Growing up, the question is soda bad for you never crossed my mind. I drank it like it was water. Actually I drank it instead of water. I'll probably age myself saying this, but I remember going to the store, buying six-pack tall glass soda bottles and returning them when they were finished.
I drank regular soda up until my early twenties when I switched to diet (a topic for another day). Soda is what got me through late night studying in high school and college. I would easily drink 3 or 4 cans of coke a day. It was rare for me to ever drink water. Water what?
Now when I think about that, I shutter to think about what I did to my body. If only I knew then, what I know now.
Why Soda Is Bad For You
But before we talk nutrition, let's talk soda calories. You know I love to talk calories! Some think I'm obsessed with calorie counting, but I'm not. I strongly believe everyone needs to be aware of how much they're eating and calorie counting is a tool to open your eyes to that. After all, you can still overeat on a healthy diet and 2/3 of America is obese.
So let's do some math. One 12 oz bottle of regular coca cola has 140 calories. Now let's say you drink 4 bottles a day. That's 560 calories of soda you're drinking daily. Now multiply that by 365 days a year. That's 204,400 calories per year.
Now for fun let's divide that number by 3,500, or the number of calories equal to 1 pound. That's 58.4 pounds in 1 year. ONE YEAR!!! If you gave up soda, think about how many calories alone you would save and the potentially number of pounds that translates into.
There is no nutrition in soda. Zero, zilch, nada.
Don't believe me? Let's look at the ingredients. Carbonated water. High fructose corn syrup. Caramel color. Phosphoric acid. “Natural flavors.” Caffeine.
Sure, one could say it has "corn" but that would be a stretch and there's a good reason why I recommend against eating corn. Corn in soda is so highly processed that the only thing left is its sweetness which leads me to.
Remember when I told you sugar is making you fat? Here's another case for it.
One 12 oz bottle of coke has 39 grams of sugar. If 1 gram of sugar equals 4 teaspoons, then you're consuming 10 teaspoons of sugar in one bottle. According to the AHA, men should have 9 teaspoons and women 6 daily. [Source] So one soda and you've met your daily sugar limit.
Sugar causes an inflammatory response in the body and is now being linked to many diseases. It's hidden in so much of the food supply, it's almost impossible to avoid it.
High Fructose Corn Syrup
Hopefully by now you know that high fructose corn syrup is dangerous, and realize it's hidden in nearly every packaged food (cereal, breads, ketchup & half of McDonald's foods); although some manufacturers are getting smart and making alternatives.
HFCS messes with leptin, a hormone that regulates hunger, in a way that prevents it from working so you have no control over your hunger. You see when HFCS is made, the glucose and fructose are separated and when HFCS enters the body, the fructose goes directly to the liver because it’s the only place it can be metabolized. Fat generated from fructose doesn't leave the liver.
Over time the liver can becomes insulin resistant causing the pancreas to work harder, releasing more and more insulin while the brain thinks it is starving because leptin is resistant to fructose. It becomes a vicious cycle of metabolic confusion. [Source]
In my mind, high fructose corn syrup does the same damage as excessive alcohol consumption. Some might say it's a conspiracy by soda manufacturer's especially when you consider the sodium.
Soda is high in sodium and sodium is salt. What is salt? A diuretic. What does a diuretic do? It makes you thirsty. You see the reason HFCS is added to soda is to disguise the salt. It has to taste good so you drink it. It's the salt that makes you keep drinking it over and over again.
Then there's phosphoric acid. While it is true that the body needs some phosphate, too much can lead to problems. The biggest risk is to bone health due to loss of calcium.
Is it worth mentioning that phosphoric acid is the same ingredient in rust remover? While it will clean your hammer and nails, it also gives soda that tangy, citrusy flavor. Yummy!
Is soda bad for you?
Without a doubt, yes. It has no nutritional value, taxes the liver and pancreas, causes the body to lose control over its appetite, aids the body in becoming less sensitive to sugar and can clean rust off a car.
The bottom line is what you put in your body matters. Take advantage of the foods you eat by getting the best nutrition out of them. If you love something but it gives you nothing in return, then it's time to give them up.
Oh, and you diet soda drinkers? I’ve got something coming for you too.