Did you know that the average American consumes about two soft drinks a day?
Are you above average?
If you regularly grab for a glass of soda, you may be slowly killing yourself!
The flavors may vary, but the terms soda, soft drink, soda pop, cola, or just plain pop all refer to a carbonated beverage that tastes wonderfully refreshing. Soft drinks may be called soft, but really they’re hard on your body.
Soft drinks are unhealthy for two reasons:
One - They keep you from drinking healthy drinks, such as water.
Two - Their ingredients aren’t good for you.
Drinking plenty of healthy drinks, such as water and fresh juices, is essential to feeling good. According to the Mayo Clinic, most people need to drink between 8-13 cups of water a day. That’s a lot of drinking! Most of us aren’t even close to getting enough good, clean water.
Drinking enough water helps you stay healthy in several ways:
You feel more alert. This is because your body needs plenty of liquid to nourish your cells. If your cells, especially your brain cells, don’t have enough fluid, they don’t respond as quickly. Not drinking enough water leads to mild dehydration. This can drain your energy, leaving you feeling tired.
You have more energy. Water flushes away toxins from your system. These toxins can sap your energy if they build up in your organs and aren’t flushed away. Keeping hydrated with water keeps these toxins flowing out of your system so everything works optimally to provide you with the energy you need.
Your body feels full longer. Many individuals in western society have confused their body’s feeling of thirst with hunger. So when they think they’re hungry, they’re really thirsty! The ingredients in soda don’t satisfy this thirst. In fact, with all the sodium in soda, it actually contributes to your feelings of thirst! So soda leads to overeating and continued dehydration.
Although water is “the best beverage,” you don’t have to get your total 8-13 cups of fluid a day just from water. Milk, fresh juice, and tea can count in your daily total. Just be sure to drink mostly water to help you feel your best.
Many people don’t realize how unhealthy soda is for them. They may drink soda as a “treat.” We lead stressful lives and having something to look forward to gives us a boost through the day. Unfortunately, the habit of having a soda as a daily boost may actually make you feel worse and increase the tiredness and stress you are trying to avoid. Drinking soda contributes to long-term health problems as well, including increased risk of heart disease, pancreatic cancer, and osteoporosis. Soft drinks also contribute to the growing problem of obesity.
Soft Drinks are Hard on Your Body by contributing to:
Heart Disease: In August 2007, the National Institutes of Health concluded that if you’re a middle aged adult, and you drink more than one soft drink per day, you have a 40 percent greater risk of developing heart disease. That’s a bit surprising. You might be thinking that this doesn’t apply to you because you only drink “diet” sodas. The study found it doesn’t matter if the soda you consume is a regular high-calorie, high-sugar one, or a diet soda!
Pancreatic Cancer: In 2005, the National Institutes of Health concluded that, if you’re a woman who is slightly overweight, you’re at increased risk of getting pancreatic cancer if you consume more than three sugar-sweetened soft drinks a week.
Osteoporosis: You probably know that soft drinks contain phosphate or phosphoric acid. You also know that some colas contain quite a bit of caffeine. What you might not be aware of is that both of these substances can leach calcium from your bones, contributing to osteoporosis. Although phosphorus is in itself one of the minerals contained in bone, having a ratio of too much phosphorus to too little calcium can cause bone loss.
Also, if you’re drinking a lot of soda, you’re probably not drinking a lot of milk. There’s only so much liquid a body can consume in a day. Replacing healthy drinks, such as water, milk, and juice, with unhealthy drinks, such as soda, makes it hard for your body to get the nutrients it needs.
Obesity: Soft drinks contribute to obesity in more ways than one. When you drink a soft drink, you are consuming low-nutrition calories. Even if you only drink diet sodas, you may be stimulating your body to eat more calories! In a study on obesity in 2005, it was shown that "there was a 41% increase in risk of being overweight for every can or bottle of diet soft drink a person consumes each day." (DeNoon)
What to drink instead of Soft Drinks?
What’s a person to do? You love your soft drinks. They taste good. They’re something to look forward to during a stressful day. The best way to not drink soft drinks is to replace them with something else.
Water is, of course, the best replacement. Water flavored with herbal tea or a drop of essential oil is also healthy. Another alternative is Guayaki tea. Guayaki tea is made from Yerba Mate which is a natural stimulant. Another choice is Kombucha or a fermented coconut water called keifer.
If you’re a dedicated soft drink drinker, try to find a low-calorie, healthy alternative. It may take a while to find one that you love. However, it’s worth it—for your health, for your loved ones, and for your life.
Akinso, Wally. (Producer). (2007, August). Adults drinking soft drinks at increased risk of developing metabolic syndrome [Audio Podcast]. NIH Radio. Retrieved from http://www.nih.gov/news/radio/aug2007/08102007soda.htm
DeNoon, Daniel. (2005, June 13). Drink more diet soda, gain more weight?. Retrieved from http://www.webmd.com/diet/news/20050613/drink-more-diet-soda-gain-more-weight
Schernhammer, E. et al. (2005). Sugar-sweetened soft drink consumption and risk of pancreatic cancer in two prospective cohorts. Cancer Epidemiol, Sep14(9), Abstract retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16172216
Staff, Mayo Clinic. (2010). Water: how much should you drink every day?. Mayo Clinic: Nutrition & Healthy Eating, Retrieved from http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/water/NU00283#
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