Okay, time for some real talk: Soda is delicious.
Buy less soda, have more money!
In 2012, soda was a $76 billion industry. Do the math on how much you spend: Even just one soda a day will cost you about $365 a year. For that much money you can buy a plane ticket, a cashmere robe, or this Dolly Parton portrait made entirely of rice leaves!
You might actually live longer.
Drinking sugary soda may actually cause you to age faster in a way similar to cigarettes, according to a study published last week in the American Journal of Public Health. The study found that drinking sugary soda was associated with shorter telomere length. Translation: The cells in your body are aging faster. On the plus-side: Drinking water is way healthier AND free!
Consuming less sugary soda can lower your chances of developing some serious health problems.
Drinking less soda may help keep your smile sparkling.
Most of us know that sugary soda is bad for our teeth, but the diet stuff can hurt your pearly whites, too. The acid in both regular and diet soda (and in other beverages like Red Bull and apple juice) can lead to erosion of your teeth's enamel and root surfaces, according to a study conducted by the University of Iowa College of Dentistry. The study, which submerged extracted human teeth in the beverages for 25 hours each, recognized that the experiment's conditions limited the findings — e.g. humans don't usually keep soda in their mouth for 25 hours on end — but still concluded that acidic beverages are associated with dental erosion and may be a potential oral health concern.
Most likely, you'll actually diet better without diet soda.
It seems like having a no-calorie sweetener instead of sugar would help you lose weight, but a number of studies suggest otherwise. One twenty-five year study of 1,177 normal or overweight participants found that for each diet soda a participant drank each day, he/she was 65% more likely to become overweight over the next 7-8 years, and 41% more likely to become obese.
A Yale University School of Medicine study published in 2013 offered one possible explanation for this. In tests done on mice, researchers found that their brains were not "tricked" by the artificial sweeteners — they still craved actual sugar. "It implies that humans frequently ingesting low-calorie sweet products in a state of hunger or exhaustion may be more likely to 'relapse' and choose high calorie alternatives in the future," said Professor Ivan de Araujo, who led the study. Other studies have connected artificial sweeteners with Type 2 Diabetes and metabolic abnormalities.
You could get a flatter belly — without having to do all those crunches!
It's not just that diet soda can cause weight gain, it actually can cause weight gain in specific places, like your waist, a University of Texas Health Science Center San Antonio found. The study tracked 474 participants over an average of 9.5 years. It found that those who drank diet soda experienced a 70% greater increase in their waistlines than those who didn't drink diet soda. Even more informative: Those who drank two or more diet sodas per day saw increases 500% greater than those who didn't drink the stuff.
Skip the soda, save the planet.
In 2009, Coca-Cola UK published the results of a study it did with Carbon Trust on the carbon footprint of drinks like Coke, Diet Coke and Coke Zero. It analyzed everything from the growing, processing and transporting of ingredients to recycling the empty package. Depending on the product, it can take anywhere from 170g to 500g of carbon dioxide to produce a single unit of soda. That makes the carbon footprint of a 2-liter plastic bottle of Coca-Cola just a bit larger than a one-mile drive in an average car in the U.S.
Finally make it through a movie without running to the ladies room!
Avoiding artificial caramel coloring can lower your exposure to potentially cancer-causing chemicals.
Caramel color, the stuff that makes your soda brown, is sometimes made with 4-methylimidazole (4-MeI), an additive the International Agency for Research on Cancer characterizes as "possibly carcinogenic to humans." It's a regular ingredient in sodas, though different brands use different amounts. The Center for Science in the Public Interest has urged the FDA to ban the additive but there currently are no federal laws regulating its use. (In California, any product containing more than 29 micrograms of 4-Mel needs to come with a warning label, but a Consumer Reports investigation found that the law is not always followed.)
"Consumers can rest assured that our industry's beverages are safe," the American Beverage Association said in a January 2014 statement. "However, the companies that make caramel coloring for our members' soft drinks are now producing it to contain less 4-MeI, and nationwide use of this new caramel coloring is underway."
Do your neighbors a favor by not mucking up the local water supply.
Here's what one study found happens when you drink a diet soda: The artificial sweeteners go through your body without being broken down, eventually coming out the other end. Then you flush it. Then it goes through — and survives — wastewater treatment, eventually sticking around and lingering in groundwater. Then your neighbor gets in the shower, or turns on the faucet and ... you get the picture.
In 2009, Swiss researchers tracking sources of water pollution found that while all four tested sweeteners endured to an extent, it was the acesufame potassium — a sweetener used in beverages including Coke Zero and Diet Pepsi — that did the most damage. "These concentrations are astronomically high," Associate Professor Bruce Brownawell, an environmental chemist at Stony Brook University, New York told ABC Science. "If I had to guess, this is the highest concentration of a compound that goes through sewage treatment plants without being degraded."
Forget Mountain Dew and you might remember some other, more important things.
Mountain Dew and some other citrus-flavored drinks are made with brominated vegetable oil, or BVO, a chemical patented as a flame retardant and banned for foods in Europe in Japan, but used in the U.S. to keep the fruity flavors distributed evenly throughout the beverage. A lengthy article in Scientific American discussed studies linking BVO to memory loss, nerve disorders, and skin lesions in humans, as well as reproductive and behavioral problems in mice. Studies, though, are limited, including one that involved just one patient. But according to some experts, that's exactly the problem. "The testing of B.V.O. is abysmal," Michael F. Jacobson, co-founder and executive director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest told The New York Times in 2012.
Representatives from companies like PepsiCo and Coca-Cola stand by the safety of their products, telling Scientific American that they meet all FDA standards, but in May both announced plans to phase out the ingredient.
You'll avoid the possible hormone disruptors found in BPA-lined soda cans.
We've heard about the BPA in our plastic bottles and our tupperware, but it's also lining our soda cans (and many other food cans, too). BPA may be an endocrine disruptor, meaning that it acts like the hormone estrogen and could cause health problems like breast cancer, early puberty, and obesity. "Most people agree the majority of BPA exposure in the United States comes from aluminum cans," Leonardo Trasande, a lead investigator of a study on BPA and childhood obesity, told Smithsonian Magazine in 2012. "Removing it from aluminum cans is probably one of the best ways we can limit exposure. There are alternatives that manufacturers can use to line aluminum cans." Coca-Cola maintains that at the levels used, BPA is safe for humans.
Keep your bones strong by replacing your Coke with a glass of milk or orange juice.
It's possible that the caffeine and phosphoric acid in soda can have negative effects on bone health, but the science isn't definitive. What is more certain, though, is that calcium is great for your bone health. So instead of having a soda, pour yourself a glass of milk or some calcium-fortified orange juice. Future Osteoporosis-Free You will thank you for it.
Avoid the pain and misery of kidney stones.
The pain of kidney stones is real, and you'll probably want to do anything you can to avoid it, including kicking the soda habit. Drinking sugar-sweetened soda may put you at a higher risk of developing kidney stones, according to a 2013 study. In studying nearly 200,000 people over more than eight years, researchers found that people who drank one or more sugary cola or fruit punch drinks a day had a 23% higher risk of developing kidney stones. Other beverages, though, like coffee, tea, beer, wine and orange juice are associated with a lower risk. So if you don't want to experience what is commonly described as a pain worse than childbirth, put down the Coke, and pick up a beer.
Mix your liquor with something other than diet soda, get drunker slower, party longer.
When you mix your alcohol with diet soda, you'll actually get drunker faster than when you mix with a regularly sweetened drink, a small 2013 study found. The study included only 16 participants, but found that their breath alcohol concentration was higher when they mixed their alcohol with a diet soft drink. A 2011 study, involving 413 randomly selected bar patrons also found that artificially sweetened mixers can make the effect of the alcohol more pronounced. So if you want to party all night long — and not in a sloppy mess way — mix that vodka with some seltzer instead.
Scuba divers, birds and marine animals will owe you a solid.
You may not have heard of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, but it's entirely possible that some of your old bottles now call the giant, gyrating collections of trash and microplastics home. Plastic is not biodegradable, so as it ages, light and heat break it up into increasingly small pieces, creating lots of "tiny plastic confetti," which then get mixed in with larger pieces of plastic and other debris. Endangered species including Hawaiian monk seals and green sea turtles are further threatened by the trash, as are birds like the laysan albatross. The exact size of the garbage patch is difficult to estimate because the winds and currents keep it constantly in flux, and there are actually multiple patches, all swirling and twirling around each other. But scientists emphasize that at least in the case, it's not the size that matters: None of it should be in the ocean.
TL;DR: Drink less soda —> Make less trash —> Save the oceans.
You'll lower the odds of embarrassing yourself in fancy places!
Burping: Best done in the privacy of your own home, and more likely to happen after drinking a carbonated beverage.