Can the Soda

Sometimes, one simple change in your diet can be the difference between reaching your goals for a healthy life and frustration. No matter how hard you work out, if you eat and drink sugar-laden and high-fat foods, you will be fatter than you want to be. Using a simple, calories-in versus calories-out equation, you must burn more calories than you ingest in order to lose weight.   While eating healthier food is probably high on your priority list, what about what you drink? Are you aware of the effect soda has on your health?

Before you groan and turn away from this article like a Bourbon Street tourist trying to hide from Sunday morning, consider what you already know: soda contains empty calories. In fact, a 12-ounce can contains about 155 calories. Drink two or three cans a day and…you can do the math.

Dr. Marion Nestle, author of the book Food Politics, writes, “The relationship between soft drink consumption and body weight is so strong that researchers calculate that for each additional soda consumed, the risk of obesity increases.”

Sound ridiculous? A joint Harvard University and Boston Children’s Hospital study concluded just one soda a day increased a child’s risk of obesity by 60 percent, regardless of how much they exercised. Other studies link weight gain with diet soda consumption. Some scientists postulate sweet tastes stimulate the appetite, thus causing soda drinkers to eat more. Just as likely is a lack of knowledge about how many calories are in a “Big Gulp.”

Of course, if you’re drinking a sugary soda, you are increasing your chances fortooth decay, not just because of the sugar, which feeds the bad bacteria in your mouth, but because soda is the most acidic beverage you can buy. You already know acid oxidizes whatever it touches. For proof, leave a piece of metal in a glass of soda.

Soda also leaches calcium from your bones because the phosphorous in soda attaches to calcium in your body. “It appears that increased soft drink consumption is a major factor that contributes to osteoporosis,” states Dr. Michael Murray.

Dr. Nestle adds children are not immune to the bone-destroying properties of soda: “Adolescents who consume soft drinks display a risk of bone fractures three to four-fold higher than those who do not.”

Then there’s sodium benzoate. A preservative in many processed foods, sodium benzoate adds sodium to the diet, which will reduce the availability of potassium in the body. This popular food additive has also been linked to rashes, asthma and eczema in sensitive people.

Add to this chemical concoction a little carbonation and caffeine and you have the perfect beverage for a day at the beach or the ballgame or with a burger. Actually, I don’t disagree and will occasionally indulge myself. Then again, if you’re looking for a simple way to cut empty calories from your diet, reduce your chances of osteoporosis and tooth decay and lose weight in the process, can the soda habit.