This is BAAAD News in the Drinks Department!

Readers beware. I’m climbin’ my soapbox here: It’s about soda pop. The research is getting stronger and more urgent. It’s time to quit the wink-wink dismissal of this issue and get serious about our addiction to our daily Pepsi (or Coke, or Mountain Dew, or…).

Let’s start with WASTING MONEY: Since 1978 soda consumption has tripled to almost 4 quarts a week/person. This addiction costs about $200-$500 per year. If that money were put into a retirement account with 7% return for 30 years, you would have about $20,000 - $60,000. Shocking, huh? But what if you don’t have 30 good years left? Well, even if you just saved that $200-$500 per year for the next two or three years, that would give you some extra money to travel with, or make an improvement in your home, or buy some nice Christmas presents, or… You get the idea.

Then there’s HEALTH COSTS. One 12-ounce soda has 10 spoonfuls of refined sugar—unhealthy and empty calories that cause you to feel bloated, fat, tired, and really sick, while the other ingredients partially mask these effects. Consider:

  • Tens of thousands of dollars are spent on obesity treatment and its intendent consequences, and even more on type 2 diabetes (due in large part to a soda habit). And children who drink just one soda per day are 60% more likely to become obese.
  • Soda also increases blood pressure, which usually leads to heart disease (a 48% higher risk than non-soda drinkers).
  • This drink offers increased risk of kidney disease, liver problems, and chronic heartburn.
  • Soda consumption is linked to osteoporosis and bone fractures.
  • It’s also linked to increases in stomach digestive problems.
  • Soda ingredients dissolve tooth enamel causing dental health issues. Poor dental health shortens life as well as reduces the quality of life.
  • Drinking soda impairs white blood cell ability to ingest and kill bacteria for seven hours, thus weakening the immune system. Also, research shows the public soda fountains in fast food restaurants and gas stations host bacteria which contaminates your soda and can bring on a type of food poisoning.

  • Carbonation impairs red blood cell ability to exchange oxygen, so soda use is considered a serious disadvantage for athletes.
  • Sugar and caffeine are addictive and have withdrawal symptoms including headache, fatigue, mild depression, muscle pain, flu-like symptoms, nausea, and vomiting.
  • Caffeinated beverages have been proven to intensify PMS symptoms in women.
  • Soda use is also closely tied to MS. Research has shown that when MS patients stop drinking soda, their symptoms often disappear, but almost always subside.
  • And other side-affects: Soda with caffeine causes jitters, sleeplessness, and anxiety.

And then there’s SODA BRAIN! Brominated vegetable oil, or BVO. While it was removed from some sodas, it’s still being added to many today. This industrial chemical is used in plastics as a flame retardant, and causes nerve disorders and memory loss. It builds up in body fat and causes behavioral and mood problems, also infertility and heart problems. This is actually banned in over 100 countries, but not in the USA. (BTW: It’s also found in sports drinks.)

Also, there’s FAT ON THE INSIDE! Soda drinkers have fat stores around their liver, other organs, and skeletal muscles, which leads to diabetes. Soda drinkers also have much higher triglyceride blood fats and cholesterol than non-soda drinkers.

And there’s HORMONE UPSET! Aluminum cans are coated with BPA, which interferes with hormones and causes obesity, diabetes, cancer, and infertility.

It’s “FRANKENFOOD!” Lots of soda ingredients are corn-derived, and nearly 90% of U.S.-grown corn is now genetically modified. Genetically modified crops are linked to rapid aging, infertility, and gastrointestinal tract damage.

It’s also “CARAMEL CANCER!” Two chemicals with reeeealllly long names cause cancer in animals, and they make the lovely brown color in colas. Center for Science in the Public Interest tried unsuccessfully to get the FDA to ban them. The chemicals don’t contribute to flavor, they’re just for cosmetic purposes, but Coke and Pepsi aren’t backing down. (Pepsi tried making a clear cola called Crystal Pepsi in 1992. It bombed, so they went back to their tried-and-true product. The bottom line is sales.)

DIET SODA ISN’T ANY BETTER! Even diet soda makes you fat. Studies show that those who drink diet soda gain 70% in waist circumference within 10 years, compared with respondents who don’t drink soda. Drinking more than two per day? This nets a 500% waist expansion! The culprit is the neurotoxin aspartame. It actually raises blood glucose levels, even though it contains chemicals rather than sugar.

SODA SPEEDS AGING. The added phosphates (to extend shelf life and improve taste), also rob bones and blood of desperately needed minerals. This leads to kidney problems, osteoporosis, heart disease, and rapid aging. It stops children and teens from building bone mass (during the critical period that they are developmentally meant to do so).

Soda pop production is also BAD FOR THE ENVIRONMENT. 132 gallons of water and pesticides are needed to grow and cultivate the ingredients for one 2-liter bottle of soda pop. When CocaCola® opens a plant, water levels in the surrounding water sources drop. One India plant saw surrounding water levels drop 18 feet, desperately threatening natural ecosystems.

And the containers themselves? They’re too often not recycled and end up in the landfill, floating in streams and lakes, littering beaches and roadsides, and so on.

To conclude: Whatdya think? Is it time to kick the habit? Is it possible to have a social gathering without the obligatory sodas? Have you tried to eliminate it? How’d that go for you? Let’s talk—I’d love to hear your thoughts on this hot topic! Meanwhile, thanks for listening and now I’ll get off my soda-pop soapbox.

    Alice Osborne
    Weekly Newsletter Contributor since 2006
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