My name is Ellen. (Hi Ellen.) I am addicted to Mt. Dew. (*smattering of applause*)
I do not use the term addicted lightly. I have been addicted to cigarettes, and once skirted on the edge of a Vicoden addiction. Both habits I have been able to kick. But Mt. Dew has a hold on me. I crave the caffeine, the carbonation, and the sugar. Oh, the sugar. Will power fails me. Every time. The longest I’ve gone without a Mt. Dew is probably 3 weeks. At my worst, I can down 4 or 5 16oz bottles a day. I drink it like water. I drink it more than water.
The problem with soft drinks is that they are so easily justifiable. They aren’t going to give you lung cancer or send you rummaging through your arthritic grandmother’s medicine cabinet. The stuff is served at restaurants and kid’s parties. How bad can it be?
Aah, well. Apparently, pretty bad. Have your own soda addiction and want to be scared straight? Read on!
First, a few words on how your body processes sugar. When you eat sugar, the pancreas secretes insulin. The insulin encourages your cells to take up the sugar in your blood stream and use it or store it for energy.(1) Your body is built for this. However, drinking a soft drink is like revving the engine in a car. Sure, the car is built to accelerate, but abusing it like that is going to cause some serious ware and tare on the parts. Your pancreas is the engine in this analogy.
Speaking of wear and tear on the pancreas…
There are two types of diabetes. Type 1 happens when the pancreas can’t produce enough insulin or otherwise does not respond appropriately to sugar in the bloodstream. Type 2 happens when the insulin no longer effects the body, usually from repeated overloading of the bloodstream with sugar (3). Both types of diabetes are, at best, a pain to live with and manage on a daily basis, and at worst, deadly. Yup. Deadly.
A spike in sugar produces a spike in insulin to process all that sugar. It triggers cells to “suck” all the sugar out of your blood stream and into cells. Neurons are unable to store glucose, and depend on a small amount in the blood for energy. The “crash” after eating sugar is a result of the neurons experiencing an energy crisis, causing you to feel weak, unfocused and jittery. A glucose deficiency is called hypoglycemia, and in extreme cases it can lead to unconsciousness. (2)
Soft drinks are empty calories. There is nothing to them. Studies show that Americans do not compensate for the added calories in soda by eating less food. Just 100 extra calories a day leads to weight gain in adults. That’s about as many calories in one 12oz can of soda.(4)
Obesity in Children
Sodas and other sweetened, high-calorie drinks have been linked to childhood obesity. A study led by David S. Ludwig, M.D., Ph.D., director of the obesity program at Children’s Hospital of Boston found that a child’s odds of becoming obese increase by 60 percent with each additional daily serving of sweetened soft drinks. A typical teenager drinks 2-3 12oz cans of soda a day, adding 300 extra calories to the diet. Diabetes and vitamin deficiencies are also linked to soft drink consumption in children and teens. (7)
Besides the high sugar content, sodas also contain an assortment of acids such as acetic, fumaric , gluconic and phosphoric acids. The synthetic acids can alter the alkaline-acid balance of the digestive tract, leading to inflammation of the stomach. Stomach aches, abdominal cramps and diarrhea are just some the the symptoms of a continuous acid environment. Gastric lining erosion and ulcers can happen over the long term. (5)
The hypothesis about soft drink effects on bone loss used to be that phosphoric acid leaches calcium from the bones. This has been shown to be only a part of the problem. By drinking soft drinks instead of milk, vitamin deficiencies start to show up, especially protein, calcium, zinc, and vitamins A and C. (1) Teen girls consume only 60% of recommended calcium levels. Those who drink soft drinks consume one-fifth less than that. Since bone health during puberty can have long-term effects, teens who drink soda are more likely to have bone density issues later in life. (4)
Your insides aren’t the only things effected by soft drinks. Cavities are caused when the sugar in soda combines with bacteria in your mouth to form acid. This acid weakens tooth enamel. Each “acid attack” can last 20 minutes and starts over again with every drink. (6)
1. What are soft drinks doing to your body? Dr. Maoshing Ni Yahoo Health http://health.yahoo.net/experts/drmao/what-soft-drinks-are-doing-your-body
2. The Franklin Institute Resources for Science Leaning http://www.fi.edu/learn/brain/carbs.html#toomuch
3. American Diabetes Association
4. Soft Drink Consumption Linked to Childhood Obesity http://www.win.niddk.nih.gov/notes/winnotesfall01/studylinkssoft.htm
5. The Dangers of Soft Drinks Judith Valentine, PhD, CNA, CNC http://www.globalhealingcenter.com/soft-drinks-america.html
6. Mississippi State Department of Health Soft Drinks and Oral Health http://msdh.ms.gov/msdhsite/index.cfm/41,2809,151,299,html
7. Elsevier Health Sciences. Soft Drinks Consumption May Increase The Risk Of Childhood ObesityScienceDaily