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I'm a Dietitian, and Here's Why You Shouldn't Drink Soda

It's not doing your body any favors.
FACT CHECKED BY Kiersten Hickman

It shouldn't come as a surprise that soda isn't healthy, but have you ever considered why that is?

Most people know sugar is unhealthy and causes weight gain, but the truth is that not all sugar is created equal. The worst culprit by far is high fructose corn syrup—the main ingredient in soda.

Most sugars are damaging to health because they are digested so quickly, contain so few nutrients, and become extremely easy to overeat. Just think: have you ever sat down with some candy, chocolate, or a soda, and before you know it, most of it is gone? This is precisely the reason I recommend limiting sugar intake with my clients. Sugar is too easy to over-consume and will not leave you feeling full for long—they're called "empty calories" for this reason!

Soda, and subsequently high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS), is even worse for your health than run-of-the-mill table sugar! HFCS is digested via the liver—completely bypassing normal digestion—and delivers a much more damaging punch. Sugars that get processed through the liver create fatty deposits leading to insulin resistance. This cascade of events is the first domino to set off the many diet-related chronic conditions that plague Americans. (Related: 108 Most Popular Sodas Ranked By How Toxic They Are)

Let's take a closer look at insulin resistance and soda consumption.

Insulin resistance happens when the body becomes less effective at utilizing sugars. When sugar is overconsumed, insulin is overproduced. After years of a high-sugar intake, the body truly resists insulin absorption causing blood sugar to rise, waistlines to increase, and directly contributing to Type 2 diabetes. Research has shown this process is further sped up by a diet that is particularly high in HFCS from sodas!

How much sugar is too much?

The American Heart Association recommends no more than 100 calories of sugar per day (25 grams per day) for women and 150 calories (35 grams per day) for men. One bottle of soda has a whopping 75 grams of sugar and 300 calories–most of them from HFCS! That doesn't leave you with much wiggle room for an extra treat in your day. Daily sugar consumption becomes a little less sweet when you consider these side effects. If you ask me, skip the daily soda and opt-in for something sweet when you really want it!

If you want to explore where else high fructose corn syrup might be lurking in your diet, check out these foods with HFCS that might surprise you!

More Soda Stories on Eat This, Not That!
Caroline Thomason, RDN
Caroline is a women's health Registered Dietitian and diabetes educator based in Northern Virginia. Read more
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