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To drink or not to drink? That is the big question surrounding soda (or pop) right now. Regular and diet sodas have recently been under scrutiny, and with good reason. Somehow, people seem to forget that soda is a junk food. No matter how it’s made, it’s never going to be good for you. Not convinced? Consider these top reasons to stop drinking soda now.
Calories And Weight Gain: A 2011 study by Yale University discovered that, on average, Americans drink 45 gallons of sugary, sweetened beverages per year. This caloric consumption and the rise of obesity in our country are not unrelated. Just drinking one can of soda a day for a year can add an extra 14.5 pounds, just from calories alone. Research has begun to indicate that all calories are not created equal, with calories from sugar turning into fat easier than fat in food. Our bodies also have trouble registering the way we consume the soda calories by drinking. It is harder for our bodies to signal it’s full from liquid versus eating your calories.
Sugar Crash: People who drink a lot of soda tend to experience a sugar rush. Our bodies, in response to the spike in sugar, produce a spike in insulin, which results in a glucose crash. The way most people respond to a sugar crash is by consuming more sugar. This constant spiking and crashing deregulates your body, resulting in insulin resistance, which ultimately leads to diabetes.
Heart Health: Extra pounds gained from drinking sodas can contribute to cardiovascular disease and stroke, but even separate from the weight gain, soda consumption can independently put your heart at risk. The three main ingredients in soda are sugar, sodium and caffeine. Surprisingly, it’s the sodium and caffeine that do the most damage to the heart. Caffeine increases heart rate and blood pressure, while sodium increases fluid retention. This combination has a dehydrating effect, which causes people to drink more. If someone is a soda drinker, they’re more likely to reach for another soda, instead of something hydrating like water.
Empty Calories: There is absolutely no nutritional value in a soda. If you need a sugar fix, stick with an ounce or two of dark chocolate.
Caramel Color And Chemicals: Caramel color is added to cola and other soft drinks to give them their signature brown color. But according to Consumer Reports testing, caramel color contains a potentially carcinogenic chemical called 4-methylimidazole (4-MeI). On the other hand, many citrus-flavored sodas contain a synthetic chemical called brominated vegetable oil, or BVO. Banned in food throughout Europe and Japan, BVO is a flame retardant that has been added to sodas for decades in North America.
Diet Dangers: Many people think that choosing diet soft drinks are healthier since they have “zero” calories. However, health experts have started to recognize that drinking diet soda can have the same damaging health consequences as drinking regular soda. The chemical cocktail created by the artificial sweeteners, namely aspartame, saccharin, and sucralose, has even more negative effects. First off, artificial sweeteners are much sweeter than real sugar, so over time, drinking diet sodas masks our senses to naturally sweet foods, like fruit. These sugar replacements have also shown to have the same effect as sugar on your body, by triggering insulin affecting your body’s fat storage, leading to weight gain. A recent study at Purdue University linked the artificial sweeteners in diet soda to tricking the body into reacting differently when it tastes something sweet, which ultimately throws off metabolism. Many people who drink diet sodas also tend to justify higher fat treats since their drink is calorie free. A study at the University of Minnesota found that drinking one diet soda a day increased one’s risk of metabolic syndrome and diabetes by 36%. Metabolic syndrome is defined by a cluster of conditions, including high blood pressure, elevated glucose levels, raised cholesterol and large waist circumference, which puts people at a greater risk for heart disease, stroke and diabetes.
How much do you really know about the soda you’ve been drinking? Next time, examine that can and think twice before you pop the top!
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