When it comes to quenching thirst, many adults opt for sodas over water.
Soda, also known as a soft drink, carbonated drink and sugary drink, typically contains carbonated water, a sweetener and a natural or artificial flavoring. It may also contain caffeine, colorings, preservatives and other ingredients.
Along with its taste, easy availability and low price, smart marketing strategies have made soda very popular. In fact, many people are addicted to soda.
To assess regular soda and sugary fruit drink consumption among adults in 18 states, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention analyzed data from the 2012 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System.
The analysis found that 26.3 percent of adults in those states consumed regular soda, fruit drinks or both more than once daily. Overall, intake of regular soda or fruit drinks was most common among people age 18 to 34 years old.
Setting aside the popularity factor, soda can cause an array of negative effects in your body.
When you drink soda, the first thing that strikes your taste buds is its sweet taste. It is high in sugar content.
It is a known fact that sugar is bad for your health. Sugar increases insulin levels, which can lead to diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease, premature aging and many more negative side effects.
Plus, there is absolutely no nutritional value in soda. In fact, excess soda intake has been linked to several health problems, including obesity and poor dental and joint health.
Here are the toxic ingredients in soda that harm your health.
1. Phosphoric Acid
Phosphoric acid is a key constituent in sodas. It is mainly used to give the characteristic strong flavor and to inhibit the development of mold and bacteria in sodas.
When used in limited amounts, phosphoric acid is not harmful to the body, but high doses interfere with the body’s absorption of the mineral calcium. Lack of calcium can lead to weakened bones. It can even make teeth softer and more prone to decay.
A 2006 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reports that colas, but not other carbonated beverages, are associated with low bone mineral density in older women due to the caffeine and phosphoric acid they contain.
A 2010 study published in the FASEB Journal found that mice with high phosphate levels died five weeks earlier than mice with normal phosphate levels.
The high phosphoric acid present in soda beverages can also affect the functioning of your stomach, leading to indigestion, gassiness or bloating.
2. High Fructose Corn Syrup
High fructose corn syrup is a concentrated form of sugar derived from corn. As it is cheaper and easier to use than natural sugar, most soda manufacturers use it in place of regular sugar. Plus, it has a long shelf life.
A 2004 study published in the American Journal of Nutrition reports that excessive intake of calorie-rich soda containing high fructose corn syrup is a major cause of obesity.
Obesity itself increases the risk of metabolic syndrome, a cluster of conditions that includes high blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat around the waist, and abnormal cholesterol or triglyceride levels. Together, these health conditions increase the risk of heart disease, heart attacks, strokes and Type 2 diabetes.
A 2010 study published in Current Hypertension Reports states that high fructose corn syrup increases the risk of metabolic syndrome.
Moreover, there is a high chance that the high fructose corn syrup used in sodas is from genetically modified (GM) crops. There is a lot of controversy regarding the side effects of GM foods on the immune system, brain and liver health.
3. Citric Acid
The citric acid present in both regular and diet sodas is another harmful ingredient, especially for your oral health.
The biggest issue with citric acid is that it can damage the enamel of the teeth. Damage to this protective layer can make teeth more prone to cavities, discoloration and ultimately tooth decay.
A 2013 study published in the journal of the Academy of General Dentistry states that the citric acid present in regular and diet sodas can cause tooth erosion.
This study even reports that a person who consumed 2 liters of diet soda daily for three to five years displayed the same severe tooth erosion as a methamphetamine addict and cocaine addict.
Chewing sugar-free gum or rinsing the mouth with water following soda consumption can help increase saliva flow in order to return the acidity levels in the mouth to normal.
4. Bisphenol-A (BPA)
Plastic soda bottles contain a chemical called bisphenol-A (BPA) that is used to harden the plastic, prevent rusting and eliminate bacteria.
This chemical has adverse health effects. A 2012 study published in Hypertension suggests that cardiovascular diseases are associated with BPA exposure.
This chemical also causes reproductive disorders in males and early puberty in females.
A 2014 study published in Environmental Health perspectives concluded that BPA is a reproductive toxicant that impacts female reproduction and has the potential to affect male reproductive systems.
Another 2014 study published in Reviews of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology indicates that BPA alters male reproductive functions.
Plus, BPA can interfere with hormonal activity, which can lead to many health consequences.
5. Sodium Benzoate
Sodium benzoate, also known as E211, is used as preservative in soft drinks as well as pickles, salad dressings, fruit juices, jams and jelly to prevent molding.
E211 may cause serious cell damage and accelerate cell aging.
A 2015 study published in BioMed Research International reports that sodium benzoate may cause DNA damage. It had mutagenic and cytotoxic toxicity in lymphocytes caused by micronucleus formation and chromosome break.
Regular consumption of sodas may influence metabolic disease development through accelerated cell aging.
Other known side effects of E211 include hyperactivity, dizziness, light-headedness and trouble sleeping.
6. Caramel Color and Artificial Dyes
Caramel coloring gives the classic brown color to colas. This and other artificial dyes used in sodas can increase your risk of cancer.
A 2015 study published in PLOS One reports that the caramel color in soft drinks and exposure to 4-methylimidazole can increase cancer risks and burdens.
Another yellow dye called tartrazine found in lemony soft drinks also increases cancer risk.
According to a 2015 study published in Anticancer Research, prolonged consumption of tartrazine can cause cancer.
This chemical also has been known to increase asthma attacks and exacerbate asthma symptoms.
Most sodas contain caffeine, as it adds a slight bitterness and works well to enhance the taste of both sugar and sweeteners. The amount of caffeine varies among soda brands but is usually between 34 and 38 milligrams per 12-ounce serving.
Excess caffeine has been linked to certain health problems.
A 2015 study published in the European Society of Cardiology shows that caffeine increases cardiovascular risk in young adults with mild hypertension. With time, this may increase their risk of developing more severe hypertension and diabetes in later life.
Caffeine also has been identified as a major fertility inhibitor. A 2012 study published in Epidemiology reports that women who regularly drank carbonated drinks and sodas reported reduced fertility.
Additionally, as caffeine is an addictive stimulant, it can cause insomnia. Caffeine also has a dehydrating effect on the body, as it works as a diuretic.
Tips to Reduce Your Soda Consumption and Minimize Its Effects
- Replace soda with healthier drinks, such as fresh juices, smoothies, or herbal teas.
- To quench your thirst, water is the best drink in the world.
- If you do not like water, try flavored water.
- If you drink soda, drink it in moderation and don’t sip it for extended periods of time.
- After drinking, swish your mouth out with water to dilute the acid and sugar.
- Don’t drink soda before going to bed.