With the holidays upon us,

we should all take the time to enjoy ourselves and celebrate the good things about our lives.

We deserve it – it has been a tough few years.   Family and friend gatherings, celebration dinners, holiday feasts…you should participate to the fullest.

No one wants to be that guy or gal who cannot enjoy the moment for fear of “breaking” the diet plan.

But you should also understand your options before you make a choice.

With regards to this, we at FitnessVT want you to understand soft drinks and what consuming one or many means to you.

Soft drink, soda, pop, cola – whatever you may call it, we have all experienced the fizzy sweetness at one time or another in our lives.  Some of us love soft drinks and suck them down daily while some of us avoid them completely.  Whatever your individual preference may be, here are some things to consider about soft drinks and carbonated beverages in general.

 

Sugar – The Obvious Culprit

Start with the obvious: sugar content in your average soda is astronomically high.  In most cases, a single soda contains more sugar than the average person should consume throughout an entire day.  A term used often, “empty calories,” refers to the caloric content in a soda due to the sugar.  But there is nothing “empty” about said calories at all, oh no…

 

The amount of sugar content is plainly stated on the label.  You down the carbonated sugar water, and since your liver cannot immediately process all that sugar, your body responds by releasing insulin and storing all the sugar for later usage – as fat, of course.

 

Diet Soda and those Sneaky Sweeteners

What about diet soda?  It certainly does not have sugar in it so it must be OK, right?  Well, that is a matter of opinion.  But consider these facts.  While it’s true that there is no sugar (and thus no calories) in a diet soft drink, they do have to be sweetened with something, and normally this something is aspartame, sucralose, acesulfame K or a combination of some or all of the above.  Not one of these sweeteners occur in nature.

 

Each was designed in a lab.  Some were even meant to be a component in bug poisons.  That’s right, you are sucking down roach dope and insect pesticide with every fizzy sip.  All of said artificial sweeteners have been linked to neurological disorders or a possible carcinogen.  As an example, aspartame, once ingested, is broken down and converted into…formaldehyde.  Formaldehyde was once used for embalming corpses.  In essence this is what you are drinking.  Again, just keeping the folks informed.

 

Health Issues and Soda, Continued 

The physiologic response of our bodies has a psychological consequence as well.  A short time after consuming a soft drink, our body ups dopamine production, stimulating the pleasure centers of the brain – similar to the response after doing heroin.  This is not to say that heroin and soda are comparable.  However, it does say quite a bit about people’s emotional attachment to soft drinks and cravings for soft drinks.

 

Soda is acidic.  The average soda has a pH of 2.5-3.0.  The human body is typically pH 7.1-7.5.  Lowering the body’s pH has many negative effects on health.  Just a few of these are lower metabolism, increased inflammation and inflammatory responses.  The acidity is a result of sodas containing phosphoric acid and carbonic acid.  High levels of dietary acid have been shown to result in kidney stones and renal problems.

 

In addition, phosphoric acid and calcium share a relationship.  Anytime a drink such as soda is consumed, the body must release minerals in order to buffer the acids and non-mineralized liquid (carbonated water).  Phosphoric acid is buffered by calcium.  Where does this calcium come from?  Bones, teeth, muscle tissue…these are the places where the human body stores calcium and other minerals.  While this may not cause outright osteoporosis, consuming acidic, non-mineralized beverages such as soft drinks does not help one maintain optimal health.

 

So there we have it.  Soft drinks are something we have an option to drink every single day.  But so is water.  The above information should help us all make smart, informed choices for ourselves and for those we are responsible for.  Could we survive by never drinking a single soft drink?  Certainly!  Will drinking the occasional soft drink immediately cause us to dry up and fall over dead?  Of course not.  Stay safe and stay hydrated, and make smart choices about what you drink.