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26 Shocking Reasons Why Soda is Bad For You

overhead picture of several soda cansAre you addicted to soda, diet soda, fruit, energy or sports drinks? Do you have at least one per day, or can’t get through a grocery or convenience store without picking one up? I’m glad you’re here, because maybe you have thought about giving up your soda habit but just not sure why. You’ve probably heard that it’s not good for you, but that’s an abstract concept.

Why is Soda Bad for You?

As a consumer, you should be aware of the dangers of regular soda consumption. As a former Coke Zero junkie, these facts helped motivate me to make the decision to give them up forever.

Soda:

  1. contains high fructose corn syrup, which is proving to be especially dangerous.
  2. has been directly linked to an increase in obesity
  3. has been directly linked to an increase in type 2 diabetes [1] [2]. This includes diet soda.
  4. coincides with a decrease in the intake of nutritious foods and beverages [3]
  5. more than 40% increased risk of heart attack, stroke, and cardiovascular disease, even after other unhealthy lifestyle or dietary factors are accounted for [4]
  6. has been linked to the build up of visceral (belly) fat, which is in and around the liver and organs, and associated with the deadly metabolic syndrome [5]
  7. has been shown to increase cholesterol by 11% [6]
  8. has been proven to decrease insulin sensitivity [7]
  9. contains caramel coloring (made with ammonia), which has been linked to cancer in mice [8]
  10. lowers the body’s ability to regulate appetite (leptin resistance) [9]
  11. contain phosphates, which accelerate aging and caused lab rats to die sooner [10]
  12. artificial sweeteners found in diet soda do not break down in our bodies and pollute the water supply, putting organisms at risk as well as contaminating drinking water [11]
  13. cause cavities and tooth decay with a pH level that is almost as acidic as battery acid
  14. citrus flavored drinks like Mountain Dew contain BVO, which is a flame retardant and is suspected in behavioral problems, infertility, memory loss, nerve disorders, and heart lesions [12]
  15. aluminum cans may contain BPA, linked with fertility disorders, reproductive cancers, obesity and diabetes [13]
  16. contain high levels of genetically modified corn from HFCS
  17. diet soda was shown to cause a 2x rate of kidney function decline [14]
  18. can cause osteoporosis [15]
  19. artificial sweeteners found in diet sodas have been linked to migraines and headaches as well as visual disturbances [16]
  20. can cause dehydration
  21. preservatives found in diet soda (sodium benzoate or potassium benzoate) cause cell damage by destroying mitochondria in DNA, and also linked to hives, asthma, and other allergic conditions [17]
  22. aspartame (also known as Neotame), an artificial sweetener found in diet soda, is a known excitotoxin which causes brain damage by “exciting” your brain neurons to death. [18]
  23. Pilots in the US are advised against ingesting anything containing aspartame because of the risk of seizures and visual disturbances. [19]
  24. aspartame is converted to formaldehyde in the body and builds up in the brain. Formaldehyde is a known carcinogen.
  25. the pH level of soda will cause body inflammation and age your skin
  26. diet soda has been linked to depression [20]

Scary, right?

The occasional diet or sugar-sweetened beverage probably isn’t going to hurt you, but like many processed foods these beverages can be addicting, leaving us wanting more and more every day. If you’re a regular consumer of these drinks, I urge you to consider cutting back for the sake of your health. As I found myself after 15 years of drinking diet sodas every day, it’s never too late to reverse the damage!

  • Shellyonholidays

    Wow. This is very interesting reading.I’ve been a long term Coca Cola drinker always full strength not diet. Would also be informative to hear how bad that is too. I am currently in amongst an “off” softdrink period.hopefully I don’t revert again.Seems to be my nemesis. Thanks.

  • larsonam

    I agree with you, and that being said, #23 is incorrect. Pilots are not forbidden from ingesting nutrasweet or any product containing aspartame.

  • casey

    Great article! I hear so many people giving up “caffeine” as if that is the worst thing these drinks have to offer. Thank you for pointing out the real issues with these drinks.

    • http://www.coachcalorie.com/ Deanna Schober

      Thanks Casey! I think someday we’ll see sodas in the same category as tobacco as far as health is concerned.

  • http://www.coachcalorie.com/ Deanna Schober

    All of the information above is about full strength soda AND diet soda, I tried to indicate when I was just referring to diet soda. Good for you for taking a break from it, I’m sure you’ll feel so much better!

    • http://www.facebook.com/claudia.ovitt Claudia Ovitt

      i used to be a big soda junkie 2 years and soda free for the first six months it is very hard and i still struggle with my weight

  • Allie

    well this couldn’t have come at a better time for me as I’m struggling to give up diet sodas or at least cut down to one a day. This is HUGE for me! I’m trying to drink water and tea the rest of the day plus one coffee. I wish there were more outlined, specific help to truly detox and break this insidious addiction. Apps? something? People REALLY need to take sugar and carb and diet soda addictions more serious and develop more tools for truly breaking it. It is HARD! Thank you for this list!!

  • Ryan Linden

    I quit about 2 years ago. Why would you spend money on pop when you get water for free? i don’t know.

  • http://www.coachcalorie.com/ Deanna Schober

    I misread the FDA memo, thank you for pointing this out. I changed the information and included a link to the FDA.gov memo that I was referring to.

  • http://www.coachcalorie.com/ Deanna Schober

    Seems like a no-brainer, but it is addicting! Excitotoxins give you a buzz that your brain wants over and over…of course, what you don’t realize is that each buzz is killing brain neurons! I never even thought about the financial advantage of quitting..but I’m sure that’s a big one! Thanks for the comment Ryan!

  • http://www.coachcalorie.com/ Deanna Schober

    Hi Allie! Actually you are in luck because this article started out as research for me to write an article about breaking soda addiction. It *is* hard!!! It took me a good 6 months to be able to walk through a grocery or convenience store without having the urge to grab one. Come back soon and I’ll hopefully be able to help you!

    • Allie

      Really? That sounds wonderful! Oh I really do look forward to this. I hope it will be included in the Coach Calorie newsletter so I don’t miss it. 6 months??? YIKES. I am beyond freaked out about stuff I’ve read that even Splenda is completely messing up the bacteria balance in our digestive system. This was “the straw that broke the camel’s back” for me. I made it through the weekend with only one per day. But I could REALLY use some reinforcement, hypnosis, SOMETHING to get me thru what I know is going to be one helluva week pardon my language.

      • http://www.coachcalorie.com/ Deanna Schober

        Yes Allie-are you signed up for the daily or weekly newsletters? It should be included in both. I’m hoping to have it ready for next week!
        Something that really helped me was to be mindful of how I felt physically after I drank both water and soda. I quickly discovered that I was ignoring how terrible my digestive system felt after soda. Water left me feeling hydrated and satisfied. Another tip is to buy a big water bottle with a straw and take it everywhere. This was the biggest help in switching. Here is the one I use and recommend: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B006ZT8NJA
        Hope that helps! Good luck.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Doug-Sauvage/652366003 Doug Sauvage

    I gave up diet pepsi about a month ago. I really had to because it was desensitising my taste of sweet and I didn’t want to be adding sweetners to everyting. I went down to 1-2 a day for a week then just stopped. Now, the great benefit is I’m much more sensitive to sweet. fruit tastes sweeter, and If I have a craving for candy or a sweet tooth 1 or 2 dates or figs and boom, mouth explosion and I’m happy.

    • http://www.coachcalorie.com/ Deanna Schober

      Doug, I totally second this!! Apples are a huge treat to me now. It takes a while to get used to, right? Thanks for the comment!

  • Bigzigfitness Bigzigfitness

    what surprises me is that people still need more than one reason to stop drinking this crap. great information here, thank you for sharing! -g-

  • http://www.getfitgetright.com/ Bryan

    I put a halt to any and all soda nearly a year ago, and it was the best decision I ever made. I’ve always been an avid “water drinker”, so cutting out the pop wasn’t too tough. These days, I barely get the urge to have a sip (especially when I know all of the health concerns that surround it).

    • http://www.coachcalorie.com/ Deanna Schober

      That’s great Bryan! Congrats and I’m glad it wasn’t as hard for you as it was for me :)

  • http://twitter.com/manystars38 Lori Owens

    It is tuff giving it up. Water is so blan. We need some steps and other replacement suggestions other than water please

    • http://www.coachcalorie.com/ Deanna Schober

      Hi Lori, I agree and this article actually was born because I was researching an article on how to stop drinking it…stay tuned for that article very soon! In the meantime, Tony wrote this water about other healthy beverages a while back: http://www.coachcalorie.com/healthy-drinks-besides-water/
      I know water is blah…I used to feel the same…but there is so much benefit in learning to love it.

  • AlanCar

    What’s the deal with slimline tonic then?

    • http://www.coachcalorie.com/ Deanna Schober

      Hi Alan, I’m not familiar with slimline tonic, if it is just carbonated water is should be safe, but I’d check the label to make sure there are no additives or artificial sweeteners.

      • AlanCar

        Generally had aspartame additive

        • http://www.coachcalorie.com/ Deanna Schober

          I’d avoid aspartame like the plague :)

          • AlanCar

            Carbonated water, citric acid, acidity regulator (E331), flavourings (including quinine), sweetener (aspartame). Contains a source of phenylalanine

  • http://www.coachcalorie.com/ Deanna Schober

    Hi Gene…my husband doesn’t understand either but it really is tough to give up! Very addicting! Thanks for stopping by!

  • cat

    Great article. I gave up diet coke and one thing that really helped me is the carbonated water that Trader Joe’s sells. It is lightly flavored with fruit (lemon, lime, raspberry, orange) with no artificial sweeteners. I found it is really the carbonation that I miss, which I can get without all the nasty chemicals.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jenny.symes.967 Jenny Symes

    im totally addicted to pepsi an ounce of stress I need it I could really use some support:)

    • http://www.coachcalorie.com/ Deanna Schober

      Hey Jenny, I feel you…and I just finished an article that will be here Monday to help you. You can do it!

  • http://www.coachcalorie.com/ Deanna Schober

    Hi Cat, thank you. And I’ll have to check that out at TJ’s!

  • Allison

    Oh Deanna I love this article. Very well researched and informative. There were things I knew but others I didn’t. I am a huge diet coke addict and recently started drinking AMP energy drinks when I feel like I have no energy. Such a horrible idea. I am truly addicted to the toxic drinks and I can’t wait to see your new article on Monday. My goal is to completely quit drinking this devil in a can for good. Thank you for this one!

  • http://www.facebook.com/stev.lee.31 Stev Lee

    HI Deanna, I’ve cut down my soda intake to one a day over the last month, they have now run out so I don’t intend to buy anymore, I already drink a lot of water, a daily green tea or coffee but I still crave something sweet to drink, I have been using Aspartame (I know, I know) in my coffee and tea so my question is, can you advise any other sweeteners as a replacement?

    I have powdered dextrose, honey and sugar, all have health benefits and negatives, I just can’t find an answer to a better sweetener than Aspartame (Stevia?)

    Many thanks

    • http://www.coachcalorie.com/ Deanna Schober

      Hi Steve- I use a teaspoon of raw honey or raw (turbinado) sugar in my coffee. At just 15 cals a tsp you won’t hurt your calorie budget, and the raw honey especially has health benefits and nutrients as well. Here is my opinion of Stevia: http://www.coachcalorie.com/is-stevia-safe/
      Good luck!

  • http://www.coachcalorie.com/ Deanna Schober

    Hey Allison–yes PLEASE give up the energy drinks, they are worse than sodas by far and I’ve been reading reports of deaths from these things. They are so scary! The article is up today, I hope it helps!

  • http://www.facebook.com/jean.lynd Jean Clark Lynd

    Thanks for the info!

    • http://www.coachcalorie.com/ Deanna Schober

      You’re welcome!

  • http://www.facebook.com/eilish.balfe Eilish Balfe

    I give up a 3 a can a day addiction 4 weeks ago. The first week was horrendus but have so much more energy now its unreal. Im a lover of the scales and gained 4 pounds at first so I was having a nervous breakdown but that has gone now. My body was obviously in a state of dehydration and hanging onto the water it was getting. I treat myself to coconut water now mixed with fruit its so delicious. Glad I made the change. I did it for my 2 kids as they are 7 and 10 and they need to see me making good choices. My daughter told me she was so proud of me the other day and now my son is only drinking water

    • http://www.coachcalorie.com/ Deanna Schober

      That’s so awesome!! Congrats!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Stephanie-Koch/1559614478 Stephanie Koch

    Wow! That’s a lot of bad reasons to drink Soda … I gave up Soda many years ago because I started having stomach issues and every time I drank Soda, I felt sick to my stomach. Its been over 10 years since I cut back, I mostly drink water and home-brewed iced tea nowadays. I actually love the taste of water. :) I just see another reason to avoid Soda all together.

  • Angela

    Great read! I’m doing a 12 week challenge right now (no processed foods, no sugar (other than natural sugar in fruits & honey mainly) and NO diet sodas. I had no idea that no diet sodas were going to be on this challenge but guess what…10 days in and clean of it. I still crave it but had to go cold turkey. I did the ‘cut back’ to one a day thing and have been doing that now for years. It sucks but just say, “goodbye” and be done with it. If it wasn’t for this challenge I’m doing there is no way I would of even considered it so I’m so thankful I’m doing it!

    • http://www.coachcalorie.com/ Deanna Schober

      I’m glad you are too, you will feel amazing. Once you get past the withdrawals, you won’t ever want to tolerate the way they make you feel again! Good luck!

  • francine

    i’m a huge mountain dew drinker. BUT i haven’t had one in 2 months…..untill today. but it’s my first one . i know it’s bad specially mountain dew but it’s sooooo good. are those carbonated fruit bottled waters bad for u too? And also. isn’t everything just about bad for u? seems like every time u turn around something is bad …

    • http://www.coachcalorie.com/ Deanna Schober

      I know it feels that way sometimes which is why it’s important to educate yourself. The food industry can be tricky when trying to market their foods which is why lots of us feel “duped”. I’d check the labels on the fruit waters to see what is added. You can make your own fruit water with carbonated water, just add fruit and steep in fridge overnight.

  • bob

    I gave up drinking all soda a year ago. Thank the gods I still have my cigarettes…….

  • Pete

    Too bad that this blames personal addiction and lack of self control on soda. It then goes on to blame health problems on soda. It doesn’t matter what you drink or eat, too much of it will ruin your health to include water. Oh, by the way, high fructose corn syrup is sugar, different form but still just sugar. Same effects and same results as too much sugar. If you drink too much soda then the sugar will be bad for you. Get a life folks, instead of reading these misleading stories try getting off the couch and exercise while eating and drinking things that are good for you. Treats are treats and soda is a treat. Guess what you’d look like and feel like if you ate 6 bowls of ice cream a day.

  • http://www.coachcalorie.com/ Deanna Schober

    I have trouble understanding this attitude, Pete, as I have come across it quite a bit since publishing this article. We obviously both believe soda is bad for you, what’s so bad about telling people why? This article is for those who don’t have sodas as a “treat” as you say, but include them in their daily diets or are yes, addicted. Sometimes a little knowledge can be a great reality check.

    • Pete

      This article continues the problem with today’s adults. They blame the soda, they blame the materials the soda is made of. The problem “is” not taking responsibility and doing things in moderation. Too much exercise has been proven to actually injure and for many shorten lives. But it isn’t the exercise it is the lack of using common sense. When your body gives you pain it is telling you something. Listen to it and reduce the pain. This points to all the things in soda and all the problems they can cause and yet not one of those is the cause of the over reaching problem. The problem is the individual and brought on by drinking too much soda. Your story just gives them the excuses to continue on and if something makes them sick it was the ingredients. Not the fact that they over indulged and failed to listen to their body and use some common sense.

      • http://www.coachcalorie.com/ Deanna Schober

        I certainly agree that it’s a personal responsibility to decide whether or not to drink the soda or not, and how individuals take the information in the article IS their choice. But I can tell you that I was one of those people who had NO IDEA of the harm soda was doing to my body or I would not have touched it. As I said in the article, I thought diet coke WAS healthy. I know this sounds crazy, but I did, and as soon as I read these facts, I stopped drinking it. I wrote this for those people out there who might be like me, maybe they really truly don’t know it’s unhealthy, or maybe they HEAR it is but don’t really know exactly what that means or how it affects them. One person may not care about gaining weight, but WOULD care if they knew they were increasing their chances for cancer or kidney disease. Not all of us have the amazing common sense that you have, Pete :) Thanks for the discussion!

  • MsAnita

    Can I tell you I have not had a soda in 3 years.. I do not miss the bloated feeling that I would get when I drank soda.. and I got to say drinking all those calories only went to fat.. which was worse then eating the food

  • youngdentures

    I’m 26 and had most of my teeth fall out and 3 weeks ago i had 12 upper teeth pulled and dentures put in because of soda. If u drink soda find it in u to quit u DO NOT want dentures, i can’t eat anything but mushy stuff, u have to practice your abc and numbers like a baby and kissing is hard, your whole life changes and not in a good way, I’m so depressed it suxs… Quit now i wish someone would have told me, this is the hardest thing i have ever done pulling the 12 teeth was easy and so was the 8 stitches.

  • Dot

    I used to suffer from depression and I drank diet soda. I started to see a relationship to the depression and the amount of diet soda so I tested it. I drank one or two in a day and got depressed….went a few days with none and the depression went away. I did it several times to be sure. As soon as I gave up soda, the depression went away. 20 years with no diet soda and no depression.

    • yakisquaw

      That is awesome! I tell my kids all the time that giving up processed foods etc will do them a world of good. Interesting to hear that you figured out diet soda was linked to your depression.

  • yakisquaw

    Allie, stick with it. It is hard. I drank several sodas a day for years. I would get headaches if I did not get to have one. It took awhile, but I do not drink sodas anymore. It has been about 2 years since I drank them on a regular basis. Now if I take a sip of one it makes me gag! You can do this!!!

  • serpil tekin

    This is all pretty scary stuff. Surely this not apply to plain unflavoured mineral water and soda water. Or does it??

  • Carol

    I gave up diet sodas in 1998 due to finding out about aspartame and my petit mal seizures went away. I also wrote an article in 2002 about the sugar in regular soda, but this gives a much bigger picture! Thanks for your research, and I will be sharing this with my clients and friends! Already shared on FB.

  • http://www.coachcalorie.com/ Deanna Schober

    Always good to check the label and make sure there aren’t any chemicals, preservatives, and artificial sweeteners added. But plain carbonated water is probably just fine.

  • Jessica

    I just read this article today and it is SO good. I was a Diet Coke addict. Through educating myself on the dangers and the TERRIBLE effects of artificial sweetners and all the things in diet sodas, I quit. I’ve been Diet Coke Sober for 6 months. Some days are harder than others, but I feel SO MUCH BETTER.