We have all heard that soft drinks are detrimental to our health, but did you know there is actual scientific research proving why soft drinks are bad for you? Soft drinks are those bubbly, sugary drinks often referred to as soda pop, soda, tonic, or simply pop. This may also include energy drinks that are high in sugar, caffeine, and preservatives. There are many possible health issues that can be caused by consuming soft drinks. If you do enjoy sodas, perhaps cut down on your intake if you do not want to eliminate them entirely. Let us examine why soft drinks are bad for you.
Why Soft Drinks Are Bad for You
1. Soft drinks are full of sugar
Sugar is very fattening and has minimal nutritional benefit. Soft drinks usually do not make you feel full, so you would generally still enjoy a full meal along with your soda, leading to weight gain and possible obesity. Regular soft drink consumption raises your risk of obesity up to 60%.
Sugar is converted to fat in the liver which can lead to non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. High levels of sugar such as those found in soda pop and energy drinks can lead to storing of body fat, especially in the belly area. This also increases the risk of metabolic diseases. Another aspect of increased sugar consumption is that we may become insulin resistant. The body automatically produces insulin to deal with the excess sugar in the bloodstream, but when the body is overloaded with sugar, the cells may become resistant to insulin, which can lead to metabolic syndrome, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes.
Sugary drinks contain no minerals, vitamins, fiber, anti-oxidants or nutrients for the body and are classified as empty calories. They add no benefit to our systems, just excess sugar and other harmful substances. The sugars and acids in soda are also really bad for your dental health as the sugar, carbonic acid, and phosphoric acid create an acidic environment in your mouth, making your teeth more vulnerable to decay. Sugar may also be addictive as it releases dopamine, a feel-good hormone into our systems. We naturally seek out substances that give us a good feeling and this may result in an actual addiction to substances high in sugar, such as sodas.
The sugars in soft drinks may also cause painful joints and gout due to increased uric acid from fructose consumption, which results in uric acid crystallization, which cause the pain associated with these ailments. Last but not least, increased consumption of sugar can lead to neurodegenerative ailments such as dementia due to the rapid spikes in blood sugar and an increased risk of insulin resistance.
2. Phosphoric acid is found in most soft drinks
Most sodas contain phosphoric acid which interferes with calcium absorption and can lead to tooth cavities, bone softening and osteoporosis. Phosphoric acid also slows digestion and prevents effective absorption of nutrients.
3. Artificial sweeteners in sodas
Some sodas do not contain sugar or contain minimal sugar (such as diet sodas or drinks labeled as zero sugar). These are usually sweetened with aspartame, which has been linked to diabetes, brain tumors, seizures, multiple sclerosis and even emotional disorders. Aspartame breaks down to methanol when warmed, which further breaks down to formic acid and formaldehyde, which are dangerous toxins. Diet drinks may also increase the risk of metabolic syndrome. Stevia sweetened drinks may be a better option, but any sweeteners may raise your health risks.
4. Caffeine in high levels
Many soft drinks contain caffeine, and some contain very high levels such as a number of energy drinks available on the market. Very high caffeine intake has been linked to various types of cancers, lumps in breast tissue, high blood pressure, and irregular heartbeat.
5. Poor water sources
Some soda companies do not use filtered water and the water used in the soda may contain traces of heavy metals, chlorine, fluoride, and other chemicals. Even though sodas contain water, they may actually cause dehydration due to the sugar, sodium, and caffeine in the mixture.
So What Should You Drink Instead of Soft Drinks?
The best alternative is water, preferably spring water or filtered water. If you don’t enjoy drinking plain water you may enjoy fruit or herb-infused water. Natural lemonade, which can be spiced up with some added turmeric or ginger is refreshing and healthy and will quench your thirst.
There are also carbonated spring waters available now that contain natural fruit flavors. These can be a great substitute for soft drinks, as they generally contain high quality sources of water, and only trace amounts of sugars.
You can also look at making homemade ginger ale, which does contain a small amount of organic sugar, but way less than what you would find in soft drinks in stores. You can also purchase or make yourself some unsweetened ice tea. If you purchase it, avoid brands with high levels of fructose. Juice your fruit at home for a healthy drink with nothing added. You can make it fizzy using sparkling spring water. No need for added sugar or chemicals.
If you must have a caffeine kick, perhaps have a cup of coffee, which has significantly more caffeine than most sodas, so you need less to get the same effect. Just ensure you don’t add in too much extra sugar, if any. How about some tea for caffeine without the additives? Green tea and black tea also contain similar amounts of caffeine as do most soft drinks, so you can also use them to get your caffeine boost during the day. If you avoid the sugar, this is a good alternative. You can even pop it in the refrigerator for a lovely cool drink during the afternoon. If you really have to have some added sweetness, try a small amount of honey instead of refined sugar.
Research clearly shows why soft drinks are bad for you, and perhaps it is a good idea to look at alternatives for improved health and less risk of serious debilitating illnesses caused by consuming liquids packed with sugar and chemicals.