At an average of 45 gallons of sodas drunk per year, per person “cokes,” “pops,” and “soft drinks” are deeply ingrained in our diet and our culture. Look around and you’ll see commercials, billboards, and magazine ads of friends and family gathered together, smiling and laughing over a coke.
(See how happy they look? It’s probably the sodas.)
The underlying message, of course, is that sodas don’t just taste good but they make you feel good too… Red can, blue can, green can, or brown – the message is always the same. And frankly, so is the crap inside the can. Sure, the brain gets a nice dopamine bath, but when that wears off what are you left with? The short answer was eloquently (and nauseatingly) provided in a video released by the New York City Health Department in 2009:
I don’t know about you, but I stopped drinking soda for a few days after I saw that ad. (I still hadn’t given them up at that point in my life, but more on that later).
Just one can of soda per day, the ad says, can add up to ten pounds of body fat in one year. In 2017, Good Morning America reported that the same habit was equivalent to eating 52 pounds of sugar per year. No matter how you look at the numbers, it’s still a lot to stomach. This is true for diet sodas, as well. One study showed that participants who drank diet soda had gained three times as much belly fat as those who drank none at all.
More Problems Than Just Weight Gain
If the damage stopped there, we might be more willing to give sodas a pass. But, really, it’s just the beginning. The soda and the can each contain a harmful carcinogen (4-methylimidazole and BPA respectively) which can cause cancer. Elevated risks of pancreatic, colon, and endometrial cancers have been observed in regular soda drinkers.
Just one can of soda can contain as many as 50 grams of sugar, which is more than an entire day’s amount of healthy sugar intake. This causes the blood sugar to spike, and over time it can result in one of two things:
- The body will become resistant to insulin, making it hard to naturally lower blood sugar levels, or…
- Your pancreas, being overworked, will fail to produce enough insulin and blood sugar levels will remain unchecked.
Effects on the Heart & Organs
Although your pancreas can take a beating from a regular soda habit, it isn’t the only organ affected. Studies of the effects of soda consumption have been linked to chronic kidney disease, heart disease, high blood pressure, liver disease, and (oddly enough) a heightened risk for developing asthma and COPD.
The Brain and The Nervous System
What You Can Do About It?
It’s hard to imagine so many frightening possibilities could come from a humble can of soda. Yet there it is: sodas aren’t just unhealthy – they can be downright destructive.
Here are some steps that you can take to bring your soda habit to a stop:
- Start by keeping track of how many sodas you drink in a day. Is it only one? Or is it more than that? Identifying your behavior is the first step to changing it. (Otherwise, how do you know what to change?)
- If you drink only one soda per day, start by cutting it back to one soda every two days. Then every three, and so on.
- If you drink more than one soda daily, commit to drinking one less soda per day. Your process may be harder than a once-a-day drinker because you’re taking in a lot more sugar – a substance known to be more addictive than cocaine – and your body will need more time to adjust to the change.
- Cutting back on the size of the soda you drink works, too. If you drink a 20-ounce bottle, switch to a can instead. The result is still a lower intake.
- Eat a healthy, sweet snack instead. Having a piece of fruit will give you vitamins, minerals, fiber, and a smaller dose of sugar (making it another great option for gradually reducing your sugar consumption).
- Choose a drink with less sugar – this could be coffee with a single sugar packet, infused sparkling water, herbal or fruit teas, or coconut water.
- Drink more water! Sodas have a dehydrating effect on our bodies. The extra fluids will go a long way to helping you feel better.
- Finally, if all this information hasn’t been enough to make you think twice about drinking soda again, just remember that this is what you’re guzzling out of that can…
Open Road Fitness is an online fitness coaching service for truck drivers. Our mission is to make good health accessible to the men and women of the truck driving the industry by providing practical education and guidance to create sustainable habits for the long haul.