Why Avoid Soda

October 1, 2015 - The average American drinks more than sixty gallons of soft drinks per year, making soft drinks a multi-billion dollar product. In 2005 white bread was dethroned as the number one source of calories in the American diet, being replaced by soda—according to an article entitled, “What Happens to Your Body Within an Hour of Drinking a Coke.” http://dailyhealthpost.com/this-is-what-happens-in-your-body-when-you-drink-a-coke/

A single can of soda contains the equivalent of ten teaspoons of sugar which, in the liquid form, skyrockets the blood sugar level with the resulting release of insulin by the pancreas. Long term weight gain, insulin resistance and, ultimately, an increased risk for adult onset diabetes may result. The largest users of sugar in the country are soft drink companies.

Medically, soda has a multitude of effects, most of which are not good. First, soda contains phosphoric acid which interferes with the body’s ability to absorb calcium. Given enough time and soda consumption, a person can develop osteoporosis, dental cavities, and other bone and mineral abnormalities. Phosphoric acid also interacts with stomach acid to slow digestion and block the normal absorption of nutrients.

In the first ten minutes of drinking soda, ten teaspoons of sugar hit your blood stream. The reason soda doesn’t taste too sweet is the neutralizing effect of the phosphoric acid which removes the perception of excessive sweetness by your taste buds; otherwise you would become nauseated by the taste.

Within twenty minutes of consumption, the sugar spike in your bloodstream triggers an abnormally vigorous response by the pancreas—an organ below the stomach—to release insulin. Normally, insulin is released after eating, and allows for the normal, gradual flow of nutrients into the liver and body. With a concentrated sugar-load the response is excessive. When this excessive response occurs frequently over years, there is a tendency to stress the pancreas which can then become fatigued. Pancreas stress, along with increased fatty tissue in the body caused by the excess consumption of calories, leads to adult onset diabetes—on the rise in America.

Forty minutes after drinking soda, caffeine—in many brands of soda—kicks into play. Often caffeine is in quantities high enough to cause your pupils to dilate, elevate blood pressure and make your brain become overactive. Caffeine does keep you awake but withdrawal from caffeine can also cause headaches, fatigue and subtle changes in personality, especially irritability.

At forty-five minutes with caffeinated sodas in your body, the production of dopamine increases, making you feel good; but it is also a feeling that addicts get from illicit drugs, such as heroine. Granted, caffeinated sodas are not in the same class as addictive drugs, but none the less, have some similar physiological effects.

One hour after consumption, the phosphoric acid binds with calcium, magnesium, and zinc in your lower intestine thus preventing their absorption. About this time the diuretic effect of caffeine, if you have consumed a soda containing this substance, increases urine production, causing you to lose more fluid than you have consumed, thus causing a net loss of fluid. So if you are using soda as a sport or rehydrating drink you are having the paradoxical effect of making your water-balance worse.

Simultaneously, the sugar crash kicks in and causes your brain to decrease functional ability and your spirits to worsen, as you become relatively low on sugar and you have a tendency to have another soda. Thus the problem of excess consumption becomes a vicious cycle, with soda consumption leading to more consumption of soda.

My suggestion is to break the cycle and switch to water. Recently, coffee and tea have been shown to have some positive effects; this is good news for all, as we switch to healthier behaviors and can live longer, happier, and healthier lives.

Past Health Advice Articles

Dr. Allen Weiss is CEO & President of the NCH Healthcare System. He is board certified in Internal Medicine, Rheumatology and Geriatrics, and was in private practice in Naples, Florida from 1977 - 2000. Dr. Weiss is active in a variety of professional organizations and boards, and has been published in numerous medical journals, including the American Journal of Medicine and the Journal of Clinical Investigation.