Unless you live under a rock you have probably heard by now that soda (pop, soft drinks, Coke, whatever you might call it) is not so great for your health. I’d like to talk about the nuts and bolts of why soda, even diet soda, is something worth quitting or cutting back on. Generally speaking, all soda’s have a low pH, contain phosphorous and caffeine, all of which can have negative health implications.
-Soda has a low pH. The pH of soda is about the same as the pH of vinegar. It is, bar none, the most acidic beverage you can purchase. We all know that acid oxidizes whatever it comes in contact with. If you put soda or vinegar on metal, it rusts. Why does its acidity matter? Soda erodes tooth enamel which is the hardest substance in the human body and protects your teeth from decay. If you don’t believe me, check out this chart of the pH levels of many common sodas.
-The phosphorous in soda leaches calcium from your bones. We’re talking increased risk of osteoporosis, with more the tooth loss, AND broken bones. Phosphates also increases the signs of aging!
So with every bottle, glass or serving you get the a hefty dose of acid and the phosphorous, diet soda or otherwise. Don’t forget that many sodas are caffeinated. I’m a caffeine addict myself, so I’m on no high horse about this, but let’s not pretend that excessive caffeine consumption does a body good. Over consumption of caffeine can lead to insomina, irritability, stomach problems and muscle tremors.
But what about the specifics of diet vs. regular soda?
-The biggest factor here is the sugar intake. Within the first 10 minutes of drinking a Coke, 10 teaspoons of sugar hit your system. Your blood sugar spikes, you have an insulin burst. Your liver responds to this by turning any sugar it can get its hands on into fat. Hello, midsection muffin top – there is a reason that the recommended daily dose of sugar for women is 5 teaspoons a day.
-In case you are thinking that diet soda is going to solve your sugar problems, lets talk science. Per Carol Simotacchi, “One liter of an aspartame-sweetened beverage can produce about fifty-six milligrams of methanol. When several of these beverages are consumed in a short period of time (one day, perhaps), as much as two hundred fifty milligrams of methanol are dumped into the bloodstream, or thirty-two times the EPA limit.” What does this mean? Drinking diet soda poisons your body, beyond the legal limit set by the EPA. Aspartamine is also thought to be a migraine trigger.
Other artificial sweetners that are used in diet soda have been linked to bladder cancer in mice, although scientists now believe that the link does not carry over to humans. Saccharin, aspartame, acesulfame potassium, sucralose, and neotame are five artificial sweetners that have been approved for use by the FDA but they are considered nonnutritive, or carry none of the nutritional benefits of natural sugar. Any of these sweetners could cause an allergic reaction in humans, and are much sweeter than sucrose or sugar, which can train you to crave more sugar than necessary to get your sweet fix.
If you think you might be ready to take the leap and quit (or even cut back) on soda, some commonly suggested substitutions are as follows:
- flavored water
- seltzer/ sparkling water
- juice spritzers (like Juice Squeeze – they are basically carbonated juices)
- sports drinks (Gatorade, Powerade, etc)
- iced tea
- water w/ lemon, lime or other fresh fruit (Try a fruit infusion pitcher to give you fruit infused water all day)
Have you called it quits on a soda addiction? Are these health risks enough for you to give up your daily fix, or are you sticking by your favorite bubbly beverages?
Jenny Grace has been back in school for a year, raising her son for five, and growing up for twenty nine. She’s not quite done yet. Raised amongst goats and chickens on a ranch in the California countryside, she was sent off to high school at a Hindu yoga center, and spent her youth working at her family’s nightclub and bar. No really, Jenny grew up completely normal. Well, normal for a kid raised by hippies that is. Shrugging off her patchouli steeped roots, Jenny went on to get a Bachelor’s of Arts in Linguistics and a Master’s in Library and Information Science. Now she’s working on her Master’s in Accountancy. Don’t let degrees fool you though; she wastes most of her time with wine and crosswords. Jenny is a cunning linguist, honest beyond reason, and incapable of keeping her mouth shut. You can read more from Jenny Grace on her blog, Miss Disgrace.