Fizz. Soda. Pop. Whatever you want to call it, this beverage has definitely seen its better days. Well, at least as far as its reputation goes. The United States still ranks first among countries in soda consumption. This remains even in the face of countless correlations between soda consumption and poor health, in particular obesity and diabetes. It is due to this that some states have decided that we lack the intelligence and self-control to stop or limit personal consumption, and have placed a ban on the sale of these sugary drinks in containers over 16 ounces. Sorry all you Big Gulp die-hards.
Regardless of what side of the ban debate you fall on, the fact remains that this stuff is just bad news. But “why?” you ask. Well, as with every post, we will now provide you with some information to back up the growing negative perception of soda. What you choose to do with it is up to you.
We’ll start with the basics. Non-diet sodas contain an obscene amount of sugar. Anytime we take in too much sugar (aka glucose or fructose, aka carbs), we are setting the stage for increased body fat. It is true, your body, including your muscles and nerves, utilize glucose for energy and thus function. It can even by stored in your muscles and liver as glycogen. However, when the storage spots are full, it is then converted to fat and stored in all those loveable spots, like your midsection.
This mechanism can also occur when too much is introduced to fast. Being a liquid, a soda doesn’t have to go through the step by step digestive process that food does during its breakdown. This leads to a virtual sugar flood and a spike in your blood sugar. Raise the level of damage caused by the self-inflicted attack exponentially if you are also consuming a meal with that pop. Before the food even gets there, you have already exceeded your carb intake capacity. It needs to be understood that it is largely due to excess sugar being converted to fat that sparks the obesity.
In addition to the increase in body fat, review this former post for information on how this phenomenon affects the brain: ( https://clarkechiropracticwellness.com/2013/02/26/avoiding-diet-induced-brain-damage/ )
While contributing to an increase in weight, this repeated sugar rush also primes you for diabetes. Again, when you flood the system with the glucose, the pancreas releases insulin to deliver that fuel to the cells. When these cells are full, they no longer accept the insulin that is attempting to bring more guests to an already packed house. This is what we call insulin resistance and is the cornerstone of type II diabetes. Don’t’ fret though, luckily all that glucose won’t sit in your arteries causing damage and inflammation for too long. As we already know, it can and will be stored as fat.
More bad news here, the entire pathway and mechanism described above is considerably worse due to the fact that sodas are packed with the infamous high fructose corn syrup. This is another topic for another post, but trust me; not good.
So I know what you’re thinking, “I’ll just drink diet soda and avoid all that sugar.” Unfortunately this won’t cut it either as the artificial sweeteners being used are just as harmful but for different reasons. Other than it being repeatedly linked to the development of brain tumors in animals, aspartame and other low and no calorie artificial sweeteners are known to overstimulate and excite the brain neurons resulting in cellular death. No joke. The artificial sweeteners in diet soda (and most sugar free chewing gums, desserts and yogurt) can actually kill brain cells opening the door for early onset Alzheimer’s or learning disabilities in our youth.
(The far reaching hand of aspartame doesn’t stop there, check this brief abstract out to learn of more of its potential affects: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23553132 . Truly eye opening and alarming.)
Artificial sweeteners can wreak more havoc by actually tricking the body. They cause the brain to react to the sweet, delicious taste and the prompting of the digestive cascade commences. Insulin is released and ready to deliver fuel that you are not receiving from that no-calorie soft drink. The digestive chemistry and hormone balance has been hoodwinked, and now sends chemical signals to your brain that lead to hunger and an urge to consume more.
Soda or diet soda…pick your poison.
Caffeine needs to be looked at for what it is; a drug. A very powerful stimulant at that. While the systemic effects of caffeine are vast, when speaking of soda in particular it should be noted that it has diuretic properties (makes you pee) and thus has a dehydrating affect. This is one theory behind why one can drink so many cans of soda and not be satisfied. Many times we confuse thirst with hunger. Another contributing factor to sodas scale tipping effects is that, when the caffeine dehydrates us, we confuse the thirst with hunger and thus overeat.
One more ingredient in soda I’d like to touch on is phosphoric acid. In a study conducted at the Naval Medical Research Institute, human teeth were placed in a cola beverage and they softened and started to dissolve within a short period. This is one of the reasons that some have claimed that phosphoric acid is as bad for your teeth as battery acid.
Consuming phosphoric acid laden soda raises the level of phosphorous in the body and thus affects the pH making it more acidic. Our body’s way of buffering the acidity caused by sodas is to pull calcium from our bones. This can not only lead to osteoporosis in us older folks, but can be especially detrimental to growing children.
Some of the calcium that has been leached from the bones is then eliminated in our urine. Well, as the calcium heavy urine passes through the kidneys it leaves one susceptible to another potential, painful soda by-product: kidney stones.
One more thing about creating an acidic environment in our bodies; the normal pH of our bodies is slightly alkaline, yet things like soda containing phosphoric acid creates acidity. Our body has natural systems to counter this, but constant bombardment can cause lengthy periods of acidity. Cancers, bacteria, yeast, fungus, and pathologies such as rheumatoid and osteoarthritis, headaches, infections thrive in an acidic environment. Allowing the body to maintain its proper homeostatic state of alkalinity provides greater potential to foster an environment free of many issues, including those mentioned above.
Hopefully this sheds some light on exactly WHY soda is not a smart choice for consumption. While I do agree that it tastes delicious, to me it’s just not worth it. Keep in mind that most of the affects described are amplified in a growing child. Make a more responsible choice for you and your children and pass on the pop.