You vs. Soda—The Ultimate Battle for Health

no-soda

I am not a soda drinker.

I only drink it when I’m sick of coffee and jonesing for an afternoon caffeine kick …

Or when I’m at family functions or with friends at restaurants …

Or when it’s readily available in my fridge, or better yet in a cup the size of my head from a drive through.

See? I’m totally not a soda drinker … and totally not addicted to it. And you’re probably not, either.

And even if I was addicted to soda, it’s not that bad because I always drink diet. No extra liquid calories here.

Yeah, right. If you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time—or paying a lick of attention to the news—you know that we’re fooling ourselves.

It’s time to go to battle against soda. Especially in this season of resolutions and fresh starts, it’s time to confront our willful ignorance, really absorb the dangers of soda, and find a way to kick the habit once and for all!

The Battle of the Bulge

Even though Mexico recently surpassed America as the fattest country in the world, we still have a massive problem with massive people. 33% of children and 66% of American adults are now overweight or obese.

Though soda isn’t the sole culprit consider this: carbonated beverages are reportedly teens’ first choice in beverages at school, and just over 5% of the American public consumes more than 500 calories a day in soft drinks. (That’s more than four, 12-ounce cans of soda daily.)

So, it’s definitely a villain. But it turns out its supposedly innocuous cousin, diet soda, is equally as dangerous. 

According to a Harvard Public School of Health report, there is an increased incidence of obesity in everyday soda drinkers, including those who drink diet.

Researchers have also found that just like with regular soda, the consumption of artificially sweetened beverages is also associated with obesity, type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome and cardiovascular disease. Drinking just one can of diet soda per day is "enough to significantly increase the risk for health problems," according to the media release.

Diet soda in particular affects cardiovascular health (61% increased risk of a critical vascular event in regular drinkers, especially women). A cardiovascular event can be anything from a heart murmur to full tilt heart attack.

Just Two Servings Per Day is Too Much 

And, these effects aren’t just being seen in chronic “chain drinkers”.

Kidney problems begin with diet soda drinkers who consume two or more serving per day, especially women. Researchers saw a threefold decrease in kidney function with 20-year veteran diet drinkers.

Plus, most diet beverages are sweetened with aspartame, which has its own list of side effects including headaches, dizziness, and GI symptoms.

How to Fight Back

So what can you do to kick the cola habit—and fight back for your health?

Substitutions! There are tons of drinks available today that both satisfy the sweet tooth and actually have beneficial nutrients. Swap out just one soda per day for a healthy substitute, and you’ll start to feel the difference.

Here’s a quick list of fabulous substitutions to help you kick the habit today.

  • Choose drinks with actual nutritional value. The big problem with soda is that it often replaces healthier choices in a diet. Natural fruit juices and vegetable juices are a great way to slip in some needed vitamins and minerals while enjoying a sweet drink. (If you still need something bubbly, invest in a Soda Stream carbonator, or something like it.)
  • Get hydrated. Water and water-based drinks such as tea provide proper hydration and caffeine options for your 2:30 energy boost. Green tea is a superb choice as it has a light, natural sweetness, caffeine, and antioxidants (the exact opposite of a diet soda!)
  • Go back to basics. Remember milk? While dairy milk is still better than soda, non-dairy choices like coconut milk, enriched soy, and almond milk are highly nutritious, free of hormones, and often vegan friendly.

It’s time to bid adieu to our carbonated cravings. Choose one of these healthy substitutes and your kidneys, waistline, and long-term health will thank you!

References:

(1) Harvard School of Public Health. "Harvard School of Public Health » The Nutrition Source » Sugary Drinks and Obesity Fact Sheet." http://www.hsph.harvard.edu. Harvard School of Public Health, n.d. Web. 24 Oct. 2013. 

(2) Fung TT, Malik V, Rexrode KM, Manson JE, Willett WC, Hu FB. Sweetened beverage consumption and risk of coronary heart disease in women. Am J Clin Nutr. 2009;89:1037-42.

(3) Doheny, Kathleen. "Diet Sodas May Be Hard on the Kidneys." WebMD.com. WebMD, n.d. Web. 24 Oct. 2013.

(4) Nill, Ashley G. "The History of Aspartame." The History of Aspartame. Harvard Law School, 2000. Web. 24 Oct. 2013. http://dash.harvard.edu/handle/1/8846759

(5) "Subject: Docket # 02P-0317." Interview by Mark D. Gold. Http://www.fda.gov. Food and Drug Admistiration, 12 Jan. 2012. Web. 24 Oct. 2013. http://www.fda.gov/ohrms/dockets/dailys/03/jan03/012203/02p-0317_emc-000199.txt

(6) Tate DF, Turner-McGrievy G, Lyons E, et al. Replacing caloric beverages with water or diet beverages for weight loss in adults: main results of the Choose Healthy Options Consciously Everyday (CHOICE) randomized clinical trial. Am J Clin Nutr. 2012;95:555-63.

 

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