Health Dangers of Drinking Soda

Before you or your children take a sip, learn about the risks associated with this sugary drink. More and more findings are showing that consuming sugary drinks increases the risk of obesity or weight gain in children and adults, because of the sugar and high-fructose corn syrup in soda. Not only that, these drinks bring on a number of other health issues...

The Sugar

In the US, the American Heart Association recommends that adults have no more than six to nine tablespoons of sugar per day, and kids have between three and eight tablespoons a day. In Canada, Health Canada states that there is no generally accepted sugar target for a healthy population, which is why they don't include a % Daily Value for Sugar on Nutrition Fact Labels. But according to STATS CANADA, Canadians consume 110.0 grams of sugar a day, the equivalent of 26 teaspoons. This amounts to 21.4% of their total daily calorie intake. Much of it comes from drinking pop.

TIP: To determine how much sugar is in a serving, check the nutrition label for Sugars (listed in grams). Divide the number of grams by four. For example, if sugars are listed as 12 g., divide that by four and you get three teaspoons of sugar per serving.

Need more info on Sugar? Eat Right Ontario has published an informative article: The Truth about Sugar - FAQs.

A link between Cancer and Sodas?

According to the Centre for Science in the Public Interest, caramel coloring used in most colas has been linked to two cancer-causing chemicals. New chemical analyses have found that all colas sold on the market today contain high levels of 4-methylimidazole (4-MI), a known animal carcinogen. The carcinogen forms when ammonia or ammonia and sulfites are used to manufacture the “caramel coloring” that gives those sodas their distinctive brown colors.

Can drinking Soda lead to Diabetes?

Drinking just one to two sugary drinks per day increases your risk of developing type 2 diabetes by about 25%, according to a Harvard University study. The study provides evidence that intake of sugary beverages should be limited to reduce risk of these conditions.

Soda and Tooth Decay

Does soda rot your teeth? According to Colgate, soft drinks have emerged as one of the most significant dietary sources of tooth decay, affecting people of all ages. Soda consumption nearly doubles the risk of cavities in children and increases the likelihood in adults. The acid in soda and other sugary drinks causes erosion of tooth enamel, while the sugar in the beverages provide fuel for bacteria that cause tooth decay.  

Is Sugar-Free an Option?

Stay away from the 'Sugar-Free' or 'Diet' versions of soda! They are just as bad for your health since they are laddened with chemicals and don't offer any weight loss. Here's an article from Health Today, on the harmful effects of diet soda. Unfortunately, these versions are becoming very popular with kids today.

How to Kick the Habit

Giving up soda is a difficult thing to do. In fact, for most, soft drinks are addictive. Remember: your body needs only water to sustain itself; nothing in soft drinks is needed by your body.

If you or your kids can’t quit cold turkey and give up your soda-fix, here are some things you can do:

• Try drinking smaller serving sizes. Order the smallest sizes at restaurants, or split a can of soda with someone. Keep in mind that one twelve-ounce can has about 10 teaspoons (more than 3 tablespoons) of sugar. New York City’s Mayor Bloomberg has actually banned sales of 16-ounce sodas!
• Cut the soda with seltzer, gradually increasing the amount of seltzer.
• Switch to water, unsweetened tea, or seltzer. Flavor with lemon, lime, or fresh mint.
• Drink 100% fruit juice. While juice does have sugar, it also has healthful nutrients, as opposed to soda’s empty calories. If you miss the carbonation, add seltzer.
• Make your own soda! There are some cool gadgets available today such as Soda Stream which allow you to make your own, that way you can limit your sugar intake. Flavour it with a little bit of natural juice. It's a much healthier alternative!

Have you found it difficult to stop drinking soda? Do you think the government is doing enought to educate Canadians about the health effects of drinking soda? Should soda bottles and cans carry warning labels?

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