Giving up soda is a big change for a lot of people. Even cutting back from let’s say three sodas to one a day, can be life-altering and very beneficial to your health. For some people the changes are a bit less drastic and mean switching from regular to diet soda. But is diet, better? For those who switched to diet soda from regular soda, it was probably because they were trying to be healthier and cut calories. This calorie cut, however, does not mean healthier. Nor does it mean that you are in the clear from the health risks that come from drinking soda.
Our liquid diet is often an aspect of our eating habits we overlook, thinking that it's not affecting our overall health that much. Well that's the wrong approach. The majority of Americans are not aware or fully engaged in their drinking habits but they actually have a profound effect on our health. Many nutritionists refer to these drinks as "sugar-sweetened beverages" that most people don't think are sweetened.
Americans consume nearly 130 pounds of added sugars per person every year. This includes both sugar and high fructose corn syrup. These sugars lead to obesity, type 2 diabetes, hypertension and heart disease and can be found in sweetened drinks, syrup, honey, breads, and yogurts. Since the 1970’s sugar consumption has decreased 40%, this is slightly misleading since there has been an increase in fructose consumption in the form of high fructose corn syrup. This is the type of sugar is found in most sodas and sugary soft drinks. Fructose, as it happens, is the sweetest of all sugars and leaves us craving more. Fructose consumption triggers euphoric or ‘feel good’ chemical activity in the brain, similar to a ‘reward system’ such that when you eat sugar, your brain feels pleasure. The more sugar you eat, the greater your threshold to reach this pleasure sensation is, so you need more and more daily.
Here's what just one can of soda does to your body.
In the first 10 minutes: Ten teaspoons of sugar (100 percent of your recommended daily intake) hits your system.
In 20 minutes: Your blood sugar spikes and causes a burst of insulin. Your liver responds by turning the sugar it comes into contact with into fat.
In 40 minutes: Your body has absorbed the soda’s caffeine. Your pupils may dilate, your blood pressure rises, and your liver dumps more sugar into your bloodstream. The adenosine receptors in your brain are blocked to prevent you from feeling drowsy.
In 45 minutes: Your body increases production of the pleasure neurotransmitter dopamine.
In 60 minutes: The soda’s phosphoric acid binds with calcium, magnesium, and zinc in your lower intestine to give you a further boost in metabolism. This is intensified by the high doses of sugar and artificial sweeteners that also cause you to urinate out calcium.
After 60 minutes: The caffeine’s diuretic effect makes you have to pee. When you do, you’ll pass on the bonded calcium, magnesium, and zinc that were headed to your bones, as well as sodium, electrolytes, and water.