It’s incredible to think that the single biggest source of calories for Americans isn’t vegetables, bread, pasta or Big Macs — it’s soda. The average American drinks about two cans of the stuff every day. This is becoming a common statistic throughout the world. That’s an equivalent of 18 to 20 teaspoons of sugar in just two drinks.
What could be so bad about having a little of nature’s sweet goodness once in awhile? The answer is nothing, if you really only are having just a little unrefined sugar only once in a while.
But in the last 20 years, sugar consumption has skyrocketed. Over this short time period, sugar intake in the US has increased by 519 percent (from 11kg to 61kg of sugar per person per year!). The correlation between the rise in sugar consumption and chronic disease is staggering. In the early 1900s, cardiovascular disease and cancer were virtually unheard of — when the average sugar consumption was only 2kg per person per year.
Soda has been the biggest modern day influencer on sugar consumption and disease risk. In fact, drinking just one sugar-sweetened beverage per day has been linked to a 20 percent increase in risk of having a heart attack. The Harvard School of Public Health also found that the risk increased along with the quantity of sugary drinks consumed.
This growing awareness of sugar and its empty calories has prompted a switch to consuming ‘sugar-free’, ‘zero-calorie’ and ‘diet’ beverages. The American Journal of Nutrition claims that, among adults, consumption of these drinks has increased by 25 percent, and children are consuming more than double the amount they did in the last decade.
However, the biggest problem with soda and especially diet soda isn’t the sugar or the calories. “But surely because diet soda is sugar and calorie-free it is healthier and won’t make me fat. Right?”
The reality is that all soda, pop or fizzy drink is bad for you. Diet fizzy drinks are even worse than their sugar-laden accomplices. One recent study found that those who drank diet soda regularly were 40 percent more likely to have a heart attack or stroke. This research proves that reduced calories are the least of your concerns.
Below are six disturbing facts about what these fizzy drinks do to your body, that don’t get much attention in discussions about soda and their impact on your health.
The key ingredient in diet soda has been found to increase hunger. So while your drink is calorie-free, you may end up eating more.
A brown colouring that contains 2-methylimidazole and 4-methylimidazole, chemicals that have been linked to lung, liver and thyroid cancer.
Diet soda has been linked to an increased risk of stroke, and scientists think the high sodium content could be the culprit.
Phosphoric Acid and Caffeine
Scientists speculate that the phosphoric acid and caffeine in soda contribute to osteoporosis. This is of particular concern for women. A group of researchers found that women who reportedly drank just three sodas a week had an average of 4 percent more bone loss at important sites in the hips than women who drank any other beverage.
Sugar is not the only ingredient that will erode your teeth in soda. The acidity of soda is very high (with a pH of 3.2), and along with food additives in flavoured versions (such as ginger, cherry and lemon-lime versions) have been proven to contribute to the erosion of tooth enamel.
Bisphenol A (BPA)
BPA is an endocrine disruptor that has been linked to everything from heart disease, reproductive disorders, obesity and immune system disorders. Soda cans and plastic bottles contaminate the liquid with BPA.
Diet or sugar-free soda may have less calories, but they still disrupt your metabolic processes and poison your body. That’s a lot of risk for one small beverage!
Skip the soda… your body won’t miss it in the long run and you’ll be amazed at how much better you’ll feel.