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Is Soda Bad for You?

Where are my soda (pop) drinkers at? If we follow statistics, 1 in 3 of you are drinking this fizzy, sugary treat every day, even though most of us realize that soda is far from a "health drink." But a little sugary drink now and then doesn't hurt right? I mean, it's not good for you but is it really that bad??

Unfortunately, the answer is an overwhelming "yes."

Let's take a quick gander at the obvious culprit in soda - SUGAR. (*cue ominous music). Let me start out by reminding you that the World Health Organization recommends adults take in only 25 grams of sugar a day, or roughly 6 teaspoons (less for children). Some physicians and researchers are even more conservative and feel that amount should be closer to 4 teaspoons. Regardless of their differences, no one in the health profession is recommending the 65 grams of sugar in a 20 oz. bottle of Coca-Cola and certainly not the 77 grams in a 20 oz. bottle of Mt. Dew. Yowza. 77 grams. That's more than three day's worth of sugar all consumed at once.

So what happens to all that sugar when it enters our body? After only about 20 min. of consumption your blood sugar will spike which in turn causes your insulin to go up (to soak up the sugar, so to speak). The insulin will take this sugar around the body for the cells to use, but that's a lot of sugar all at once, so the extra get shipped off to the liver. The liver gets a hold of this glucose and says, "Sure! I can store that until we need it later - here, let me just turn it into something a little easier to store..." and voila ~ you have fat.

But it's not just the sugar we need to worry about - there are other ingredients lurking in soda that we need to be aware of, as well. Take phosphoric acid, for example. Phosphoric acid is made from the mineral phosphorus, which we all need (in balanced amounts) in our body. However, when it is added into foods, as in the case of soda, it becomes very easy to get waaaaay more phosphorus than we need. Phosphorus and calcium compete for absorption in the body, but since phosphorus is absorbed much more easily, now you're not getting enough calcium in your body (even if you're eating it). This will actually put you at risk for osteoporosis and heart disease.

Another "neat" phenomenon that occurs when we drink soda is dehydration. How can it cause dehydration when you're drinking it? Well, it goes like this: since the sugar content is so high, your body will "steal" water from other parts of your body in order to dilute the soda. So if you were drinking that cola on a hot summer's day, you'd better drink a bottle or two of water afterwards.

Finally, let's take a look at coloring additives. Dark colas will typically have caramel coloring, which sounds delicious, right? Who doesn't like a little caramel candy now and then? This is not the same at all. This caramel coloring has a bitter taste, is made from ammonia, contains the by-product 4-MEI, which is a known carcinogen and is ONLY added so you can enjoy that nice, dark "cola" color. Think you're off the hook with Mt.Dew? It uses Yellow #5, which is banned in Europe because studies showed it had the ability to mutate healthy DNA.

So what should we drink? The answer is simple: water. Steer clear of sodas, diet sodas, fruit drinks and sports drinks and instead quench your thirst with something your body needs - not something your body has to work hard to deal with. If you need flavor, try infusing your water with fruit slices or herbs for a refreshing treat. Before long, your body will stop wanting the sugary soda and will instead start craving water - which is exactly what it needs.

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