Can drinking soda really hurt my health?

By Elisha Aispuro, UC Davis Nutrition Peer Counselor

Picture this… it’s a hot summer day and the first thing you reach for is an icy-cold soda.  It seems so refreshing! As you start drinking this sugar-packed fizzy drink to quench your thirst, you slowly become thirstier without knowing it. This may sound counterintuitive because beverages are thought to quench our thirst but the truth is not all beverages are created the same. Some beverages such as sugary sodas contain high levels of acids which actually make you more thirsty.

Besides increasing your thirst with every sip, drinking soda regularly can have serious health consequences that you may want to consider.

Effects of Excessive Soda Consumption 

Obesity

Soft drinks mostly consist of carbonated water and sweeteners.  They have no nutritional value. I’m not sure about you but I prefer to eat , rather than drink, my calories each day.  It helps sate me.  Regular consumption of sugar can also make your body prone to storing more fat and can lead to various metabolic diseases.

Yeah I know, scary stuff. But these effects on our body don’t happen from one soda alone and drinking soda in moderation can be part of an overall healthy diet. 

Insulin Resistance and Type 2 Diabetes

High consumption of soda leads to an increased risk of developing metabolic syndrome, insulin resistance, and diabetes. Drinking too much soda (as well as eating too much added sugar from any source) can make the cells in your body resistant to the effects of insulin leading to insulin resistance and ultimately type 2 diabetes.

Bone and Teeth Health

Drinking typical sugar-sweetened sodas regularly can lead to higher accumulation of fructose in the body, leading to higher risk of inflammation and swelling. You’ve probably heard the term inflammation thrown around a lot in the wellness community and that’s because it’s important to prevent inflammation. Excess Inflammation negatively affects almost every system in the body. The phosphoric acid in soda (and diet soda) can dissolve tooth enamel and weaken bones, too..

Alternatives to Soda

While those potential effects of soda on your body sound daunting, it’s possible to live a healthy lifestyle while occasionally sipping on some soda. There are many alternative beverages to consider that can quench your thirst and be satisfying.  Kombucha, a fermented tea with carbonation that comes in various flavors without all the added sugar, is something to consider. Kombucha is not only a tasty lower-sugar alternative but it also contains high quantities of probiotics. Another flavorful option is carbonated water that comes in a variety of flavors with little to no sugar added. These alternatives, including classic water with infused flavors, are some good ways to slowly decrease your soda intake while increasing your intake of other tasty, thirst-quenching beverages. At this time, there is lack of conclusive evidence that diet soda and non-nutritive sweeteners pose health risks

Do you have any soda alternatives you’d like to share with us? Let us know in the comments!

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