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What Happens To Your Liver When You Drink Soda

Soda is especially taxing on your liver. Learn more about what drinking soda can do to this vital organ.

It's no secret that when it comes to drinks, soda is not the healthiest choice. From an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, tooth decay, and obesity, there are plenty of ways soda negatively affects your health. But it can also impact the health of your liver.

To back up, you should first know the function of the liver in your body:

"The liver aids in metabolizing the carbohydrates, protein, and fat we consume, and then stores them as glycogen, vitamins, and minerals for later use," says Keri Gans, MS, RDN, CDN, registered dietitian nutritionist in New York City. "It also helps to remove toxins from our blood supply or make toxins less harmful to the body."

The average soda contains a sweetener called high fructose corn syrup (HFCS). While HFCS is not composed entirely of fructose, it does contain high levels of this simple sugar. Your liver is the primary organ your body uses to process fructose, which can tax it. So the impacts of soda on your liver are pretty serious. Here are 3 ways that science has proven soda affects your liver. Read on, and for more on how to eat healthy, don't miss learning about the Surprising Side Effects of Not Drinking Soda, Say Dietitians.

It can contribute to nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.


"Too much sugar may lead to a fatty build-up which may be harmful to the liver," says Gans.

Studies have found that when you consume too much sugar, it overwhelms your liver, turning it into fat in the liver. According to the Mayo Clinic, symptoms of NAFLD include fatigue and pain and can lead to liver scarring (cirrhosis) and liver failure.

It can cause insulin resistance.


If you're drinking a lot of soda, it could also lead to insulin resistance. One study found that those who consumed 4 sugary drinks per day totaling between 40-80 grams of sugar for just 3 weeks reported increased insulin resistance in the liver. Subsequently, soda has also been found to increase your risk of type 2 diabetes.

It can lead to liver inflammation.


Not only does soda contain a lot of sugar, but it can also contain a lot of high fructose corn syrup, which has been found to have negative effects on the liver. A 2020 study done on mice found that those who were fed high fructose corn syrup over longer periods of time had signs of deterioration in the intestinal wall barrier and inflamed livers. This can lead to non-alcoholic steatohepatitis, which can progress to scarring of the liver (cirrhosis), liver cancer, and liver failure.

Cirrhosis (liver scarring)

soda bubbles

As we've been mentioning, there are many ways in which drinking too much soda can result in cirrhosis, which is the scarring of the liver. More specifically, cirrhosis is when your liver is injured—whether by disease or drinking soda—and it tries to repair itself, according to the Mayo Clinic. With the continued injury, more and more scar tissue forms, making it difficult for the liver to function and is generally irreversible at a certain stage. Drinking too many sugar-sweetened beverages is linked to NAFLD, which is linked to a 30% higher risk of cirrhosis.

To learn more about why you should consider giving up soda, take a look at these 40 Side Effects of Drinking Too Much Soda.

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