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Normally I stress the positive impact of good health practices, rather than focus on negatives. However, I feel so strongly about this topic that I’m willing to depart from that practice.
I stopped drinking soda, in my case diet soda, more than a dozen years ago. Before that time, I was known as the woman who always had a diet soda with her. Always. If it wasn’t a 20 ounce bottle, it was a 32 ounce happy hour drink from Sonic.
One reason for carrying a soda with me was thirst. I felt parched all the time. Little did I know that my diet soda addiction contributed to my thirst rather than satisfying it.
I stopped drinking diet soda for several health reasons, including constant indigestion, joint pain and dehydration. That decision became the first step toward better health.
Soda’s negative impact on the body is huge and far reaching. Don’t believe me? Check out these 18 reasons to stop drinking soda now.
Almost half the adult populations, 49%, drink at least one soda a day. A 12 ounce can contains at least 39 grams of sugar. That’s equal to nine and a half teaspoons of sugar, in ONE can. A 20 ounce bottle of soda packs in 65 grams of sugar, or 13 teaspoons. And those happy hour drinks that offer 32 ounces of soda for a great price contain a whopping 91 grams of sugar, which is the same as 21.6 teaspoons.
Imagine stirring that much sugar into a glass of iced tea. The thought literally churns my stomach.
And diet soda is no better, health wise. Diet soda drinkers up their risk for weight gain, increased belly fat and certain types of cancer. Plus it’s not only the sugar that’s detrimental to health. Additives, preservatives and artificial coloring and flavors contribute to increased risks for diseases and disorders, such as the following.
Both diet soda and the regular stuff are linked to an increase in type 2 diabetes. Drinking soda creates a sugar spike that forces the body to convert that sugar into fat. And that fat gets stored in the liver.
In just six months, the fat deposits in the liver can increase by 150%, greatly raising the risk for diabetes.
Additionally, diet soda actually increases sugar cravings, contributing to the chances of developing diabetes.
One of the greatest risks from consuming soda is obesity. A 20 ounce bottle of soda provides 150 empty calories that do nothing to stave off hunger. Consuming a bottle of soda with every meal for 30 days can add three or more pounds a month and more than 36 pounds in a year.
Extra Belly Fat
Linked with obesity is excess belly fat. Because the sugar in soda quickly converts to fat, and triggers the production of insulin in the process, the body accumulates fat in the belly.
One of the most painful medical conditions, often compared to childbirth, kidney stones form when minerals accumulate in the kidneys. Soda drinkers increase their risk for these excruciating stones due to the excess consumption of sugar, phosphoric acid and chronic dehydration.
The excessive amount of sugar in soda is linked to a condition called non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. The body is not able to process all that sugar. Instead it converts the sugar into fat that is stored in the liver. This leads to fatty liver, a serious disorder that increases the risk of early death.
Not all joint pain is caused by drinking soda. However, those sugary drinks may be aggravating joint pain. Plus the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition suggests that women who regularly consume soda increase their risk of rheumatoid arthritis.
Additionally, sugar “feeds” inflammation of all kinds in the body. Soda certainly contributes to ongoing inflammation and the pain that accompanies it.
Regularly drinking soda contributes to a greater risk for cardiovascular diseases, including heart failure, lesions and strokes.
Heart failure is linked to diabetes, obesity and high blood pressure, all associated with consuming sugary drinks.
Strokes result from increased fat in the body which contributes to hardening of the arteries including those in the brain. Excess sugar is converted to fat.
Soda drinkers are at greater risk for heart attacks, even when controlling other factors such as smoking, poor diet and lack of exercise.
And an additive in citrusy sodas that maintains flavor and appearance, called brominated vegetable oil or BVO, is linked to an increased risk for heart lesions in rats. BVO is used to create a longer shelf life for soda.
Eliminating soda from the diet contributes to a longer life by lowering cholesterol. That can of soda contains more sugar than the body needs in a whole day. High sugar levels are linked to high bad cholesterol and low levels of good cholesterol.
Poor Gut Health
The good gut bacteria inhabiting the intestines affects digestive health and even mental stability. Gut health is vitally important to overall health and wellbeing.
Sugar in soda provides an excellent food source for the bad bacteria that lurks in the intestines as well, while starving good bacteria.
Diet soda is no better. Gut bacteria reacts negatively to the artificial sweeteners in soda and creates metabolic changes. Those changes increase the risk for obesity, memory impairment and digestive disorders.
The brominated vegetable oil that extends shelf life has a negative impact on fertility. BVO is banned in Japan and Europe but not in the US. It is linked to early onset puberty and infertility. Avoiding soda can help increase the chances of conception, if infertility is an issue.
Central Nervous System Disorders
Excessive consumption of citrus sodas containing BVO increases the risk of bromism as well, a condition that affects the central nervous system. Bromism contributes to memory loss, muscle weakness, fatigue and mental health issues.
Both regular soda and diet soda can trigger the onset of migraine headaches. In addition, the chronic dehydration caused by soda consumption increases the risk of these debilitating headaches.
Those bubbles that seem so satisfying in carbonated soda settle in the intestines. That gas build up creates uncomfortable bloating resulting in an extended abdomen and even pain.
Heartburn and Ulcers
The bloating that carbonated drinks cause can negatively affect the stomach, causing bloating there as well. This can result in a build up of acid that backs up into the esophagus, creating the condition known as heartburn. The caffeine in soda is acid producing also. All this stomach acid not only causes indigestion but can also increase the risk of digestive tract ulcers and cancers.
Dehydration while drinking a steady supply of sodas seems unusual. However, sugary drinks do nothing to quench thirst. The caffeine in soda has a diuretic effect, causing dehydration that becomes chronic when soft drinks are the primary source of liquids.
Chronic dehydration causes electrolyte imbalance, water retention, heart arrhythmia and a slower metabolic rate that contributes to weight gain.
Always thirsty? Drink more water, not soda.
Can drinking soda age you? Yes. Sodas are full of phosphates and sugar, which accelerate the aging process at a cellular level. And the preservatives and artificial sweeteners in diet soda increase the growth of cancerous cells.
Plus, dehydrating caffeine negatively affects the skin, creating puffiness under the eyes, dryness, wrinkles and fine lines.
Cola consumption is associated with a loss in bone density, making the body more susceptible to fractures and mobility issues as it ages.
Increased Risk for Cancer
Did you know that a soda addiction can lead to greater risks for certain cancers?
The caramel coloring found in colas and other drinks such as root beer, created from ammonia, causes cancer in mice. Even clear sodas increase the risks of cancers, such as colorectal cancer, due to sugar, preservatives and artificial flavors.
The chemical found in plastic bottles and even aluminum cans, known as BPA, is linked to reproductive issues including cancers.
And artificial sweeteners in diet soda contribute to an increased risk of lymphoma, a cancer of the lymphatic system, and bladder cancer.
The chemicals in sodas contribute to neurological disorders such as seizures. While artificial sweeteners can convert to formaldehyde in the body, leading to a higher risk for brain tumors.
A 20 ounce bottle of soda can contain up to 53 mg of caffeine, while the same size container of diet soda jumps to 70 mg. It can take a whole day or more for the body to metabolize that much caffeine. Drinking soda throughout the day may be contributing to sleepless nights, restless legs syndrome and chronic fatigue.
Kicking the Soda Drinking Addiction
My intention, as a health advocate and blogger, is not to instill fear but encourage health and wellness. If you are serious about improving health, eliminating soda from your diet is a must.
I know how difficult it feels. It took me several tries before successfully kicking the addiction, and trust me, soda drinking is an addiction.
Here a few tips for stopping the soda drinking habit.
- recognize that soda IS addictive
- make the choice to stop, for your health
- wean yourself away from soda slowly
- start with replacing one soda a day with a glass of water
- over the next 30 days, replace all sodas with water or unsweetened tea, preferably herbal teas
- add fruits and veggies to water to boost taste and nutrients
- carry a metal water bottle full of water everywhere you go
- avoid foods/situations that create a craving for soda
- reward yourself for kicking your addiction with a fun event or new outfit
You can do it…I know you can! From experience I know that you CANNOT go back to having “just one soda a day” or “one for a special occasion”. That’s the way back to addiction.
For your health and wellbeing, for increased vitality and energy and for your children and grandchildren and their health, stop drinking the soda. Get past the cravings…and the heartburn, insomnia and joint pain. You won’t regret it.
Encourage water consumption with these finds:
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I am not a medical practitioner. I study health and wellness related topics and share experiences from my own personal healing journey.