March 22, 2011
Dr. Mercola's Comments:
I’ve been warning readers of the dangers of soda since I started this site, well over a decade ago. Since then, science has caught up; now definitively showing the profound health risks of this popular beverage.
Amazingly, as of 2005, white bread was dethroned by soft drinks as the number one source of calories in the American diet! I keep repeating that statistic because I find it so incredible. According to recent statistics , Americans consume close to 50 billion liters of soda per year, which equates to about 216 liters, or about 57 gallons per person. That equates to a staggering amount of sugar!
Play-By-Play of what Happens in Your Body when You Drink a Soda
Soda is on my list of the five absolute worst foods and drinks you can consume. The video above offers a compelling illustration of why I make this claim.
In it, reporter Yunji DeNies drinks a 20-ounce glass of cola, which contains the equivalent of 16 teaspoons of sugar in the form of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS). This is nearly three times the maximum daily sugar intake recommended by the American Heart Association.
HFCS typically contains a mixture of 45 percent glucose and 55 percent fructose (although recent investigations have found that many brand-name sodas actually contain 65 percent fructose !).
Once ingested, your pancreas rapidly begins to create insulin in response to the sugar. The rise in blood sugar is quite rapid. Here’s a play-by-play of what happens in your body upon drinking a can of soda:
- Within 20 minutes, your blood sugar spikes, and your liver responds to the resulting insulin burst by turning massive amounts of sugar into fat.
- Within 40 minutes, caffeine absorption is complete; your pupils dilate, your blood pressure rises, and your liver dumps more sugar into your bloodstream. As you could see in the report above, DeNies’ blood glucose level was 79 at the outset of the experiment, and after 40 minutes it had risen to 111!
- Around 45 minutes , your body increases dopamine production, which stimulates the pleasure centers of your brain – a physically identical response to that of heroin, by the way.
- After 60 minutes, you’ll start to have a blood sugar crash, and you may be tempted to reach for another sweet snack or beverage.
As I’ve discussed on numerous occasions, chronically elevated insulin levels (which you would definitely have if you regularly drink soda) and the subsequent insulin resistance is a foundational factor of most chronic disease, from diabetes to cancer.
Fructose Turns into Fat Far Faster than Other Sugars, and Fats
Lately, the media has finally begun reporting on the science of fructose, which clearly shows it is far worse than other sugars.
Fructose is processed in your liver, and unlike other sugars, most of it gets shuttled into fat storage. This is why fructose is a primary culprit behind obesity – far more so than other sugars. According to the news report above, drinking two bottles of soda per day can make you gain a pound of fat per week!
Aside from the weight gain, eating too much fructose is linked to increased triglyceride levels. In one study, eating fructose raised triglyceride levels by 32 percent in men! Triglycerides, the chemical form of fat found in foods and in your body, are not something you want in excess amounts.
Intense research over the past 40 years has confirmed that elevated blood levels of triglycerides, known as hypertriglyceridemia, puts you at an increased risk of heart disease.
Meanwhile, one of the most thorough scientific analyses published to date on this topic found that fructose consumption not only leads to insulin resistance but also decreases leptin signaling to your central nervous system. Leptin is responsible for controlling your appetite and fat storage, as well as telling your liver what to do with its stored glucose.
When your body can no longer “hear” leptin’s signals , weight gain, diabetes and a host of related conditions may occur. So, as you can see, fructose contributes to poor health through a number of mechanisms...
What Else is in Soda?
Before you grab that next can, take a look at some of the major components found in most sodas:
High fructose corn syrup : When you eat 120 calories of glucose, less than one calorie is stored as fat. 120 calories of fructose, on the other hand, results in 40 calories being stored as fat. Consuming fructose is essentially consuming fat!
The metabolism of fructose by your liver creates a long list of waste products and toxins, including a large amount of uric acid, which drives up blood pressure and causes gout.
Fructose also interferes with your brain’s communication with leptin, resulting in overeating.
Benzene. While the federal limit for benzene in drinking water is 5 parts per billion (ppb), researchers have found benzene levels as high as 79 ppb in some soft drinks, and of 100 brands tested , most had at least some detectable level of benzene present.
About 150 empty calories , most of which will turn into fat Phosphoric acid , which can interfere with your body's ability to use calcium, leading to osteoporosis or softening of your teeth and bones.
Between 30 to 55 mg of caffeine , which can cause jitters, insomnia, high blood pressure, irregular heartbeat, elevated blood cholesterol levels, vitamin and mineral depletion, breast lumps, birth defects, and perhaps some forms of cancer. Aspartame : This chemical is used as a sugar substitute in diet soda. There are over 92 different health side effects associated with aspartame consumption including brain tumors, birth defects, diabetes, emotional disorders and epilepsy/seizures.
Artificial food colors , including caramel coloring, which has recently been identified as carcinogenic . The artificial brown coloring is made by reacting corn sugar with ammonia and sulfites under high pressures and at high temperatures.
This produces the chemicals 2-methylimidazole and 4-methylimidazole, which have been found to cause lung, liver and thyroid cancer in lab rats and mice.
Tap Water : I recommend that everyone avoid drinking tap water because it can carry any number of chemicals including chlorine, trihalomethanes, lead, cadmium, and various organic pollutants. Tap water is the main ingredient in bottled soft drinks.
Sulfites. People who are sulfite sensitive can experience headaches, breathing problems, and rashes. In severe cases, sulfites can actually cause death. Sodium benzoate , a common preservative found in many soft drinks, which can cause DNA damage . This could eventually lead to diseases such as cirrhosis of the liver and Parkinson's.
Health Effects of Soda Consumption
After looking at the list above, is it any wonder that a number of studies have now linked soda consumption with obesity and related health problems?
One such independent, peer-reviewed study published in the British medical journal The Lancet found that 12-year-olds who drank soft drinks regularly were more likely to be overweight than those who didn't. In fact, for each additional daily serving of sugar-sweetened soft drink consumed during the nearly two-year study, the risk of obesity jumped by 60 percent !
As mentioned earlier, soda clearly elevates your insulin levels, and elevated insulin levels are the foundation of most chronic disease. Not only does drinking just one soda per day increase your risk of diabetes by 85 percent , it also increases your risk of:
- Heart disease
- Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD)
By now you probably know what that is...
Quit drinking soda .
Eliminating soft drinks is one of the most crucial factors to address many of the health problems you or your children suffer. Again, this is because normalizing your insulin levels is one of the most powerful physical actions you can take to improve your health and lower your risk of disease and long-term chronic health conditions.
Pure water is a much better choice, or if you must drink a carbonated beverage, try sparkling mineral water with some lime or lemon juice.
If you struggle with an addiction to soda, (remember, sugar is actually more addictive than cocaine ) I strongly recommend you consider Turbo Tapping as a simple yet highly effective tool to help you stop this health-sucking habit. Turbo Tapping is a simple and clever use of the Emotional Freedom Technique , designed to resolve many aspects of an issue in a concentrated period of time.