9 Disturbing Side Effects of Soda

9 Disturbing Side Effects of Soda

By Emily Main, Rodale

Soda’s Bittersweet Side  Effects

If you’ve been reading health magazines and websites for any length of time,  you’ve read a litany of reasons why soda is bad for you. It’s nothing but sugar  water. It’s devoid of any nutritional value. It leads to obesity and diabetes. But we’ve dug up nine other disturbing  facts about what soda does to your body, besides packing on the pounds, that  don’t get much attention in broader discussions about soda and its impact on  your health.

Weird Fat in Weird  Places

In the latest bad news for the soda industry, Danish researchers discovered  that drinking non-diet soda leads to dramatic increases in fat buildup around  your liver and your skeletal muscles, both of which can contribute to insulin  resistance and diabetes. The study revealed that people who drank a regular soda  every day for six months saw a 132 to 142 percent increase in liver fat, a 117  to 221 percent jump in skeletal fat, and about a 30 percent increase in both  triglyceride blood fats and other organ fat. Their consumption also led to an 11  percent increase in cholesterol, compared with the people who drank other  beverages such as water or milk.

 

Diet-Soda Belly

It’s not surprising that drinking all the sugar in sodas would cause weight  gain, but what is surprising is that even diet soda will pack on the pounds:  Researchers from the University of Texas Health Science Center monitored 475  adults for 10 years, and found that those who drank diet soda had a 70 percent  increase in waist circumference over the 10-year study, compared with those who  didn’t drink any soda. Those who drank more than two diet sodas per day saw a  500 percent waist expansion! A separate study the same researchers conducted on  mice suggested that it was the aspartame, which raised blood glucose levels,  that caused the weight gain; when your liver encounters too much glucose, the  excess is converted to body fat.

Caramel  Cancer-Causers

In 2011, the nonprofit Center for Science in the Public Interest petitioned  the Food and Drug Administration to ban the artificial caramel coloring used to  make Coke, Pepsi, and other colas brown. The reason: Two contaminants in the  coloring, 2-methylimidazole and 4-methylimidazole, have been found to cause  cancer in animals, a threat the group says is unnecessary, considering that the  coloring is purely cosmetic. According to California’s strict Proposition 65  list of chemicals known to cause cancer, just 16 micrograms per person per day  of 4-methylimidazole is enough to pose a cancer threat, and most popular brown  colas, both diet and regular, contain 200 micrograms per 20-ounce bottle.

 

Accelerated  Aging

Diet or regular, all colas contain phosphates, or phosphoric acid, a weak  acid that gives colas their tangy flavor and improves their shelf life. Although  it exists in many whole foods, such as meat, dairy, and nuts, too much  phosphoric acid can lead to heart and kidney problems, muscle loss, and  osteoporosis, and one study suggests it could trigger accelerated aging. The  study, published in a 2010 issue of the FASEB Journal, found that the excessive  phosphate levels found in sodas caused lab rats to die a full five weeks earlier  than the rats whose diets had more normal phosphate levels–a disturbing trend  considering that soda manufacturers have been increasing the levels of  phosphoric acid in their products over the past few decades.

Water Pollution

The artificial sweeteners used in diet sodas don’t break down in our bodies,  nor do wastewater-treatment plants catch them before they enter waterways,  researchers have found. In 2009, Swiss scientists tested water samples from  wastewater-treatment plants, rivers and lakes in Switzerland and detected levels  of acesulfame K, sucralose, and saccharin, all of which are, or have been, used  in diet sodas. A recent test of 19 municipal water supplies in the U.S. revealed  the presence of sucralose in every one. It’s not clear yet what these low levels  are doing to people, but past research has found that sucralose in rivers and  lakes interferes with some organisms’ feeding habits.

Mountain Dew  Mind

Dentists have a name for the condition they see in kids who drink too much  Mountain Dew. They wind up with a “Mountain Dew Mouth,” full of cavities caused  by the drink’s excessive sugar levels. “Mountain Dew Mind” may be the next  medical condition that gets named after the stuff. An ingredient called  brominated vegetable oil, or BVO, added to prevent the flavoring from separating  from the drink, is an industrial chemical used as a flame retardant in plastics.  Also found in other citrus-based soft drinks and sports drinks, the chemical has  been known to cause memory loss and nerve disorders when consumed in large  quantities. Researchers also suspect that, like brominated flame retardants used  in furniture foam, the chemical builds up in body fat, possibly causing  behavioral problems, infertility, and lesions on heart muscles over time.

Whacked-Out  Hormones

It’s not just the soda that’s causing all the problems. Nearly all aluminum  soda cans are lined with an epoxy resin called bisphenol A (BPA), used to keep  the acids in soda from reacting with the metal. BPA is known to interfere with  hormones, and has been linked to everything from infertility to obesity and  diabetes and some forms of reproductive cancers. The Centers for Disease Control  and Prevention have pegged soda cans, along with restaurant, school, and  fast-food meals, as a major source of exposure to the chemical. And while Pepsi  and Coke are currently locked in a battle to see which company can be the first  to develop a 100 percent plant-based-plastic bottle–which they’re touting as  “BPA free”–neither company is willing to switch to BPA-free aluminum cans.

 

Dead Birds

Before you switch from cans to bottles, though, take a look at the  photographs of Chris Jordan, an environmentalist and photographer who visited  the Midway Atoll area in 2009. It’s close to the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch,”  a mass of plastic debris in the Pacific Ocean where things like soda caps (which  often aren’t recycled) and plastic fish netting float just beneath the surface  of the water. Birds, sea turtles, and other wildlife mistake the debris for food  and eat large quantities of the plastic, which they are unable to digest.  Ultimately, the plastic causes them to starve to death. It’s estimated that  thousands of animals die this way every year.

Unknown Side Effects of  GMOs

Take a look at the ingredients list for any soda and chances are most of  those ingredients are derived from corn. As much as 88 percent of the corn grown  in the U.S. is genetically modified to resist toxic pesticides or engineered to  create pesticides within the plant itself. Thanks to lax government safety  regulations, and tight corporate control over who gets to test these proprietary  seeds, there are no human studies that can prove or disprove whether these crops  are safe. Independent scientists have found that, in animals, genetically  modified crops, or GMOs, are linked to digestive tract damage, accelerated  aging, and even infertility. By drinking soda, you’re taking part in the biggest  science experiment on the planet.

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2 thoughts on “9 Disturbing Side Effects of Soda

  1. Shit, another addiction I have to master

    • LMAO! I am in the same boat. I have started drinking more tea. But the tea just doesn’t cut it when it comes to my cravings for a Coke. So I have sneak one in every now and then. Good luck on mastering the addiction. Let me know how you did it!

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