12 Reasons Why Sodas are Horrible for You, & Healthy Soda Recipes!

Wednesday Aug 27 | BY |
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Regular sodas are horrible for your health, but you can make your own healthy alternatives!

You know sodas aren’t good for you. So you take one of three approaches:

  1. Avoid soda entirely.
  2. Enjoy a soda once in a great while, but make a point to limit yourself.
  3. Drink soda anyway because hey, you just like it!

It’s true that there are few things that satisfy the way soda does, and it’s hard to find replacements. Sometimes lemonade and tea just don’t do it.

For those of you who miss your sodas—or are still consuming too many of the unhealthy types—we have some recipes at the end of this post for sodas that are actually good for you!

Soda’s Many Unhealthy Traits

First, let’s review why it’s best to stay away from conventional soda, just in case you may not have heard the whole story. Keep in mind that studies are studies—just data that we use to further our understanding of what’s healthy and what’s not—but still, the conclusions here are concerning.

  1. Weight gain: Studies have found that carbonated soft drinks are the single biggest source of calories in the American diet. Not good for your waistline. A 2006 systematic review concluded that consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages is associated with weight gain and obesity.
  2. Diabetes: A 2004 study indicated that women who drink a lot of sodas increase their risk of developing type 2 diabetes. A later 2010 study found that people who consumed one to two cans a day had a 26 percent greater risk of developing type 2 diabetes than those who didn’t.
  3. Heart attack: A study following 40,000 men for two decades found that those who had about a can of soda a day had a 20 percent higher risk of having a heart attack or dying from a heart attack than those who rarely consumed sugary drinks.
  4. Messed-up metabolism: Diet sodas aren’t always better. A 2009 study found that even one diet soda a day was linked with a 36 percent higher risk of metabolic syndrome—which increases risk of heart disease.
  5. Stroke: A 2012 study found that women who drink a soda most every day are 83 percent more likely to have a certain type of stroke than women who rarely drink sugar-sweetened beverages. Another study that same year found similar results in both men and women—a significantly higher risk of stroke in those consuming more sugar-sweetened and low-calorie sodas. Researchers theorized that high soft drink intake is associated with increased weight gain, higher levels of blood sugar and fats, and hypertension—which are all linked to an increased risk of stroke.
  6. Kidney stones: Drinking a lot of soda can leave you at an increased risk of painful kidney stones. Researchers analyzed data from over 194,000 participants for more than eight years, and found that those who consumed the most sugar-sweetened beverages had a 23 percent higher risk of developing kidney stones. Consumption of coffee, tea, beer, wine, and orange juice, on the other hand, were associated with a lower risk.
  7. Gout: A study in 2010 found that women who consumed a can a day of soda had a 75 percent higher risk of gout than women who rarely consumed soda. An earlier 2008 study found similar results in men. Soda contains high levels of phosphate, which can throw the phosphate/calcium balance off in the body, affecting bone health.
  8. Osteoporosis: As mentioned above, soda is bad for your bones. A 2006 study looked at over 1,400 women and found that those who regularly consumed colas had a lower bone mineral density (BMD), indicating compromised bone health predictive of osteoporosis. Similar results were seen for diet colas.
  9. Pancreatic cancer: In 2010, researchers linked soft drink consumption with pancreatic cancer. They did an analysis of over 60,000 participants in the Singapore Chinese Health Study with up to 14 years follow-up. The concluded that those drinking more than two soft drinks a week had nearly double the risk of developing pancreatic cancer, compared with those who didn’t drink soft drinks. Researchers theorized that the sugar in sodas increases insulin, which they believe contributes to pancreatic cancer cell growth.
  10. Endometrial cancer: A 2013 study linked a high consumption of sodas with endometrial cancer. The researchers cautioned that the study did not show that consuming sodas caused cancer, but that it was associated with it. The study, funded by the National Cancer Institute (NCI), looked at data for more than 23,00 postmenopausal women, following them from 1986 to 2010. They found that those who drank the most sugar-sweetened beverages had a 78 percent higher risk for type 1 endometrial cancer. The more they drank, the higher the risk. There was no link between sugar-free soft drinks and endometrial cancer.
  11. Prostate cancer: A recent 2012 study found that men who consume a soda a day have a 40 percent increased risk of prostate cancer, compared to men who never drink soda. Researchers analyzed data from over 8,000 men aged 45-73 years, who didn’t have a history of cancer, cardiovascular disease, or diabetes. After a median follow-up time of 15 years, 817 of them were diagnosed with prostate cancer. Results showed that a high intake of sugar-sweetened beverages was associated with an increased risk of prostate cancer.
  12. Sensitive teeth: Sodas are very acidic, and readily dissolve tooth enamel, which is the protective layer over teeth. A 2006 study published in General Dentistry reported that carbonated soft drinks cause significant long-term erosion of enamel—much worse than coffee, tea, and root beer. There were no differences between regular and diet sodas. A loss of tooth enamel creates sensitivity and leaves teeth more susceptible to cavities.
Healthy Soda Recipes

Is there such a thing as a “healthy” soda? We found a few options online. Please let us know if you have more!

  • Ginger Ale: Combine ½ cup hibiscus flowers, ¾ cup coconut crystals, ¼ cup ginger root, juice from ½ fresh lemon, pinch of salt, and one cup filtered water in small saucepan. Bring to a boil, stir until all sugar is dissolved, strain into a glass jar, discard the flowers and root, and then mix 3 tablespoons of the resulting syrup with 8 ounces of carbonated water. Store in the refrigerator and enjoy!
  • Citrus soda: Combine the juice from ½ grapefruit, ½ orange, and two limes with 1 cup coconut crystals in a small saucepan. Boil and stir until the sugar is dissolved, cool, and then strain into a glass jar. Stir 3 tablespoons into 8 ounces of carbonated water and cool.
  • Stevia soda: Combine 4 teaspoons stevia extract (liquid or powdered) with 2 cups water, stir to dissolve, then add your favorite flavors—fruit, ginger, cinnamon, vanilla. It’s best to simmer these with the syrup for 5-10 minutes, strain, and then cool before adding to your carbonated water.
  • Lemongrass-lime leaf: Combine ¼ cup lemon zest, ¼ cup lime zest, 20 kaffir lime leaves, 2 stalks lemongrass roughly chopped, and 2 cups water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 5 minutes. Strain into a jar and chill. Mix 2 Tbsp with the sweetener syrup of your choice, top with soda water and stir.

Do you have other recipes for healthy sodas? Please share with our readers.

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Vasanti S. Malik, et al., “Intake of sugar-sweetened beverages and weight gain: a systematic review,” Am J Clin Nutr, August 2006; 84(2): 274-288, http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/84/2/274.long.

Journal of the American Medical Association (2004;292:927–34).

Malik VS, Popkin BM, Bray GA, Despres JP, Willett WC, Hu FB. Sugar-sweetened beverages and risk of metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes: a meta-analysis. Diabetes Care. 2010;33:2477-83, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20693348.

de Koning L, Malik VS, Kellogg MD, Rimm EB, Willett WC, Hu FB. Sweetened beverage consumption, incident coronary heart disease, and biomarkers of risk in men. Circulation. 2012;125:1735-41, S1, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22412070.

Choi HK, Willett W, Curhan G. Fructose-rich beverages and risk of gout in women. JAMA. 2010;304:2270-8, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21068145.

Choi HK, Curhan G. Soft drinks, fructose consumption, and the risk of gout in men: prospective cohort study. BMJ. 2008;336:309-12, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18244959.

Ehab S Eshak, et al., “Soft drink intake in relation to incident ischemic heart disease, stroke, and stroke subtypes in Japanese men and women: the Japan Public Health Centre-based study cohort,” AM J Clin Nutr December 2012; 96(6):1390-1397, http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/96/6/1390.

Bernstein AM, et al., “Soda consumption and the risk of stroke risk in men and women,” Am J Clin Nutr, May 2012; 95(5):1190-9, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22492378.

Ferraro PM, et al., “Soda and other beverages and the risk of kidney stones,” Clin J Am Soc Nephrol., August 2013; 8(8):1389-95, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23676355.

Tucker KL, et al., “Colas, but not other carbonated beverages, are associated with low bone mineral density in older women: The Framingham Osteoporosis Study,” Am J Clin Nutr, October 2006; 84(4):936-42, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17023723.

Noel T. Mueller, et al., “Soft Drink and Juice Consumption and Risk of Pancreatic Cancer: The Singapore Chinese Health Study,” Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev, February 2010; 19: 447, http://cebp.aacrjournals.org/content/19/2/447.abstract.

“Sodas, Other Sweet Drinks Tied to Higher Risk for Endometrial Cancer,” HealthDay, November 22, 2013, http://consumer.healthday.com/women-s-health-information-34/misc-women-s-problem-news-707/sodas-other-sweet-drinks-tied-to-higher-risk-for-endometrial-cancer-682371.html.

Isabel Drake, et al., “Dietary intakes of carbohydrates in relation to prostate cancer risk: a prospective study in the Malmo Diet and Cancer cohort,” Am J Clin Nutr, December 2012, 96(6):1409-1418, http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/96/6/1409.abstract?sid=acefac5e-081e-4a93-8b83-57dee5a5453c.

Jennifer A. Nettleton, et al., “Diet Soda Intake and Risk of Incident Metabolic Syndrome and Type 2 Diabetes in the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA),” Diabetes Care, April 2009; 32(4):688-694, http://care.diabetesjournals.org/content/32/4/688.short.

J. Anthony von Fraunhofer, Matthew M. Rogers, “Dissolution of dental enamel in soft drinks,” General Dentistry, Fall 2006, http://www.umich.edu/~chemstu/content_weeks/F_06_Week1/dental%20cavities_coursepack.pdf.

“Yes, There is Such a Thing as Healthy Soda,” Alternative Daily, July 16, 2014, http://www.thealternativedaily.com/yes-thing-healthy-soda/.

Colleen M. Story

Colleen M. Story

Colleen M. Story, a northwest-based writer, editor, and ghostwriter, has been creating non-fiction materials for individuals, corporations, and commercial magazines for over 17 years. She specializes in the health and wellness field, where she writes and ghostwrites books, e-books, blogs, magazine articles, and more.

Colleen is the founder of Writing and Wellness. Her fantasy novel, “Rise of the Sidenah,” was released with Jupiter Gardens Press in September 2015. Her literary novel, “Loreena’s Gift,” is forthcoming in spring 2016 from Dzanc Books. She lives in Idaho. www.colleenmstory.com


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  1. Jerry Wilson says:

    I couldn’t agree more. Enamel is the hardest tissue of a human body, but once it’s gone, it can’t restore itself. Sodas are acidic and cause enamel erosion. Smoothies as well, although they are made of fruits and vegetables. Once enamel gets thinner, teeth become sensitive and dark.

  2. Shary says:

    I know soda is bad. Besides the quality of ingredients, how are these carbonated alternatives considered safe? For example, the ginger ale still has sugar. Is it the chemicals and ingredients in commercial products that cause the decay of enamel and other health concerns?

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