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Soda - The Effects of One Soda a Day

How much does one soda matter?
How much does one soda matter?

Drinking too much soda can be unhealthy, that's something people have known for decades. But I don't think most people understand just how bad one of those sugar-packed drinks can be. Let's walk through what happens to your body before, during and after you down a typical bottle of pop.

Before you take a drink, consider what it's replacing. Many studies found that if you drink lots of soda, you don't eat or drink as much healthy food. Soda drinkers are more likely to be deficient in vitamins, minerals and dietary fiber. One bad choice often leads to more.

As you take your first sip, the sugar courses through your body. Blood sugar spikes, increasing your risk of developing type 2 diabetes, even if you're not overweight. Researchers went through 17 studies involving 38,253 participants. They found drinking just one 12-ounce soda daily, increased the chances of developing type 2 diabetes by 18 percent.

Within about 20 minutes of your first sip, your blood sugar rises, causing an insulin spike. Because there's too much sugar for your body to turn into energy, your liver stores the excess as fat. Those constant spikes can lead to a condition known as insulin resistance. Insulin resistance is believed to be one of the primary triggers behind obesity and heart disease. It's even considered one of the underlying issues that cause many cancers.

About an hour after you start, the sugar crash happens. The short-term energy boost is gone and you start to feel fatigued, lethargic and moody. It's common to feel a mental fogginess descend, creating a craving to drink more and keep the high going.

The Results are Long-Term

Over time, moderate-to-severe acne can scar your face, getting worse with each bottle you consume. The sugar that hits your bloodstream damages collagen and elastin fibers in the skin, making you look older. Just two plastic 16 oz. sodas (100 grams of sugar or more) a day greatly increases the risk.

The high acidity and sugar levels of typical soda damages teeth. The more you drink, the more you'll suffer from enamel erosion and cavities. The darker colored cola drinks have also been shown to stain teeth.

Caffeine in sodas disrupts normal sleep patterns. It's also been linked to bedwetting and anxiety. Once you're hooked, you have to continue dosing yourself. Not getting your caffeine fix every 6-24 hours can lead to headaches, decreased alertness, fatigue, depression and irritability. Some studies have even linked excessive caffeine from sodas to kidney stones.

Bones lose strength and you're more likely to suffer fractures. Phosphoric acid in soda causes calcium to be released in your urine. Your bones then have to release calcium into your bloodstream to replace the losses. Over time, the constant calcium depletion weakens bones.

You're aging yourself on a cellular level. There's a structure at the end of chromosomes called telomeres. The length of telomeres has been linked to how long people live. People who drink more soda, have shorter telomeres, develop more chronic diseases and live shorter lives. One 20-oz soda a day can shorten your life by 4.6 years, about the same amount as smoking 10 cigarettes a day for 24 years.

When researchers analyzed data from two studies involving 118,363 people the results were dire. Men who drink two or more sugary drinks a day were 12 percent more likely to die prematurely than those who drank less than one a month. Women were 25 percent more likely to die prematurely.

A study in 2010 estimated that worldwide, 184,000 deaths every year can be directly linked to “sugar-sweetened beverages” like soda. 133,000 died from diabetes, 45,000 from cardiovascular disease and 6,450 from cancers.

The effects are cumulative. Telling yourself that one drink won't hurt you is true, it won't. But it gets a little worse if you have one drink a week, one drink a day or one with every meal. Over time, the damage from all those little attacks on your body wear you down. Explore healthier alternatives like decaf iced tea, fruit-infused water or just water with ice. Your future self will thank you.

We've put links below to many of the studies used in putting together this article, so you can read them for yourself.

Understanding soft drink consumption among female adolescents using the Theory of Planned Behavior
Nada O. Kassem, Jerry W. Lee, Naomi N. Modeste, Patricia K. Johnston
Health Education Research, Volume 18, Issue 3, June 2003, Pages 278–291,
Published:01 June 2003

Long-Term Consumption of Sugar-Sweetened and Artificially Sweetened Beverages and Risk of Mortality in US Adults
Vasanti S. Malik, Yanping Li, An Pan, Lawrence De Koning, Eva Schernhammer, Walter C. Willett, Frank B. Hu
Originally published18 Mar 2019

Soft drinks and dental health: a review of the current literature
J Dent. 2006 Jan;34(1):2-11.
doi: 10.1016/j.jdent.2004.11.006. Epub 2005 Sep 12.
J F Tahmassebi 1 , M S Duggal, G Malik-Kotru, M E J Curzon
Affiliations PMID: 16157439 DOI: 10.1016/j.jdent.2004.11.006 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16157439/

Diet, nutrition and the prevention of chronic diseases
Report of the joint WHO/FAO expert consultation
WHO Technical Report Series, No. 916 (TRS 916)

SOFT DRINKS, WEIGHT STATUS AND HEALTH: HEALTH PROFESSIONALS UPDATE Anna Rangan, Debra Hector, Jimmy Louie, Vicki Flood, Tim Gill NSW Centre for Public Health Nutrition

Trends in Non-alcoholic Beverages 2020,
Pages 325-369
Chapter 11 - Soft Drinks: Public Health Perspective
Author links open overlay panel Nina Zupanič Nataša Fidler Mis Igor Pravst

Teenaged girls, carbonated beverage consumption, and bone fractures
Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med
2000 Jun;154(6):610-3.
doi: 10.1001/archpedi.154.6.610. G Wyshak
Affiliations PMID: 10850510 DOI: 10.1001/archpedi.154.6.610

Effect of cola consumption on urinary biochemical and physicochemical risk factors associated with calcium oxalate urolithiasis
Urol Res 1999;27(1):77-81.
doi: 10.1007/s002400050092. A Rodgers 1
Affiliations PMID: 10092157 DOI: 10.1007/s002400050092

A critical review of caffeine withdrawal: empirical validation of symptoms and signs, incidence, severity, and associated features
Psychopharmacology (Berl) 2004 Oct;176(1):1-29.
doi: 10.1007/s00213-004-2000-x. Epub 2004 Sep 21.
Laura M Juliano 1 , Roland R Griffiths
Affiliations PMID: 15448977 DOI: 10.1007/s00213-004-2000-x

Estimated Global, Regional, and National Disease Burdens Related to Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Consumption in 2010
Gitanjali M. Singh, PhD,1 Renata Micha, PhD,1 Shahab Khatibzadeh, MD,2 Stephen Lim, PhD,3 Majid Ezzati, PhD,4 and Dariush Mozaffarian, MD, DrPH1*, on behalf of the Global Burden of Diseases Nutrition and Chronic Diseases Expert Group (NutriCoDE)
Circulation. 2015 Aug 25; 132(8): 639–666.
Published online 2015 Jun 29. doi: 10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.114.010636

Sugar Sweetened Beverages, Obesity, Type 2 Diabetes and Cardiovascular Disease risk
Vasanti S. Malik, MSc, Barry M. Popkin, PhD, George A. Bray, MD, Jean-Pierre Després, PhD, and Frank B. Hu, MD, PhD
Circulation. 2010 Mar 23; 121(11): 1356–1364.
doi: 10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.109.876185

Daily Intake of Soft Drinks and Moderate-to-Severe Acne Vulgaris in Chinese Adolescents
J Pediatr 2019 Jan;204:256-262.e3.
doi: 10.1016/j.jpeds.2018.08.034. Epub 2018 Sep 28.
Xiaoyan Huang, Jianglin Zhang, Jie Li, Shuang Zhao, Yi Xiao, Yuzhou Huang, Danrong Jing, Liping Chen, Xingyu Zhang, Juan Su, Yehong Kuang, Wu Zhu, Mingliang Chen, Xiang Chen, Minxue Shen
PMID: 30274928 DOI: 10.1016/j.jpeds.2018.08.034

Consumption of sugar sweetened beverages, artificially sweetened beverages, and fruit juice and incidence of type 2 diabetes: systematic review, meta-analysis, and estimation of population attributable fraction
BMJ 2015; 351 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.h3576 (Published 21 July 2015) Cite this as: BMJ 2015;351:h3576

Soda and Cell Aging: Associations Between Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Consumption and Leukocyte Telomere Length in Healthy Adults From the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys
American Journal of Public Health (ajph) December 2014

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