Most of us know by now that soda is bad for us. But just how bad it is may surprise you. Regular soda contains tons of sugar (a 12-ounce soda has about 31.8 grams which is equal to 10 teaspoons of sugar), but that doesn’t mean that the diet varieties are any better for you. It doesn’t stop at the sugar, though. They all have a list of scary ingredients and side effects. Here are some disturbing facts about soda.

In a recent article from the American Journal of Public Health, Cindy Leung and Elissa Epel explain that just one can of soda a day contributes to “shorter telomeres (DNA that protects chromosomes) in … white blood cells.” What does that mean for our health? Well, shorter telomeres are “associated with age-related diseases, including cancer, diabetes, and heart disease.” No thanks, I think we’d like to keep our DNA just the way it is!

What else is hiding in that unassuming can of cola besides a ton of sugar and high fructose corn syrup?

  • Phosphoric Acid – it’s what gives cola its tangy flavor and lengthens its shelf life. But drinking too much phosphoric acid ages your heart and kidneys.
  • Artificial Caramel Coloring – this gives cola its brown look but studies show that same caramel coloring causes cancer in animals. Experts say that 16 micrograms per day of the caramel coloring is enough to cause cancer, and most colas contain more than 12 times that amount per can! That’s why certain major labels are now reworking the recipe they use for caramel coloring.
  • 4-methylimidazole (or 4-Mel) – a byproduct of caramel coloring, formed from the reaction between sugar, ammonia and ammonia sulfite. The National Toxicity Program found “clear evidence” of 4-Mel toxicity in sodas and linked 4-Mel to infertility, thyroid dysfunction and liver and lung cancer.
  • Brominated Vegetable Oil – it’s used as flame retardant in plastics! You read that correctly. It’s also added to soda to keep the flavoring from separating from the water. Experts warn that ingesting too much of the chemical can cause everything from memory loss, to nerve disorders.
  • BPA – used in almost every aluminum can, it’s a chemical used to keep the acids in soda from reacting with the metal. Studies show that BPA causes infertility, obesity, and cancer.

What are some of the nasty side effects associated with soda?

  • Kidney Stones – The pain caused be these has been compared to childbirth, if not worse. If you’ve never experienced a kidney stone, trust me, you don’t want to!
  • Type-2 DiabetesStudies indicate drinking just one soda per day will boost your Type 2 Diabetes risk by 25 percent.
  • Weight GainOne soda a day equals 35 pounds of sugar in your system. That’s 15 extra pounds of fat per YEAR. And diet drinkers aren’t excluded. Diet soda has been linked to weight gain, too.
  • Rotten Teeth – Your mom wasn’t just trying to scare you by telling you soda would make your teeth rot. Soda is linked to drug-addict-like dental decay issues and can likely dissolve your tooth enamel, leading to a less than pleasant smile.
  • Gives You Wrinkles – According to several studies, high levels of phosphate in soda can accelerate the aging process. Aging = Wrinkles, so save some money on that wrinkle cream by skipping the soda.
  • Stealing Your Cash – Speaking of saving money, consider this: If a bottle of soda costs $1.49 each, then one a day equals $543.85 a year. That’s enough to fly to some fabulous, tropical destination. Pass me the sunscreen, please, instead of the soda.
  • Heartburn – No one enjoys that painful, burning sensation in their chest, not to mention the excessive burping. You also don’t want acid reflux to interrupt your beauty sleep.
  • Bad For the Environment – It’s long been established that the chemicals in soda and the byproducts of its manufacturing stay in the environment. The artificial sweeteners used in diet soda don’t break down and are prevalent in our water supply. If we don’t want this terrible stuff in our bodies, then we certainly don’t want it in our water supply!

So the next time that you go to grab for a soda, make the smart, healthy choice and opt for some water or a natural juice instead.

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