No one, including the soft drink companies, tries to make anyone believe that soft drinks are healthy. Soft drinks have been called “empty calories’ since I can remember. But over the years, the science has been adding up as to the negative effects that drinking pop may have on our health, and I believe it is time to stop kidding ourselves and start limiting seriously the soft drinks we and our children consume. Here are some reasons why:
1. DISEASE PROMOTION- Soft drinks and other foods high in added sugar continue to be linked to metabolic abnormalities which can lead to obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, stroke, heart disease, liver disease and kidney disease. Sugar-sweetened beverages are the single biggest source of added sugar in our diet. The American Heart Association, the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, the National Kidney Foundation, and other health organizations have all made recommendations for limiting the intake of soft drinks or added sugars. Studies continue to show that as added sugar and soft drink intake increases in a country, so do the rates of obesity and disease.
2. CAFFEINE- Most soft drinks have caffeine added and although it is controversial whether or not caffeine is addictive, many people would say they have to have their caffeine, and suffer withdrawal symptoms if they try to quit. Caffeine is not a necessary component of soft drinks but it helps ensure that people will keep buying the product and ensures a future revenue, as children become used to a level of caffeine on a regular basis. Do we really want to start our children drinking something that may very well lead them down the path toward disease?
3. ACID- Soft drinks are very acidic from the addition of phosphoric acid and citric acid. This acidity eats away the enamel of teeth, causing tooth decay which is increasing in America's young children. In addition, the acid in soft drinks has also been linked to digestive problems like heartburn/acid reflux, and has been linked to decreased bone health in many studies.
4. APPETITE- Soft drinks do not make us feel full, even though they contain a lot of calories. A large pop may contain 350-500 calories, yet is drunk while eating the typical 800 calories burger and fries combo. 1200 calories is ridiculously high for one meal- almost a whole day’s worth of calories for some people- yet when we drink pop, we do not get a sense of fullness from it. Pop contains a lot of high-fructose corn syrup and the biochemistry of fructose digestion is such that it bypasses the brain’s appetite control center. Do you want to get fat? Drink pop.
Diet pop isn’t really better than regular pop because it still has caffeine and acid in it, and studies have never shown that switching to diet pop is ever linked to weight loss, and in fact may be linked to weight gain, even if they don’t understand why yet. If you can’t cut the pop completely out at first, cutting down is a great first step. I think if you look at the facts you will agree that stopping the pop will benefit everyone’s health.