Healthy Eating: Soda, it’s time to say no

They may be sweet, they may be sparkly, but they certainly aren’t healthy. Find out how soda fizzles with your life.

Soda (photo credit: Thinkstock/Imagebank )
(photo credit: Thinkstock/Imagebank )
When we think of what’s wrong with soft drinks, the words “empty calories” pop into some of our heads. It cannot be argued that many sodas contain no nutritional value, whatsoever; and for the diet versions, well they are just empty. Despite the fact that they contain no calories, they do nothing nutritionally beneficial for you.
Despite the fact that they contain no calories, they have no nutritional benefits. It’s pretty safe to say that soda is not a health-promoting drink, but did you know that “pop” may actually be bad for you?
Here are few reasons to think before you drink soda:
Contributes to weight gain, and type II diabetes
Would you go out and just swallow 10 teaspoons of sugar? Most likely not. But when you drink a can of Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Sprite or any other soft drink, that’s exactly what you are doing.
A 330ml can of Coca-Cola contains 41 grams of sugar. Now, this may seem confusing as when you examine the ingredients on a can of soda, there is no sugar to be found.  This is true, as most non-diet soft drinks contain high fructose-corn syrup, which sadly is even worse for you.
Many studies show a link between high-fructose corn syrup and obesity. Aside from contributing to weight gain, like most sweet foods and drinks, there is a direct connection between this sugary drink and type II diabetes.
While certain sodas may not taste overly sweet, your body certainly thinks they are. Almost immediately after consuming a can of soda, your blood sugar will spike; and as we all know, what goes up must come down. When our blood sugar levels fall we not only become hungry, tired and sometimes irritable, but rising and falling blood sugar levels is one of the main contributors to type II diabetes. 
And what about for those who drink diet soft drinks? You’re not off the hook so easily either. While they don’t contain any form of sugar, and calories for that matter either, there is a connection, while still unknown, between weight gain and diet soft drinks.
Weakens bones
Experts aren’t still completely sure why there is a link between drinking soft drinks and osteoporosis; but the connection does seem to exist. While it could simply be that people who drink a lot of soft drinks do not consume enough other drinks or foods rich in vitamins and minerals necessary to maintain our bones, the connection could be a bit more than this.
Soft drinks have long been suspected of leaching calcium out of the body, causing weakening of the bones (and teeth). Recent studies have found that phosphoric acid, an ingredient in many soft drinks, may be the culprit. While phosphorus is an important mineral, especially for your bones, when your intake of phosphorus is disproportional to the amount of calcium, it could cause bone loss.
Other research says that bone loss could be due to the fact than when the body breaks down and neutralizes the phosphoric acid, it needs minerals, including calcium and magnesium. If these minerals are not available in the blood, then it draws on them from the bones. While this one is still being debated, it’s definitely worth adding to reasons to stay clear of fizzy drinks.
Decays teeth
If weakened bones is not enough of a deterrent, what about bad teeth? Everyone wants a nice pearly white smile, but drinking too much soda can put an end to that. Both regular and diet soft drinks contain carbolic acid, which erodes the tooth enamel, contributing to cavities and tooth decay. If that wasn’t bad enough, the massive amounts of sugar leads to development of bacteria and the formation of cavities.
Associated to heart disease
Now if you aren’t put off at this point already, what about adding an increased risk of cardiovascular disease to the list? A recent study, conducted at Harvard, found that drinking only one of these sugary drinks a day increases a man’s risk of heart diseases by nearly 20 percent. The study also found that the more one consumes, the more his risk increases. For each additional serving, the associated risk of cardiovascular disease increases by 19 to 25 percent. Diet sodas are not so innocent either. Another study found an association between people who drink diet soft drinks and an increased risk for strokes and heart attacks.
Replaces healthier alternatives
Why do you reach for a can of soda on a hot day? Chances are to quench your thirst; but wouldn’t it be better to drink a tall glass of ice cold water? The answer is yes. Water for one, is not only essential for us, but has been linked with preventing and curing an array of diseases and their symptoms, including headaches. Even fruit juices, and yes they are high in sugar too, are at least loaded with immune boosting vitamins and disease fighting anti-oxidants.