You may engage in a number of activities, consume a variety of foods and drinks, or smoke cigarettes. You may do so often.
However, when you get to the point that you cannot get by a single day without consuming a certain food or beverage or smoking, you are officially addicted.
You may feel cranky, sad and low-spirited. You may even feel physically weak, ill and drowsy. These symptoms are your body’s way of telling you that you have an unhealthy dependence on a certain product.
The word “addiction” may bring to mind images of people snorting hard drugs, lying drunk on alcohol or chain-smoking cigarettes. But addiction is not limited to these substances.
Sodas – also called soft drinks, carbonated drinks and sugary drinks – are also a serious global addiction.
By the year 2002, an average American was drinking 57 gallons of soda every year. That is an alarming amount of yearly sugar consumption for one person. It has been more than a decade since these staggering statistics, and the addiction is still going strong.
Most people disregard the harmful effects of soda because they are either too addicted to its sugary, sweet goodness to give it up, or they just aren’t aware of its horrible side effects.
Just like quitting smoking produces numerous health benefits, quitting your soda habit will do wonders for your body.
1. You Begin Losing Weight
One soda bottle contains about 44 grams of sugar. When consumed regularly, the body stores the excess sugar as fat. Furthermore, sodas contain an artificial sweetener (fructose) that is not digested by the body like normal sugar (glucose).
People experienced significantly greater reduced activity in the hypothalamus (the gland responsible for secreting the hunger hormones) and increased satiety when they consumed glucose drinks than when they consumed fructose drinks, according to a 2013 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
Adults who consume one or more soda serving per day are 27 percent more likely to gain weight and become obese than those who do not, according to a 2009 policy brief released by the California Center for Public Health Advocacy and the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research.
Thus, eliminating soda from your diet might help you lose weight and boost your dieting efforts.
2. Your Blood Pressure Drops
We’ve all heard about the dangers of a shooting blood pressure level. It is one of the primary causes of heart disease.
High blood pressure strains the heart over time, gradually weakening the heart muscles. This makes the heart more prone to a heart attack, heart failure and cardiac arrest.
If you have high blood pressure, you may not have considered that drinking excess soda could be contributing to the problem.
A 2011 study published in Hypertension found that regular consumption of soda was directly and significantly associated with high blood pressure, and blood pressure rose along with higher soda consumption.
Thus, cutting back on sodas and ultimately stopping altogether will bring about a significant improvement in your blood pressure and protect you from heart disease.
3. You Lower Your Risk of Diabetes
Increased consumption of sugar-sweetened drinks like sodas is associated with a higher prevalence of Type 2 diabetes, according to a 2015 study published in the British Medical Journal.
Obesity is one the leading causes of diabetes and excess soda consumption causes uncontrolled weight gain.
People who increased their soda consumption from one drink per week to one or more drinks daily over a period of 4 years increased their weight and risk of diabetes, according to a 2004 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
On the contrary, people who altered their lifestyles and decreased soda consumption reported less weight gain and reduced diabetes risk.
Diabetes damages the blood vessels running through your heart, brain and legs. It could also cause brain strokes and other vision, liver and foot disorders.
4. You Strengthen Your Bones
“Bone mineral density” signifies the amount of minerals in your bones. The greater the amount of minerals, the stronger your bones will be.
People who develop osteoporosis or who fracture their bones easily have a lower bone mineral density. Frequent soda consumption depletes the mineral content of bones over time.
Some studies have highlighted the particularly destructive role of cola drinks in weakening bones in women.
Among physically active teenage girls, cola consumption was associated with a high risk of bone breakage and fracture, according to a 2000 study published in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine.
Adolescence is the period when the highest bone mineral content is produced. Young adults who drink excess soda during these formative years reduce their consumption of other nutritious beverages like milk, subjecting themselves to a greater risk of future osteoporosis.
5. Your Uric Acid Level Decreases
Uric acid is a chemical by-product of digestion. A healthy body regulates the production of uric acid.
An overconsumption of soda can increase uric acid to an abnormal level and lead to gout. Gout is a form of painful arthritis that commonly occurs in the foot.
Out of 46,393 men whose beverage consumption pattern was studied for 12 years, 755 developed gout and reported drinking soda regularly, according to a 2008 study published in the British Medicine Journal. Fructose intake in the form of fruit juice and fructose-rich foods was also associated with increased risk of gout.
Similarly, out of 78,906 women whose consumption pattern was studied for 22 years, 778 suffered increased uric acid levels and developed gout due to excess soda consumption, according to a 2010 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
Reducing soda consumption helps regulate your body’s uric acid levels and reduces your risk of dealing with very painful gout.
6. Your Kidneys Function Better
Regular and excessive soda consumption can cause severe inflammation of the kidneys in the long run and ultimately damage it.
Consuming two or more soda drinks every day significantly increases the risk of damaging the kidneys and inhibiting their function, according to a 2011 study published in the Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology.
Furthermore, those who consume excessive soda regularly also run a high risk of developing kidney stones, according to a 2013 study published in the same journal.
As the body’s blood purifier, the kidneys play a crucial role in warding off many diseases and keeping your entire system healthy.
Thus, eliminating soda from your diet is bound to boost your kidney health, protect it from damage and keep it, as well as your other organs, functioning smoothly.
7. You Absorb Calcium Better
Phosphoric acid is an important constituent of sodas, as it gives these drinks their characteristic strong flavor. It also inhibits the development of mold and bacteria that would otherwise rapidly grow given the high sugary content in sodas.
However, phosphoric acid also inhibits the body’s absorption of calcium, gradually leading to a calcium deficiency.
Calcium is essential for strong bones, teeth and blood pressure regulation. A calcium deficiency significantly increases your risk of developing osteoporosis and osteopenia as well as suffering fractures.
Reducing soda intake will help your body absorb calcium better and stay stronger.
Women who are approaching menopause must reduce their soda intake, as the decline in estrogen production that occurs with menopause also accelerates bone weakening.
8. Your Teeth Stay Healthy
Calcium is crucial to oral and dental health. We have already learned how soda inhibits calcium absorption. While this indirectly makes your teeth weak and unhealthy, excessive soda also has a direct effect on teeth – corrosion.
Soda contains high levels of citric acid that gradually wear away the tooth enamel, the protective layering of the tooth. This makes the teeth more susceptible to cavities, discoloration and severe erosion.
A person who consumed 2 liters of diet soda daily for 3 to 5 years displayed the same severe tooth erosion as a methamphetamine addict and cocaine addict, according to a 2013 study published in General Dentistry.
Eliminating soda from your diet protects your teeth’s health and appearance.
9. Your Bladder Stays Protected
Soda contains four bladder irritants – citric and phosphoric acids, acidic carbonation, artificial sweeteners and caffeine.
Regular and excessive soda consumption can cause bladder disorders, such as an overactive bladder (an increased urge to urinate).
It can also prevent recovery from a urinary tract infection (UTI). So do not make the mistake of drinking sodas while trying to get over a UTI because your doctor recommended increasing your fluid intake!
Excess soda consumption was identified as a common lifestyle habit among patients with bladder cancer, as well as a risk factor for developing the same later in life, according to a 2003 study published in Neoplasma.
Therefore, eliminating soda from your diet not only helps keep your bladder functioning properly, it may also help prevent more serious diseases in the future.
10. Your Fertility May Improve
Although more human-based studies are needed to substantiate this claim fully and effectively, research is slowly unearthing the harmful effects of regular and excess soda consumption on fertility.
Caffeine has been identified as a major fertility inhibitor. Caffeine consumption may prolong the time it takes to become pregnant and make it difficult for a woman to conceive.
Women who regularly drank carbonated drinks and sodas reported reduced fertility as compared to those who were regular tea drinkers, according to a 2012 study published in the Journal of Epidemiology.
Furthermore, the plastic soda bottles are often lined with a chemical called Bisphenol-A (BPA) that may leach into the drink and, upon consumption, decrease fertility and reduce sperm count in men.