Got a soda habit you just can’t kick? You probably already know that soda is bad for you—but do you know just how bad? Check out the facts below for 6 very good reasons why you should drop the soda can and walk away.
It comes as no surprise that all the added in sugars in soda would contribute to weight gain. Most sodas in the U.S. are made with high fructose corn syrup, which has been linked to abnormal weight gain. (For more on how high fructose corn syrup affects our weight, check out the post "High Fructose Corn Syrup Makes Us Fat. Now We Know.") But if you think you’re safe drinking diet soda, think again. A study from the University of Texas Health Science Center found that drinking diet soda on a daily basis can expand waist circumference by 70 percent over a 10-year period, as compared to those who don’t drink any soda. (And if you drink two diet sodas a day, watch out! Your waist could expand by 500 percent!) Many diet sodas in the U.S. are made with aspartame, which raise blood glucose levels in the body, and an excess of which the liver turns into body fat.
It’s not just your waistline that’s at risk though. Drinking soda can cause hidden fat buildup on our organs and skeletal muscles. In a Danish study, researchers found that drinking regular soda contributed to a 132 to 142 percent increase in liver fat and a 117 to 121 percent jump in skeletal fat. This extra fat contributes to insulin resistance and has been linked to the development of diabetes.
Sodas are laced with phosphates to give the product that “pop” and fizz and help preserve it. While phosphates exist naturally in many foods, overconsumption of phosphates can accelerate the aging process, contributing to early muscle and skin degeneration, as well as kidney disease and decreased cardiovascular function.
It seems that these days, everything has the potential to cause cancer, and soda is no exception. That brown coloring in soda is far from natural; it contains two chemical ingredients, 2-methylimidazole (2-MI) and 4-methylimidazole (4-MI), which have been shown to be carcinogenic in animal studies. Both Coke and Pepsi announced earlier this year that they would make changes to their caramel coloring to avoid placing a cancer warning label on their products.
Most soda manufacturers line the inside of their cans with bisphenol A (BPA) because it acts as a barrier between the metal and the soda. BPA is a synthetic estrogen that can interfere with hormones and normal development in children. BPA exposure has been linked to everything from infertility to diabetes to heart disease.
At Natural Home & Garden, we warn about brominated flame retardants all the time—but usually we’re talking about their presence in bedding and fabric! (Although it’s not unheard of for toxic flame retardants to be found in common foods.) The substance, known as brominated vegetable oil, is used in a variety of drinks—Fanta Orange, Sunkist Pineapple, Mountain Dew and others—to keep artificial coloring from separating from the rest of the drink and floating to the top of the container. Extreme consumption of sodas containing brominated vegetable oil can resulted in memory loss, nerve disorders and skin lesions.
Like the caffeine? Try drinking iced tea instead. Like the carbonation? Try sparkling water. Making your own soda is a great way to enjoy the fizzy sweetness of soda while still retaining control over what you put in your body. Check out these three homemade soda recipes to get started.
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