One of the most popular kinds of cold drink in the western world is soda and the big brands are constantly locked in battle over who gets to take the lion's share of the spoils. For the soft drinks industry is worth billions of dollars.
The companies that provide us with so many handy cans and bottles of this fizzy, sugary, mostly artificially flavored beverage are not about to let their profits get away from them because a few people have got it into their heads that drinking their product might actually be bad for people's health.
But there is too much evidence to suggest that drinking soda is bad for our health for us to ignore any more. The major cause for concern is the link between high consumption of refined sugar and obesity, which is evident only too graphically in our society today. With around sixty percent of the population of the United States classified as obese, people need to sit up and take notice.
Soda and Sugar
Regular soda drinks are sweetened with sugar (sucrose) and fructose (high fructose corn syrup), both of which are processed by the body differently to other sugars found in the diet. These sugars are processed in the liver into glucose that is used by the muscles, but because we consume far more than we actually can use, the excess is stores as visceral fat.
This is the kind of fat known popularly as "belly fat" because it tends to accumulate around the abdomen, covering the major organs and forcing the abdomen wall outwards to give the appearance of the "pot belly". This is a different kind of fat to subcutaneous fat which is stored beneath the skin.
The cells of the body that store the visceral fat are now known to secrete hormones that are dangerous to our health and promote conditions such as heart disease, high blood pressure (hypertension), high levels of cholesterol and triglycerides and a greater risk of stroke and heart attack.
They are also linked with the promotion of cancer cells and breast and colon cancer. The excess of the types of sugar responsible for the creation of so much visceral fat is also responsible for the oxidation of body cells and the release of damaging free radicals into the body. This is a condition that we try to fight against by consuming foods containing antioxidants.
While diet soda contains almost no sugar, it is sweetened with artificial sweeteners that can potentially be as harmful to health as the sugar they replace. Aspartame, which is the most common sugar replacement, is believed to have potentially dangerous properties. If nothing else, it has been confirmed that consuming drinks containing aspartame stimulates hunger, which is often satisfied by a craving for high calorie snacks.
The wood alcohol contained in aspartame becomes unstable at temperatures above around 86 degrees Fahrenheit where they break down into formaldehyde, a known carcinogen (cancer causer). Remember that once the drink enters the body, it is quickly warmed to body temperature (97 degrees Fahrenheit).
There is some controversy about the safety of drinking carbonated water, which gives soda its fizz. Some say that the carbonic acid produced by the carbonization process is harmful to health. So far, there are no definitive studies to prove or disprove this theory, so for not, this topic may be considered as a possible problem, but not something that needs to be worried about until more evidence comes to light.
So the problems caused by over-consumption of these sugars present in soda can be far more widespread than the obesity which is generally associated to them. There are many health problems that being so much overweight can trigger in addition to the above that it really is something that ought to be thought long and hard about.
While people are often focused on their bad diet or their lack of exercise, they tend to ignore totally what they are drinking or fail to see the link between their overweight condition and the fizzy beverage they are consuming in excess every day.
The really interesting thing is that when overweight people stop drinking soda after having drunk a lot of it regularly in the past, they almost always lose a lot of weight fairly rapidly.
The reason for this is that the average 12 oz can of soda such as the most popular cola drink contains around 140 calories. Many overweight and obese people consume one or more cans per day, or as more often is the case, they drink the large 34oz plastic bottles of soda they buy at the supermarket that contain three times the volume of a can and therefore almost three times the calories (400 calories). Just drinking one of those a day for a week adds around 2800 calories per week to whatever amount is consumed from food.
Many people actually consume much more than that amount of soda in a week. It is not uncommon to drink two or more 34oz bottles of soda a day, which then stacks up at around 5,600 calories a week.
Look at it another way. By NOT drinking all that soda each week, a person could reduce their calorie intake by 5,600 a week, which would equal a net loss of weight of around a pound and a half per week. (Note: the body needs to burn around 3,500 calories to lose one pound of body weight). If you can avoid sugar for better health in this way, you will be doing yourself a power of good.
Anytime now might be a really good time to stop drinking soda and losing some weight without really doing anything else!