspartame becomes unstable and the alcohols that it contains break down to form formaldehyde, a known carcinogen. No matter how cold the soda containing this sweetener may be when you crack it open, once it has been consumed, it heats up to body temperature, which is 97 degrees Fahrenheit.
Another property of aspartame that should prove worrisome to dieters is that it stimulates hunger. Drink a can of diet soda and you start craving food, usually high calorie snacks. So you may be avoiding the extra calories by opting for diet soda, but you will still be getting them from the extra food you eat because of it.
There have also been claims that the very act of drinking flavored, sweetened carbonated water can be detrimental to health. The liquid contains carbonic acid, which is produced from the dissolving of carbon dioxide in the water to create the fizz.
Various studies on this aspect of the drink have thrown up ambiguous results and so there is no definitive answer as to the validity of these claims. You are best advised to take your own council and make your own mind up as to whether you believe this or not.
The simple fact is that drinking plain water is by far the best way to keep your body hydrated and your thirst quenched. No matter it might be uncool or boring to drink water, but as far as your health is concerned, it is the best choice to make. There are zero calories, zero additives, zero colorants and zero bubbles in water. That means no nasties to mess with your delicate digestive tract or pack dangerous levels of visceral fat around your major organs, or to mutate healthy cells into cancerous cells.
Ultimately, what you choose to drink is your decision. It's your health and your body. Choose wisely.