Trying to imagine a life in which you never drink soda is pretty difficult. Some people do it, but for the average American who doesn’t have a super strict diet, it’s almost inevitable that you’ll end up drinking a few sodas from time to time. Turns out, that’s probably a much worse thing than you’d suppose.
Soda consumption is down in the United States, but is still pretty high. Last year, the average American drank 38.5 gallons of soda annually. That’s a ton of soda. Believe it or not, that number is much smaller than it used to be.
A meta-study conducted in South Africa, that examined data from 36 studies from the past ten years on the health effects of soda consumption, has come out with some bad news. The study, published in the Journal of the Endocrine Society, reached the predictable conclusion that regularly drinking soda increases risk of chronic illnesses like diabetes, cardiovascular disease and high blood pressure.
Surprisingly, though, the study also concluded that drinking two cups a week of soda also increases your risk profile for type 2 diabetes. It also suggested that drinking one soda per day increases risk of high blood pressure.
The problem is, as you could have guessed, the sugar. Spiking glucose and fructose in your body also causes your blood sugar to rise dramatically. This screws with your pancreas, the organ that releases insulin. The more often you have these sugar spikes, the more your body has to strain to produce insulin to cope with them. This can eventually lead to diabetes.
Soda consumption is also associated with increased “visceral adiposity,” the medical term that refers to fat stored around your internal organs. Soda drinkers typically have 10% more visceral adiposity than people who don’t. It can cause serious problems.
Visceral fat is linked to heart disease and diabetes. The fat can leech fatty acids into your liver, which then increases the production of fat in your blood. This leads to more fat in your arteries. Not a good thing.
Soda is also linked to inflammation. Inflammation is an immune system response that plays a big role in a whole host of health conditions like cancer and Alzheimer’s disease.
If you’re a casual soda drinker, these facts are worth thinking about. Even a couple sodas a week can be enough to put yourself at risk for some really bad stuff. Is the can of Coke really worth it?