Soft Drinks: America’s Other Drinking Problem

Do you stagger out of bed in the morning, bleary-eyed and sleepy, stumble to the fridge, and grab a carbonated drink to get you going? Does your mid-morning break consist of a cold can from the vending machine to boost you out of your mid-morning slump? If so, you may be one of the many Americans who consume as much of their daily liquid in soft drinks as they do in water, milk, and tea combined.

Did you know that the average American drinks 192 gallons of liquid a year? That translates to about 3.7 gallons per week or 2 liters a day, and soft drinks average 28% of this amount. According to Beverage Marketing reports, “Carbonated soft drinks are the single biggest source of calories in the American diet, providing 7-9 % of calories.

Look at these alarming statistics from The National Soft Drink Association (NSDA), “Teenagers get 13 percent of their calories from carbonated and noncarbonated soft drinks” and “consumption of soft drinks is now over 600 12-ounce servings (12 oz.) per person per year. Since 1978, soda consumption in the US has tripled for boys and doubled for girls.”

Author and Nutritionist, Dr. Judith Valentine, writes that this phenomenon is rightly called, “America’s Other Drinking Problem.” Valentine warns, “Even [drinking] as little as one or two sodas per day is undeniably connected to a myriad of pathologies. The most commonly associated health risks are obesity, diabetes and other blood sugar disorders, tooth decay, osteoporosis and bone fractures, nutritional deficiencies, heart disease, food addictions and eating disorders, neurotransmitter dysfunction from chemical sweeteners, and neurological and adrenal disorders from excessive caffeine.”

You should know that the dangers soft drinks pose to good health and wellness lurk in two camps – the dangers of the ingredients of the drinks themselves, and the dangers resulting from the loss of the healthful drinks they push out of the diet — namely milk and water.

Are you aware that during 1977-78, boys drank twice as much milk as soft drinks, and girls drank 50% more milk than soft drinks, but that by 1994-1996, both boys and girls drank twice as much soda as milk? This alarming reduction in milk consumption results in a lower intake of necessary vitamins and minerals, and numerous report links soft drink consumption to a rise in osteoporosis and bone fractures. After conducting their own research, Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine warned in June of 2000, “. . . national concern and alarm about the health impact of carbonated beverage consumption on teenaged girls is supported by the findings of this study.”

Not only can you develop health problems if you ignore milk for sodas, but if you drink sodas instead of water, you may experience unbalanced body systems, dehydration, weight gain, constipation, poor concentration, kidney stones, urinary infections, and even poor skin. You need at least 2 quarts of pure water a day for proper organ functions, proper absorption of vitamins, and efficient body system activity. Every system in your body, including your brain, depends on water to function.

Would you choose a drink labeled “Witches’ Brew” or “Liquid Candy”? Well, health experts have labeled soft drinks with these very names because they contain ingredients that contribute significantly to poor health.

Even though you may be relieved that high fructose corn syrup has mostly replaced much-maligned sugar, I have to tell you that syrup has its own dangers to health. It contributes to poor development of collagen, to copper deficiency, and to liver problems resembling those of alcoholics in animals on a high-fructose diet. In fact, Dr. Charles Best, the discoverer of insulin, claims that teenagers who consume too many soft drinks have cirrhosis of the liver similar to what develops in chronic alcoholics.

I’m sure you know that caffeine provides no nourishment, but did you know that it can stimulate the adrenal gland and can cause adrenal exhaustion, especially in children? It blocks receptor sites in the central nervous system, and, along with saccharin and caramel coloring, has a depressant action in the brain, heart, and kidneys. It also can cause constriction of the cerebral arteries, rapid heartbeat, high blood pressure, an excessive excretion of urine, and the release of adrenaline.

Are you aware that excess doses of caffeine can cause aggression, recklessness, shouting, swearing (as in road rage), and even fighting? Although we don’t recognize caffeine addiction easily or quickly, it does exist and missing usual doses leaves even the moderate user with sluggishness, unclear thinking, depression, and headache.

Do you love that “bite” that a cold soft drink has? That “bite” comes from phosphoric acid, which also pulls calcium out of the bones, leading to easily broken bones and later, osteoporosis. This acid (that can clean water and soap deposits out of your shower and even dissolves teeth) causes the body to waste its much-needed alkaline minerals (sodium, potassium, magnesium, and calcium) to neutralize the acid, thus causing related problems like colitis, heart disease, indigestion, and anemia.

That friendly and familiar red or perhaps brown soft drink can poses its own danger. Phosphoric acid leaches toxic amounts of aluminum from even the lined soft drink cans into the soft drink and right into your body, where it is deposited in brain and bone tissue, resulting in the same formations in brain tissue as seen in the brains of Alzheimer patients. This aluminum also contributes to bone loss, calcium loss, and osteoporosis.

A note to diet soda drinkers! Diet drinks contribute their own health issues; for example, they contain aspartame, which is a potent neurotoxin and endocrine disrupter. It can cause neuron destruction, emotional disorders, depression, and poor sleep quality, headaches, tinnitus, memory lapses, blurred visions, retinal damage, and even contributes to cancer.

As you can see, soft drinks pose numerous, often well-hidden, but serious, health problems to those who indulge regularly or excessively or who neglect proper intake of milk and water in their pursuit of soft drinks. Hopefully, you can also see that drinking proper amounts of milk and water helps to prevent a myriad of health problems and contributes to wellness and optimum organ and system functions.

Copyright 2006 Dr. Eileen Silva