It is a nearly impossible task to deem soda consumption harmless, whether it's a diet soda, "zero" soda, or sugar-laden creation. That excess soda consumption wreaks havoc on the body is difficult to argue; the body goes through physical changes immediately after soda consumption and over time. This sugary habit can lead to tooth decay, blood sugar fluctuations, empty calories, and more.
Even if you limit yourself to a single can of soda, at an average of 150 calories and 40 grams of sugar per can, you're adding roughly 135,000 calories to your diet each year. Additionally, most sodas are made with high-fructose corn syrup, which is linked to weight gain and obesity. Fructose is not absorbed in the same manner as other sugars and affects metabolism, insulin levels, and other bodily functions.
Some people argue drinking only diet soda is a healthier choice. While there are benefits to diet sodas versus their full-sugar counterparts, this does not make them good for you. Numerous studies show diet drinks are not heart smart alternatives, and could even increase the risk of a stroke and type 2 diabetes.
In addition to weight gain and cancer risks, drinking soda may actually affect you on a cellular level. Research done by the University of California showed soda shortens the telomeres that reside at the ends of the chromosomes. Shorter telomeres slow cell regeneration and consequently speed up the aging process.
A dermatological study found the glycemic content of full-calorie soda leads to acne. Switching to a diet soda may help diminish acne, but the acid content in diet sodas is still quite high. This acid lowers pH levels and is responsible for dulling the skin.
A study published in 2010 showed a direct link between sperm count and soda consumption. Of the more than 2,500 subjects, those who consumed soda on a daily basis had sperm counts reduced by over 30% compared to those who did not drink soda.
Researchers at Osaka University Graduate School of Medicine in Japan found individuals who consumed soda were harming their kidneys. In the study of over 8,000 individuals, those who drank a soda a day developed proteinuria at a much higher rate. Proteinuria prevents the kidneys from properly filtering proteins and is a precursor to chronic kidney disease. Not surprisingly, those who drank two sodas a day showed more significant problems.
Heart disease is the leading cause of death each year. While smoking and failure to exercise cause a large percentage of these fatalities, soda also appears to take a toll. According to a study published by the American Heart Association, those who drink just one 12-ounce soda a day increase their risk of heart attack by 20%.
Full-sugar sodas are particularly harmful to teeth, but the acidity of all sodas wreaks havoc on tooth enamel. Weakened enamel leads to rapid dental erosion. Darker sodas like cola also stain the surface of the teeth.
Gout is a hot topic these days, and it turns out soda is just one more thing that can increase your chances of being affected by this condition that causes inflammation and pain in sensitive areas such as the big toes. Gout occurs due to the crystallization of uric acid in the blood, and the fructose in soda is known to increase levels of uric acid. It's probably easier to drastically reduce your consumption of sugary drinks than further increase your intake of tart cherries, one of gout's natural treatments.
Soda consumption negatively affects the brain. One study showed fructose could alter the cells in your brain and increase the chance of developing ADHD and even Alzheimer's disease. While this can be neutralized a bit by the consumption of foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, is it worth the risk? Diet sodas have also been shown to have negative effects on the cerebellum of laboratory rats.
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