Seven reasons not to drink soda!

I watch the addiction of a few people close to me, to soda.

One of my closest friends drinks it every day and calls it her “binky.” She kicks the habit but always goes back–because when she quits diet soda, she finds herself taking up sugar. Another tells me he is not addicted but seems to be in denial. I see him drink it 2 or 3 times a day. I’m not saying this to judge–just to express my concern, because soda is not food. It’s toxic acid.

One of my tennis teammates is 70 years old, athletic and quick and has never been overweight. One of the Jackson brothers, two local osteopathic surgeons, told her regarding a surgery they were planning related to her arthritis, “If you are going to drink soda after the surgery, I won’t do it. It will just quickly undo my work.”

Bone Density
Robyn having a bone density scan

If you drink soda, you can virtually guarantee that you will have arthritis by age 50. (Both my parents, nearing 70, have “bone on bone” arthritis problems, and neither of them drink soda.)

Oh, and guess what. I don’t care how young you are–50 is coming up faster than you think! If you’re 25 and think that when you’re 50, you’re washed up and don’t care about anything anyway (I thought this when I was 25)…well, you’re wrong. When you’re 50, you love your life, you want lots more of it, you care about how you look, you’re a sexual person, and you have lots of goals. (For some reason, being at that age right now, I feel the need to tell 20-somethings to care more about their future! I wish I had! I wish I didn’t eat so much sugar in my 20’s and get so much sun.)

Some time ago, Forbes magazine interviewed me for ranking things to drink on a 1 to 10 health  scale.  When it came to ranking soda, I asked him, “Can we have negative numbers?’

I’ve also been asked whether regular or diet soda is worse–my answer is that both are equally terrible, tied neck and neck for “worst foods ever.”  That’s because they aren’t food.  They don’t even have any food ingredients.

I wonder if seven sobering facts about accelerated aging and disease risk from drinking soda would help any of my friends–including you?–kick the habit? Share this with anyone you know who loves the burn of carbonation–or is addicted to the caffeine rush–or maybe both.

Here are seven kicks in the pants, to help you quit the soda habit:

1. SODA BRAIN! Brominated vegetable oil, or BVO, is added to soft drinks. It’s an industrial chemical used in plastics as a flame retardant. (It’s also in sports drinks.) It is known to cause nerve disorders and memory loss. It builds up in body fat and causes behavioral and mood problems, infertility, and heart problems.

2. FAT ON THE INSIDE! Researchers in Denmark found that those who drink soda have fat stores around their liver, other organs, and skeletal muscles, which leads to diabetes. Soda drinkers in the study also had much higher triglyceride blood fats and cholesterol than non-soda drinkers.

3. HORMONE UPSET! Aluminum cans are coated with BPA, which interferes with hormones and causes obesity, diabetes, cancer, and infertility. Neither Pepsi nor Coke has been willing to switch to BPA-free, while everyone else in America is doing so.

soda: a "frankenfood"!4. FRANKENFOOD! Lots of soda ingredients are corn-derived, and nearly 90 percent of the corn grown in the U.S. is now genetically modified. The U.S. government isn’t particularly interested in testing this horrible social experiment, but we know that genetically modified crops are linked to rapid aging, infertility, and gastrointestinal tract damage. Not that those ingredients really resemble corn by the time you drink them…but you get none of the fiber and other nutritional benefits of corn (which are limited anyway) and all of the downside of the GMO “frankenfood.”

5. CARAMEL CANCER! Two chemicals with reeeealllly long names are known to cause cancer in animals, and they make the lovely brown color in colas. Center for Science in the Public Interest tried unsuccessfully last year to get the FDA to ban them. The chemicals are just cosmetic, but of course Coke and Pepsi aren’t gonna back down. (Look how big the experiment went over when Pepsi tried to make a clear cola called Crystal Pepsi in 1992. All they care about is what sells.)

6. DIET AIN’T ANY BETTER! Even diet soda makes you fat. A study in Texas found that those who drink diet soda gained 70 percent in waist circumference in 10 years, compared with people who don’t drink soda. Those who drank more than two per day? They had a 500 percent waist expansion! The culprit is the neurotoxin aspartame. It actually raises your blood glucose levels, even though it contains chemicals rather than sugar.

7. GET OLD FASTER! Phosphates in cola extend their shelf life and improve taste. But they rob your bones and blood of desperately needed minerals. That leads to kidney problems, osteoporosis, heart disease, and rapid aging. It stops children and teens from building bone mass, in the critical period they are developmentally meant to do so. (After 30, we generally lose bone mass.) Soda manufacturers have increased phosphate levels higher and higher–but a medical journal article two years ago showed that lab rats with elevated phosphates died much earlier than normal.

I’ve been quizzing my readers who talk to me at classes about their soda addiction. I ask them what they like about it, and carbonation is a major answer. Try drinking kombucha from the health food store once a day instead. Synergy brand is most popular. Or if you need the caffeine boost and haven’t gotten your nutrition to the level where it sustains you, rather than needing the caffeine kick, drink an unsweetened, or stevia-sweetened bottled green tea from the health food store.

24 thoughts on “Seven reasons not to drink soda!

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  1. I am a recovering Dr. Pepper addict! I finally said no more sodas for me mid-January of 2012. A few weeks afterwards I decided to just try it and truth be told it tasted horrible. I took a few more sips to “make sure” it tasted bad then spit out the last sip and dumped the rest down the sink. Why did it take me so long to drop this bad habit? Was it the caffeine rush? OR the bubbly fizz going down my throat that tasted so yummy. Perhaps it was ll the above but mostly I think it was the HFCS. It was my last “food” item that needed booting because of the HFCS. HOWEVER, I am beginning to really recognize I am a sugar addict. It is a slow process, but I am determined to get this under control in regards to sugar. It is a huge mental obstacle for me that must be overcome before I can really get off the white stuff…but I will do it eventually. Baby steps are at least steps, right?

    1. Baby steps are big steps….when you consider that no soda, over 10 years, let alone 50, can mean a lot to your waistline, bone density, acidity in general and health in general! I love that the Dr. P didn’t taste good to you any more! HFCS makes me quickly sick and I finally gave up eating any food that has it in it, too!

  2. I too am a Dr Pepper addict!! I am 24 years old and have been drinking anywhere between 5-10 8 oz cans a day!!!! I need serious help! I’m from the south and Dr Pepper is pretty much a staple in Texas homes as well as Sweat Iced Tea! However, I enjoy unsweat tea. I was diagnosed with PCOS 2 years ago and know that this is horrible for my health! I’m having such a hard time kicking the habit!! I get extremely moody and depressed and have panic attacks (I think) if I don’t have it!! I started a website/blog on my journey to getting healthier and the journey to becoming a holistic nutritionist to heal myself, my family, and others. http://www.naturallyglowing.weebly.com

    Do you have any recommendations on how to kick this horrible, horrible habit??

    -Heather-

    P.S. I love your blog, and your story! Very inspiring and informational! Also, can I buy your book @ Barnes and Noble? Available for Digital Download?

    Thanks again and God Bless!

  3. Hey Robyn,

    This is unrelated to the post above but I didn’t know how else to contact you. I am wondering about canned foods. I really like to add beans to my salads and different meals, but I always buy them in a can. What are the affects of eating them from a can and what are the alternatives? Thanks for sharing your wisdom with all of us!

  4. I’ve been waiting everyday for part 2!! 🙂 BTW have to share something terrible– today I read a status message that said “Come show your support– $5 lunch includes pulled pork sandwiches, chips and soda, procedes go Relay for Life, so come and HELP CURE CANCER” ….OMG anyone else see a HUGE problem with this!!!! Ahhh!!

  5. I stopped drinking soda years ago & would just have the occassional rootbeer every once in a great while. For some reason I picked up drinking diet caffienated sodas a few years back and could not kick the habit! In February I started drinking green smoothies every day, and have not had a soda (or a craving for one) since! Thank you!!

  6. This is a great article. I’ve never been a huge soda drinker because when I was young I had bad tonsils and it hurt to swallow it. I did go through some years in my 20s and 30s where I would drink a bit of diet soda, but not as much as an addict would. I then read about the effects of aspartame and other artificial sweeteners and decided to forget it. Wow, now when I taste diet soda it tastes just awful, like metal. Splenda gives me a chlorine after taste on my tongue now too…..

    The two people I know who are the most addicted to soda, esp. diet soda, are also the most obese of my friends (I’ve got a ton of weight to lose myself, but it’s due to eating too much, not eating poorly). There is definitely a correlation.

    Thanks again. I will share this with my soda addicted friends. I love what the surgeon said to you too. It reminded me of what my father’s heart surgeon told him after his surgery in the late 1970s – if he had been a smoker he wouldn’t have even bothered to do the surgery because the smokers tended to just die after the surgery and he didn’t want to go through that.

  7. Robyn, I am 65, and can assure all your readers that I am loving my life at this age! I do not drink soda at all. I have in the past, on occasion, but was never really a soda drinker. I smoked for 35 years tho; but quit about 8 years ago. Also I like coffee in the mornings. I used to always put 2 spoons of sugar in it, plus milk. I still have a cup or two each morning but now I drink it black with stevia. The rest of the day I drink water! I also LOVE green smoothies, and if you ever run across me in an airport or anywhere; you’ll not have a hard time getting me to try it! Love your website!

  8. re Maria’s comment – I saw a similar post on our local events list this a.m.: “Fight Cancer….Eat Pizza!” about some moms raising money for Relay for Life by waitressing at a local pizza joint. How ironic!

    Robyn, does seltzer water have same effect? I switched to seltzer (sometimes mixed with a little juice) to get off sodas over 20 years ago, but sometimes I wonder if the CO2 is doing something bad….

  9. I too from Texas, Ex Dr. Pepper drinker….my mother introduced me to Dr.’s at the age of 6, I am in my 60’s. Someone told me a friend quit drinking them and she 30 pounds. That alone was enough incentive to just see. I switched to lemon water, and healthy smoothies.. It’s true – 30 pounds lighter myself. If I can do it after 50 years of addition you can to. Take one day at a time but shoot for 6 weeks Getting past 30 days was the hardest part.

  10. Soda will also wreak havock on your teeth! I work in the dental industry, and we see the terrible consequences that a regular habit of soda, sports drinks or anything with citric acid can cause, especially when teenagers go off to college. They come home with the freshman 15 AND a mouth full of cavities!

  11. I’ve just recently discovered water kefir. It seems similar to soda (I haven’t had soda for awhile, so it’s hard to say), and it’s cheap and easy to make–and good for you!

  12. I also have the same question about flavored seltzer waters with no sugar or sugar substitute in them. I used to be a diet soda drinker until a couple years ago when I started reading about the true effects of soda, diet or otherwise, on your body. That did it for me! However, I started drinking the flavored seltzer waters and have not been able to find any concrete data about whether they are damaging to your body or not. Can anyone address this? I did read the comment above about drinks containing citric acid harming your teeth, so that might be a clue these flavored seltzer waters are not good for us either?? Do their “natural flavors” come from some form of citric acid? Thank you!

  13. Hi Robin – thank you for all of your insight on food we eat etc. I have tried to get on the members facebook twice now and am not having any luck. Please can u advise? thank you

  14. I still remember when I got my braces and my doctor was going thru the “foods” to avoid or not to have if at all possible. We were fine until we hit the last one – soda! I worked at a theater in high school and the two items we were allowed to eat were popcorn and soda so giving this up wasn’t going to happen. So my dentist gave me a tip, which really made a huge difference and planted a seed to change my behavior: Immediately after drinking soda wash out your mouth with luke warm water! He said it would help to keep the sugar from attaching to your teeth (i.e., cavities).

    Anyways, it was shortly after that the cinema chain I worked at changed from Pepsi to Coca Cola. While I have heard the debate about one soda being “better” than the other and that they tasted different I never believed it. I believed it after the change!

    While soda was a “luxury” item in our household – sometimes more frequent than other times – I never became addicted to soda until I started working at the cinemas. It started out as a sip here and a sip there. Then I needed it as a bit of a wake-up jolt when I started in the morning – especially after working the closing shift. Then it spiraled where I was sipping / drinking it thru the day when it was possible.

    The best thing that happened was when my company switched to Coca Cola because the drastic change from sweet to acidic prevented me from drinking soda after that. There were only 2 exceptions that I can recall – both due to the lack of sleep and both met with disgust afterward as I managed a few sips.

    But more than that, I realized when I had soda cravings I was addicted to the soda and the idea of not controlling what I wanted angered me. It took a bit of time – I didn’t dive into a lot of nutrition back then in high school – but I managed it. And so can you!

    More than that though, when I won my fight against soda addiction, I later applied this lesson and my memory of winning to my fight against sugar, too! It took 3 weeks to purge my sugar addiction out of my system, and it nearly broke me / my resolve almost crumbled – but I reminded myself of what was important to me – living my life on my terms – and I succeeded again.

    Overall, you can do this. I know because of all the stories told. Happy journey!

  15. I have some studying to do… we have been using a “carbonator” that uses CO2 to fizz water. We flavor it with things like lemon, lime, ginger, concentrated tea, stevia, etc. CO2 is a product of our respiration. Our bodies are make to eliminate it through our lungs… but I never studied how it might affect digestion when we consume it in our water. I suppose moderation is the key. It doesn’t seem to violate any of these 7 points.

  16. Hey Robin – I’m with you on this 100%. How do you feel about Zevia tho? No aspartame, sugar free … I’m not sure about pH levels but it seems like a good “gateway” for people tying to kick soft drink habits that would be much healthier than diet / crap drinks

  17. A lot of hyp over nitric oxide supplements, can you make a comment on this product because I trust your opinion. Do you sell it?

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