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Warning Signs You're Drinking Too Much Soda, According to the Mayo Clinic

Look beyond the telltale cavities to spot the symptoms of sugary beverage overload.
FACT CHECKED BY Olivia Tarantino

If you have enough empty plastic soda bottles lying around your house to build a homemade kayak, that might be a sign that you're drinking way too much soda. Check it out: it takes about 270 20-ounce recycled beverage bottles to make this nifty open kayak. While we applaud this environmentally sound recycling project, we believe having enough raw material to build such a seagoing vessel of plastic may come with negative health side effects.

Doctors and researchers from the Mayo Clinic, one of the largest academic health systems in the United States with dozens of locations, have identified many downsides of drinking a lot of sodas that can serve as warnings to remediate your sugary ways. And when you're finished reading this article, jump to 20 Ways to End Sugar Cravings for Good, According to Nutritionists.

You're putting on weight.

woman on scale weight loss

Let's admit what soda is, besides tasty: Water, sugar, food coloring. Empty calories. No nutrients. "In one 20-ounce bottle of soda, there are 17 teaspoons of sugar," says Donald D. Hensrud, MD, a general medicine physician with the Mayo Clinic. "Nobody would eat that much sugar, but they are in liquid form when they drink soda." Drinking just one regular soda every day equals up to 32 pounds of sugar each year, Hensrud points out.

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You've got the jitters.

pouring coke soda into glass

Feeling jittery, nervous, and irritable, perhaps with a fast heartbeat, muscle tremors, headache and trouble sleeping. All are warning signs that you're consuming too much caffeine. Remember, some sodas contain caffeine and contribute to the other sources you may be drinking–coffee and energy shot drinks (4 cups and two "shots" equal 400 mg of caffeine, respectively). Related: 40 Side Effects of Drinking Too Much Soda.

Your skin looks prematurely wrinkled.

pouring soda

Looking older in the mirror than your driver's license says you are could be a reflection of your soda drinking habits. "Some research suggests that a diet high in processed or refined sugars or other carbohydrates and unhealthy fats promotes skin aging," says Mayo Clinic dermatologist Lawrence E. Gibson, MD, a professor of dermatology at Mayo Medical School.

You're parched.

Woman cracks open can sod

If you're still thirsty after drinking a lot of soda, it could be due to a combination of caffeine and sugar. Research from the World Health Organization shows that sugar in soft drinks (especially diet beverages) can cause an electrolyte imbalance in the body called a hypernatremic effect. It means that water is being drawn from your tissues, causing dehydration.

You're peeing a lot more often.


Frequent urination is just one of the possible symptoms of type 2 diabetes. Increased thirst, excess hunger, fatigue, and blurred vision are others. If you recognize these signs, your excess soda habit may have flipped your blood sugar switch and made you pre-diabetic or given you full-blown diabetes. See your doctor for a proper diagnosis and change-of-lifestyle steps that may remedy this dangerous scenario.

"Our tastebuds have been trained to love sugary drinks," says Mayo Clinic nutrition educator Katie Johnson. But you can change that by taking small steps to decrease the amount of soda and other drinks you consume each day. It may help to remember this: "If a person drinks just one non-diet soda a day that equals eight 4-pound bags of sugar consumption in a year," says Johnson. "It's shocking."

Your bloodwork may show high triglycerides.

doctor patient

The typical "lipid panel" your doctor orders to check your cholesterol levels often includes a value for triglycerides, another type of blood fat. Consuming an excessive amount of added sugars, like those found in soda and other sweet drinks, candy, yogurt, ketchup, spaghetti sauce, cereal, etc., can elevate triglyceride levels, which may increase your risk of heart disease, according to the Mayo Clinic. (Related: 15 Popular Foods You Didn't Realize Are Damaging Your Heart)

You suffer from kidney stones.


A habit of drinking sugar-sweetened beverages, especially colas which contain phosphoric acid, can increase your chances of developing painful kidney stones. What's more, a study in the journal Epidemiology concluded that drinking two or more carbonated colas per day was associated with an increased risk of chronic kidney disease. If you are drinking a lot of soda, you probably are not drinking the eight to 10 glasses a day recommended for good kidney function.

Your doctor is worried about your heart.

doctor looking papers

The poor health of your heart could be tracked back to your diet and your soda habit.

Researchers reporting in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology found the health effects of drinking one or two servings a day of sugar-sweetened beverages include a 35% greater risk of heart attack or fatal heart disease, according to the Mayo Clinic News Network.

And, of course, we don't have to tell you that drinking a lot soda (a 12-ounce can contains nearly 10 packets of sugar) can destroy your teeth, but did you know about these other 11 Foods and Drinks to Avoid if You Have Sensitive Teeth?

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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