By Summer Williamson and Adaline Bisese
A clip of an orange vested woman joyfully sipping a can of Coca-cola is aired intermittently during the NCAA’s March Madness basketball tournaments. An unhealthy beverage ironically promoted during an athletic competition. The slew of advertisements for soda beverages feeds the poor habits of those frequently drinking those sugary beverages. Despite the population’s general awareness of the negative effects sweetened sodas have, they continue to consume the harmful beverage. A deeper understanding of the nutritional science behind sodas is perhaps necessary to encourage people to cut out sodas from their diets.
Sodas are generally a sugary, sweet drink that are acceptable in moderation, but when consumed on a regular basis they have the potential to more than double your recommended sugar intake. One twelve ounce can of Coca-Cola contains 39 grams of sugar; that’s about ten sugar cubes. For another comparison, the recommended daily sugar intake for women is 25 grams and 38 for men. One can of Coca-Cola quickly exceeds the daily recommended sugar intake of both men and women.
Diet sodas, which are “sugarless,” are no better than regular sodas and do not help weight loss. Many of the replacement artificial sweeteners cause alarm for health issues worse than true sugar. In fact, artificial sweeteners might lead to weight gain. Psychologically, when a person is given a food that they are told is healthy, they are more likely to eat it in excess. Furthermore, they contain chemicals that disrupt the hormones in humans. Hormones negatively affected include, but aren’t limited to, leptin and ghrelin. Leptin is the hormone that decreases someone’s appetite, making them feel full. Ghrelin, on the other other hand, increases a person’s appetite. While artificial sweeteners have no effect on ghrelin, they are found to suppress leptin, leading to a craving that is almost never satisfied.
Diet sodas frequently contain aspartame, an artificial sweetener used as a sugar substitute for its sweetness and ‘zero calorie’ characteristics. There are claims that aspartame is related to health issues such as Alzheimer’s disease, birth defects, lupus, diabetes, Gulf War syndrome, attention deficit disorders, Parkinson’s disease, and more. Health concerns aside, the disgusting truth of aspartame is that it is essentially E.coli poop. Aspartame is formed from the amino acids in the feces of cultivated E.coli bacteria. In addition to problematic health concerns and weight loss, there is evidence hinting that the sweetener can lead to metabolic syndrome, which can cause enzymes in the gut to stop breaking down fats during digestion.
The majority of sodas have artificial coloring of some sort. Dr. Pepper, Coca-Cola, and Pepsi are just a few to name. The caramel coloring in sodas has shown evidence of leading to vascular issues and is carcinogenic (meaning cancerous). Caramel coloring added to sodas can contain 4-MEI, a known carcinogen, which is formed during the production of some foods. The amount in sodas are small, however 4-MEI is still a carcinogen that is consumed by forty-four to fifty-eight percent of people over six years old. About half of all people over the age of six consume at least one can of soda per day.
Along with the large amounts of sugar in soft drinks comes the prevalence of obesity in the United States. The Center for Disease Control, or CDC, estimates that one in five children aged six to nineteen has diagnosable obesity. They suggest the main factors leading to obesity are genetics, metabolism, amount of sleep, physical behaviors, and eating habits. It is recommended that schools encourage students to eat a balanced diet that includes fruits, vegetables, proteins, and grains, limiting empty calories. Empty calories include sugary items that are devoid of nutritional value. The CDC also recommends sixty minutes, if not more, of physical activity a day.
Soda is also acidic in nature, which can cause damage to the gut, bones, and cells of the body. The acidity of some sodas is as low as a pH of 2.5, while battery acid’s pH is 1. . . not much of a difference there. Phosphoric acid leaches bones of calcium and vital minerals, making the density dangerously low. Women that drank soda were shown to have a much lower bone density than that of women that did not consume soda. The calcium to phosphorus ratio within the body causes an imbalance of nutrition. The acid in sodas have also be proven to erode the enamel of teeth and cause heartburn.
Despite the corruptive nature of the acids in sodas, the beverages are commonly packaged in aluminum cans and plastic bottles. While aluminum cans will degrade after a long period of time, plastic bottles will not. Plastic bottles do not decompose, and as a result the first piece of plastic ever created is still on planet Earth today. Plastics that are not properly disposed of by the consumer will integrate into the environment. The bottles and cans in which sodas are kept in are often lined with plastics that contain BPA. The acids in the soda wear away at the plastic packaging and cause the chemicals from the plastics to be released into the drink which is later consumed.
There are many negative factors of sodas that should be taken into consideration the next time one of those sugary beverages appears in the fridge. They are in no way healthy to the consumer even if it is ‘diet,’ and there are no loopholes around the sugars and artificial sweeteners in them. In conclusion, all forms of soda should be avoided as much as possible, and in the least, consumed sparsely.