When we become parched, it’s easy to turn to a nice cold soda that is filled with sugar, caffeine, sweeteners and high amounts of calories. It’s refreshing and will quench your thirst, but is it doing any positive favors to your body? I had the pleasure of speaking to Dr. James Gerber, Associate Professor of Clinical Sciences at Western States Chiropractic College (WSCC) in Portland, Oregon, who serves on the adjunct faculty of the University of Bridgeport Nutrition Institute and the National College of Naturopathic Medicine, regarding the soda beverage.
The first question I asked Dr. Gerber was what he thought the biggest danger soda poses to the body. He answered:”The biggest danger is the calories, soda drinks are a significant contributor to the obesity epidemic.” Dr. Gerber would be correct in his hypothesis; according to a 20-year study published in The New England Journal of Medicine, men and women who increased their sugary drink intake by one 12-ounce serving per day gained more weight over time. For the study, 120,877 U.S. men and women who did not have any chronic diseases or obesity were evaluated from 1986 to 2006. Each participant was evaluated based on their lifestyle factors and weight change every four years. Results showed that every four years, participants gained an average of 3.35 lb and sugar-sweetened beverages contributed to 1 lb of that average weight.
I mentioned this study to Dr. Gerber and I asked him what weight gain and soda have in common with each other. He mentioned: “Liquid calories are easy to overdo compared to calories from solid food.” After he mentioned this I thought, could there be other negative aspects to overdrinking soda? According to Rochelle Rosian, MD, there could be a connection between brittle bones and soda beverages, the Cleveland Clinic reports. Dr. Rosian explains that one of the reasons there could be an association is because most soda beverages contain phosphoric acid, which has the ability to leach calcium out of our bones. Also, the caffeine intake in these beverages has been linked to osteoporosis. However, there is still not enough evidence to make a definitive claim on this.
Many assessments and studies are coming from the Framingham Osteoporosis Research BMD. One assessment consisted of 1413 females and 1125 men in 2006. Researchers discovered that consuming soda actually decreased the BMD significantly for women. In addition, Linda K. Massey, Ph.D., RD, a professor of human nutrition at Washington State University, mentioned to WebMD: “Excess phosphorus promotes calcium loss from the body when calcium intake is low.”
After discussing this study, I asked Dr. Gerber what amount of soda would he recommend to someone who consumes high caffeinated soda beverages. He answered, “I would recommend that they drink zero amounts, but if it’s become a habit, I would say 8 ounces would be alright as long as it’s supported by a healthy diet.” One of the reasons Dr. Gerber said zero is because of a study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. The study tracked the health of about 90,000 women over two decades. Researchers found that women who consumed two servings of sugary beverages a day had a 40% higher risk of heart attacks or death from heart disease than women who rarely drank sugary beverages.
Another reason Dr. Gerber was extremely against people consuming sugary beverages that are high in caffeine is because of the association with diabetes. A study published in the journal Jama set out to discover if there was an association between the two. So researchers conducted a cohort analysis from 1991 to 1999 among women who were in the Nurses’ Health Study ll. The diabetes analysis included over 91,000 women who were free from diabetes and other chronic diseases in 1991. The results showed that women who had a stable consumption pattern of sugar-sweetened beverages saw no weight gain, but the weight gain over a 4-year period was highest among women who increased their sugar-sweetened soft drink consumption from one or fewer per week to one or more per day.
Those who are looking to stop drinking soda and eliminate it from their diet might want to replace it with water. The Harvard School of Public Health states that water helps restore fluid lost through breathing, metabolism, sweating, and when waste is removed. Not only will it quench your thirst, but it will hydrate your body and reduce the risk of becoming fatigued. The Institute of Medicine says that an adequate intake of water per day is 125 ounces (15 cups) for men and 91 ounces (11 cups) for women.
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