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What Happens to Your Body When You Drink Soda Every Day

Soda is one of the most widely consumed drinks in America, so odds are you're a regular drinker.

Soda is one of the most popular drinks in America, accounting for 22% of the beverages people consume. And 32% of Americans consume one sugary drink, like soda, every single day, according to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention. (For young adults, it's 43 percent.) So, the odds are that you're a regular drinker of the sweet stuff. And that's bad news.

You're likely aware that soda isn't the best for you, but do you know exactly how bad it really is to drink this carbonated sugar slurry every day? Here's a hint: the facts aren't pretty.

Consider these potential health outcomes of long-term practice of sipping soda every day before you crack open your next can of Coke—or any of the 108 Most Popular Sodas Ranked by How Toxic They Are.


It will definitely impact your health in some negative way

soda in glasses

"Soda is far from healthy," says Gina McArdle, RDN, LDN, a registered dietitian nutritionist at Geisinger Community Medical Center. "While having an occasional soda isn't going to have lasting long-term effects, having one or more sugary drinks every day will. In fact, soda and other sugary soft drinks may be one of the leading causes of obesity." What's more, excessive calorie intake leads to weight gain and metabolic syndrome, a cluster of symptoms related to heart disease and diabetes. Developing metabolic syndrome makes it harder for the body to burn fat and lose weight. So count drinking a soda a day among the 15 Daily Habits Causing You to Gain Weight—more on this next.


You'll likely gain weight

stepping on scale

A 12-ounce can of soda has about 140 calories and 39 grams of sugar (3 grams more than the American Heart Association's recommended daily intake of 36 grams for an adult male). At one cola can a day, you will have consumed an extra 51,100 calories in a year above your normal calorie intake. That's the calorie equivalent of an extra 14 pounds!

But will soda really cause weight gain? We'd bet on it, considering a large-scale study that followed over 50,000 nurses for many years. The study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that women who increased their consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages, particularly carbonated soft drinks, and maintained a high level of intake over 4 years gained an average of 17 pounds compared with women who decreased sugar-sweetened beverage intake over the same period and gained just 6 pounds. So cutting out soda will save you 11 pounds. That way you won't even need to follow these Top 10 Rules You Must Follow Every Day to Lose 10 Pounds.


It may make you hungrier


Do you know how drinking alcohol can give you the munchies? Well, a meta-analysis of 88 studies published in the American Journal of Public Health suggests the same can happen from drinking soda. It might stimulate your appetite or suppress satiety, causing you to eat more food. One of those studies found that participants consumed 17 percent more calories than in their typical diet even after the calories from the soda they drank had been taken into account. Researchers believe that foods and drinks that have a high glycemic index like soda (meaning they cause a quick, steep rise in blood sugar, followed by a rapid dip) might trigger the urge to eat and prefer other quick blood-sugar boosting carbs.

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You might increase your risk of type 2 diabetes

Woman testing insulin levels

Many studies have linked the consumption of soda and other sugary beverages to type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome. One of the largest, a meta-analysis of 11 studies involving 310,819 participants, found that people who drank one to two servings of sugar-sweetened beverages every day had a 26 percent greater risk of developing type 2 diabetes than people who drank no soda. For useful advice on how to break your sugar addiction and lose up to a pound a day, check out the Eat This, Not That! book The 14-Day No Sugar Diet.


Your memory may worsen

Middle age man with grey hair thinking, concerned and nervous with hand on chin

Drinking a lot of sugary soda has been linked to Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia, according to several recent studies. One of them, in the journal Alzheimer's and Dementia, monitored 4,000 middle-age adults. The participants were given memory tests and brain scans. Researchers, including those from Boston University, found that the more sugary sodas someone drank the worse they did on those memory tests. And the brain scans revealed the greatest brain shrinkage in those who drank the most soda.


You'll probably age more rapidly

Mature Sad Woman Looking At Her Wrinkles In Mirror

Talk about the 20 Worst Eating Habits That Are Shaving Years Off Your Life. An American Journal of Public Health study linked drinking 20-ounces of sugar-sweetened soda a day to 4.6 additional years of aging compared with those who didn't drink soda or sugar-sweetened beverages.


You may boost your risk of a painful autoimmune disorder

joint pain

Swollen and painful fingers, knees, and other joints are symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, a long-term autoimmune disorder in which the body's immune system attacks the joints. And there's clinical evidence linking sugary sodas to the disease. An observational study of more than 80,000 women in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that women who drank one or more servings of sugar-sweetened soda per day had a 63 percent increased risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis than women who consumed little or no sugary soda per month.


It may give you the worst kind of belly fat

Woman measuring waistline

Studies that show a connection between soda and weight gain indicate a very specific type of fat that is added to your body—visceral fat, aka belly fat. In one study in the Journal of Clinical Investigation researchers gave overweight and obese participants fructose- or glucose-sweetened beverages in quantities that made up 25 percent of their daily calorie requirements for 10 weeks. While both groups experienced similar weight gain during that time, abdominal CT scans showed that visceral fat, which wraps around your vital organs, was significantly increased only in the subjects who consumed high fructose drinks (one of the most common sweeteners in soda). The danger of visceral fat is that it secrets chemicals that are associated with a constellation of metabolic abnormalities, including insulin resistance, high triglycerides, inflammation, and as we've mentioned before, type 2 diabetes. Soda isn't your only problem. You should know about these 13 Foods You Didn't Realize Are Causing Belly Fat.


You elevate your chances of dying from heart disease

man having heart attack

There's no way to sugarcoat this: A large study published recently in the journal Circulation found that the more sugary drinks people consumed, the higher their risk of dying from any cause—but especially cardiovascular disease. The study, which followed more than 118,000 health professionals for more than three decades, determined that people who drank two or more sugar-sweetened beverages daily were about one-third more likely to die of heart disease or stroke when compared with people who rarely drank sweet drinks.


It'll feed bacteria and may give you bad breath

bad breath

If you don't know that soda can give you cavities, you didn't go to the dentist as a kid. But did you know that the average soda is acidic—to the tune of 2.5 pH, making it about as acidic as lemon juice—and can destroy tooth enamel? Sugar itself doesn't harm teeth, but it feeds the 300 different species of bacteria living inside your mouth. When you drink soda, bacteria feed on the sugar leaving behind waste in the form of plaque. If you don't brush it away, the plaque will make acids which wear down tooth enamel. And when the plaque forms near the gums, it produces toxic products that enter gum tissues causing gingivitis, the dental term for bad breath.


You're more likely to be diagnosed with depression

anxiety depression

A large study involving 263,925 people between the ages of 50 and 71 looked at their consumption of soda, tea, fruit punch, and coffee during a one year period. About 10 years later, researchers asked the participants if they had been diagnosed with depression; a total of 11,311 depression diagnoses were counted. It turned out that people who drank more than four cans or cups of soda per day were 30 percent more likely to develop depression than those who did not drink sweetened drinks. "Our research suggests that cutting out or down on sweetened diet drinks or replacing them with unsweetened coffee may naturally help lower your depression risk," said study author Honglei Chen, MD, PhD, with the National Institutes of Health in Research Triangle Park in North Carolina and a member of the American Academy of Neurology.


It may shorten your lifespan

Elderly woman feeling unwell,she's headache and painful around chest area.

Drinking soda may be shortening your lifespan. A population-based study published in JAMA Internal Medicine examined soda consumption in 10 European countries. Researchers found participants who drank two or more glasses of soft drinks a day experienced a significantly greater risk of death from all causes compared to those who drank less than 1 glass per month. Save your life—skip the soda. And why not replace it with the 20 Foods You Should Be Eating Every Day for a Longer Life.

Jeff Csatari
Jeff Csatari, a contributing writer for Eat This, Not That!, is responsible for editing Galvanized Media books and magazines and for advising journalism students through the Zinczenko New Media Center at Moravian University in Bethlehem, PA. Read more about Jeff
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