As the days get warmer, we often find ourselves reaching for a nice cold beverage. For many of us, that is often a soda. Did you know that soda is the no. 1 source of added sugar in the American diet? Did you know that drinking just one soda per day means over the course of a year you will have ingested over 35 pounds of sugar? Have you ever considered the effects that drinking soda has on your body? For example:
- Dehydration. Because caffeine is a diuretic, it leads to an increase in urine volume. So, when you drink a caffeinated soda to quench your thirst, you will actually become thirstier.
- High calories. A can of regular cola contains over 150 calories. Not only are these calories devoid of any nutritional value, but they also deplete your body of vital nutrients
- Caffeine addiction. Researchers at Johns Hopkins University state when people don’t get their usual dose of caffeine; they can suffer a range of withdrawal symptoms including headache, fatigue, muscle pain and inability to concentrate.
- Acid=Tooth Decay. The amount of acid in soda is enough to wear away at the enamel of your teeth, making them more susceptible to decay. In tests done on the acidity levels of soda, certain ones were found to have pH levels as low as 2.5. To put that into perspective, consider that battery acid has a pH of 1 and pure water has a pH of 7.
- Mineral depletion. Colas contain phosphoric acid and caffeine, which drain calcium from the bones. Also, because caffeine increases urine volume, more minerals end up leaving the body before having a chance to be properly absorbed.
- Acid reflux. The carbonation can react harshly with the stomach, causing distension. The feeling is painful until the air is released.
And have you considered what ingredients are in your soda?
- Brominated Vegetable Oil (BVO). Mountain Dew, Fresca and other citrus-flavored soda contain BVO which has been banned in over 100 countries, but not in the US. Studies show that BVO, which is a flame retardant, can cause damage to the heart and other muscles, liver damage, neurological conditions, memory loss, skin lesions and more.
- High-Fructose Corn Syrup. Many sodas are sweetened with high-fructose corn syrup, a heart harming, man-made compound derived mainly from genetically engineered corn. Long term effects of high-fructose corn syrup and genetically engineered foods are just starting to be known.
- Artificial sweeteners. Many people opt for diet sodas to cut out the calories, but some research shows the sweeteners may cause additional harm, such as cancer, while others dispute any risk. The jury is still out.
Consider pledging to reduce or eliminate soda from your daily choices this summer. Try pledging with your family or coworkers for added support. Track your soda consumption for the next month on a calendar. Write your goal on the calendar related to reducing or eliminating soda, just remember to be specific: only 1 soda per day/week/month, no soda or reduce consumption by half each week. Put the calendar somewhere you will see it often to remind yourself to choose your beverages wisely. Each time you have a soda, mark the calendar. If you indulge in a soda, don’t give up, but be mindful of what triggered your choice or got you off track.
Plan ahead to make sure you have plenty of non-soda beverages on hand at home, on the road and at work. Try to keep a refillable water bottle close by at all times to remind you to keep swigging! Here are some simple beverages to keep on hand for soda substitutes:
- Infused water-spice up your plain tap water with fruits, herbs and veggies! Try pairing watermelon and basil, or lemon, mint and cucumber, the possibilities are endless.
- Juice or vinegar spritzers-Try mixing 1 part 100% fruit juice or fruit vinegar with 3 parts seltzer water for an easy homemade soda!
- Infused iced teas-for variety, try different teas: green, black, white and add slices of lemon or orange for an added kick!
- Milk and milk alternatives-try almond or coconut milk for a light, refreshing treat
Cheers to your health and wellness!