Medically reviewed by: Dr. Robert Segal, M.D.
“Soft drinks are bad for you!”
How many times have you heard that? And when someone starts listing all the reasons you’ve heard, time and again, you drown them out and stop listening. With seemingly everyone talking about the health risks of drinking soda nowadays – research studies, news channels, doctors, friends who think they’re doctors – you feel like you’ve become more than an expert on the topic of why soda is bad for you (at least you like to tell yourself that).
But giving up soda is easier said than done. Whether you’re one of those six-can-a-day heavy drinkers, or you’re a once-in-a-blue-moon kind of person, that fizzy, sugary drink is just too good to give up. It’s a must-have at barbecue parties, and nothing goes better with buttery popcorn at the movies than a jumbo-sized cold soda (because, let’s be real, that’s the smallest size you can get).
Don’t lie to yourself; you probably make lots of excuses to feel a little less guilty while you’re sipping away at the movies:
“It’s not like I drink this everyday.”
“I’ll exercise and brush my teeth more.”
“This is diet soda; I’ll be fine.”
“It’s the movies; you can’t not get a coke and a popcorn. It’s sacrilegious.”
Sound familiar? Those excuses all sound good, and the zero-calorie, diet soda especially sounds like it could be the answer to that soda-drinking addiction. After all, artificial sweeteners give that same sweet taste with no calories to speak of. Problem solved, right?
Not so fast. The fact is, both regular and diet soda have more health risks than just giving you extra calories or rotting teeth – those same reasons everyone has been repeating to you.
The amount of added sugars in soda is the biggest concern, and it’s not just because it’s giving you extra calories to burn off. The American Heart Association recommends that women don’t exceed six teaspoons of added sugar, and nine teaspoons for men, per day. Soda alone has upwards of ten teaspoons of added sugar.
You’re likely thinking, though, “But wait, ten teaspoons doesn’t sound like that much,” and you’d be right. It’s roughly the equivalent of eating two medium-sized apples. But the sugar found in soda is considered ‘added’ or extra, not to mention it provides no nutritional value, in contrast to the natural sugars found in fruit, which our bodies use to function properly.
Overtime, regular consumption of added sugars can cause damage to your cardiovascular health, especially if you’re a woman. Consuming sodas that are high in added sugars can cause high levels of a fatty tissue, known as triglycerides, to develop. This fatty tissue surrounds organs, and can lead to liver disease, coronary heart disease, diabetes, stroke, and a whole host of other problems. The rabbit hole goes deeper and deeper.
But then you might ask yourself, if all these health problems stem from added sugar and extra calories, shouldn’t diet soda fix that problem?
The name ‘diet soda’ is actually a trick. Despite its attractive ‘zero-calorie’ slogan, diet soda is just as bad for your health as regular soda. A recent article published in the New York Times looked into a study that linked diet soft drinks to an increased risk for stroke (just like those regular sodas). Researchers of the study found that those who drank one to six diet sodas a week had a higher risk of stroke compared to those who drank less than one a week. While researchers pointed out that their data didn’t provide a clear, distinct cause and effect between diet soda and strokes, the caution about drinking too much diet soda, or even regular soda, remained.
Seemingly, every week you hear some remark about the negative impact soda has on your health. But are they enough to convince you to pick some healthy alternative, like juice or water? Hopefully the answer is yes, but regardless, you’ve now become more of an expert than ever before on why those sugary, artificially sweetened soft drinks are detrimental to your health. Basically, what I’m saying is that you’re out of excuses. Time to put the soft drink down.
LabFinder is a no-cost, online platform for people to easily schedule their medical tests and view results securely. The LabFinder team is passionate about improving the ‘patient and doctor experience’ through better communication, reduce out-of-pocket expenses and making everyone know more about their own medical tests. The mission of LabFinder is simple: we want to be solution to you and get you the test results you deserve so you can make right choices about your health.
Written by: LabFinder Team / Approved by: Dr. Robert Segal, M.D.