You know soda’s not exactly good for you—but at the same time, it can be hard to resist. Its sweet taste, pleasant fizz, and energizing jolt often seems like just what you need to wash down your dinner, get you through an afternoon slump, or quench your thirst at the movies.
But the more soda you consume (regular or diet), the more hazardous your habit can become. And whether you’re a six-pack-a-day drinker or an occasional soft-drink sipper, cutting back can likely have benefits for your weight and your overall health. Here’s why you should be drinking less, plus tips on how to make the transition easier.
The biggest risk for regular soda drinkers is the excess calories, says Lona Sandon, RD, assistant professor of clinical nutrition at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. “The calories in regular soda are coming entirely from added sugar, and you’re not getting any value in terms of vitamins or minerals, or even good quality carbohydrates,” she says.
But soda may also be causing other types of harm. Studies have shown that its consumption is linked with tooth decay and diabetes, and it also seems to bebad for your bones. “It may have something to do with the phosphorus in soda, or it could be that people are drinking soda instead of other beverages—like milk—that have nutrients necessary for healthy bones,” Sandon says.
Sugar-free sodas may not have any calories, but that doesn’t mean they’re any good for you. In fact, they may not even help you lose weight. (Research on this topic has been mixed, at best, but several studies have shown thatdiet soda drinkers are more likely to be overweight or obese than regular soda drinkers.)
Plus, diet drinks have many of the same health risks as regular soft drinks, including tooth decay and bone thinning, and they’ve also been linked to heart disease anddepression in women. Switching to diet sodas may be a smart first step if you’re trying to eliminate excess calories, says Sandon, but your best bet is to eventually give them up, too.
That news may be enough to convince you that you should stop drinking soda, but it could still be easier said than done.
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