Say it ain’t so! Even diet soda causes weight gain!

This one is touchy for me.  It’s just not something I want to be true.  Soda, pop, soft drink, fizzy pop-pop, sweet nectar, whatever you call it – it’s simply really terrible for your health.

I grew up drinking soft drinks.  I still prefer soft drinks over anything else.  I never really developed a taste for alcohol, so I’m the guy at a party who will fill his red solo cup with some kind of soda.  It goes well with lunch or dinner.  I just can’t seem to get enough of it.  Wait?  What?  Why can’t I stop?

Oh yeah.  It’s addictive.  Right.

So, I wrote recently about how junk food is addictive.  Scientists were able to demonstrate in the lab how mice (or was it rats? I forget) would choose “sweet” over cocaine to the point of enduring pain to get their fix.  So, soft drinks are tough to break the habit on, once we’re “programmed” to want them.  But, aside from the sweetness, is there anything else that should make me want to avoid soft drinks?  I mean, yes regular soda is high in calories.  Can’t I just drink diet?

Luckily, I’m one of those who always gagged when offered a diet soda.  It just tastes bitter to me.  I guess there is some science behind that, but that’s not what I’m focusing on today.

Soda – both regular and diet – have some pretty bad effects on the body

There have been some studies (however accurate) that tend to point towards soft drinks contributing towards higher cancer risk.  It’s high in high fructose corn syrup or aspartame, which may not be terrible in moderate quantities, but the excess received in soft drinks might be something to be concerned about.  A study out of California points towards soft drinks creating increased incidences of diabetes and coronary heart disease.

But the simplest of negative effects is weight gain (even with diet soda!!)

I didn’t understand that for a long time.  How could a drink with zero calories cause weight gain?  I mean, isn’t weight gain simply about burning fewer calories than you take in?  So, if you drink something containing zero calories, how could it possibly cause weight gain?

Interestingly, there is some discussion over how our bodies need to maintain a certain pH range (right around 7 or so).  Foods that we eat are either higher or lower on the pH scale.  Some are more acidic and others are more alkaline.  Our bodies are designed to regulate the amount of acids and alkalines in our bodies, because if we get too far out of the necessary range, we die.

So how do our bodies regulate pH?  We reduce carbonic acid in our system during respiration.  Our kidneys filter out alkalines while they do their job.  The body needs some different fuels to make these processes work and consequently, we lose really important minerals, like potassium or calcium.  Ok, so I don’t want to write too much on those right now (that’s probably a whole different discussion).  I’m simply talking about weight gain associated with soft drinks.

Ok, so why does even diet soda cause us to gain or hold on to weight?  Take a look at the ingredients list on your favorite soft drink.  See that phosphoric acid listed pretty early on the list?  That means there is a fair amount of it in each serving.  The body sacrifices iodine to process the excess acid (in this case, phosphoric acid) in the body.  When we reduce iodine in our bodies, thyroid function is impaired.  The thyroid is responsible for maintaining our metabolisms and when it is impaired, guess what?  Metabolism slows down and we gain weight – even if we’re drinking diet soda.

Well, shoot.  I guess that means I shouldn’t drink soda.  There will be times when that is what I’ll reach for.  For me, there are times when I’m traveling for work when it’s just plain what I need to drink if I want a drink at all.  But, all these really sinister reasons to avoid it will more readily come to my own mind that I’ve spent some time writing down what they are.  Maybe this will make you think twice, as well.


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