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The health dangers of soda have long existed: whether they are regular or diet, caffeinated or caffeine-free, soda is just plain bad news. Willingly drinking soda is almost like opting to smoke: if you know how harmful it is, then why do it? Here are some reasons that will make you think twice before reaching for soda, whatever variety or flavor it may be.
10 Reasons You Should Never Drink Soda (Slideshow)
Most sodas have caffeine which has a number of detrimental effects on the body such as increase in blood pressure, heart palpitations, migraines, breast tenderness, urinary problems, just to name a few.
One can of regular soda holds approximately 33 grams or 10 teaspoons of sugar. Can you imagine how much insulin your body needs to make to combat the excess sugar? Over time, this has disastrous consequences, often leading to obesity, diabetes, insulin resistance, and heart disease. Even one soda daily can lead to these long-term issues, thus causing a downward spiral of health.
Caffeine and sugar aren't the only things your body won't agree with after drinking soda, though. There are also things like high fructose corn syrup, phosphoric acid, and caramel coloring. So, next time you go to open that can of pop, you might want to stop and think about your health.
Check out our slideshow and read on for 10 reasons you should never drink soda.
Deepa Verma, MD, recently opened up her new integrative medical practice, Synergistiq Integrative Health, in Clearwater, Florida. Dr. Verma believes that healthy and holistic living is the key to happiness and aging gracefully.
This article was originally published on February 12, 2014.
You Should Never Drink The Water At A Restaurant. Here's Why
When you first sit down at a restaurant, is there anything more welcoming than a cool glass of water, a lemon wedge perched daintily on the rim? Unfortunately, downing that goblet of restaurant tap water may mean you're bringing home a lot more than a to-go box of your leftover fettuccine. An investigation in 2013 by The Mail on Sunday found that restaurant water can play host to millions of unwanted guests, ranging from germs to life-threatening bacteria the ice cubes alone can contain more bacteria than a toilet bowl (via the Daily Mail).
Ingesting this drinking water may lead to you spending more time than you'd like upon the porcelain throne — particularly if the restaurant gets its drinking water straight from the soda fountain. A 2010 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) study found fecal contamination in nearly half of the Roanoke, Virginia, restaurant soda fountains it inspected (via CNN), and another study in 2018 found plenty of bacteria and mold in soda fountains. But hey, maybe your favorite bistro or cafe sources their water straight from the sink tap, anyway. Even if the restaurant takes extra care to ensure your drinking water is safe, here's why you still might want to consider a strict B.Y.O.B. policy when it comes to your water.
While pressed juice is frequently touted as a healthy addition to a balanced diet—or even a means by which to lose weight—experts say it's essentially junk food in liquid form.
"Juice can increase your risk of developing fatty liver disease, heart disease, and diabetes," says Malorie Ann, a nutritionist with The Vegan Insider. "Around 1 cup of juice has between 20 to 23 grams of sugar, which is 95.83% of the American Heart Association (AHA)'s recommended sugar intake for women."
10 Reasons to Give Up Diet Soda
Diet soda might not be so good for you -- or your diet -- after all.
Oct. 26, 2013 -- intro:When taken at face value, diet soda seems like a health-conscious choice. It saves you the 140-plus calories you'd find in a sugary soft drink while still satisfying your urge for something sweet with artificial sweeteners like aspartame, saccharin, and sucralose. But there's more to this chemical cocktail than meets the eye.
quicklist: 1 category:10 Reasons to Give Up Diet Sodatitle:It confuses your bodyurl:text:Artificial sweeteners have more intense flavor than real sugar, so over time products like diet soda dull our senses to naturally sweet foods like fruit, says Brooke Alpert, RD, author of The Sugar Detox. Even more troubling, these sugar stand-ins have been shown to have the same effect on your body as sugar. "Artificial sweeteners trigger insulin, which sends your body into fat storage mode and leads to weight gain," Alpert says.
5 Steps to Quitting Artificial Sweeteners http://news.health.com/2013/09/26/5-steps-to-quitting-artificial-sweeteners/
quicklist: 2 category:10 Reasons to Give Up Diet Sodatitle:It could lead to weight gain, not weight lossurl:text:Diet soda is calorie-free, but it won't necessarily help you lose weight. Researchers from the University of Texas found that over the course of about a decade, diet soda drinkers had a 70% greater increase in waist circumference compared with non-drinkers. And get this: participants who slurped down two or more sodas a day experienced a 500% greater increase. The way artificial sweeteners confuse the body may play a part, but another reason might be psychological, says Minnesota-based dietitian Cassie Bjork. When you know you're not consuming any liquid calories, it might be easier to justify that double cheeseburger or extra slice of pizza.
quicklist: 3category:10 Reasons to Give Up Diet Sodatitle:It's associated with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes url:text:Drinking one diet soda a day was associated with a 36% increased risk of metabolic syndrome and diabetes in a University of Minnesota study. Metabolic syndrome describes a cluster of conditions (including high blood pressure, elevated glucose levels, raised cholesterol, and large waist circumference) that put people at high risk for heart disease, stroke, and diabetes, Bjork explains.
quicklist: 4category:10 Reasons to Give Up Diet Sodatitle:It has no nutritional valueurl:text:When you drink diet soda, you're not taking in any calories—but you're also not swallowing anything that does your body any good, either. The best no-calorie beverage? Plain old water, says Bjork. "Water is essential for many of our bodily processes, so replacing it with diet soda is a negative thing," she says. If it's the fizziness you crave, try sparkling water.
quicklist: 5category:10 Reasons to Give Up Diet Sodatitle:Its sweetener is linked to headachesurl:text:Early studies on aspartame and anecdotal evidence suggests that this artificial sweetener may trigger headaches in some people. "I have several clients who used to suffer from migraines and pinpointed their cause to diet soda," Bjork says.
quicklist: 6category:10 Reasons to Give Up Diet Sodatitle:It'll ruin your smile over timeurl:text:Excessive soda drinking could leave you looking like a Breaking Bad extra, according to a case study published in the journal General Dentistry. The research compared the mouths of a cocaine-user, a methamphetamine-user, and a habitual diet-soda drinker, and found the same level of tooth erosion in each of them. The culprit here is citric acid, which weakens and destroys tooth enamel over time.
quicklist: 7category:10 Reasons to Give Up Diet Sodatitle:It makes drinking more dangerousurl:text:Using diet soda as a low-calorie cocktail mixer has the dangerous effect of getting you drunk faster than sugar-sweetened beverages, according to research from Northern Kentucky University. The study revealed that participants who consumed cocktails mixed with diet drinks had a higher breath alcohol concentration than those who drank alcohol blended with sugared beverages. The researchers believe this is because our bloodstream is able to absorb artificial sweetener more quickly than sugar.
quicklist: 8category:10 Reasons to Give Up Diet Sodatitle:It's associated with depressionurl:text:A recent study presented at a the American Academy of Neurology meeting found that over the course of 10 years, people who drank more than four cups or cans of soda a day were 30% more likely to develop depression than those who steered clear of sugary drinks. The correlation held true for both regular and diet drinks, but researchers were sure to note that the risk appeared to be greater for those who primarily drank diet sodas and fruit punches. Although this type of study can't prove cause and effect, its findings are worth considering.
quicklist: 9category:10 Reasons to Give Up Diet Sodatitle:It may be bad for your bonesurl:text:Women over 60 are already at a greater risk for osteoporosis than men, and Tufts University researchers found that drinking soda, including diet soda, compounds the problem. They discovered that female cola drinkers had nearly 4% lower bone mineral density in their hips than women who didn't drink soda. The research even controlled for the participants' calcium and vitamin D intake. Additionally, a 2006 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that cola intake (all kinds, not just diet) was associated with low bone-mineral density in women.
quicklist:10category:10 Reasons to Give Up Diet Sodatitle:It may hurt your hearturl:text:Just one diet soft drink a day could boost your risk of having a vascular event such as stroke, heart attack, or vascular death, according to researchers from the University of Miami and Columbia University. Their study found that diet soda devotees were 43% more likely to have experienced a vascular event than those who drank none. Regular soda drinkers did not appear to have an increased risk of vascular events. Researchers say more studies need to be conducted before definitive conclusions can be made about diet soda's effects on health.
Easy Cleanse Water Recipe
- Glass of water or mug of hot water
- 1/2 lemon
- dash cayenne pepper
- few slices chopped ginger optional
- 1 tablespoon honey optional
This post was medically reviewed by Dr. Kimberly Langdon, M.D., a university-trained obstetrician/gynecologist with 19 years of clinical experience. Learn more about Hello Glow’s medical review board here. As always, this is not personal medical advice, and we recommend that you talk with your doctor.
Photos by Ana-Maria Stanciu
Adding on to our sketchy aforementioned fruit juice warning, tomato juice is another beverage to bypass for several reasons. Unpasteurized vegetables are a common concern at restaurants, since patrons have zero control of where the produce is purchased. Some diners solely stick to clean, organic products while others spring for more questionable bargain-based goods. If you come across a diner that makes their own tomato juice, drink it at your own risk. Those tomatoes may come from stores and farms that possess zero pasteurization practices, which means virus-causing bacteria may move from the diner's tomatoes into your juice.
Another reason to pass on this produce beverage is the added sugar and sodium. Vegetables, although great for your health, tend to taste "earthier" when squeezed straight from the source. As a result, diners opt for store-bought tomato juice, which can contain surprising amounts of sugar and sodium to substitute for the lack of flavor, according to Eat This, Not That.
Unfortunately it's lose-lose when ordering tomato juice at any diner. You can take your pick between unpasteurized veggies or a glass of sodium-heavy juice you easily can buy yourself at the grocery store. We suggest skipping the risk all together, but if tomato juice is a must at your next diner visit, ask the manager which version of tomato juice they use.
It is addictive
I would like to lay emphasis on the fact soft drinks have a tendency to become addictive when not restricted. The high-levels of caffeine found in soft drinks can cause extremely negative effects on young children's growing bodies and minds. If children are given the ability to drink soft drink whenever they please, An addiction is sure to be formed. When it comes to things like restricting the consumption of soft drink we must remember that small choices become actions become actions, Actions become habits and habits become our way of life.
Top 10 Nutrition Misconceptions
You may not realize it, but every day you make unconscious decisions about how you eat. Some healthy and some not-so-healthy. We’re revealing the top nutrition misconceptions people have and the truth behind the myths.
Some folks religiously stay away from all chocolate bars, chips, candy, cookies, cakes and other foods that are categorized as “junk”. They’ll skip the slice of birthday cake or a trip to the ice cream store with their kids. But food is part of our social nature and should be enjoyed. These types of foods can be part of a healthy eating plan. Knowing how to stay in control of your cravings and eating these foods sensibly is the trick.
#2: You should purchase a food because it claims to be “natural”
The term “natural” is so loosely defined by the government that you’ll find it on everything from cereal boxes to soda to packages of meat. You’re better off ignoring the word on any package and taking the time to read through the ingredients and nutrition information. Don’t be fooled into believing that natural means healthy.
Flax is a great source of fiber, but isn’t the best source of omega-3s around. There are several types of omega-3 fats, with some more potent than others. The omega-3s found in plants like flax seeds is known as the ALA type. The other types known as EPA and DHA are found in fatty fish like salmon, sardines and tuna and provide many of the omega-3 benefits you read about. If you’re sprinkling ground flax on your food to get your omega-3 fix, you’re probably not getting nearly enough.
#4: If you exercise, you can eat whatever you want
Think you can indulge in a super high-in-fat treat after hitting the gym? Once you take a look at these numbers, you’ll see what we’re talking about. In order to “make up” for an order of large fries, you’d need to swim laps for an hour. Perhaps your guilty pleasure is a slice of pepperoni pizza? Let’s hope you jogged for 30 minutes at a medium pace. To keep your weight in check, balance out physical activity with your calorie intake.
Making the blanket statement that “I can’t eat after 8pm” isn’t always the smartest choice. You may have had a hectic day and not enough time to eat your dinner at 6pm, does that mean you should skip it completely? The blanket statement doesn’t really apply to all people, schedules and lifestyles. If you do find yourself hungry at night, here are a few healthier snack options you may want to consider.
Stop worrying about the numbers and listen to your body! Some folks may need more than 8 cups while other may need less. Many forget that foods like fruits and vegetables also contribute to our overall fluid needs (as does juice, soda and even coffee). Find out more about how much water you really need and the best sources in our previous post.
#7: It’s important to buy organic food whenever possible
There’s no need to spend your hard-earned money on every organic food out there (especially in this economy). If you’re trying to cut back on your pesticide intake, take a peek at the Environment Working Group’s list of the most contaminated produce (a.k.a. The Dirty Dozen), and spend your organic dollar there. Eating locally-grown foods is also a cheaper alternative. Many local farmers cannot afford the costs of being certified organic but follow the same practices.
Taking supplements can be a slippery slope if you don’t do your research. One of the most common supplements that folks think is a must is a multivitamin. Although they may seem harmless, you need to look at the entire picture — how much of each vitamin is present? Does the multivitamin contain herbs too? Do you take other medications or supplements? Talking to your doctor or registered dietitian is a smart idea to be sure a multivitamin is right for you.
All “wheat” is not created equal. Look for “100% whole wheat” on the label to make sure you’re getting the healthier parts of the whole grain. You’ll find that wheat bread contains much less fiber than 100% whole wheat bread. So be sure to read the label carefully before buying.
Need more tips for buying healthy bread? Check out our previous post on whole grain bread and see how your favorite brand stacked up in our taste test.
#10: If you're following a healthy eating plan, that means you can’t eat any of your favorite foods
Healthy and tasty go hand in hand. Think you can’t deliciously make over favorites like lasagna, chili, pasta salad, baked beans, and fried chicken-- think again! There are a few tricks of the trade you can pick up at HealthyEats and use in your own kitchen. You’ll be pleasantly surprised.
Toby Amidor, MS, RD, CDN, is a registered dietitian and consultant who specializes in food safety and culinary nutrition. See Toby's full bio »
Concentrated Fruit Juice + Bottled Smoothies
Just because they say &ldquo100 percent juice&rdquo on the label doesn&rsquot mean they&rsquore totally healthy. The Guardian reports that there's growing concern among food scientists that smoothies and juices may be the new sodas, increasing how much sugar per day we're consuming. According to a British study, many consumers mistakenly believe that, because sugar comes from fruit, it&rsquos A-OK. But that&rsquos simply not true&mdashconcentrated juice is often used as a sweetener in soft drinks, and it has the same effects as any other type of sugar. When we eat whole fruits, on the other hand, we get the fiber content that helps us metabolize the sugars and makes us feel full. Even though that fiber content is preserved in smoothies, research shows drinking whole fruits doesn&rsquot make us feel satiated the way eating them would, so we&rsquore more likely to snack later on. Bottled smoothies may also contain extra fruit concentrate as a sweetener, even if it claims to have no sugar added.
Learn how to make your next smoothie much more filling:
How to Quit Drinking Coke / Soda
So how can you quit Coke and soft drinks?
- Identify why you want to quit. To succeed in the goal, you need a strong enough reason. You don’t need a big list of reasons, just one that’s enough to move you. It can be to lose weight, to be healthy, etc. Use this reason to drive you to quit the habit. Whenever you feel like giving up, recall it. For me, it was because I want to be healthy. My health is too important to me and I didn’t see the point of harming my health with an action that’s entirely preventable. If sodas are so harmful and they have proven to be, then I’d much rather make the switch now and enjoy the rest of my life in a healthier, better body.
- Get rid of the sodas in your house. If you want to quit, quit now. There’s no need to wait. If you have sodas in your fridge (and no one else consumes them at home), throw them away or give them to people who drink them (though I’d recommend that you tell them to quit and pass them this article). It may seem like a waste but it’s better than downing them into your body and ruining it.
- Have healthy substitute drinks. After quitting soda, I now drink either plain water, brewed green tea, or freshly squeezed fruit juices. If you’re in a restaurant, get plain/mineral water — there’s no need to get a flavored drink just because you’re eating out. I recommend not to substitute soda with coffee — its higher caffeine levels makes it an unhealthy drink too (in fact, it has 2-6X caffeine than Coke on a per oz basis). Brewed green tea is a great substitute — it is known as one of the world’s healthiest drinks with a high level of anti-oxidants (highest in any tea) and anti-carcinogenic effects, and it has very low caffeine levels relative to Coke and coffee. 
- Keep track of your soda consumption. How much soda do you drink every day? Did you drink soda today? Yesterday? The day before? Make a record of the times when you drink soda. Then target to cut back by 50% every week, until it’s finally down to 0%. If you can go straight to 0%, all the better, but if you can’t, then transition.
- Bring a water bottle with you at all times. Fill it with plain water — it’s free, there are no calories, and it’s healthy. Not only will you not get thirsty, but it’s also economical.
- Have enough sleep. So you don’t have to resort to caffeinated sodas to keep you awake later in the day.
- Persevere. As you start cutting away Coke and sodas from your life, you may find withdrawal symptoms in the first week (depending on how heavy a drinker you were before). These symptoms may come in the form of restlessness, anxiety, and a craving to drink again. Push through! They will start melting away after a few days.
After you quit, you’ll realize how unhealthy sodas are. In the rare times when you do get a sip, you’ll immediately notice how sweet it is — and wonder why you were even drinking it before. Good luck and stay healthy — I want you to live as long and as healthy as you can.
If your friends or family drink soda, pass this article to them. Let’s all stay healthy and strong and keep improving our health. :)
This is part of the Cultivate Good Habits Series. Check out the full series: